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Senate Chaplain


Image of Samuel Provoost, First Senate Chaplain
Chapter 1: Office of the Senate Chaplain
Chapter 2: Senate Chaplains

Office of the Senate Chaplain 

When the Senate first convened in New York City on April 6, 1789, one of its first orders of business was to appoint a committee to recommend a candidate for chaplain. On April 25, the Senate elected the Right Reverend Samuel Provoost, Episcopal Bishop of New York, as its first chaplain. Since that time, the Senate has been served by chaplains of various religious denominations, including Episcopalians (19), Methodists (17), Presbyterians (14), Baptists (6), Unitarians (2), Congregationalists (1), Lutherans (1), Roman Catholics (1), and Seventh-day Adventists (1). The Senate has also appointed guest chaplains representative of all the world's major religious faiths. In addition to opening the Senate each day in prayer, the current Senate chaplain's duties include spiritual care and counseling for senators, their families, and their staffs—a combined constituency of over 6,000 people—and discussion sessions, prayer meetings, and a weekly Senators' Prayer Breakfast.

For more information, see "Senate Chaplain" by Senator Robert C. Byrd, from The Senate, 1789-1989: Addresses on the History of the United States Senate (pdf).

 

Senate Chaplains 

The Senate Chaplains

Samuel Provoost, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: April 25, 1789

Note: First Bishop of New York

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William White, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 9, 1790

Note: First Bishop of Pennsylvania

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Thomas John Claggett, S.T.D., D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: November 27, 1800

Note: First Bishop of Maryland

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Edward Gantt, M.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 9, 1801

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Alexander Thomas McCormick

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: November 7, 1804

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Edward Gantt, M.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 4, 1805

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John Johnson Sayrs

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 3, 1806

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A.T. McCormick

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: November 10, 1807

Note: On October 29, 1807, Edward Gantt was elected but declined to serve.

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Robert Elliott

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: November 10, 1808

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James Jones Wilmer

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: May 24, 1809

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Obadiah Bruen Brown

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: December 5, 1809

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Walter Dulaney Addison

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 12, 1810

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John Brackenridge, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: November 13, 1811

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Jesse Lee

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: September 27, 1814

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John Glendy

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: December 8, 1815

Note: On December 6, 1816, John Glendie was elected but declined to serve.

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Sereno Edward Dwight, D.D.

Denomination: Congregationalist

Date of Appointment: December 16, 1816

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William Dickinson Hawley

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 9, 1817

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John Clark

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: November 19, 1818

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Reuben Post, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: December 9, 1819

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William Ryland

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: November 17, 1820

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Charles Petit McIlvaine, D.D., LL.D., D.C.L.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 9, 1822

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William Staughton, D.D.

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: December 10, 1823

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Charles Petit McIlvaine, D.D., LL.D., D.C.L.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 14, 1824

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William Staughton, D.D.

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: December 12, 1825

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William Ryland

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 8, 1826

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Henry Van Dyke Johns, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 14, 1829

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John Price Durbin, D.D., LL.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 19, 1831

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Charles Constantine Pise, D.D.

Denomination: Roman Catholic

Date of Appointment: December 11, 1832

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Frederick Winslow Hatch, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 10, 1833

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Edward Young Higbee, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 23, 1835

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John Reinhard Goodman

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 28, 1836

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Henry Slicer

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: September 11, 1837

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George Grimston Cookman

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 31, 1839

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Septimus Tustin, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: June 12, 1841

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Henry Slicer

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 16, 1846

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Clement Moore Butler, D.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: January 9, 1850

Note: There being a tie vote (30 for Henry Slicer and 30 for C.M. Butler), Vice President Millard Fillmore voted for C.M. Butler and broke the tie.

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Henry Slicer

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 7, 1853

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Henry Clay Dean

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 4, 1855

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Stephen P. Hill, D.D.

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: December 8, 1856

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Phineas Densmore Gurley, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: December 15, 1859

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Byron Sunderland, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: July 10, 1861

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Thomas Bowman, LL.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: May 11, 1864

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Edgar Harkness Gray, D.D.

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: March 9, 1865

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John Philip Newman, D.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: March 8, 1869

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Byron Sunderland, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: December 8, 1873

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Joseph J. Bullock, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: March 24, 1879

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Elias DeWitt Huntley, D.D., LL.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: December 18, 1883

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John George Butler, D.D., LL.D.

Denomination: Lutheran

Date of Appointment: March 15, 1886

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William Henry Milburn, D.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: April 6, 1893

Note: W.H. Milburn resigned, because of ill health, on December 2, 1902, his resignation to take effect when the Senate elected a new chaplain. His letter stated that a friend would take his place until that time and from the records it would appear that F. J. Prettyman was the "friend." W.H. Milburn is listed as the official Senate chaplain until the election of F.J. Prettyman on November 23, 1903.

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F.J. Prettyman, D.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: November 23, 1903

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Edward Everett Hale, D.D., LL.D.

Denomination: Unitarian

Date of Appointment: December 14, 1903

Note: Died in office on June 10, 1909.

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Ulysses Grant Baker Pierce, D.D., Ph.D.

Denomination: Unitarian

Date of Appointment: June 18, 1909

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F.J. Prettyman, D.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: March 13, 1913

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Joseph Johnstone Muir, D.D.

Denomination: Baptist

Date of Appointment: January 21, 1921

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ZeBarney Thorne Phillips, D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Denomination: Episcopalian

Date of Appointment: December 5, 1927

Note: Died in office on May 10, 1942.

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Frederick Brown Harris, D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: October 10, 1942

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Peter Marshall, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: January 4, 1947

Note: Died in office on January 24, 1949.

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Frederick Brown Harris, D.D., LL.D., Litt.D.

Denomination: Methodist

Date of Appointment: February 3, 1949

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Edward L.R. Elson, D.D., S.T.D., Litt.D., LL.D., L.H.D., D.Hum., D.Min.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: January 9, 1969

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Richard C. Halverson, D.D., LL.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: February 2, 1981

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Lloyd John Ogilvie, D.D.

Denomination: Presbyterian

Date of Appointment: March 11, 1995

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Barry C. Black, Ph.D., D. Min., D.D.

Denomination: Seventh-day Adventist

Date of Appointment: July 7, 2003

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Note: The 35th Congress (1857-1859) discontinued the custom of electing a Senate chaplain, and extended an invitation to the clergy of the District of Columbia to alternate in opening the daily sessions with prayer. The 36th Congress returned to the former practice.

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Denomination Totals:

Episcopalian = 19
Methodist = 17
Presbyterian = 14
Baptist = 6
Unitarian = 2
Congregationalist = 1
Lutheran = 1
Roman Catholic = 1
Seventh-day Adventist = 1

Total: 62