Speakers of the House of Representatives, 1789-2009

About this book

Speakers of the House of Representatives, 1789-2009Contains detailed profiles, historical essays, primary documents, timeline, and bibliography.
Grey House Publishing Grey House Publishing
Copyright © 2009 Grey House Publishing, Inc.
Entries: 108
Images: 98
People: 864


Speaker Biographies

This major portion of the work - comprises 54 detailed biographies that average 7 pages long. This section is arranged chronologically, beginning with the first Speaker — Frederick Muhlenberg, who began his term in 1789 - and ending with the current Speaker - Nancy Pelosi, who was elected in 2007 as the first female Speaker of the House. Each biography starts off with an image of the Speaker and dates of service, and thoughtfully categorized into logical subsections that guide the reader through the details: Personal History; Early Years in Congress; The Vote; Acceptance Speech; Legacy as Speaker; After Leaving the Speakership.

Each biography is strengthened by direct quotations — easily identified in italics — of the Speaker, or influential colleagues of the time. In addition, scattered throughout the biographical section are unique, original graphics - from autographs to personal letters - that not only give the reader an inside look at the Speaker, but also at the times during which he served. Biographies also include Further Reading, and cross references to Primary Documents that appear later in the book.

Historical Essays

Provides in-depth information, at an average of 6 pages each, on the office of the speakership. The topics of these nine essays are far reaching. You will read about the office’s early formation in the House of Commons in England, controversial Speaker elections, the role of the Speaker during Presidential Impeachment, and even the difficulty in studying the speakership.

These historical essays are engagingly written, and provide facts and figures that will help give the reader a full understanding of why the office of speakership was created, and how it evolved into what some consider the most powerful in modern politics.

Primary Documents

This is a unique collection of 43 documents. From acceptance and resignation speeches, to articles with titles like “The New Speaker” (1899) and “... the Changing of the Guard” (1989), these documents are reprinted verbatim and fully sourced. The author sets the stage with an individual introduction for each document that gives timing, background and historical significance. Using cross-references, the reader can quickly link these Primary Documents to Speaker Bios, for a more complete understanding of each speaker’s struggles and successes.

Timeline 1789 – 2009

This chronology of the speakership begins in 1789, when the House of Representatives met for the first time in Federal Hall in New York City, and ends with the passage of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It includes significant events — such as the creation of committees, landmark votes, critical arguments, and the passage of laws - all as they relate to not only specific Speakers, but to the office of the speakership. It includes over 120 entries, most of which are not simply dates and events, but lengthy explanations of the “before” and “after” each significant event.


These eight Appendices offer a fascinating look at the statistics of the speakership. These tables include: Years Served in Congress before being Elected Speaker; Votes of each Speaker Election; Midterm Election Results; Speakers by State; Congressional Distribution by Congress and Party. Each Appendix also includes a brief description.


More than 300 sources, organized in several categories, including Books, Articles, Unpublished Master’s Theses and Dissertations, Official Government Documents.