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President pro tempore of the United States Senate

The United States Senate, according to the United States Constitution, (Article I), is required to choose a President Pro Tempore (or, "president for a time"), who presides over the Senate in the absence of the Vice-President. This position is usually given to the oldest Senator of the majority party. Because of the smaller size of the Senate and because Senate rules of procedure give more power to individual senators, the President Pro Tem is not a powerful position especially in comparison to the Speaker of the House of Representatives or even the party leaders of the Senate.

In earlier times, when the Vice President usually presided over the Senate, a President pro tempore was chosen each time there was an absence. More recently, a sitting president pro tempore has been chosen.

Since 1947, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate has been third in line to succeed to the US presidency in the case of death or resignation, after the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. (See Presidential line of succession.)

The current President Pro Tempore of the Senate is Ted Stevens of Alaska. Before the Republicans regained control of the Senate on November 5, 2002, the President Pro Tempore was Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Prior to the shift of James Jeffords[?] from Republican to Independent in May 2001, which shifted control of the Senate from the Republican to the Democratic Party, the office was held by J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

Presidents pro Tempore of the United States Senate 1st Congress (1789-1791)

2nd Congress (1791-1793) 3rd Congress (1793-1795) 4th Congress (1795-1797) 5th Congress (1797-1799) 6th Congress (1799-1801) 7th Congress (1801-1803) 8th Congress (1803-1805) 9th Congress (1805-1807) 10th Congress (1807-1809) 11th Congress (1809-1811) 12th Congress (1811-1813) 13th Congress (1813-1815) 14th Congress (1815-1817) 15th Congress (1817-1819) 16th Congress (1819-1821) 17th Congress (1821-1823) 18th Congress (1823-1825) 19th Congress (1825-1827) 20th Congress (1827-1829) 21st Congress (1829-1831) 22nd Congress (1831-1833) 23rd Congress (1833-1835) 24th Congress (1835-1837) 25th Congress (1837-1839)
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) March 7 - September 3, 1837
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) October 13 - December 3, 1837
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) July 2 - December 18, 1838
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) February 25 - December 1, 1839
26th Congress (1839-1841)
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) December 2 - December 26, 1839
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) July 3 - December 15, 1840
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) March 3, 1841
27th Congress (1841-1843)
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) March 4, 1841
  • Samuel Southard (Whig-NJ) March 11 - May 31, 1842
  • Willie P. Mangum (Whig-NC) May 31, 1842 - December 3, 1843
28th Congress (1843-1845)
  • Willie P. Mangum (Whig-NC) December 4, 1843 - March 3, 1845
29th Congress (1845-1847)
  • Willie P. Mangum (Whig-NC) March 4, 1845
  • Ambrose H. Sevier (Democrat-AR) December 27, 1845
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) August 8 - December 6, 1846
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) January 11 - January 13, 1847
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) March 3 - December 5, 1847
30th Congress (1847-1849)
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) February 2 - February 8, 1848
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) June 1 - June 14, 1848
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) June 26 - June 29, 1848
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) July 29 - December 4, 1848
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) December 26, 1848 - January 1, 1849
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) March 2 - March 4, 1849
31st Congress (1849-1851)
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) March 5, 1849
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) March 16 - December 2, 1849
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) May 6 - May 19, 1850
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) July 11, 1850 - March 3, 1851
32nd Congress (1851-1853)
  • William R. King (Democrat-AL) March 4, 1851 - December 20, 1852
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) December 20, 1852 - March 3, 1853
33rd Congress (1853-1855)
  • David R. Atchison (Democrat-MO) March 4, 1853 - December 4, 1854
  • Lewis Cass (Democrat-MI) December 4, 1854
  • Jesse D. Bright (Democrat-IN) December 5, 1854 - December 2, 1855
34th Congress (1855-1857)
  • Jesse D. Bright (Democrat-IN) December 3, 1855 - June 9, 1856
  • Charles E. Stuart (Democrat-MI) June 9 - June 10, 1856
  • Jesse D. Bright (Democrat-IN) June 11, 1856 - January 6, 1857
  • James M. Mason (Democrat-VA) January 6 - March 3, 1857
35th Congress (1857-1859)
  • James M. Mason (Democrat-VA) March 4, 1857
  • Thomas J. Rusk (Democrat-TX) March 14 - July 29, 1857
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) December 7 - December 20, 1857
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) March 29 - May 2, 1858
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) June 14 - December 5, 1858
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) January 19, 1859
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) January 25 - February 9, 1859
36th Congress (1859-1861)
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) March 9 - December 4, 1859
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) December 19, 1859 - January 15, 1860
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) February 20 - February 26, 1860
  • Jesse D. Bright (Democrat-IN) June 12 - June 13, 1860
  • Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democrat-AL) June 26 - December 2, 1860
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) February 16 - February 17, 1861
37th Congress (1861-1863)
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) March 23 - July 3, 1861
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) July 18 - December 1, 1861
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) January 15, 1862
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) March 31 - May 21, 1862
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) June 19 - December 12, 1862
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) February 18 - March 3, 1863
38th Congress (1863-1865)
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) March 4 - December 6, 1863
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) December 18 - December 20, 1863
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) February 23, 1864
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) March 11 - March 13, 1864
  • Solomon Foot (Republican-VT) April 11 - April 13, 1864
  • Daniel Clark (Republican-NH) April 26, 1864 - January 4, 1865
  • Daniel Clark (Republican-NH) February 9 - February 19, 1865
39th Congress (1865-1867)
  • Lafayette S. Foster (Republican-CT) May 7, 1865 - March 2, 1867
  • Benjamin F. Wade (Republican-OH) March 2 - March 3, 1867
40th Congress (1867-1869)
  • Benjamin F. Wade (Republican-OH) March 4, 1867 - March 3, 1869
41st Congress (1869-1871)
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) March 23-28, 1869
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) April 9-December 5, 1869
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) May 28-June 2, 1870
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) July 1-5, 1870
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) July 14-December 4, 1870
42nd Congress (1871-1873)
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) March 10-12, 1871
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) April 17-May 9, 1871
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) May 23-December 3, 1871
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) December 21, 1871 - January 7, 1872
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) February 23-25, 1872
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) June 8-December 1, 1872
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) December 4-8, 1872
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) December 13-15, 1872
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) December 20, 1872 - January 5, 1873
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) January 24, 1873
43rd Congress (1873-1875)
  • Matthew H. Carpenter (R-WI) March 12-13, 1873
  • Matthew H. Carpenter (R-WI) March 26-November 30, 1873
  • Matthew H. Carpenter (R-WI) December 11, 1873 - December 6, 1874
  • Matthew H. Carpenter (R-WI) December 23, 1874 - January 4, 1875
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) January 25-31, 1875
  • Henry B. Anthony (R-RI) February 15-17, 1875
44th Congress (1875-1877)
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) March 9-10, 1875
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) March 19, 1875 - March 4, 1877
45th Congress (1877-1879)
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) March 5, 1877
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) February 26-March 3, 1878
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) April 17-December 1, 1878
  • Thomas W. Ferry (R-MI) March 3-17, 1879
46th Congress (1879-1881)
  • Allen G. Thurman (D-OH) April 15-November 30, 1879
  • Allen G. Thurman (D-OH) April 7-14, 1880
  • Allen G. Thurman (D-OH) May 6-December 5, 1880
47th Congress (1881-1883)
  • Thomas F. Bayard (D-DE) October 10-13, 1881
  • David Davis (Independent-IL) October 13, 1881-March 3, 1883
  • George F. Edmunds (R-VT) March 3-December 2, 1883
48th Congress (1883-1885)
  • George F. Edmunds (R-VT) December 3, 1883 - March 3, 1885
49th Congress (1885-1887)
  • John Sherman (R-OH) December 7, 1885 - February 26, 1887
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) February 26-December 4, 1887
50th Congress (1887-1889)
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) December 5, 1887 - March 3, 1889
51st Congress (1889-1891)
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) March 17-17, 1889
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) April 2-December 1, 1889
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) December 5-10, 1889
  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) February 28-March 18, 1890

At this point, it was decided that presidents pro tempore should serve until a new one was elected. They were as follows:

  • John J. Ingalls (R-KS) April 3, 1890 - March 2, 1891
  • Charles F. Manderson (R-NE) March 2, 1891 - March 22, 1893
  • Isham G. Harris (D-TN) March 22, 1893 - January 7, 1895
  • Matt W. Ransom (D-NC) January 7-10, 1895
  • Isham G. Harris (D-TN) January 10-March 3, 1895
  • William P. Frye (R-ME) February 7, 1896 - April 27, 1911

on Frye's death, it proved difficult to elect a successor. For the remainder of the 62nd Congress (1911-1913), the position alternated among:

  • Augustus O. Bacon (D-GA)
  • Charles Curtis (R-KS)
  • Jacob H. Gallinger (R-NH)
  • Frank B. Brandegee (R-CT) and
  • Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA)

In the next Congress, things returned to normal:

  • James P. Clarke (D-AR) March 13, 1913 - October 1, 1916
  • Willard Saulsbury (D-DE) December 14, 1916 - March 3, 1919
  • Albert B. Cummins (R-IA) May 19, 1919 - March 6, 1925
  • George H. Moses (R-NH) March 6, 1925 - March 3, 1933
  • Key Pittman (D-NV) March 9, 1933 - November 10, 1940
  • William H. King (D-UT) November 19, 1940 - January 3, 1941
  • Pat Harrison (D-MS) January 6 - June 22, 1941
  • Carter Glass (D-VA) July 10, 1941 - January 2, 1945
  • Kenneth McKellar (D-TN) January 6, 1945 - January 2, 1947
  • Arthur H. Vandenberg (R-MI) January 4, 1947 - January 2, 1949
  • Kenneth McKellar (D-TN) January 3, 1949 - January 2, 1953
  • Styles Bridges (R-NH) January 3, 1953 - January 4, 1955
  • Walter F. George (D-GA) January 5, 1955 - January 2, 1957
  • Carl T. Hayden (D-AZ) January 3, 1957 - January 2, 1969
  • Richard B. Russell (D-GA) January 3, 1969 - January 21, 1971
  • Allen J. Ellender (D-LA) January 22, 1971 - July 27, 1972
  • James O. Eastland (D-MS) July 28, 1972 - December 27, 1978
  • Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA) January 15, 1979 - December 4, 1980
  • Milton R. Young (R-ND) December 5, 1980
  • Warren G. Magnuson (D-WA) December 6, 1980 - January 4, 1981
  • Strom Thurmond (R-SC) January 5, 1981 - January 5, 1987
  • John C. Stennis (D-MS) January 6, 1987 - January 2, 1989
  • Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) January 3, 1989 - January 3, 1995
  • Strom Thurmond (R-SC) January 4, 1995 - January 3, 2001
  • Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) January 3-20, 2001
  • Strom Thurmond (R-SC) January 20-June 6, 2001
  • Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) June 6, 2001 - January 3, 2003
  • Ted Stevens (R-AK) January 3, 2003 - Present



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