THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Last Time Byrd's Record Was Broken

Today, Senator Robert C. Byrd broke the record of a one-time colleague as the longest-serving member of Congress in U.S. history. As you may have read, Byrd broke the record of Arizona Senator/Representative Carl Hayden, who served his state in Congress from 1912 (a special election on being accepted into the Union) until 1969.

To put this into perspective, before Hayden became the longest-serving member, the record-holder was Joseph Gurney Cannon, a Republican House member from Danville, Illinois. Gurney served as Speaker for 8 years under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, earning the nickname, "The Czar of the House." He was re-elected 23 times from 1872 to 1920, losing in 1890 and 1912. His second defeat came two years after the Democrats won a majority and ousted him as Speaker. He retired in 1923, setting the record at 46 years.

Carl Hayden, too, retired his office after extending Gurney's record by almost 11 years. He earned the title of longest-serving member on February 20, 1958 -- about 52 years ago. Back then, Robert Byrd was still a member of the House, planning his run for the Senate.