Senate Sergeant At Arms: History Of The Police Officer That Protects The U.S Senate Floor

By Jacob Shelton

Mace of the U.S. House of Representatives. (United States House of Representatives)

You may not realize it, but the sergeant at arms and doorkeeper of the United States Senate has one of the most important jobs in the country. The person in this role may not make any decisions for the country, but they protect the people who do.

The Most Important Hall Monitor

On April 7, 1789, James T. Mathers stepped up to the position at the head of the Office of the Doorkeeper for the first United States Congress, but not for the duties the job entails today. At the time, the government had major trouble keeping senators in the Capitol for long enough to meet quorum and get anything done, so Mathers's job was essentially making sure they showed up for work and didn't try to weasel out once they got there. He was also tasked with preventing anyone from interrupting the private sessions so the senators didn't get distracted. Basically, he was the country's most important hall monitor. He was on the job for six years before the sessions became public and the security of senators and aides in the Capitol was added to his job description.