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1856 and 1857 United States House of Representatives elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1856 and 1857 United States House of Representatives elections

← 1854 / 55 August 4, 1856 – November 4, 1857[a] 1858 / 59 →

All 237 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
118 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
James Lawrence Orr - Brady-Handy.jpg
Galusha A. Grow restored.jpg
Leader James Orr Galusha A. Grow
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat South Carolina 5th Pennsylvania 14th
Last election 81 seats 45 seats[b]
Seats won 132 90
Seat change Increase 49 Increase 45
Popular vote 1,805,827 1,425,265
Percentage 46.85% 36.98%
Swing Increase 2.90% Increase 21.36%[c]

  Third party Fourth party
Party Know Nothing Independent
Last election 51 seats 1 seats[d]
Seats won 14 1[e]
Seat change Decrease 37 Steady
Popular vote 586,254 34,120[f]
Percentage 15.21% 0.89%
Swing Decrease 4.35% Decrease 1.72%

Speaker before election

Nathaniel Banks
Know Nothing

Elected Speaker

James Orr

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 35th Congress were held at various dates in different states from August 1856 to November 1857.

The elections briefly returned a semblance of normalcy to the Democratic Party, restoring its House majority amid election of Democratic President James Buchanan. However, victory masked severe, ultimately irretrievable divisions over the slavery issue. Voters next would return a Democratic House majority only in 1874.

Party realignments continued. In 1856, the Whig Party disbanded while the Know Nothing movement declined and its vehicle, the American Party, began to collapse. Many former Northern Whig and American Party Representatives joined the Republican Party, which contended for the Presidency in 1856 and was rapidly consolidating. Though it did not yet demand abolition, its attitude toward slavery was stridently negative. Making no effort to win Southern voter support, it was openly sectional, opposed to fugitive slave laws and slavery in the territories, and for the first time offered a mainstream platform to outspoken abolitionists.

In March 1857, after almost all Northern states had voted, the Supreme Court issued its Dred Scott decision, amplifying tensions and hardening voter attitudes. Remaining elections, scheduled after the decision, were concentrated in the South. Southern voters widely drove the American Party from office, rallying to the Democrats in firm opposition to the Republicans.

In this election cycle, the new state of Minnesota elected its first Representatives, to be seated by the 35th Congress. Between the admissions of Vermont in 1791 and Wisconsin in 1848, Congress had admitted new states roughly in pairs: one slave, one free. California had been admitted alone as a free state in 1850 only as part of a comprehensive compromise that included significant concessions to slave state interests. Admission of Minnesota in May 1858, also alone but with no such deal, helped expose the declining influence of the South, extinguishing the formerly binding concept that slave and free state power in Congress was best kept in balance while reinforcing a growing sense that public opinion would exclude slavery from the West.

Election summaries

Two seats were added for the new state of Minnesota,[1] which was unrepresented for part of the 1st session.

133 14 90
Democratic KN Republican
State Type Date Total
Democratic Know Nothing Republican
Seats Change Seats Change Seats Change[g]
Arkansas District August 4, 1856 2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Iowa District August 4, 1856 2 0 Decrease1 0 Steady 2 Increase1
Missouri District August 4, 1856 7 5[e] Increase4 2 Increase2 0 Decrease6
Vermont District September 2, 1856 3 0 Steady 0 Steady 3 Steady
Maine District September 8, 1856 6 0 Decrease1 0 Steady 6 Increase1
Florida At-large October 6, 1856 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
South Carolina District October 13–14, 1856 6 6 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Indiana District October 14, 1856 11 6 Increase4 0 Steady 5 Decrease4
Ohio District October 14, 1856 21 9 Increase9 0 Steady 12 Decrease9
Pennsylvania District October 14, 1856 25 15 Increase8 0 Decrease1 10 Decrease7
California At-large November 4, 1856
(Election Day)[h]
2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Delaware At-large 1 1 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady
Illinois District 9 5 Steady 0 Steady 4 Steady
Massachusetts District 11 0 Steady 0 Decrease11 11 Increase11
Michigan District 4 0 Decrease1 0 Steady 4 Increase1
New Jersey District 5 3 Increase2 0 Steady 2 Decrease2
New York District 33 12 Increase7 0 Decrease3 21 Decrease4
Wisconsin District 3 0 Decrease1 0 Steady 3 Increase1
New Hampshire District March 10, 1857 3 0 Steady 0 Decrease3 3 Increase3
Rhode Island District April 1, 1857 2 0 Steady 0 Decrease2 2 Increase2
Connecticut District April 6, 1857 4 2 Increase2 0 Decrease4 2 Increase2
Virginia District May 28, 1857 13 13 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady
Alabama District August 3, 1857 7 7 Increase2 0 Decrease2 0 Steady
Kentucky District August 3, 1857 10 8 Increase4 2 Decrease4 0 Steady
Texas District August 3, 1857 2 2 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady
North Carolina District August 6, 1857 8 7 Increase2 1 Decrease2 0 Steady
Tennessee District August 6, 1857 10 7 Increase2 3 Decrease2 0 Steady
Georgia District October 5, 1857 8 6 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Mississippi District October 5–6, 1857 5 5 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady
Minnesota At-large October 13, 1857[i] 2 2 Increase2 0 Steady 0 Steady
Louisiana District November 3, 1857 4 3 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
Maryland District November 4, 1857 6 3 Increase1 3 Decrease1 0 Steady
Total 236 133[e]
Increase50[e] 14
Decrease37 90
House seats
Know Nothing

Special elections

There were special elections in 1858 and 1859 during the 34th United States Congress and 35th United States Congress.

34th Congress

District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
Illinois 7
Kansas Territory at-large John Wilkins Whitfield Democratic 1854 Seat declared vacant August 1, 1856.
Incumbent re-elected to finish his term.
Winner was not elected to the next term, see below.

35th Congress

Indiana 1
Indiana 10


District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
California at-large
2 seats on a general ticket
James W. Denver Democratic 1854 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Philemon T. Herbert Democratic 1854 Incumbent retired after manslaughter acquittal.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.


District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
Florida at-large Augustus Maxwell Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.

Kansas Territory

See non-voting delegates, below.


Minnesota Territory elected three members in advance of Minnesota's 1848 statehood. "Although three men won this election, which was held before Minnesota was actually a state, only two representatives from Minnesota were allowed in the congressional bill creating the state in 1858. George L. Becker lost in the drawing of lots to decide who would present their credentials, therefore he did not serve in Congress."[3]

District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
Minnesota at-large
Two seats on a general ticket
None. New state would be admitted May 11, 1858.
New member elected October 13, 1857.
Democratic gain.
None. New state would be admitted May 11, 1858.
New member elected October 13, 1857.
Democratic gain.


Election results in Wisconsin for 1856:[4]

District Incumbent This race
Member Party First elected Results Candidates
Wisconsin 1 Daniel Wells, Jr. Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
Wisconsin 2 Cadwallader C. Washburn Republican 1854 Incumbent re-elected.
Wisconsin 3 Charles Billinghurst Opposition 1854 Incumbent won re-election as a Republican.
Republican gain.

Non-voting delegates

District Incumbent This race
Delegate Party First elected Results Candidates
Kansas Territory John Wilkins Whitfield Democratic 1854
1856 (Seat vacated)
1856 (Special)
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
New delegate elected.
Democratic hold.
Minnesota Territory Henry Mower Rice Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New delegate elected.
Democratic hold.
District eliminated in 1858 upon Minnesota's statehood.
Nebraska Territory Bird Chapman Democratic 1854 Incumbent lost re-election.
New delegate elected August 3, 1857.[5]
Independent Democratic gain.
Oregon Territory Joseph Lane Democratic 1851 Incumbent re-elected.

See also


  1. ^ Excludes states admitted during this Congress
  2. ^ Number of the seats that made up the Parties involved in the Opposition Coalition, excluding the Whig Party.
  3. ^ In comparison to the performance of the Parties involved in the Opposition Coalition, excluding the Whig Party.
  4. ^ Included one Independent Whig: Anthony Ellmaker Roberts of Pennsylvania.
  5. ^ a b c d Includes one Independent Democrat (a.k.a. a "Benton Democrat"): Francis Preston Blair Jr. of MO-01. Note that while Martis (p. 110) and Dubin (p. 176) list him as an "Independent Democrat" or "Benton Democrat," others sources (e.g. the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress) list Blair as a "Republican".
  6. ^ Includes votes for those who ran labeled as an "Independent," "Benton Democrat," "Independent Democrat," or "Independent American."
  7. ^ a b Compared to the 100 Opposition Party members in previous election of 1854.
  8. ^ In 1845, Congress passed a law providing for a uniform date for choosing presidential electors (see: Statutes at Large, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 721). Congressional elections were unaffected by this law, but the date was gradually adopted by the states for Congressional elections as well.
  9. ^ New state. Representatives seated May 11, 1858, during the 1st session.


  1. ^ 11 Stat. 166
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Our Campaigns - MN At-Large Race - Oct 13, 1857".
  4. ^ "Wisconsin U.S. House Election Results" (PDF). Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 5, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "Collections of the NSHS - Volume 18".


External links

This page was last edited on 29 November 2020, at 01:49
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