Dean of the United States House of Representatives
|Dean of the|
United States House of Representatives
|United States House of Representatives|
|Member of||United States House of Representatives|
|First holder||Frederick Muhlenberg|
March 4, 1789
The Dean of the United States House of Representatives is the longest continuously serving member of the House. The current dean is Hal Rogers, a Republican Party U.S. Representative from Kentucky, who has served in the House since 1981. The dean is a symbolic post whose only customary duty is to swear in a speaker of the House after he or she is elected. This responsibility was first recorded in 1819 but has not been observed continuously – at times, the speaker-elect was the current dean or the speaker-elect preferred to be sworn in by a member of his own party when the dean belonged to another party. The dean comes forward on the House Floor to administer the oath to the speaker-elect, before the new speaker then administers the oath to the other members.
While deans perform the swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected speaker, they do not preside over the election of a speaker, as do the Father of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and the dean of the Canadian House of Commons.
Because of other privileges associated with seniority, the dean is usually allotted some of the most desirable office space, and is generally either chair or ranking minority member of an influential committee.
It is unclear when the position first achieved concrete recognition, though the seniority system and increasing lengths of service emerged in the early 20th century. As late as 1924, Frederick H. Gillett was dean, and also speaker, before becoming a Senator. Modern deans move into their positions so late in their careers that a move to the Senate is highly unlikely. When Ed Markey broke Gillett's record for time in the House before moving to the Senate in 2013 he was still decades junior to the sitting Dean.
The deanship can change hands unexpectedly. In the 1952 election, Adolph J. Sabath became the first Representative elected to a 24th term, breaking the record of 23 terms first set by former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon, whose service had been non-consecutive, whereas Sabath's was not. North Carolina's Robert L. Doughton had not contested that election as he was retiring at the age of 89 years and two months, a House age record broken in 1998 by Sidney R. Yates, and again by Ralph Hall in 2012. Claude Pepper, who died early in his final term in 1989, held the record for oldest winner of a House election until Hall broke it in 2012. However, Sabath died before the new term began and Doughton was dean for the old term's final months before Speaker Sam Rayburn became dean in the new Congress.
List of deans of the House
Years as dean are followed by name, party, state, and start of service in Congress.
All the members of the First Congress had equal seniority (as defined for the purpose of this article), but Muhlenberg, as the speaker, was the first member to be sworn in. Muhlenberg, Hartley and Thatcher were among the 13 members who attended the initial meeting of the House on March 4, 1789.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some state delegations to the House were often not elected until after the term had begun. To avoid confusion, this fact is ignored in the list below.
|Became dean||End date||Dean||Party||State||Seniority from||Speaker(s)|
|March 4, 1789||March 4, 1797||Frederick Muhlenberg[A]||Federalist||PA||March 4, 1789||Frederick Muhlenberg|
|Jonathan Trumbull Jr.|
|March 4, 1797||December 21, 1800||Thomas Hartley[B][C]||Federalist||PA|
|March 4, 1801||George Thatcher||Federalist||MA|
|March 4, 1801||March 4, 1803||William B. Grove[C]||Federalist||NC||March 4, 1791||Nathaniel Macon|
|March 4, 1807||Andrew Gregg[C]||Democratic-Republican||PA|
|December 13, 1815||Nathaniel Macon[D]||Democratic-Republican||NC||Joseph Bradley Varnum|
|December 13, 1815||April 9, 1816||Richard Stanford[B]||Democratic-Republican||NC||March 4, 1797||Henry Clay|
|April 9, 1816||March 4, 1817||John Davenport||Federalist||CT||March 4, 1799|
|March 4, 1817||March 4, 1830||Thomas Newton Jr.||Democratic-Republican
|VA||March 4, 1801|
|Philip P. Barbour|
|March 4, 1830||March 4, 1833||William McCoy||Jacksonian||VA||March 4, 1811|
|March 4, 1833||February 23, 1842||Lewis Williams[B]||National Republican
|NC||March 4, 1815|
|James K. Polk|
|Robert M. T. Hunter|
|February 23, 1842||March 4, 1843||Horace Everett[C]||Whig||VT||March 4, 1829||John Winston Jones|
|April 22, 1844||Dixon H. Lewis||Democratic||AL|
|April 22, 1844||February 23, 1848||John Quincy Adams[C]||Whig||MA||March 4, 1831||John Wesley Davis|
|Robert Charles Winthrop|
|March 4, 1849||James I. McKay||Democratic||NC|
|March 4, 1849||March 4, 1855||Linn Boyd[E]||Democratic||KY||March 4, 1839||Howell Cobb|
|March 4, 1855||March 4, 1859||Joshua Reed Giddings||Republican||OH||May 5, 1842||Nathaniel P. Banks|
|James Lawrence Orr|
|March 4, 1859||March 4, 1863||John S. Phelps||Democratic||MO||March 4, 1845||William Pennington|
|Galusha A. Grow|
|March 4, 1863||March 4, 1869||Elihu B. Washburne||Republican||IL||March 4, 1853||Schuyler Colfax|
|Theodore M. Pomeroy|
|March 4, 1869||March 4, 1875||Henry L. Dawes||Republican||MA||March 4, 1857||James G. Blaine|
|March 4, 1875||January 9, 1890||William D. Kelley[B]||Republican||PA||March 4, 1861||Michael C. Kerr|
|Samuel J. Randall|
|J. Warren Keifer|
|John G. Carlisle|
|Thomas Brackett Reed|
|January 9, 1890||April 13, 1890||Samuel J. Randall[B]||Democratic||PA||March 4, 1863|
|April 13, 1890||March 4, 1891||Joseph G. Cannon[C]||Republican||IL||March 4, 1873||Charles Frederick Crisp|
|March 1892||Roger Q. Mills[C]||Democratic||TX|
|March 4, 1893||James H. Blount[C]||Democratic||GA|
|March 4, 1895||Richard P. Bland||Democratic||MO|
|March 4, 1895||March 4, 1897||David B. Culberson||Democratic||TX||March 4, 1875||Thomas Brackett Reed|
|March 4, 1897||September 4, 1899||Thomas Brackett Reed[F]||Republican||ME||March 4, 1877|
|September 4, 1899||March 22, 1912||Henry H. Bingham[B]||Republican||PA||March 4, 1879||David B. Henderson|
|Joseph G. Cannon|
|March 22, 1912||March 4, 1913||John Dalzell||Republican||PA||March 4, 1887|
|March 4, 1913||December 10, 1914||Sereno E. Payne[B]||Republican||NY||March 4, 1889|
|December 10, 1914||April 17, 1918||William Jones[B]||Democratic||VA||March 4, 1891|
|April 17, 1918||March 4, 1919||Henry Allen Cooper[B][C]||Republican||WI||March 4, 1893||Frederick H. Gillett|
|March 4, 1925||Frederick H. Gillett[G]||Republican||MA|
|March 4, 1925||May 26, 1928||Thomas S. Butler[B]||Republican||PA||March 4, 1897||Nicholas Longworth|
|May 26, 1928||March 4, 1933||Gilbert N. Haugen||Republican||IA||March 4, 1899|
|John Nance Garner|
|March 4, 1933||April 1, 1934||Edward W. Pou[B]||Democratic||NC||March 4, 1901||Henry T. Rainey|
|April 1, 1934||November 6, 1952||Adolph Sabath[B]||Democratic||IL||March 4, 1907||Jo Byrns|
|William B. Bankhead|
|Joseph W. Martin Jr.|
|November 6, 1952||January 3, 1953||Robert L. Doughton||Democratic||NC||March 4, 1911|
|January 3, 1953||November 16, 1961||Sam Rayburn[H][B]||Democratic||TX||March 4, 1913||Joseph W. Martin Jr.|
|November 16, 1961||January 3, 1965||Carl Vinson[I]||Democratic||GA||November 3, 1914||John W. McCormack|
|January 3, 1965||January 3, 1973||Emanuel Celler||Democratic||NY||March 4, 1923|
|January 3, 1973||March 7, 1976||Wright Patman[B]||Democratic||TX||March 4, 1929|
|March 7, 1976||January 3, 1979||George H. Mahon||Democratic||TX||January 3, 1935||Tip O'Neill|
|January 3, 1979||January 3, 1995||Jamie Whitten[I]||Democratic||MS||November 4, 1941|
|January 3, 1995||January 3, 2015||John Dingell[J][I]||Democratic||MI||December 13, 1955||Newt Gingrich|
|January 3, 2015||December 5, 2017||John Conyers||Democratic||MI||January 3, 1965|
|December 5, 2017||March 18, 2022||Don Young[I][B]||Republican||AK||March 6, 1973|
|March 18, 2022||Incumbent||Hal Rogers||Republican||KY||January 3, 1981|
- Served as Speaker 1789–1791 and 1793–1795.
- Died in office.
- Never held sole deanship due to tie.
- Served as Speaker 1801–1807.
- Previously served in House 1835–1837; Served as Speaker 1851–1855.
- Served as Speaker 1889–1891 and 1895–1899.
- Served as Speaker 1919–1925.
- Served as Speaker 1955–1961.
- Entered House to fill unexpired term.
- Longest serving House member ever and held the longest deanship.
- Oldest living United States president
- President pro tempore of the United States Senate
- Dean of the United States Senate
- List of members of the United States Congress by longevity of service
- Father of the House, the international equivalent in many countries. Originally coined in the United Kingdom's House of Commons
- List at House official site that records the Dean (originally called "Father") and who swore in the Speaker for each Congress
- "Oath of Office - US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". History.house.gov. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Ron Hutcheson (July 25, 1994). "Texan in line as House dean – Jack Brooks has reputation as in-your-face politician". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. 1.