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The House has elected or appointed employees to carry out a wide variety of tasks throughout its history. The officers’ duties are prescribed both by law and Rule II of the Rules of the House of Representatives.

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Parliamentarians of the House

Clarence Cannon Clarence Andrew Cannon, Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The Parliamentarian is a nonpartisan official appointed by the Speaker of the House to render objective assistance on legislative and parliamentary procedure to the House of Representatives. During proceedings on the floor, the Parliamentarian sits to the Speaker’s right on the dais.

The parliamentary law of the House of Representatives derives from the Constitution and rules adopted pursuant to Article I, section five of the Constitution. These rules include not only the standing rules adopted from Congress to Congress but also Jefferson's Manual, as customarily incorporated by reference in the standing rules. They also include rules enacted as law and special rules adopted as necessary. On this foundation rests a body of precedent established by decisions of presiding officers on actual parliamentary questions or by long custom and tradition.

In resolving questions of order, the Speaker and other presiding officers of the House adhere to the jurisprudential principle of stare decisis, a commitment to stand by earlier decisions. The overarching role of the Office of the Parliamentarian is to strive for consistency in parliamentary analysis by attempting to apply pertinent precedent to each procedural question.

Persons who performed various aspects of the Parliamentarian's duties held a series of titles throughout congressional history, including “Messenger to the Speaker,” “Clerk to the Speaker,” and “Clerk at the Speaker's Table.” Beginning in the 70th Congress (1927–1929) the title became “Parliamentarian.” Since 1857, 20 individuals have served in that role. Four also served as Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Former Parliamentarians Asher Hinds, Clarence Cannon, and Lewis Deschler each compiled parliamentary precedents of the House that remain invaluable records of its proceedings. The Office of the Parliamentarian biennially publishes a House Rules and Manual. For the longer term, the Parliamentarian and its subsidiary Office of Compilation of Precedents continue the perennial compilation of parliamentary precedents for formal publication. The precedents presently fill 28 volumes comprising thousands of decisions over the 224 years of parliamentary practice in the House. They are published as Hinds’ Precedents (1907); Cannon’s Precedents (1936); and Deschler’s, Deschler-Brown, Deschler-Brown-Johnson, and Deschler-Brown-Johnson-Sullivan Precedents (ongoing). To bridge the span between a digest of decisions and formally published precedents, the Parliamentarian also publishes a condensed compilation of procedures of current application as House Practice.

A complete appointment for each officer date is provided when known.

Congress and Years Name TitleDate Appointed
34th (1855–1857) MORRICE, Thaddeus Messenger to the Speaker 1857
35th (1857–1859) MORRICE, Thaddeus Messenger to the Speaker
36th (1859–1861) MORRICE, Thaddeus Messenger to the Speaker
37th (1861–1863) MORRICE, Thaddeus Messenger to the Speaker
38th (1863–1865) MORRICE, Thaddeus Messenger to the Speaker
38th (1863–1865) TODD, William D. Messenger to the Speaker 1865
39th (1865–1867) TODD, William D. Messenger to the Speaker
40th (1867–1869) TODD, William D. Messenger to the Speaker
41st (1869–1871) BARCLAY, John M. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1869
42nd (1871–1873) BARCLAY, John M. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
43rd (1873–1875) BARCLAY, John M. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
44th (1875–1877) SCUDDER, William H. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1875
45th (1877–1879) SCUDDER, William H. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
45th (1877–1879) TUCKER, J. Randolph, Jr. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1877
46th (1879–1881) MILLER, George P. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1879
46th (1879–1881) SULLIVAN, Michael Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1880
46th (1879–1881) TUCKER, J. Randolph, Jr. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
47th (1881–1883) SULLIVAN, Michael Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1882
47th (1881–1883) WHITE, J. Guilford Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1881
48th (1883–1885) CRUTCHFIELD, Nathaniel T. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1883
49th (1885–1887) CRUTCHFIELD, Nathaniel T. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
50th (1887–1889) CRUTCHFIELD, Nathaniel T. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
51st (1889–1891) CRUTCHFIELD, Nathaniel T. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
51st (1889–1891) GOODWIN, Forrest Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1890
52nd (1891–1893) CRISP, Charles Robert Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1891
53rd (1893–1895) CRISP, Charles Robert Clerk at the Speaker's Table
54th (1895–1897) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1895
55th (1897–1899) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
56th (1899–1901) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
57th (1901–1903) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
58th (1903–1905) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
59th (1905–1907) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
60th (1907–1909) HINDS, Asher Crosby Clerk at the Speaker's Table
61st (1909–1911) HINDS, Asher Crosby 1 Clerk at the Speaker's Table
62nd (1911–1913) CRISP, Charles Robert Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1911
63rd (1913–1915) CLARK, Bennett C. Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1913
64th (1915–1917) CLARK, Bennett C. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
65th (1917–1919) CANNON, Clarence Andrew 2 Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1917
65th (1917–1919) CLARK, Bennett C. Clerk at the Speaker's Table
66th (1919–1921) FESS, Lehr Clerk at the Speaker's Table 1919
67th (1921–1923) FESS, Lehr Clerk at the Speaker's Table
68th (1923–1925) FESS, Lehr Clerk at the Speaker's Table
69th (1925–1927) FESS, Lehr Clerk at the Speaker's Table
70th (1927–1929) FESS, Lehr 3 Clerk at the Speaker's Table
70th (1927–1929) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian Jan 01, 1928 4
71st (1929–1931) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
72nd (1931–1933) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
73rd (1933–1935) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
74th (1935–1937) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
75th (1937–1939) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
76th (1939–1941) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
77th (1941–1943) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
78th (1943–1945) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
79th (1945–1947) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
80th (1947–1949) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
81st (1949–1951) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
82nd (1951–1953) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
83rd (1953–1955) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
84th (1955–1957) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
85th (1957–1959) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
86th (1959–1961) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
87th (1961–1963) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
88th (1963–1965) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
89th (1965–1967) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
90th (1967–1969) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
91st (1969–1971) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
92nd (1971–1973) DESCHLER, Lewis Parliamentarian
93rd (1973–1975) DESCHLER, Lewis 5 Parliamentarian
93rd (1973–1975) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian Jul 01, 1974 6
94th (1975–1977) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
95th (1977–1979) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
96th (1979–1981) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
97th (1981–1983) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
98th (1983–1985) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
99th (1985–1987) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
100th (1987–1989) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
101st (1989–1991) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
102nd (1991–1993) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
103rd (1993–1995) BROWN, William Holmes Parliamentarian
103rd (1993–1995) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian Sep 16, 1994 7
104th (1995–1997) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian
105th (1997–1999) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian
106th (1999–2001) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian
107th (2001–2003) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian
108th (2003–2005) JOHNSON, Charles W. Parliamentarian
108th (2003–2005) SULLIVAN, John V. Parliamentarian May 31, 2004 8
109th (2005–2007) SULLIVAN, John V. Parliamentarian
110th (2007–2009) SULLIVAN, John V. Parliamentarian
111th (2009–2011) SULLIVAN, John V. Parliamentarian
112th (2011–2013) SULLIVAN, John V. Parliamentarian
112th (2011–2013) WICKHAM, Thomas J., Jr. Parliamentarian Apr 01, 2012 9
113th (2013–2015) WICKHAM, Thomas J., Jr. Parliamentarian

Footnotes

1Resigned March 3, 1911, to become Member of the 62nd Congress. See, Washington Post, March 3, 1911: 4.

2Appointed due to Clark's resignation to join the military.

3Resigned on January 1, 1928. See, Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 1st sess., (31 January 1927): 2622.

4Appointed due to Fess's resignation. See, Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 1st sess., (31 January 1927): 2622.

5Retired on June 30, 1974. See, Congressional Record, House, 93rd Cong., 2nd sess., (27 June 1974): 21590.

6Appointed due to Deschler's retirement. See, Congressional Record, House, 93rd Cong., 2nd sess., (1 July 1974): 21847.

7Appointed due to Brown's retirement. See, Congressional Record, House, 103rd Cong., 2nd sess., (20 September 1994): H9226–H9227.

8Appointed due to Johnson's retirement. See, Congressional Record, House, 108th Cong., 2nd sess., (20 May 2004): H3394.

9Appointed due to Sullivan’s retirement. See, Congressional Record, House, 112th Cong., 2nd sess., (28 February 2012): H974.