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1876 United States House of Representatives elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1876 United States House of Representatives elections

← 1874 November 7, 1876[Note 1] 1878 →

All 293 seats to the United States House of Representatives
147 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
Samuel J. Randall - Brady-Handy.jpg
James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated.jpg
Leader Samuel J. Randall James A. Garfield
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat Pennsylvania-3rd Ohio-19th
Last election 183 seats[Note 2] 106 seats[Note 3]
Seats won 157[1][Note 4][Note 5] 136[Note 5]
Seat change Decrease 26 Increase 30

Map of U.S. House elections results from 1876 elections for 45th Congress

Speaker before election


Elected Speaker

Samuel Randall

Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1876 (with one state in 1877) for Representatives to the 45th Congress. These elections coincided with the (heavily contested) election of President Rutherford B. Hayes and the United States Centennial.

Hayes' Republican Party was able to recover from the Democratic Party many of the seats it had lost two years before as the economy improved slightly. However, the Democrats retained a majority and were able to use the disinterest of the people in Republican Reconstruction-led projects to help keep crucial seats. Republican Congressional leadership had a difficult time distancing itself from the corruption of the Grant administration or the legislature's impact on the economy downturn.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Congressional Elections: Crash Course Government and Politics #6
  • ✪ The American Presidential Election of 1876
  • ✪ Election: Presidents and the Constitution
  • ✪ 26. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory
  • ✪ Reconstruction and 1876: Crash Course US History #22


Hi, I'm Craig and this is Crash Course Government and Politics, and today we're going to talk about what is, if you ask the general public, the most important part of politics: elections. If you ask me, it's hair styles. Look at Martin Van Buren's sideburns, how could he not be elected? Americans are kind of obsessed with elections, I mean when this was being recorded in early 2015, television, news and the internet were already talking about who would be Democrat and Republican candidates for president in 2016. And many of the candidates have unofficially been campaigning for years. I've been campaigning; your grandma's been campaigning. Presidential elections are exciting and you can gamble on them. Is that legal, can you gamble on them, Stan? Anyway, why we're so obsessed with them is a topic for another day. Right now I'm gonna tell you that the fixation on the presidential elections is wrong, but not because the president doesn't matter. No, today we're gonna look at the elections of the people that are supposed to matter the most, Congress. Constitutionally at least, Congress is the most important branch of government because it is the one that is supposed to be the most responsive to the people. One of the main reasons it's so responsive, at least in theory, is the frequency of elections. If a politician has to run for office often, he or she, because unlike the president we have women serving in Congress, kind of has to pay attention to what the constituents want, a little bit, maybe. By now, I'm sure that most of you have memorized the Constitution, so you recognize that despite their importance in the way we discuss politics, elections aren't really a big feature of the Constitution. Except of course for the ridiculously complex electoral college system for choosing the president, which we don't even want to think about for a few episodes. In fact, here's what the Constitution says about Congressional Elections in Article 1 Section 2: "The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature." So the Constitution does establish that the whole of the house is up for election every 2 years, and 1/3 of the senate is too, but mainly it leaves the scheduling and rules of elections up to the states. The actual rules of elections, like when the polls are open and where they actually are, as well as the registration requirements, are pretty much up to the states, subject to some federal election law. If you really want to know the rules in your state, I'm sure that someone at the Board of Elections, will be happy to explain them to you. Really, you should give them a call; they're very, very lonely. In general though, here's what we can say about American elections. First stating the super obvious, in order to serve in congress, you need to win an election. In the House of Representatives, each election district chooses a single representative, which is why we call them single-member districts. The number of districts is determined by the Census, which happens every 10 years, and which means that elections ending in zeros are super important, for reasons that I'll explain in greater detail in a future episode. It's because of gerrymandering. The Senate is much easier to figure out because both of the state Senators are elected by the entire state. It's as if the state itself were a single district, which is true for states like Wyoming, which are so unpopulated as to have only 1 representative. Sometimes these elections are called at large elections. Before the election ever happens, you need candidates. How candidates are chosen differs from state to state, but usually it has something to do with political parties, although it doesn't have to. Why are things so complicated?! What we can say is that candidates, or at least good candidates, usually have certain characteristics. Sorry America. First off, if you are gonna run for office, you should have an unblemished record, free of, oh I don't know, felony convictions or sex scandals, except maybe in Louisiana or New York. This might lead to some pretty bland candidates or people who are so calculating that they have no skeletons in their closet, but we Americans are a moral people and like our candidates to reflect our ideals rather than our reality. The second characteristic that a candidate must possess is the ability to raise money. Now some candidates are billionaires and can finance their own campaigns. But most billionaires have better things to do: buying yachts, making even more money, building money forts, buying more yachts, so they don't have time to run for office. But most candidates get their money for their campaigns by asking for it. The ability to raise money is key, especially now, because running for office is expensive. Can I get a how expensive is it? "How expensive is it?!" Well, so expensive that the prices of elections continually rises and in 2012 winners of House races spent nearly 2 million each. Senate winners spent more than 10 million. By the time this episode airs, I'm sure the numbers will be much higher like a gajillion billion million. Money is important in winning an election, but even more important, statistically, is already being in Congress. Let's go to the Thought Bubble. The person holding an office who runs for that office again is called the incumbent and has a big advantage over any challenger. This is according to political scientists who, being almost as bad at naming things as historians, refer to this as incumbency advantage. There are a number of reasons why incumbents tend to hold onto their seats in congress, if they want to. The first is that a sitting congressman has a record to run on, which we hope includes some legislative accomplishments, although for the past few Congresses, these don't seem to matter. The record might include case work, which is providing direct services to constituents. This is usually done by congressional staffers and includes things like answering questions about how to get certain government benefits or writing recommendation letters to West Point. Congressmen can also provide jobs to constituents, which is usually a good way to get them to vote for you. These are either government jobs, kind of rare these days, called patronage or indirect employment through government contracts for programs within a Congressman's district. These programs are called earmarks or pork barrel programs, and they are much less common now because Congress has decided not to use them any more, sort of. The second advantage that incumbents have is that they have a record of winning elections, which if you think about it, is pretty obvious. Being a proven winner makes it easier for a congressmen to raise money, which helps them win, and long term incumbents tend to be more powerful in Congress which makes it even easier for them to raise money and win. The Constitution give incumbents one structural advantage too. Each elected congressman is allowed $100,000 and free postage to send out election materials. This is called the franking privilege. It's not so clear how great an advantage this is in the age of the internet, but at least according to the book The Victory Lab, direct mail from candidates can be surprisingly effective. How real is this incumbency advantage? Well if you look at the numbers, it seems pretty darn real. Over the past 60 years, almost 90% of members of The House of Representatives got re-elected. The Senate has been even more volatile, but even at the low point in 1980 more than 50% of sitting senators got to keep their jobs. Thanks, Thought Bubble. You're so great. So those are some of the features of congressional elections. Now, if you'll permit me to get a little politically sciencey, I'd like to try to explain why elections are so important to the way that Congressmen and Senators do their jobs. In 1974, political scientist David Mayhew published a book in which he described something he called "The Electoral Connection." This was the idea that Congressmen were primarily motivated by the desire to get re-elected, which intuitively makes a lot of sense, even though I'm not sure what evidence he had for this conclusion. Used to be able to get away with that kind of thing I guess, clearly David may-not-hew to the rules of evidence, pun [rim shot], high five, no. Anyway Mayhew's research methodology isn't as important as his idea itself because The Electoral Connection provides a frame work for understanding congressman's activities. Mayhew divided representatives' behaviors and activities into three categories. The first is advertising; congressmen work to develop their personal brand so that they are recognizable to voters. Al D'Amato used to be know in New York as Senator Pothole, because he was able to bring home so much pork that he could actually fix New York's streets. Not by filling them with pork, money, its money, remember pork barrel spending? The second activity is credit claiming; Congressmen get things done so that they can say they got them done. A lot of case work and especially pork barrel spending are done in the name of credit claiming. Related to credit claiming, but slightly different, is position taking. This means making a public judgmental statement on something likely to be of interest to voters. Senators can do this through filibusters. Representatives can't filibuster, but they can hold hearings, publicly supporting a hearing is a way of associating yourself with an idea without having to actually try to pass legislation. And of course they can go on the TV, especially on Sunday talk shows. What's a TV, who even watches TV? Now the idea of The Electoral Connection doesn't explain every action a member of Congress takes; sometimes they actually make laws to benefit the public good or maybe solve problems, huh, what an idea! But Mayhew's idea gives us a way of thinking about Congressional activity, an analytical lens that connects what Congressmen actually do with how most of us understand Congressmen, through elections. So the next time you see a Congressmen call for a hearing on a supposed horrible scandal or read about a Senator threatening to filibuster a policy that may have significant popular support, ask yourself, "Is this Representative claiming credit or taking a position, and how will this build their brand?" In other words: what's the electoral connection and how will whatever they're doing help them get elected? This might feel a little cynical, but the reality is Mayhew's thesis often seems to fit with today's politics. Thanks for watching, see you next week. Vote for me; I'm on the TV. I'm not -- I'm on the YouTube. Crash Course: Government and Politics is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course US Government comes from Voqal. Voqal supports nonprofits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course is made by all of these nice people. Thanks for watching. That guy isn't nice.


Election summaries

157 136
Democratic Republican
State Type Total
Democratic Republican
Seats Change Seats Change
Alabama District[Note 6] 8 8 Increase 2 0 Decrease 2
Arkansas District 4 4[Note 7] Steady 0 Steady
California District 4 2 Decrease 1 2 Increase 1
Colorado At-large 1 1 Increase 1 0 Decrease 1
Connecticut District 4 3 Steady 1 Steady
Delaware At-large 1 1 Steady 0 Steady
Florida District 2 2 Increase 1 0 Decrease 1
Georgia[Note 8] District 9 9[Note 7] Steady 0 Steady
Illinois District 19 8 Decrease 2 11 Increase 4
Indiana[Note 8] District 13 4 Decrease 4 9 Increase 4
Iowa[Note 8] District 9 0 Decrease 1 9 Increase 1
Kansas District 3 0 Decrease 1 3 Increase 1
Kentucky District 10 10 Increase 1 0 Decrease 1
Louisiana District 6 5 Increase 1 1 Decrease 1
Maine[Note 8] District 5 0 Steady 5 Steady
Maryland District 6 6 Steady 0 Steady
Massachusetts District 11 2 Decrease 1 9 Increase 4
Michigan District 9 1 Decrease 2 8 Increase 2
Minnesota District 3 0 Steady 3 Steady
Mississippi District 6 6 Increase 2 0 Decrease 2
Missouri District 13 9 Decrease 4 4 Increase 4
Nebraska At-large 1 0 Steady 1 Steady
Nevada At-large 1 0 Steady 1 Steady
New Hampshire[Note 9] District 3 1 Decrease 1 2 Increase 1
New Jersey District 7 4 Decrease 1 3 Increase 1
New York District 33 16 Decrease 1 17 Increase 1
North Carolina District 8 7 Steady 1 Steady
Ohio[Note 8] District 20 8 Decrease 5 12 Increase 5
Oregon[Note 8] At-large 1 0 Decrease 1 1 Increase 1
Pennsylvania District 27 10 Decrease 7 17 Increase 7
Rhode Island District 2 0 Steady 2 Steady
South Carolina District 5 2 Increase 2 3 Decrease 2
Tennessee District 10 8 Decrease 1 2 Increase 1
Texas District 6 6 Steady 0 Steady
Vermont[Note 8] District 3 0 Steady 3 Steady
Virginia District 9 8 Steady 1 Steady
West Virginia[Note 8] District 3 3 Steady 0 Steady
Wisconsin District 8 3 Steady 5 Steady
Total 293 157[1][Note 4]
Decrease 27 136[1]
Increase 31
House seats

The previous election included 4 Independents, in Illinois and Massachusetts.

  House seats by party holding plurality in state     80.1-100% Democratic    80.1-100% Republican     60.1-80% Democratic    60.1-80% Republican     Up to 60% Democratic    Up to 60% Republican
House seats by party holding plurality in state
  80.1-100% Democratic
  80.1-100% Republican
  60.1-80% Democratic
  60.1-80% Republican
  Up to 60% Democratic
  Up to 60% Republican
  Net gain in party representation     6+ Democratic gain    6+ Republican gain     3-5 Democratic gain    3-5 Republican gain     1-2 Democratic gain    1-2 Republican gain     no net change
Net gain in party representation
  6+ Democratic gain
  6+ Republican gain
  3-5 Democratic gain
  3-5 Republican gain
  1-2 Democratic gain
  1-2 Republican gain
  no net change

Election dates

In 1845, Congress passed a law providing for a uniform nationwide date for choosing Presidential electors.[2] This law did not affect election dates for Congress, which remained within the jurisdiction of State governments, but over time, the States moved their Congressional elections to this date as well. In 1876–77, there were still 8 states with earlier election dates, and 1 state with a later election date.

All races


District Incumbent Party First
Result Candidates
California 1 William Adam Piper Democratic
Lost re-election
Republican gain
Horace Davis (R) 53.3%
William A. Piper (D) 46.7%
California 2 Horace F. Page Republican
Incumbent re-elected Horace F. Page (R) 56.7%
G. J. Carpenter (D) 43.3%
California 3 John K. Luttrell Democratic
Incumbent re-elected John K. Luttrell (D) 51.1%
Joseph McKenna (R) 48.9%
California 4 Peter D. Wigginton Democratic
Lost re-election
Republican gain
Romualdo Pacheco (R) 50%
Peter D. Wigginton (D) 50%


District Incumbent Party First
Result Candidates
Florida 1 William J. Purman Republican 1872 Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Robert H. M. Davidson (D) 51.2%
William J. Purman (R) 48.8%
Florida 2 Jesse J. Finley Democratic 1874[Note 10] Lost re-election
Republican gain
Horatio Bisbee, Jr. (R) 50.0%
Jesse J. Finley (D) 50.0%

The election in the 2nd district was extremely close, with initial returns showing a difference between the two candidates of only 3 votes. Finley challenged Bisbee's election and was eventually seated on February 20, 1879

South Carolina

District Incumbent Party First
Result Candidates
South Carolina 1 Joseph Rainey Republican 1870 (special) Re-elected Joseph Rainey (R) 52.2%
John S. Richardson (D) 47.8%
South Carolina 2 Seat declared vacant by Congress on July 19, 1876 due to contested election of previous incumbent Edmund W. M. Mackey (IR) Republican hold Richard H. Cain (R) 62.1%
Michael P. O'Connor (D) 37.9%
South Carolina 3 Solomon L. Hoge Republican 1874 Retired
Democratic gain
D. Wyatt Aiken (D) 58.0%
Lewis C. Carpenter (R) 42.0%
South Carolina 4 Alexander S. Wallace Republican 1868 Lost re-election
Democratic gain
John H. Evins (D) 57.6%
Alexander S. Wallace (R) 42.4%
South Carolina 5 Robert Smalls Republican 1874 Re-elected Robert Smalls (R) 51.9%
George D. Tillman (D) 48.1%

See also


  1. ^ The majority of states held their elections on this date. Nine states held elections on different dates between June 5, 1876 and March 13, 1877.
  2. ^ Included 1 Independent Democrat.
  3. ^ Included 3 Independent Republicans.
  4. ^ a b Includes 2 Independent Democrats, Jordan E. Cravens of AR-03, and Alexander H. Stephens of GA-07.
  5. ^ a b There is a significant discrepancy for the party totals in the U.S House resulting from the 1874 elections between Dubin (p. 241, who records 150 Democrats, 2 Independent Democrats, and 141 Republicans), and Martis (pp. 130–131). The discrepancy seems to be accounted for by the fact that Dubin's party figures represent the party totals on the first day of the 45th United States Congress, while Martis' figures take into account the results of later contested elections (all of which were decided in favor of the Democratic candidates who challenged the election results).
  6. ^ At-large seats eliminated in redistricting.
  7. ^ a b Includes 1 Independent Democrat.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Elections held early
  9. ^ Elections held late
  10. ^ After disputed election


  1. ^ a b c Martis, pp. 130–131.
  2. ^ Statutes at Large, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 721.


  • Dubin, Michael J. (March 1, 1998). United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st Through 105th Congresses. McFarland and Company. ISBN 978-0786402830.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (January 1, 1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989. Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0029201701.
  • Moore, John L., ed. (1994). Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (Third ed.). Congressional Quarterly Inc. ISBN 978-0871879967.
  • "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives* 1789–Present". Office of the Historian, House of United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 21, 2015.

External links

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