Kevin McCarthy fell victim to a rebellion by a small far-right clutch in his Republican Party that has made life hell for him since he took up the speaker's gavel in January.
"The office of speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives is hereby declared vacant," said Republican Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, who presided over a crowded, tense session of the House of Representatives.
McCarthy, a carefully coiffed Californian, looked passive after the vote came down as Democrats declined to come to his rescue and let the small group of lawmakers loyal to Donald Trump eject the speaker in the stunning culmination of an intra-party dispute over spending and other issues.
For hours he listened as lawmakers loyal to him tried to resolve the spat, save his job and let the chamber get back to urgent business like deciding on funding for the government and continued aid to Ukraine.
"He has toasted at our weddings. He has celebrated the birth of our children, mourned the loss of our loved ones," said Elise Stefanik, an emotional McCarthy loyalist.
But the forces arrayed against 58-year-old McCarthy were furious as they accused him of breaking promises repeatedly.
"The reason Kevin McCarthy went down today is because nobody trusts Kevin McCarthy," said Florida representative Matt Gaetz, the hardliner who introduced the motion to remove the speaker.
Democratic lawmakers from President Joe Biden's party watched in astonishment as the Republican factions fought each other on their way to making history with the unprecedented political punishment of McCarthy.
In the end, all 200-plus Democrats in the chamber joined with the hardline Republicans to oust McCarthy.
The hardliners had tried doggedly to block McCarthy from getting the job back in January, forcing him to go through 15 rounds of votes until he finally made enough concessions to appease them and win approval.
Now there is an acting speaker of the House, Representative Patrick McHenry, until a new one is elected.
McHenry slammed the gavel down very hard as he declared the house in recess after Tuesday's momentous events.