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Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives

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Title: Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives  
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Subject: Mace of the United States House of Representatives, United States House of Representatives, Paul D. Irving, House Page Board, House banking scandal
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Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives

Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives
Paul D. Irving

since January 17, 2012
Appointer Elected by the House
Term length Two years
Inaugural holder Joseph Wheaton
Website Sergeant at Arms

The Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives is an officer of the House with law enforcement, protocol, and administrative responsibilities. The Sergeant at Arms is elected at the beginning of each Congress by the membership of the House.


As the chief law enforcement officer of the House, the Sergeant at Arms is responsible for security in the House wing of the United States Capitol, the House office buildings, and on adjacent grounds. Under the direction of the Speaker of the House or other presiding officer, the Sergeant at Arms plays an integral role in maintaining order and decorum in the House chamber.

The Sergeant at Arms is also responsible for ensuring the safety and security of members of Congress, congressional staff, visiting dignitaries, and tourists. Toward this mission, the Sergeant at Arms works in concert with the Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the Architect of the Capitol. These three officials, along with the Chief of the Capitol Police in an ex officio status, comprise the Capitol Police Board.

Sergeant at Arms Wilson "Bill" Livingood announces President Barack Obama at the 2011 State of the Union.

Through custom and precedent, the Sergeant at Arms performs a number of protocol and ceremonial duties. Among these duties are to lead formal processions at ceremonies such as presidential inaugurations, joint sessions of Congress (such as the State of the Union address, prior to 2007), formal addresses to the Congress, greeting and escorting visiting foreign dignitaries, and to supervise congressional funeral arrangements. In this capacity, the Sergeant at Arms is most famous for announcing the arrival of the President, a responsibility that he took over from the Doorkeeper of the United States House of Representatives when the latter position was abolished in 1995. Custom dictates that he announce the arrival of the Supreme Court, the President's cabinet, and finally the President by saying, "Mister (or Madam) Speaker, the President of the United States!"

For daily sessions of the House, the Sergeant at Arms carries the silver and ebony Mace of the United States House of Representatives in front of the speaker in procession to the rostrum. When the House is in session, the mace stands on a pedestal to the speaker's own right. When the body resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, the Sergeant at Arms moves the mace to a lowered position, more or less out of sight. In accordance with the Rules of the House, on the rare occasions when a Member becomes unruly, the Sergeant at Arms, on order of the Speaker, lifts the mace from its pedestal and presents it before the offenders, thereby restoring order.

The Sergeant at Arms also performs administrative services in support of the Members, staff, and visitors associated with the security and other operations of the House.

If a quorum is not present, those Representatives who are present may vote to order the Sergeant at Arms to try to round up absent Representatives.

Capitol Guide Board

In addition to serving on the Capitol Police Board, the Sergeant at Arms serves with the Senate Sergeant at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol on the Capitol Guide Board. This board oversees the Capitol Guide Service, which provides tours of the Capitol to visitors and special services to tourists.

Deputy Sergeants at Arms

The Deputy Sergeants at Arms act as assistants to the Sergeant at Arms. The Sergeant at Arms has the duty of making the important decisions under his/her power, while the Deputy Sergeant at Arms often executes the decisions. The Deputy Sergeants at Arms serving under Paul Irving is Timothy Blodgett.

List of Sergeants at Arms

Sergeant at Arms State or Territory Term of Service
Joseph Wheaton Rhode Island May 12, 1789 – October 27, 1807
Thomas Dunn Maryland October 27, 1807 – December 5, 1824
John O. Dunn District of Columbia December 6, 1824 – December 3, 1833
Thomas Beverly Randolph Virginia December 3, 1833 – December 15, 1835
Roderick Dorsey Maryland December 15, 1835 – June 8, 1841
Eleazor M. Townsend Connecticut June 8, 1841 – December 7, 1843
Newton Lane Kentucky December 7, 1843 – December 8, 1847
Nathan Sargent Vermont December 8, 1847 – January 15, 1850
Adam J. Glossbrenner Pennsylvania January 15, 1850 – February 3, 1860
Henry W. Hoffman Maryland February 3, 1860 – July 5, 1861
Edward Ball Ohio July 5, 1861 – December 8, 1863
Nehemiah G. Ordway New Hampshire December 8, 1863 – December 6, 1875
John G. Thompson Ohio December 6, 1875 – December 5, 1881
George W. Hooker Vermont December 5, 1881 – December 4, 1883
John P. Leedom Ohio December 4, 1883 – December 2, 1889
Adoniram J. Holmes Iowa December 2, 1889 – December 8, 1891
Samuel S. Yoder Ohio December 8, 1891 – August 7, 1893
Herman W. Snow Illinois August 7, 1893 – December 2, 1895
Benjamin F. Russell Missouri December 2, 1895 – December 4, 1899
Henry Casson Wisconsin December 4, 1899 – April 4, 1911
Uriah S. Jackson Indiana April 4, 1911 – June 22, 1913
Charles F. Riddell Indiana July 18, 1912 – April 7, 1913
Robert B. Gordon Ohio April 7, 1913 – May 19, 1919
Joseph G. Rogers Pennsylvania May 19, 1919 – December 7, 1931
Kenneth Romney Montana December 7, 1931 – January 3, 1947
William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949
Joseph H. Callahan Kentucky January 3, 1949 – January 3, 1953
William F. Russell Pennsylvania January 3, 1953 – July 7, 1953
Lyle O. Snader Illinois July 8, 1953 – September 15, 1953
William R. Bonsell Pennsylvania September 15, 1953 – January 5, 1955
Zeake W. Johnson Jr. Tennessee January 5, 1955 – September 30, 1972
Kenneth R. Harding Virginia October 1, 1972 – February 29, 1980
Benjamin J. Guthrie Virginia March 1, 1980 – January 3, 1983
Jack Russ Maryland January 3, 1983 – March 12, 1992
Werner Brandt Virginia March 12, 1992 – January 4, 1995
Wilson Livingood Virginia January 4, 1995 – January 17, 2012
Paul D. Irving Florida January 17, 2012 – present

See also

External links

  • Source: United States House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms Fact Sheet (pdf file), via
  • Who is the Sergeant-at-Arms, and what does he/she do? How is the position filled? , via (May 3, 2000)
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