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1838 and 1839 United States House of Representatives elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1838 and 1839 United States House of Representatives elections

← 1836 / 1837 July 2, 1838 – November 5, 1839 1840 / 1841 →

All 242 seats to the United States House of Representatives
122 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter.jpg
Leader John Jones Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter
Party Democratic Whig
Leader's seat Virginia-3rd Virginia-9th
Last election 128 seats 100 seats
Seats won 125 109
Seat change Decrease 3 Increase 9

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Thomas Henry George Washington Hopkins
Party Anti-Masonic Conservative
Leader's seat Pennsylvania-22nd Virginia-18th
Last election 7 seats 0 seats
Seats won 6 2
Seat change Decrease 1 Increase 2

Speaker before election

James K. Polk

Elected Speaker

Robert M. T. Hunter

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 26th Congress were held during President Martin Van Buren's term at various dates in different states from July 1838 to November 1839.

The Panic of 1837 and consequent economic downturn drove Whig Party gains. Van Buren's Democratic Party had lost popularity and Whig policies of economic nationalism appealed to a larger number of voters. Democrats were able, however, to contain the political fallout by blaming banks for the crisis. The Anti-Masonic Party, influential in New York, Pennsylvania, and other Northern states, lost seats, while the Southern Nullifier Party disappeared. Two Virginia representatives were elected on that state's Conservative Party ticket.

Early business of the new House reflected the close partisan division. When Congress first Convened on December 3, 1839, two contingents of New Jersey representatives-elect, one composed of Democrats and the other of Whigs, arrived and both requested to be seated as members. Charging the Whigs with election fraud and facing loss of control of the House, the Democratic Party majority (119 to 118 Whigs from outside New Jersey) refused to seat all but one Whig.[1] Massachusetts Representative John Quincy Adams presided as "chairman" of the House after the clerk lost control.

Two weeks later, when voting for speaker of the House finally commenced, 11 ballots were needed before Robert M. T. Hunter, a compromise Whig candidate, was elected, receiving 119 votes (out of 232 cast).[2] The 26th Congress also passed the first Independent Treasury bill.

Election summaries

125 2 6 109
Democratic C AM Whig
State Type Date Total
Democratic Whig Others
Seats Change Seats Change Seats Change
Louisiana District July 2–4, 1838 3 0 Decrease1 3 Increase1 0 Steady
Illinois District August 6, 1838 3 2 Decrease1 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Missouri At-large August 6, 1838 2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Vermont District September 1, 1838 5 2 Increase1 3 Decrease1 0 Steady
Maine District September 10, 1838 8 6 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Arkansas At-large October 1, 1838 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Georgia At-large October 1, 1838 9 0 Decrease8 9 Increase8 0 Steady
New Jersey At-large October 8, 1838 6 5 Increase5 1 Decrease5 0 Steady
South Carolina District October 8–9, 1838 9 8 Increase6 1 Steady 0 Decrease6[Note 1]
Ohio District October 9, 1838 19 11 Increase3 8 Decrease3 0 Steady
Pennsylvania District (25)[Note 2] October 9, 1838 28 17 Steady 5 Increase1 6[Note 3] Decrease1
New York District (33)[Note 4] November 5–7, 1838 40 19 Decrease11 21 Increase11 0 Steady
Michigan At-large November 6, 1838 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Massachusetts District November 12, 1838 12 2 Steady 10 Steady 0 Steady
Delaware At-large November 13, 1838 1 1 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady
New Hampshire At-large March 12, 1839 5 5 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Connecticut District April 1, 1839 6 0 Decrease6 6 Increase6 0 Steady
Virginia District May 23, 1839 21 12 Decrease3 7 Increase1 2[Note 5] Increase2
Kentucky District August 1, 1839 13 2 Increase1 11 Steady 0 Decrease1[Note 6]
Tennessee District August 1, 1839 13 6 Increase3 7 Decrease3 0 Steady
Alabama District August 5, 1839 5 3 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Indiana District August 5, 1839 7 5 Increase4 2 Decrease4 0 Steady
North Carolina District August 8, 1839 13 8 Increase3 5 Decrease3 0 Steady
Rhode Island At-large August 27, 1839 2 0 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Maryland District (7)[Note 7] October 3, 1839 8 5 Increase1 3 Decrease1 0 Steady
Mississippi At-large November 4–5, 1839 2 2 Increase2 0 Decrease2 0 Steady
Total[Note 8] 242 125
Decrease3 109
Increase9 8
House seats

Special elections

There were special elections in 1838 and 1839 to the 25th United States Congress and 26th United States Congress.

Special elections are sorted by date then district.

25th Congress

District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
Mississippi at-large John F. H. Claiborne Democratic 1835 The House rescinded its former decision February 5, 1838 and declared the seats vacant.
New members elected May 29, 1838.
Two Whig gains.
Successors seated May 30, 1838.[3]
Samuel J. Gholson Democratic 1836 (Special)
Pennsylvania 9 New member elected March 8, 1838.

Maine 3 New member elected April 28, 1838.

Maine 5 New member elected May 29, 1838.

Ohio 16 New member elected October 9, 1838.

Ohio 19 New member elected November 5, 1838.

26th Congress

District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates

Pennsylvania 14 New member elected November 20, 1839.


A special election was held in Mississippi on July 17–18, 1837. Its winners were Democrats John F. H. Claiborne and Samuel J. Gholson. The first session of the 25th Congress was a special session beginning on September 4, 1837, extending to October 16. In November, Mississippi held the regular election. Seargent Smith Prentiss, a Vicksburg lawyer and Whig, unexpectedly launched a vigorous, partisan campaign. He and fellow Whig Thomas J. Word won in an upset. Claiborne and Gholson then argued that the July result entitled them to serve full terms. With the Whig Party newly organizing, the closely divided House, in which Anti-Masons, Nullifiers, and the Independent tended to align more with Whigs and to oppose Democrats, agreed to hear Prentiss. He spoke for nine hours over three days, packing the gallery, drawing Senators, and earning a national reputation for oratory and public admiration from leading Whigs including Senators Clay and Webster. The Elections Committee then required a third election. Scheduled for April 1838, it confirmed the November result. Both Whigs were seated in May late in the second session, also serving for the third session.


District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates[a][4]
Pennsylvania 1 Lemuel Paynter Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 2
Plural district with 2 seats
John Sergeant Whig 1816
Incumbent re-elected.
George W. Toland Whig 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 3 Charles Naylor Whig 1837 (Special) Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 4
Plural district with 3 seats
Edward Davies Anti-Masonic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Edward Darlington Anti-Masonic 1832 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Anti-Masonic hold.
David Potts Jr. Anti-Masonic 1830 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Anti-Masonic hold.
Pennsylvania 5 Jacob Fry Jr. Democratic 1834 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 6 Mathias Morris Whig 1834 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Democratic gain.
Pennsylvania 7 David D. Wagener Democratic 1832 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 8 Edward B. Hubley Democratic 1834 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 9 George Keim Democratic 1838 (Special) Incumbent re-elected.
  • George Keim (Democratic) 69.3%
  • Daniel M. Bieber (Whig) 30.7%
Pennsylvania 10 Luther Reily Democratic 1836 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Pennsylvania 11 Henry Logan Democratic 1834 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 12 Daniel Sheffer Democratic 1836 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Pennsylvania 13 Charles McClure Democratic 1836 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 14 William W. Potter Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 15 David Petrikin Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 16 Robert H. Hammond Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 17 Samuel W. Morris Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 18 Charles Ogle Anti-Masonic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 19 John Klingensmith Jr. Democratic 1832 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 20 Andrew Buchanan Democratic 1832 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
  • Enos Hook (Democratic) 62.4%
  • Fideleo Hughes (Whig) 37.6%
Pennsylvania 21 Thomas M. T. McKennan Anti-Masonic 1830 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic gain.
Pennsylvania 22 Richard Biddle Anti-Masonic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 23 William Beatty Democratic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 24 Thomas Henry Anti-Masonic 1836 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Thomas Henry (Anti-Masonic) 54.7%
  • James D. White (Democratic) 45.3%
Pennsylvania 25 Arnold Plumer Democratic 1836 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
  1. ^ For plural districts, percent is based on assumption that each voter cast as many votes as there are seats

In the 3rd district, Charles Naylor's election was unsuccessfully contested by Charles J. Ingersoll.[5]

There were three special elections in Pennsylvania during the 26th Congress.[6] The first was in the 14th district caused by the death of William W. Potter (Democratic) on October 28, 1839. This vacancy was filled by George McCulloch (Democratic). The second was in the 22nd district caused by the resignation of Richard Biddle. This vacancy was filled by Henry M. Brackenridge (Whig). The third was in the 13th district caused by the death of William S. Ramsey (Democratic) on October 17, 1840. Ramsey had also been re-elected to the 27th Congress and so an additional special election was held the following May to fill the vacancy in the 27th Congress.

See also


  1. ^ Nullifiers
  2. ^ Includes two plural districts, one with three Representatives
  3. ^ Anti-Masons
  4. ^ Includes five plural districts, one with four Representatives
  5. ^ Conservatives
  6. ^ Independent joined Whigs
  7. ^ Includes 1 plural district
  8. ^ Does not foot state results listed above due to 1838 Mississippi special election
    Total reflects


  1. ^ Johnston, Alexander (1899). Lalor, John J. (ed.). "Broad Seal War". Cyclopædia of political science, political economy, and of the political history of the United States. New York, New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co. p. 309. Retrieved March 1, 2019 – via Hathi Trust Digital Library.
  2. ^ "26th Congress (1839–1841)". Congress Profiles. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  3. ^ "Twenty-fifth Congress March 4, 1837, to March 3, 1839". Historian of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  4. ^ Wilkes University Elections Statistics Project
  5. ^ "Twenty-Sixth Congress (membership roster) – see footnote 42" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  6. ^ "Twenty-Sixth Congress (membership roster) – see footnotes 43-48" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2013-01-14.


External links

This page was last edited on 27 December 2019, at 18:01
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