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Dean of the United States House of Representatives: Wikis


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The Dean of the United States House of Representatives is the longest continuously serving member of the House. The present Dean is John Dingell, a Democrat of Michigan.

The only duty customarily associated with this position is to swear in a Speaker of the House when he or she is elected. 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. The Dean does not preside over the election of the Speaker, unlike the Father of the House in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom and the Dean of the Canadian House of Commons.

Because of the 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.

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 discontinuous 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 only in 1998 by Sidney R. Yates, though Claude Pepper, who died early in his final term in 1989, holds the record for oldest winner of a House election). 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.

More recently, Texas Democrat Jack Brooks was defeated for reelection in the year he was expected to succeed Jamie L. Whitten as Dean.

The second-longest serving member of the house is John Conyers (D-Michigan), since 1965; the third is Dave Obey (D-Wisconsin), 1969.

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.

Term as Dean Dean Party State Seniority date
March 1789-
March 1797
Frederick A.C. Muhlenberg Federalist Pennsylvania March 4, 1789
(also Speaker 1789-91 and 1793-95)
March 1797-
December 1800
Thomas Hartley Federalist Pennsylvania March 4, 1789
George Thatcher Federalist Massachusetts
December 1800-
March 1801
George Thatcher Federalist Massachusetts March 4, 1789
March 1801-
March 1803
Andrew Gregg Democratic-Republican Pennsylvania March 4, 1791
William B. Grove Federalist North Carolina
Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina
March 1803-
March 1807
Andrew Gregg Democratic-Republican Pennsylvania March 4, 1791
Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina
March 1807-
December 1815
Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican North Carolina March 4, 1791
(also Speaker 1801-1807)
December 1815-
April 1816
Richard Stanford Federalist North Carolina March 4, 1797
April 1816-
March 1817
John Davenport Federalist Connecticut March 4, 1799
March 1817-
March 1830
Thomas Newton, Jr. Democratic-Republican; Adams Virginia March 4, 1801
March 1830-
March 1833
William McCoy Jacksonian Virginia March 4, 1811
March 1833-
February 1842
Lewis Williams National Republican; Whig; Democratic North Carolina March 4, 1815
February 1842-
April 1844
Dixon H. Lewis Democratic Alabama March 4, 1829
April 1844-
March 1849
James I. McKay Democratic North Carolina March 4, 1831
March 1849-
March 1855
Linn Boyd Democratic Kentucky March 4, 1839 [1]
(also Speaker from 1851)
March 1855-
March 1859
Joshua Reed Giddings Republican Ohio May 5, 1842
March 1859-
March 1863
John S. Phelps Democratic Missouri March 4, 1845
March 1863-
March 1869
Elihu B. Washburne Republican Illinois March 4, 1853
March 1869-
March 1875
Henry L. Dawes Republican Massachusetts March 4, 1857
March 1875-
January 1890
William D. Kelley Republican Pennsylvania March 4, 1861
January 1890-
April 1890
Samuel J. Randall Democratic Pennsylvania March 4, 1863
April 1890-
March 1891
Joseph G. Cannon Republican Illinois March 4, 1873
Roger Q. Mills Democratic Texas
James H. Blount Democratic Georgia
Richard P. Bland Democratic Missouri
March 1891-
March 1892
Roger Q. Mills Democratic Texas March 4, 1873
James H. Blount Democratic Georgia
Richard P. Bland Democratic Missouri
March 1892-
March 1893
James H. Blount Democratic Georgia March 4, 1873
Richard P. Bland Democratic Missouri
March 1893-
March 1895
Richard P. Bland Democratic Missouri March 4, 1873
March 1895-
March 1897
David B. Culberson Democratic Texas March 4, 1875
March 1897-
September 1899
Thomas Brackett Reed Republican Maine March 4, 1877
September 1899-
March 1912
Henry H. Bingham Republican Pennsylvania March 4, 1879
March 1912-
December 1914
Sereno E. Payne Republican New York March 4, 1889
December 1914-
April 1918
William A. Jones Democratic Virginia March 4, 1891
April 1918-
March 1919
Henry Allen Cooper Republican Wisconsin March 4, 1893
Frederick H. Gillett Republican Massachusetts
March 1919-
March 1925
Frederick H. Gillett Republican Massachusetts March 4, 1893
(also Speaker for these years)
March 1925-
May 1928
Thomas S. Butler Republican Pennsylvania March 4, 1897
May 1928-
March 1933
Gilbert N. Haugen Republican Iowa March 4, 1899
March 1933-
April 1934
Edward W. Pou Democratic North Carolina March 4, 1901
April 1934-
November 1952
Adolph Joachim Sabath Democratic Illinois March 4, 1907
November 1952-
January 1953
Robert L. Doughton Democratic North Carolina March 4, 1911
January 1953-
November 1961
Sam Rayburn Democratic Texas March 4, 1913
(also Speaker from 1955)
November 1961-
January 1965
Carl Vinson Democratic Georgia November 3, 1914
January 1965-
January 1973
Emanuel Celler Democratic New York March 4, 1923
January 1973-
March 1976
Wright Patman Democratic Texas March 4, 1929
March 1976-
January 1979
George H. Mahon Democratic Texas January 3, 1935
January 1979-
January 1995
Jamie L. Whitten Democratic Mississippi November 4, 1941
January 1995-
John Dingell Democratic Michigan December 13, 1955
  • Hartley, Stanford, Williams, Kelley, Randall, Bingham, Payne, Jones, Cooper, Butler, Pou, Sabath, Rayburn, and Patman died in office.
  • Vinson, Whitten, and Dingell entered the House to fill unexpired terms.
  • Sabath served as Dean longer than any other person: 18 years, 7 months, and five days.

See also


  1. ^ Boyd had previously served 1835-37


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