After the president and vice president, the speaker of the House is third in line to lead the nation. Before John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi fought for the gavel, Congress had a long history of electing colorful figures to office. Brush up on these lesser-known facts about the third-highest political office:
Source: Office of the Historian
The first speaker of the House was Frederick Augustus, a representative from Pennsylvania who was chosen to be the presiding officer over the first organized federal Congress in 1789. (history.house.gov)
To date, there have been 53 representatives who have served as speaker of the House. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images )
Rep. Sam Rayburn was the longest serving speaker. The Texas Democrat presided over the House for 17 years, two months, and two days, and is the namesake for a congressional office building. (Wikipedia Commons )
The shortest term was served by Rep. Theodore Medad Pomeroy, who only held the position for the closing day of the 40th Congress. (Wikipedia Commons )
Massachusetts is the state with the highest number of representatives who have served as speaker—eight. (William B. Plowman/Getty Images)
James K. Polk is the only individual to have served as speaker and president. (Matthew Brady)
Joseph Martin from Massachusetts was the first speaker to deliver a televised address, on the opening day of the 80th Congress in 1947. (history.house.gov)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi was elected the first female speaker of the House in 2007. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images )
At age 30, Rep. Robert M. T. Hunter became the youngest House speaker when he took the position in 1839. (Wikipedia Commons )
Rep. Henry T. Rainey (right) was the oldest House speaker, assuming the speakership in 1933 at age 72. (Wikipedia Commons )
C-SPAN has a lot to thank Rep. Tip O'Neill for. He was the first speaker to approve TV feeds from the House chamber. (Wikipedia Commons )
Speaker Nathaniel P. Banks was the speaker to the most party affiliations during his time in office, having belonged to the Democratic, Republican, and American parties. He also was an independent. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images )
Banks's speakership election, in what was perhaps not a coincidence, also took the longest to complete, taking two months and 133 ballots. (history.house.gov)
Rep. William Pennington was the first speaker to lose his reelection to the House, doing so in 1862.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slide said that Pennington was the only speaker to lose reelection. He was the first. (history.house.gov)
There have been five speakers who died while in office: Michael C. Kerr, Rainey, Joseph W. Byrns, William B. Bankhead, and Rayburn. (POOL/AFP/Getty Images)
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Sarah Gibbens is a producer on National Journal's audience development team. She previously worked as a digital media fellow at The Podesta Group and as a writer for San Antonio-based newspaper The Rivard Report. Sarah graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio where she was the editor-in-chief of the independent student newspaper, The Paisano.
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