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34th United States Congress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

34th United States Congress
33rd ←
→ 35th

March 4, 1855 – March 4, 1857
Members62 senators
234 representatives
7 non-voting delegates
Senate MajorityDemocrat
Senate PresidentVacant
House MajorityOpposition coalition
House SpeakerNathaniel P. Banks (A)
1st: December 3, 1855 – August 18, 1856
2nd: August 21, 1856 – August 30, 1856
3rd: December 1, 1856 – March 4, 1857

The 34th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C., from March 4, 1855, to March 4, 1857, during the last two years of Franklin Pierce's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Seventh Census of the United States in 1850. The Whig Party, one of the two major parties of the era, had largely collapsed, although many former Whigs ran as Republicans or as members of the "Opposition Party." The Senate had a Democratic majority, and the House was controlled by a coalition of Representatives led by Nathaniel P. Banks, a member of the American Party.

Major events

Major legislation


President pro temporeJesse D. Bright
President pro tempore
Jesse D. Bright
President pro temporeJames M. Mason
President pro tempore
James M. Mason
Speaker of the House Nathaniel P. Banks
Speaker of the House
Nathaniel P. Banks

Party summary

The count below identifies party affiliations at the beginning of this Congress. Changes resulting from subsequent replacements are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.

During the elections for this Congress, opponents to the Democrats used the Whig party label inconsistently and not at all in some states. Hence in this Congress, and in accordance with the practice of the Senate and House, representatives not associated with the Democratic Party or the American Party are labeled as "Opposition." This is the first example in U.S. history of a form of coalition government in either house of Congress.


Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates control)
(Know Nothing)
Opposition coalition Vacant
Free Soil
End of previous Congress 1 38 5 0 17 61 1
Begin 2 35 2 7 9 55 7
End 40 1 11 8 62 0
Final voting share 3.2% 64.5% 32.3%
Beginning of next Congress 4 37 0 20 0 61 1

House of Representatives

The parties that opposed the Democrats joined a coalition and formed the majority. The Know Nothings caucused with the Opposition coalition.

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates control)
Opposition Caucus Other Vacant
(Know Nothing)
End of previous Congress 156 0 76 0 2 234 0
Begin 82 51 100 0 0 233 1
End 96 1 230 4
Final voting share 35.7% 64.3% 0.0%
Beginning of next Congress 127 14 0 92 0 233 1



House of Representatives


This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed in order of seniority, and representatives are listed by district.


Senators were elected by the state legislatures every two years, with one-third beginning new six-year terms with each Congress. Preceding the names in the list below are Senate class numbers, which indicate the cycle of their election. In this Congress, Class 1 meant their term ended with this Congress, requiring reelection in 1856; Class 2 meant their term began in the last Congress, requiring reelection in 1858; and Class 3 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1860.

Skip to House of Representatives, below

House of Representatives

The names of members of the House of Representatives are preceded by their district numbers.

Changes in membership

The count below reflects changes from the beginning of the first session of this Congress.


Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
New Hampshire
Vacant Charles G. Atherton (D) died during the previous Congress.
Jared W. Williams (D) was appointed November 29, 1853, to continue the term, but his term was deemed expired July 15, 1854, and the legislature failed to elect a successor.
A successor was finally elected July 30, 1855.
John Parker Hale (R) July 30, 1855
New Hampshire
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time.
Successor was elected.
James Bell (R) July 30, 1855
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time.
Incumbent was then re-elected November 26, 1855.
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (D) November 26, 1855
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time.
Successor elected January 14, 1856.
William Bigler (D) January 14, 1856
Vacant Elected but took seat late on January 12, 1857. James S. Green (D) January 12, 1857
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time.
Incumbent was then re-elected January 13, 1857.
William M. Gwin (D) January 13, 1857
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time.
Senator elected February 4, 1857.
Graham N. Fitch (D) February 4, 1857
John M. Clayton (W) Died November 9, 1856.
Successor was appointed.
Joseph P. Comegys (W) November 19, 1856
Hannibal Hamlin (D) Resigned January 7, 1857, to become Governor of Maine.
Successor was elected January 16, 1857.
Amos Nourse (R) January 16, 1857
Joseph P. Comegys (W) Appointment expired January 14, 1857, upon successor's election. Martin W. Bates (D) January 14, 1857
James Harlan (FS) Owing to irregularities in the legislative proceedings the Senate declared the seat vacant January 5, 1857.
Incumbent was subsequently re-elected January 29, 1857, to fill the vacancy caused by his ouster.
James Harlan (R) January 29, 1857

House of Representatives

  • Replacements: 6
    • Democrats: 2 seat net loss
    • Opposition: 4 seat net gain
  • Deaths: 4
  • Resignations: 5
  • Contested election: 1
  • Total seats with changes: 10
District Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
Illinois 8th Vacant Rep-elect Lyman Trumbull resigned in previous congress after being elected to the US Senate James L. D. Morrison (D) Seated November 4, 1856
Missouri 5th John G. Miller (O) Died May 11, 1856 Thomas P. Akers (A) Seated August 18, 1856
Virginia 1st Thomas H. Bayly (D) Died June 23, 1856 Muscoe R. H. Garnett (D) Seated December 1, 1856
South Carolina 3rd Laurence M. Keitt (D) Resigned July 15, 1856, after being censured in his role in the assault on US Senator Charles Sumner. He was subsequently re-elected to fill the vacancy Laurence M. Keitt (D) Seated August 6, 1856
South Carolina 4th Preston Brooks (D) Resigned July 15, 1856, after assaulting US Senator Charles Sumner. He was subsequently re-elected to fill the vacancy Preston Brooks (D) Seated August 1, 1856
Illinois 7th James C. Allen (D) House declared on July 18, 1856, he was not entitled to seat. He was subsequently re-elected to fill the vacancy James C. Allen (D) Seated November 4, 1856
New Mexico Territory At-large José M. Gallegos (D) Contested election July 23, 1856 Miguel A. Otero (D) Seated July 23, 1856
Kansas Territory At-large John W. Whitfield (D) House declared August 1, 1856, the seat vacant. He was subsequently re-elected to fill the vacancy John W. Whitfield (D) Seated December 9, 1856
Vermont 1st James Meacham (O) Died August 23, 1856 George T. Hodges (R) Seated December 1, 1856
Illinois 5th William A. Richardson (D) Resigned August 25, 1856 Jacob C. Davis (D) Seated November 4, 1856
South Carolina 4th Preston Brooks (D) Died January 27, 1857 Vacant Not filled this term
New York 20th Orsamus B. Matteson (O) Resigned February 27, 1857 Vacant Not filled this term
New York 23rd William A. Gilbert (O) Resigned February 27, 1857 Vacant Not filled this term
New York 33rd Francis S. Edwards (A) Resigned February 28, 1857 Vacant Not filled this term


List of committees and their party leaders.


House of Representatives

Joint committees



Legislative branch agency directors


House of Representatives

See also


  1. ^ a b When seated or oath administered, not necessarily when service began.


  1. ^ "The longest and most contentious Speaker election in its history". February 2, 1856. Archived from the original on 2012-06-20. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  2. ^ "The Opening of the 34th Congress". December 3, 1855. Archived from the original on 2012-09-15. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1982). The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 June 2022, at 19:38
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