Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

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The Speaker of the House is the leader of the United States House of Representatives elected by its members. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the Speaker as of 2023.

Contrary to a popular misperception, the Speaker himself does not have to be a member of the House, under Robert's Rules of Order. For example, Donald Trump could have been elected Speaker of the House in 2023.

Constitutional Role

The position was created by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution. However it is vague on the particularities of the position, as it is on many other positions, leaving it up to the House to flesh it out. Our Founding Fathers created the position recognizing the need for a leader to run the House. Although a Speaker is not required to be a member of Congress, no Speaker who is not in Congress has ever been elected.


Traditionally the majority party has chosen the Speaker after the biannual Congressional Elections. If the majority party does not have its members vote for their candidate, a minority party member could become Speaker. However this has never occurred in the history of the Union.


Speaker Term
Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg 1789-1791
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. 1791-1793
Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg 1793-1795
Jonathan Dayton 1795-1799
Theodore Sedgwick 1799-1801
Nathaniel Macon 1801-1807
Joseph Bradley Varnum 1807-1811
Henry Clay 1811-1814
Langdon Cheves 1814-1815
Henry Clay 1815-1820
John W. Taylor 1820-1821
Philip Pendleton Barbour 1821-1823
Henry Clay 1823-1825
John W. Taylor 1825-1827
Andrew Stevenson 1827-1834
John Bell 1834-1835
James Knox Polk 1835-1839
Robert M. T. Hunter 1839-1841
John White 1841-1843
John Winston Jones 1843-1845
John Wesley Davis 1845-1847
Robert Charles Winthrop 1847-1849
Howell Cobb 1849-1851
Linn Boyd 1851-1855
Nathaniel Prentice Banks 1856-1857
James Lawrence Orr 1857-1859
William Pennington 1860-1861
Galusha A. Grow 1861-1863
Schuyler Colfax 1863-1869
Theodore Medad Pomeroy 1869
James G. Blaine 1869-1875
Michael Crawford Kerr 1875-1876
Samuel Jackson Randall 1876-1881
Joseph Warren Keifer 1881-1883
John Griffin Carlisle 1883-1889
Thomas Brackett Reed 1889-1891
Charles Frederick Crisp 1891-1895
Thomas Brackett Reed 1895-1899
David B. Henderson 1899-1903
Joseph Gurney Cannon 1903-1911
Champ Clark 1911-1919
Frederick Gillett 1919-1925
Nicholas Longworth 1925-1931
John Nance Garner 1931-1933
Henry T. Rainey 1933-1934
Joseph Wellington Byrns 1935-1936
William Brockman Bankhead 1936-1940
Sam Rayburn 1940-1947 (longest serving Speaker)
Joseph Martin 1947-1949
Sam Rayburn 1949-1953
Joseph Martin 1953-1955
Sam Rayburn 1955-1961
John McCormack 1961-1971
Carl Bert Albert 1971-1977
Tip O'Neill 1977-1987
James Wright 1987-1989
Thomas Foley 1989-1995
Newt Gingrich 1995-1999
J. Dennis Hastert 1999-2007
Nancy Pelosi 2007-2010
John Boehner 2010-2015
Paul Ryan 2015-2019
Nancy Pelosi (2nd term) 2019-2023
Kevin McCarthy 2023-present