With his election on Thursday, Paul Ryan will be the youngest person in a while to be elected speaker of the House. And by "a while," we mean "since 1869."
Ryan is 45 years old -- the youngest incoming speaker since James Blaine of Maine, according to the House Historian. The last 20 speakers, prior to Ryan, were an average of 63 years old when they took the position.
Unsurprisingly, then, they also had much more experience in the House. Blaine had about 2,200 days of House service under his belt when he became Speaker. The 20 most recent speakers averaged 8,492.
Where Ryan breaks the trend is that he's young for the job by recent standards -- but still has a good deal of experience. In other words, he's spent a lot of his young life on Capitol Hill.
He's not that much of an outlier, but he's unusual in his combination of youth and experience.
Again, by pre-1900 standards, Ryan is only exceptional for how much experience he has, even if he's relatively inexperienced in the House by recent standards. He's no Henry Clay -- but then who is?
Young Blaine, by the way, went on to a long, distinguished career in government after serving as speaker. Two decades later, he was appointed secretary of state. So look for that in Ryan's future, somewhere around 2035.