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Learn about the Senate: Officers & Senate Leaders

In addition to its 100 senators, the Senate community is comprised of officers and staff who work behind the scenes to help the Senate conduct its business and fulfill its legislative responsibilities.

John Adams by Eliphalet Frazer Andrews
Vice President John Adams
Image of Samuel Otis of Massachusetts
Secretary of the Senate Samuel Otis
Charles Curtis
Majority Leader Charles Curtis

Article 1, section 3 of the Constitution provides that the vice president of the United States serve as the president of the Senate, and allows the Senate to elect a president pro tempore and other officers as needed. Shortly after the first Congress convened in 1789, the Senate created the positions of secretary of the Senate, sergeant at arms, and chaplain. Over time, as legislative responsibilities grew and became more complex, the Senate hired additional staff, elected new officers, and—beginning in the 1920s—chose party leaders.

To explain the role of such individuals in day-to-day operations, the Senate website includes informative essays and profiles of party leaders, officers & staff, as well as individual members.

The Senate Historical Office conducts oral history interviews with senators, officers, and staff to record the history and document the evolution of the institution from an insider's perspective. Visit the Oral History Project to read a selection of these interviews.

Past Feature Articles

Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Senate's Institutional History

It was up to the first Senate in 1789 to organize, establish its rules, and set precedents that would govern its actions in years to come, evolving into a complex legislative body.