Speaker Elections Decided by Multiple Ballots

The House has elected a new Speaker 124 times since 1789. In the modern era, the Speaker is elected at the beginning of the new Congress by a majority of the Representatives-elect from candidates separately chosen by the majority- and minority-party caucuses. In cases of an unexpected vacancy during a Congress a new Speaker is elected by a majority of the House from candidates previously chosen by the majority and minority parties.

There have been 14 instances of Speaker elections requiring multiple ballots (the records for the 2nd Congress, 1791–1793, are inconclusive, and the House has filled vacancies in the Speakership three times using a resolution). Thirteen of 14 multiple-ballot elections occurred before the Civil War, when party divisions were more nebulous. The last time a Speaker election required two or more votes on the floor happened in 1923.

Congress (Years)NameStateFinal Ballot
3rd Congress (1793–1795)MUHLENBERG, Frederick Augustus ConradPA3rd
6th Congress (1799–1801)SEDGWICK, TheodoreMA2nd
9th Congress (1805–1807)MACON, NathanielNC3rd
11th Congress (1809–1811)VARNUM, Joseph BradleyMA2nd
16th Congress (1819–1821)TAYLOR, John W.1 NY22nd
17th Congress (1821–1823)BARBOUR, Philip PendletonVA12th
19th Congress (1825–1827)TAYLOR, John W.NY2nd
23rd Congress (1833–1835)BELL, JohnTN10th
26th Congress (1839–1841)HUNTER, Robert Mercer TaliaferroVA11th
30th Congress (1847–1849)WINTHROP, Robert CharlesMA3rd
31st Congress (1849–1851)COBB, HowellGA63rd
34th Congress (1855–1857)BANKS, Nathaniel PrenticeMA133rd
36th Congress (1859–1861)PENNINGTON, WilliamNJ44th
68th Congress (1923–1925)GILLETT, Frederick HuntingtonMA9th


1Election held to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Speaker Henry Clay.