Last month, Congress was thrown into shambles when the Speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, was ousted from office. Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, and Tom Emmer all tried (and failed) to become Speaker. Finally, this past week, Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson was voted in.
This month without a speaker put the Republican Party's dysfunction on stage for the world to see. The chaos seems to be over for now, but how long will this last? Do we have reason to believe Johnson will be much different from McCarthy?
It wasn't easy to get McCarthy installed, to begin with. It took fifteen ballots last January to get him installed as Speaker. A messy Speaker election like McCarthy's had only occurred once since the Civil War.
Is history repeating itself?
It's worth noting that, in the decades leading up to the Civil War, there were numerous messy appointments to the Speaker of the House, and in many cases, the drama revolved around abolitionists who refused to play politics. The election of Nathaniel Banks in 1855 was the longest in history, requiring 133 ballots and taking over two months.
In fact, during this time, tensions were running so high over the Speaker election in American politics that a pro-slavery Representative, Albert Rust, physically assaulted one of Banks' supporters with a cane. This was a year before the more famous caning of Charles Sumner by two South Carolina representatives in the Senate Chamber in 1856.