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6th United States Congress

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

6th United States Congress
5th ←
→ 7th

March 4, 1799 – March 3, 1801
Members32 senators
106 representatives
1 non-voting delegates
Senate majorityFederalist
Senate PresidentThomas Jefferson (DR)
House majorityFederalist
House SpeakerTheodore Sedgwick (F)
1st: December 2, 1799 – May 14, 1800
2nd: November 17, 1800 – March 3, 1801

The 6th United States Congress was the 6th meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It initially met at Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and then was the first congress to meet in the new Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.. Its term was from March 4, 1799, to March 4, 1801, during the last two years of John Adams's presidency. It was the last Congress of the 18th century and the first to convene in the 19th. The apportionment of seats in House of Representatives was based on the 1790 United States census. Both chambers had a Federalist majority. This was the last Congress in which the Federalist Party controlled the presidency or either chamber of Congress.

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  • Congressional Elections: Crash Course Government and Politics #6
  • The House of Representatives in comparison to the Senate | US government and civics | Khan Academy


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.

Major events

States for Jefferson States for Burr States casting blank ballots
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Delaware
  • South Carolina
Total: 10 (63%) Total: 4 (25%) Total: 2 (12%)

Major legislation

Party summary

The count below identifies party affiliations at the beginning of the first session of this Congress, and includes members from vacancies and newly admitted states, when they were first seated. Changes resulting from subsequent replacements are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.


(shading shows control)
Total Vacant

End of previous congress 9 22 31 1
Begin 9 22 31 1
End 11 21 320
Final voting share 34.4% 65.6%
Beginning of next congress 17 15 32 0

House of Representatives

(shading shows control)
Total Vacant

End of previous congress 50 56 106 0
Begin 46 60 106 0
End 49 56 1051
Final voting share 46.7% 53.3%
Beginning of next congress 72 33 105 1


President of the Senate Thomas Jefferson
President pro tempore
Samuel Livermore


House of Representatives


This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed by class, and representatives are listed by district.

Skip to House of Representatives, below


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 began in the last Congress, requiring re-election in 1802; Class 2 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring re-election in 1804; and Class 3 meant their term ended with this Congress, requiring re-election in 1800.

House of Representatives

The names of members of the House of Representatives elected statewide on the general ticket or otherwise at-large, are preceded by an "At-large," and the names of those elected from districts, whether plural or single member, are preceded by their district numbers.

Changes in membership

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


There were 7 resignations and 1 vacancy at the beginning of Congress. The Federalists had a 1-seat net loss and the Democratic-Republicans had a 2-seat net gain.

Senate changes
Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
Vacant Henry Tazewell (DR) died before the beginning of this Congress Wilson C. Nicholas (DR) Elected December 5, 1799
New York
James Watson (F) Resigned March 19, 1800 Gouverneur Morris (F) Elected April 3, 1800
Samuel Dexter (F) Resigned May 30, 1800 Dwight Foster (F) Elected June 6, 1800
New York
John Laurance (F) Resigned sometime in August, 1800 John Armstrong (DR) Elected November 6, 1800
Benjamin Goodhue (F) Resigned November 8, 1800 Jonathan Mason (F) Elected November 14, 1800
James Lloyd (F) Resigned December 1, 1800 William Hindman (F) Elected December 12, 1800
New Jersey
James Schureman (F) Resigned February 16, 1801 Aaron Ogden (F) Elected February 28, 1801
Henry Latimer (F) Resigned February 28, 1801 Samuel White (F) Appointed February 28, 1801

House of Representatives

There were 6 resignations and 3 deaths. The Federalists had a 4-seat net loss and the Democratic-Republicans had a 3-seat net gain.

House changes
District Vacated by Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation[a]
New York
Jonathan Havens (DR) Died October 25, 1799 John Smith (DR) February 27, 1800
Northwest Territory
William Henry Harrison Resigned May 14, 1800, to become Territorial Governor of Indiana William McMillan (F) November 24, 1800
Jonathan Brace (F) Resigned sometime in 1800 John Cotton Smith (F) November 17, 1800
Samuel Sewall (F) Resigned January 10, 1800, to become a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Nathan Read (F) November 25, 1800
Dwight Foster (F) Resigned June 6, 1800, having been elected U.S. Senator Levi Lincoln (DR) December 15, 1800
John Marshall (F) Resigned June 7, 1800, to become Secretary of State Littleton W. Tazewell (DR) November 26, 1800
New Hampshire
William Gordon (F) Resigned June 12, 1800, to become New Hampshire Attorney General Samuel Tenney (F) December 8, 1800
Samuel Lyman (F) Resigned November 6, 1800 Ebenezer Mattoon (F) February 2, 1801
Thomas Hartley (F) Died December 21, 1800 John Stewart (DR) February 3, 1801
James Jones (F) Died January 11, 1801 Vacant until next Congress


Lists of committees and their party leaders.


House of Representatives

Joint committees

Administrative officers


House of Representatives

See also


  1. ^ "Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 6th Congress, 2nd Session". A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875. pp. 1033–1034. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  • 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.


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

External links

This page was last edited on 10 March 2024, at 17:53
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