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109th Congress, 2nd Session
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History of the Office

"The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers..."
The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 2

On April 1, 1789, the House of Representatives convened with its first quorum. Its initial order of business was the election of the Speaker, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, a Representative from Pennsylvania. The next order of business was the election of the Clerk, John Beckley, Esquire, a citizen of Virginia. Although the Clerk's title is derived from that of the Clerk of the British House of Commons, the duties are similar to those prescribed for the Secretary of the Continental Congress in March 1785.

In addition to the duties involved in organizing the House and presiding over its activities at the commencement of each Congress, the Clerk is charged with a number of legislative functions; some of these, such as the constitutional requirement of maintaining the House Journal, have been in existence from the time of the first Congress, whereas others have been added over the years because of changes in procedure and organization.

Along with the other House officers, the Clerk is elected every 2 years when the House organizes for a new Congress. The majority and minority caucuses nominate candidates for the House officer positions after the election of the Speaker. The full House adopts a resolution to elect the officers, who will begin serving the Membership after they have taken the oath of office.

Office of the Clerk (1789-Present)

Clerks 1789–Present
View the table of Clerks who have served the House of Representatives since 1789.

 


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