Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, an obese Lutheran minister, was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives and the first functioning head of the U.S. Government; he presided over the 65-member House in New York for a month before President George Washington was inaugurated. Sam Rayburn of Texas served longer as Speaker than any other man: 16 years. From Muhlenberg to McCormack. 45 have ruled as Speakers of the House (one lasted just one day). Some were great men, many were toadies and sycophants, a few were colorful despots. Among the outstanding Speakers:...

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