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Speaker of the House John White of Kentucky

May 31, 1841
Speaker of the House John White of Kentucky Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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A five-term Member of the House, John White was the second Kentuckian elected Speaker. His mentor, Henry Clay of Kentucky served six-terms as Speaker while White only served one.
On this date, in the 27th Congress (1841–1843), John White of Kentucky was elected to his only term as Speaker of the House. Born on February 14, 1802, White studied law at Greenville College. He established a reputation as a talented lawyer and served in the Kentucky state house of representatives in 1832. A protégé of Henry Clay of Kentucky, White was first elected as a Whig to the 24th Congress (1835–1837). At the opening of the 27th Congress, he received 121 votes for Speaker, while his closest competitor, John W. Jones of Virginia, received 84 votes. In his acceptance speech as Speaker, White commented, “I am sensible of the magnitude and difficulty of the task, of its arduous duties, of its high responsibilities. Six years’ service in this body has taught me that this chair is no bed of down, especially in a time of great political excitement.” White asked his colleagues to “let all our proceedings be marked with forbearance, moderation, courtesy, and patriotism.” In the 28th Congress (1843–1845), White was re-nominated as Speaker, but lost to Jones by a vote of 128 to 59. At the end of the term, White left Congress to become a judge in Kentucky. He died on September 22, 1845.

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