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Fighting for the SpeakershipThe House and the Rise of Party Government$
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Jeffery A. Jenkins and Charles Stewart

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691118123

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691118123.001.0001

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The Evolving Roles and Responsibilities of House Officers in the Antebellum Era

The Evolving Roles and Responsibilities of House Officers in the Antebellum Era

(p.25) Chapter 2 The Evolving Roles and Responsibilities of House Officers in the Antebellum Era
Fighting for the Speakership

Jeffery A. Jenkins

Charles Stewart III

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the evolving roles and responsibilities of House officers in the antebellum era. An analysis of each of the major House officer positions—mainly the Speaker, but also the Clerk and Printer—reveals that the Speaker's role has varied over time, and that the speakership was not the only House office worth fighting for, especially before the Civil War. The chapter first provides a background on the speakership before the Civil War before discussing two major features of the House of Representatives's formal organization: committees and floor debate. It then explores how the Speaker, Clerk, and Printer positions could bestow significant policy and patronage to the political parties that controlled them. It shows that all three positions were regularly viewed as political resources and that party leaders saw the potential of these resources for helping to solidify the foundation of a party-centered legislative institution.

Keywords:   speakership, House officers, Speaker, Clerk, Printer, House of Representatives, committees, floor debate, patronage, political parties

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