Champ Clark

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives Who Sought The Presidency, And Now Paul Ryan?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the third such law.

The first such law, from 1792-1886, put the Speaker third in line for the Presidency, with the Vice President and the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate ahead of him, later reversed in 1947.

The second law, from 1886-1947, did not include the Speaker in the line of succession, but rather the Cabinet officers after the Vice President.

In our history, only one Speaker of the House became President, James K. Polk of Tennessee, from 1845-1849, and he proved to be one of the more significant Presidents, adding more real estate to America than anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.  This was accomplished by treaty with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest in 1846, and by war with Mexico from 1846-1848, which added the Southwestern United States to the Union.

But seven other Speakers sought the Presidency, including the following:

Henry Clay of Kentucky sought the Presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded as the greatest single legislator in the history of both houses of Congress.  In 1844, we had the only Presidential election where the two opponents had both been Speaker of the House, Clay and Polk!  Clay lost his three elections to John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Polk.

John Bell of Tennessee was the Constitutional Union Party nominee for President in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, and lost to Abraham Lincoln.

James G. Blaine of Maine was the Republican nominee for President in 1884 and lost the election to Grover Cleveland, and was also Secretary of State under three Presidents–James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and a full term under Benjamin Harrison.

Thomas Reed of Maine lost the nomination of the Republican Party in 1896 to future President William McKinley.

Champ Clark of Missouri lost the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1912 to future President Woodrow Wilson.

John Nance Garner of Texas, after being Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt for two terms from 1933-1941, lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to his boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940

Newt Gingrich of Georgia lost the Republican nomination for President to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

So four Speakers were nominated for President, with only Polk winning; and four other Speakers lost the nomination when they sought the Presidency.

Now we may have a ninth such Speaker seeking the Presidency, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose name is being promoted, despite Ryan’s denial of any interest in running for President.

Front Runners In Delegates At National Conventions Who Failed To Become The Nominee Of Their Party: William Henry Seward, Champ Clark, And Martin Van Buren!

Senator William Henry Seward of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1860, but Abraham Lincoln won the nomination on the 3rd ballot, and went on to become the greatest President in American history!

Speaker of the House Champ Clark of Missouri was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1912, but Woodrow Wilson won the nomination on the 46th ballot, and went on to become one of the most significant President in American history, and took us through World War I.

Former President Martin Van Buren of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1844, but James K. Polk won the nomination on the 9th ballot, and went on to gain more territory, by peace treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, than any President except Thomas Jefferson!

Seward went on to become Lincoln’s and Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, and helped to prevent Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and was able to arrange the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia in 1867.

Champ Clark remained Speaker of the House, and served eight years, from 1911-1919, one of the longer lasting Speakers in American history, with only five Speakers serving longer than him.

Martin Van Buren could have been the first Grover Cleveland, to have served two non-consecutive terms in the White House, but instead ran for President once again in 1848 as the candidate of the Free Soil Party, and in so doing, undermined the Democratic Party nominee, and helped indirectly to elect Whig nominee Zachary Taylor.  Van Buren became the first former President to run on a third party line, and the Free Soil Party was the first significant third party, winning 10 percent of the national popular vote, and being a forerunner of the modern Republican Party, which formed six years later, in 1854.

A total of  nine times in American history, we have seen the front runner in delegates fail to win the party’s nomination–three times for the Democrats, five times for the Republicans, and once for the Whigs, so if Donald Trump were to be denied the Republican nomination  in 2016, it would be far from unique or unusual!

The Ten Longest Serving Speakers Of The House Of Representatives

Paul Ryan is the 54th Speaker of the House, but the top ten longest serving have dominated in the 226 years of history of Congress.

The ten longest serving have been in the Speakership for 81 of the 226 years, more than one third of the time!

They are, in order,with time rounded off:

Sam Rayburn  17 years

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill   10 years

John W. McCormack  9 years

Dennis Hastert  8 years

Champ Clark  7 years

Henry Clay  7 years

Carl Albert   6 years

Joseph Cannon  6 years

Thomas Foley   6 years

James G. Blaine  5 years

Six of these ten (Rayburn, O’Neill, McCormack, Clark, Albert, and Foley) were Democrats for a total of 55 years.

Three of these ten (Hastert, Cannon, and Blaine) were Republicans for a total of 19 years.

One of these ten (Henry Clay) was a Democratic Republican for a total of 7 years, later becoming a Whig as a United States Senator.

Clay, Blaine and Cannon were in the years from 1811-1911; Clark and Rayburn were in the years from 1911-1961, and McCormack, Albert, O’Neill, Foley and Hastert in the years from 1962-2007!

So modern Speakers on the average have served much longer periods than earlier Speakers!

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.

 

Presidents Who Were Fortunate To Become President Since 1900!

Today is Presidents Day. There is a tendency to look back on the Presidency’s history, and assume that those who made it to the White House were a certainty, when the opposite is, actually, often the case!

Since 1900, many of our Presidents gained that office by pure luck and timing.

Theodore Roosevelt would never have been President if Vice President Garret Hobart, under President William McKinley, had not died in office in 1899, and therefore, not on the ticket with McKinley in 1900.

Woodrow Wilson would never have been President if the Republican Party had not split in 1912 between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt, and if there had not been a two thirds rule for the Democratic nominee in place, preventing Speaker of the House Champ Clark from being the Democratic nominee for President.

Richard Nixon would never have been President if the Democratic Party had not divided over Vietnam in the mid 1960s, and if George Wallace would not have run as a third party candidate in 1968.

Gerald Ford would never have been President if Vice Spiro Agnew had not been caught in corruption, forcing his resignation in 1973, and if there was no 25th Amendment, providing for a replacement Vice President by appointment of the President and approval by a majority of both houses of Congress.

Jimmy Carter would never have been President if the Watergate Scandal had not occurred, disillusioning many Americans about their national government, and finding a state governor as an appealing alternative, with his image as an “outsider” who would always tell the truth.

Bill Clinton would never have been President if the economy had not declined as it did in 1992, and if Ross Perot had not run on a third party line in that election, undermining George H. W. Bush.

George W. Bush would never have been President if the Supreme Court had not intervened, a revolutionary action, to stop the vote recount in Florida in 2000, with the reality that Al Gore had more than a half million popular vote lead nationally, and yet would lose the Presidency because of that action by the Supreme Court.

This list also does not include Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson, all of whom would never have been President if Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy had not died in office.

Will John Boehner Be Removed From Speakership Before End Of 2014? Highly Unlikely!

The courage and guts of Speaker John Boehner, in finally rejecting the Tea Party whackos in his caucus, and moving ahead to insure that the debt limit issue be taken off the table until March of 2015, could lead to his being deposed as House Speaker before this year is over!

It seems likely that Boehner will NOT be able to remain as Speaker after this year at the most, and he might, very well, decide to quit Congress in disgust at the end of this term.

But IF Boehner is forced out before the midterm elections, it would be likely that the GOP will lose control of the House, as unlikely as that seems to most political observers at the moment.

Never has a Speaker been forced out during his tenure, with the closest example being the stripping of much of the power of Speaker Joseph Cannon in the famous “Revolution of 1910” in October of that year, with the election for the House a month later, and the opposition Democrats winning the House and installing Champ Clark as the new Speaker in 1911-1912!

In any case, GOP disarray can only help the Democrats, and with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, forcing by his filibuster tactics, that Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, had to vote for the extension of the debt limit, makes his Tea Party challenger in Kentucky have a greater chance of defeating McConnell, setting up a whacko against the Democratic nominee for the Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and making the likelihood of the continuation of a Democratic Senate much more likely!

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives: The Presidency And The Vice Presidency

With strong hints that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia will likely be the first Republican to announce his candidacy for the Presidency, it makes one look back and see the history of the Speaker of the House and the office of the Presidency and the Vice Presidency.

Only one Speaker of the House has been elected President, James Polk in the 1844 election, after having served as Speaker from 1835-1839.

Two others who were Speaker were nominated for President and lost–Henry Clay (1811-1814, 1815-1820, 1823-1825)) who lost in 1824, 1832 and 1844; and James G. Blaine (1869-1875) who lost in 1884.

Another Speaker, Champ Clark (1911-1919) sought the nomination in 1912, was ahead in delegates at the Democratic National Convention, but lost the nomination to Woodrow Wilson.

Two others served as Vice President–Schuyler Colfax (1863-1869) who served under Ulysses Grant from 1869-1873; and John Nance Garner (1931-1933), who served under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933-1941.

Additionally, John Bell (1834-1835) ran for President on the Constitutional Union Party in the 1860 Presidential election which led to the victory of Abraham Lincoln.

So Gingrich would be the eighth Speaker to seek high office as President or Vice President, but would only be the second to reach that position were he to be elected in 2012. Don’t bet on it!