The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

John Dingell has served with one-quarter of all members of the House in history

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich, who replaced his father in the house some 58 years ago, announces he would retire from public office at the end of his current term and would not seek a 31st term in office during a luncheon in Southgate, Michigan February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
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This post has been updated and corrected.

When Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) leaves the House next month, he will end a streak of 59 years of service in that body -- not only the longest currently serving member, but the longest-serving member in the history of Congress.

Over at the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics blog, Eric Ostermeier set about calculating how many members of Congress had served with Dingell since he came to the body in 1955. Ostermeier's count? 2,453 -- enough to cover every House seat in the country five-and-a-half times over. What's more, Ostermeier says, Dingell served with nearly every woman who's ever served in the House, working alongside 224 of the 261 in total.

We were intrigued by the research, so we duplicated it, using the public data from GovTrack. We came up with a higher number of people that he'd served beside (though our data was admittedly rougher). But when you compare how many people Dingell has served with to the total number of people who ever served in the House -- including non-voting delegates -- it's impressive. Dingell, by our count, served with over 25 percent of all members of the House throughout history. (Includes the nearly 1,000 people who served in the Senate, and it slips to just under 25 percent.)

What's more, Dingell has served in Congress for one-quarter of its entire existence. For every four days that the House has ever been a thing, John Dingell was part of it.

Here's another way of looking at it. When Dingell took office, 78.8 percent of today's United States population had not yet been born.

In a few short weeks, that streak comes to an end.

Update: Someone on Twitter asked how many representatives serving together it would take to stretch back to the founding of the Republic. So we figured it out: Seven.

Well, eight, really, since 1791 was the Second Congress. But a large number of people served in both the first and second, so it wasn't really worth adding.

Correction: In figuring that out, though, I discovered that my original data set was incomplete. I'd missed some members of the House. So the headline and body of the post have been updated with accurate figures.