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Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives
Seal of the House of Representatives
William McFarland[1]
since January 7, 2023
NominatorSpeaker of the House
AppointerElected by the House
Term lengthTwo years
Inaugural holderJoseph Wheaton

The sergeant at arms of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The sergeant at arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the House.


In one of its first resolutions, the 1st United States Congress (April 14, 1789) established the role of Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives.


As the chief law enforcement officer of the House, the sergeant at arms is responsible for security in the House wing of the United States Capitol, the House office buildings, and on adjacent grounds. Under the direction of the speaker of the House or other presiding officer, the sergeant at arms plays an integral role in maintaining order and decorum in the House chamber.

The sergeant at arms is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of Congress, the congressional staff, visiting dignitaries, and tourists. Toward this end, the sergeant at arms works in concert with the Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol. These three officials, along with the chief of the Capitol Police ex officio, comprise the Capitol Police Board.

In 2015, at a House committee hearing chaired by Candice Miller, then House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving said that he gave considerable time to ensuring House members' safety and their staff, and visitors to the House, including threat and intelligence monitoring and analysis by reviewing threats and intelligence directed to House members. He said that he monitored events at the Capitol complex, such as demonstration activity, committee hearings, head of state visits, and major events taking place on the complex. He said that on a daily basis, he dealt with the Senate sergeant at arms about security for the Capitol complex.[2]

Protocol and ceremony

Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announces President Barack Obama at the 2011 State of the Union.

Through custom and precedent, the sergeant at arms performs a number of protocol and ceremonial duties. These duties include leading formal processions at ceremonies such as presidential inaugurations, joint sessions of Congress (such as the State of the Union address, prior to 2007), formal addresses to the Congress, greeting and escorting visiting foreign dignitaries, conveying articles of impeachment from the House to the Senate, and to supervise congressional funeral arrangements. In this capacity, the sergeant at arms is most famous for announcing the arrival of the president, a responsibility that he took over from the doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives when the latter position was abolished in 1995. Custom dictates that he announce the arrival of the Supreme Court, the president's cabinet, and finally the president by proclaiming, "Mister (or Madam) Speaker, the President of the United States!"


For daily sessions of the House, the sergeant at arms carries the silver and ebony mace of the United States House of Representatives in front of the speaker in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal to the speaker's own right. When the body resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, the sergeant at arms moves the mace to a lowered position, more or less out of sight. In accordance with the Rules of the House, on the rare occasions when a member becomes unruly, the sergeant at arms, on order of the speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.


The sergeant at arms also performs administrative services in support of the members, staff, and visitors associated with the security and other operations of the House.

If a quorum is not present, those representatives who are present may vote to order the sergeant at arms to try to round up absent representatives.

In addition to serving on the Capitol Police Board, the sergeant at arms served with the Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol on the Capitol Guide Board. This board oversaw the Capitol Guide Service, which provided tours of the Capitol to visitors and special services to tourists.

Deputy sergeants at arms

The deputy sergeants at arms act as assistants to the sergeant at arms. The sergeant at arms has the duty of making the important decisions under his/her power, while the deputy sergeant at arms often executes the decisions. The deputy sergeant at arms that served under Paul Irving was Timothy Blodgett.

List of sergeants at arms

No. Image Sergeant at Arms State or territory Term of service Congress
1 Joseph Wheaton Rhode Island May 12, 1789 – October 27, 1807 1st9th
2 Thomas Dunn Maryland October 27, 1807 – December 5, 1824 10th18th
3 John O. Dunn District of Columbia December 6, 1824 – December 3, 1833 18th22nd
4 Thomas Beverly Randolph Virginia December 3, 1833 – December 15, 1835 23rd24th
5 Roderick Dorsey Maryland December 15, 1835 – June 8, 1841 24th27th
6 Eleazor M. Townsend Connecticut June 8, 1841 – December 7, 1843 27th28th
7 Newton Lane Kentucky December 7, 1843 – December 8, 1847 28th30th
8 Nathan Sargent Vermont December 8, 1847 – January 15, 1850 30th31st
9 Adam J. Glossbrenner Pennsylvania January 15, 1850 – February 3, 1860 31st36th
10 Henry William Hoffman Maryland February 3, 1860 – July 5, 1861 36th37th
11 Edward Ball Ohio July 5, 1861 – December 8, 1863 37th38th
12 Nehemiah G. Ordway New Hampshire December 8, 1863 – December 6, 1875 38th43rd
13 John G. Thompson Ohio December 6, 1875 – December 5, 1881 44th46th
14 George W. Hooker Vermont December 5, 1881 – December 4, 1883 47th
15 John P. Leedom Ohio December 4, 1883 – December 2, 1889 48th50th
16 Adoniram J. Holmes Iowa December 2, 1889 – December 8, 1891 51st
17 Samuel S. Yoder Ohio December 8, 1891 – August 7, 1893 52nd
18 Herman W. Snow Illinois August 7, 1893 – December 2, 1895 53rd
19 Benjamin F. Russell Missouri December 2, 1895 – December 4, 1899 54th55th
20 Henry Casson Wisconsin December 4, 1899 – April 4, 1911 56th61st
21 Uriah Stokes Jackson Indiana April 4, 1911 – June 22, 1912 62nd
22 Charles F. Riddell Indiana July 18, 1912 – April 7, 1913 62nd
23 Robert B. Gordon Ohio April 7, 1913 – May 19, 1919 63rd65th
24 Joseph G. Rodgers Pennsylvania May 19, 1919 – December 7, 1931 66th71st
25 Kenneth Romney Montana December 7, 1931 – January 3, 1947 72nd79th
26a William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949 80th
27 Joseph H. Callahan Kentucky January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953 81st82nd
26b William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1953 – July 7, 1953 83rd
28 Lyle O. Snader Illinois July 8, 1953 – September 15, 1953 83rd
29 William R. Bonsell Pennsylvania September 15, 1953 – January 5, 1955 83rd
30 Zeake W. Johnson Jr. Tennessee January 5, 1955 – September 30, 1972 84th92nd
31 Kenneth R. Harding Virginia October 1, 1972 – February 29, 1980 92nd96th
32 Benjamin J. Guthrie Virginia March 1, 1980 – January 3, 1983 96th97th
33 Jack Russ[3] Maryland January 3, 1983 – March 12, 1992 98th102nd
34 Werner W. Brandt Virginia March 12, 1992 – January 4, 1995 102nd103rd
35 Wilson Livingood Virginia January 4, 1995 – January 17, 2012 104th112th
36 Paul D. Irving Florida January 17, 2012 – January 7, 2021 112th117th
Timothy Blodgett (acting) New York January 11, 2021 – March 26, 2021 117th
37 William J. Walker Illinois March 26, 2021 – January 7, 2023 117th
38 William McFarland Maryland January 7, 2023 – present 118th

See also


  1. ^ "Appointment of Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives; Congressional Record Vol. 169, No. 5".
  2. ^ Transcript, House Administration Committee hearing, June 3, 2015.
  3. ^ William J. Eaton (Dec 18, 1993). "Ex-House Sergeant-at-Arms Sentenced to 2 Years : Scandal: Russ also must pay $445,000 and perform community service. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement, fraud and filing a false report". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2022.