Democratic Whips (1899 to present)

Oscar Wilder Underwood/tiles/non-collection/i/im_people_demwhip_2005_141_004.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A ten-term Member of the House, Oscar Underwood of Alabama served as the first Democratic Whip in 1899.
The Democratic Whip assists the Democratic leadership in managing the party's legislative program on the House Floor. The Whip provides a communications network for the Democratic Members and mobilizes them for important party measures coming up for a vote. The title comes from Great Britain where the House of Commons has had party “whips” since the late 18th century. The British Parliament borrowed the term from foxhunting where the “whipper in” was the person in charge of keeping the pack of foxhounds together. In the U.S. House, Whips have served as a two-way bridge between the leadership and the rank-and-file.

The first Democratic Whip was appointed in 1901 when Democratic Leader James D. Richardson of Tennessee chose Oscar Underwood of Alabama. Incomplete documentation from 1909 to 1921, however, have left no official record of the Democratic Whip during most of those years.

For much of its history, the Democratic Whip has been appointed by the Democratic Leader. Beginning with Tony Coelho of California in 1986, the party Whip has been elected by the organizing caucus of Democratic Representatives-elect just prior to the start of a new Congress. If the position becomes vacant during a Congress, a new Whip is elected at a subsequent meeting. When Democrats are in the majority, the Whip is the third highest position in the caucus, behind the Majority Leader and the Speaker.

When in the minority, the Whip is the second highest position behind the Minority Leader. Of the 25 members who have served as Democratic Whip, five later became House Speaker, eight became Democratic Leader, and two moved over to the Senate. The Democratic Whip organization has also grown over time as the legislative agenda became busier and the issues of national governance grew more complex. By the opening of the 107th Congress (2001–2003), six deputy whips represented and were responsible for various groupings among the Democrats.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland is the current Democratic Whip. Information on the current activities of the Democratic Whip is available at the House Democratic Whip's website.

Congress and Years Name State or Territory
56th (1899–1901) UNDERWOOD, Oscar Wilder AL
57th (1901–1903) LLOYD, James Tilghman MO
58th (1903–1905) LLOYD, James Tilghman MO
59th (1905–1907) LLOYD, James Tilghman MO
60th (1907–1909) LLOYD, James Tilghman 1 MO
63rd (1913–1915) BELL, Thomas Montgomery GA
67th (1921–1923) OLDFIELD, William Allan AR
68th (1923–1925) OLDFIELD, William Allan AR
69th (1925–1927) OLDFIELD, William Allan AR
70th (1927–1929) OLDFIELD, William Allan 2 AR
70th (1927–1929) MCDUFFIE, John 3 AL
71st (1929–1931) MCDUFFIE, John AL
72nd (1931–1933) MCDUFFIE, John AL
73rd (1933–1935) GREENWOOD, Arthur Herbert IN
74th (1935–1937) BOLAND, Patrick Joseph PA
75th (1937–1939) BOLAND, Patrick Joseph PA
76th (1939–1941) BOLAND, Patrick Joseph PA
77th (1941–1943) BOLAND, Patrick Joseph 4 PA
77th (1941–1943) RAMSPECK, Robert C. Word 5 GA
78th (1943–1945) RAMSPECK, Robert C. Word GA
79th (1945–1947) RAMSPECK, Robert C. Word 6 GA
79th (1945–1947) SPARKMAN, John Jackson 7 AL
80th (1947–1949) MCCORMACK, John William MA
81st (1949–1951) PRIEST, James Percy TN
82nd (1951–1953) PRIEST, James Percy TN
83rd (1953–1955) MCCORMACK, John William MA
84th (1955–1957) ALBERT, Carl Bert OK
85th (1957–1959) ALBERT, Carl Bert OK
86th (1959–1961) ALBERT, Carl Bert OK
87th (1961–1963) ALBERT, Carl Bert OK
87th (1961–1963) BOGGS, Thomas Hale, Sr. LA
88th (1963–1965) BOGGS, Thomas Hale, Sr. LA
89th (1965–1967) BOGGS, Thomas Hale, Sr. LA
90th (1967–1969) BOGGS, Thomas Hale, Sr. LA
91st (1969–1971) BOGGS, Thomas Hale, Sr. LA
92nd (1971–1973) O'NEILL, Thomas Philip, Jr. (Tip) MA
93rd (1973–1975) MCFALL, John Joseph CA
94th (1975–1977) MCFALL, John Joseph CA
95th (1977–1979) BRADEMAS, John IN
96th (1979–1981) BRADEMAS, John IN
97th (1981–1983) FOLEY, Thomas Stephen WA
98th (1983–1985) FOLEY, Thomas Stephen WA
99th (1985–1987) FOLEY, Thomas Stephen WA
100th (1987–1989) COELHO, Tony CA
101st (1989–1991) COELHO, Tony 8 CA
101st (1989–1991) GRAY, William Herbert, III 9 PA
102nd (1991–1993) GRAY, William Herbert, III 10 PA
102nd (1991–1993) BONIOR, David Edward 11 MI
103rd (1993–1995) BONIOR, David Edward MI
104th (1995–1997) BONIOR, David Edward MI
105th (1997–1999) BONIOR, David Edward MI
106th (1999–2001) BONIOR, David Edward MI
107th (2001–2003) BONIOR, David Edward 12 MI
107th (2001–2003) PELOSI, Nancy 13 CA
108th (2003–2005) HOYER, Steny Hamilton MD
109th (2005–2007) HOYER, Steny Hamilton MD
110th (2007–2009) CLYBURN, James Enos SC
111th (2009–2011) CLYBURN, James Enos SC
112th (2011–2013) HOYER, Steny Hamilton MD
113th (2013–2015) HOYER, Steny Hamilton MD
114th (2015–2017) HOYER, Steny Hamilton MD


1Resigned as Democratic Whip in February 1908.

2Died in office, November 19, 1928.

3Elected Democratic Whip on March 3, 1929, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Democratic Whip William Allan Oldfield.

4Died in office, May 18, 1942.

5Appointed Democratic Whip on June 8, 1942, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Democratic Whip Patrick Joseph Boland.

6Resigned from the House of Representatives on December 31, 1945.

7Appointed Democratic Whip on November 27, 1945, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Democratic Whip Robert C. Word Ramspeck.

8Resigned as Democratic Whip on June 14, 1989.

9Elected Democratic Whip on June 14, 1989.

10Resigned from the House of Representatives on September 11, 1991.

11Elected Democratic Whip on July 11, 1991, but did not assume office until September 11, 1991.

12Resigned from the House of Representatives on January 15, 2002.

13Elected Democratic Whip on October 10, 2001, but did not assume office until January 15, 2002.