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1887 United States Senate election in Massachusetts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1887 United States Senate election in Massachusetts

← 1881 January 18 and 19, 1887 1893 →

280 members of the Massachusetts General Court
Majority of votes needed to win
HLDawes (cropped).jpg
John Davis Long.jpg
Nominee Henry L. Dawes George D. Robinson John D. Long
Party Republican Republican Republican
Electoral vote 181 57 26
Percentage 65.58% 20.65% 9.42%

Senator before election

Henry L. Dawes

Elected Senator

Henry L. Dawes

The 1887 United States Senate election in Massachusetts was held during January 1887. Republican incumbent Henry L. Dawes was re-elected to a third term over opposition from within his own party, led by former Governor John Davis Long.

At the time, Massachusetts elected United States senators by a majority vote of the combined houses of the Massachusetts General Court.


Massachusetts had been a solidly Republican state since the start of the American Civil War. The Senate consisted of 25 Republicans and 14 Democrats, and the House consisted of 158 Republicans, 78 Democrats, and 5 independents.[1][2]





On January 10, Long supporters in the legislature moved for a binding Republican caucus to nominate a single candidate and coalesce the Republican vote. Dawes supporters killed the motion and instead substituted one for a non-binding conference.[4] Without a binding caucus, the candidates would be put to the whole of the legislature, where Dawes could rely on his support among Democrats and independents.

Some considered the matter to be a conclusive victory for Dawes.[5] However, there was a chance that Long could pick up Democratic votes in the legislature, as he had in 1884.[5][6]

On January 11, both candidates conducted separate canvasses of the legislature, and each found that they would win by around 75 votes.[7]

On January 17, Democrats caucused and determined to cast their first ballot for Patrick A. Collins, and then to divide between Dawes and Long on subsequent ballots. Supporters of Governor George Robinson also determined to cast their ballots for Dawes after voting for Robinson in early balloting, a major blow to Long.[8]


First ballot

On the first ballots, Long was well behind Dawes. However, some of his supporters intentionally cast ballots for George Robinson. No candidate was close to the required majority in either house. It was generally conceded by all but the Long faction that Dawes would be re-elected given his unexpected lead in the House and rumors that Democrats would cast their votes for him tomorrow.[9]

First ballot, Senate[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patrick A. Collins 14 35.00%
Republican John Davis Long 12 30.00%
Republican Henry L. Dawes 11 27.50%
Republican George D. Robinson 2 5.00%
Total votes 40 100.00%
First ballot, House[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patrick A. Collins 81 34.62%
Republican Henry L. Dawes 65 27.78%
Republican John Davis Long 44 18.80%
Republican George D. Robinson 44 18.80%
Total votes 234 100.00%

Second ballot

On January 19, Democrats held a legislative conference to determine their action on the second ballot. The legislature met in joint convention to decide the election, rather than meeting as separate houses.[10]

Second ballot[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Patrick A. Collins 92 33.33%
Republican Henry L. Dawes 76 27.54%
Republican John Davis Long 53 19.20%
Republican George D. Robinson 53 19.20%
Democratic John E. Russell 1 0.36%
Total votes 276 100.00%
Second ballot, after changes[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Henry L. Dawes 181 65.58%
Republican George D. Robinson 57 20.65%
Republican John Davis Long 26 9.42%
Democratic Patrick A. Collins 11 3.99%
Democratic John E. Russell 1 0.36%
Total votes 276 100.00%


  1. ^ Robinson declared on January 1 that he was not a candidate for Senate, but his denial was not so emphatic that supporters abandoned hope.


  1. ^ "Composition of the Massachusetts State Senate", Resources on Massachusetts Political Figures in the State Library,, archived from the original on June 6, 2020
  2. ^ "Composition of the State of Massachusetts House of Representatives", Resources on Massachusetts Political Figures in the State Library,, archived from the original on June 6, 2020
  3. ^ "The Massachusetts Senatorship". The Baltimore Sun. 1 Jan 1887. p. 1.
  4. ^ "A Victory for Senator Dawes". The New York Times. 11 Jan 1887. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b "The Massachusetts Senatorship". The New York Times. 14 Jan 1887. p. 4.
  6. ^ Louisville Courier-Journal. 17 Jan 1887. p. 1. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "The Massachusetts Senatorship". The New York Times. 14 Jan 1887. p. 4.
  8. ^ "Senator Dawes Gaining". The New York Times. 18 Jan 1887. p. 1.
  9. ^ a b c "Senator Dawes's Hopes". The New York Times. 19 Jan 1887. p. 4.
  10. ^ a b c "It's Dawes: Democrats Elect Him Senator". Boston Daily Globe. 20 Jan 1887. p. 1.
This page was last edited on 22 March 2021, at 13:49
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