34th United States Congress

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34th United States Congress
Capitol1846.jpg
United States Capitol (1846)

Duration: March 4, 1855 – March 4, 1857

Senate President: Vacant
Senate Pres. pro tem: Jesse D. Bright
Charles E. Stuart
Jesse D. Bright
James M. Mason
House Speaker: Nathaniel P. Banks
Members: 62 Senators
234 Representatives
7 Non-voting members
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Opposition coalition

Sessions
1st: December 3, 1855 – August 18, 1856
2nd: August 21, 1856 – August 30, 1856
3rd: December 1, 1856 – March 4, 1857
<33rd 35th>

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 Senate had a Democratic majority, and the House had a coalition majority of Representatives opposed to the Democrats.

Major events[edit]

Major legislation[edit]

Treaties[edit]

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

Party summary[edit]

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.

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.

Senate[edit]

Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
American
(Know-nothing)
(A)
Democratic
(D)
Opposition coalition
(O)
Vacant
Free Soil
(FS)
Republican
(R)
Whig
(W)
Other
(O/FS/A/D)
End of previous Congress 0 38 4 0 19 0 62 0
Begin 1 34 19 1 56 7
End 39 21 62 0
Final voting share 1.6% 62.9% 33.9% 1.6%
Beginning of next Congress 5 40 0 20 0 0 65 1

House of Representatives[edit]

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 majority caucus)
Total
Democratic
(D)
American
(Know-nothing)
(A)
Opposition
(O)
Republican
(R)
Other Vacant
End of previous Congress 156 0 76 0 2 234 0
Begin 81 52 100 0 0 233 1
End 96 1 230 4
Final voting share 35.2% 64.8% 0.0%
Beginning of next Congress 127 14 0 92 0 233 1

Leadership[edit]

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Members[edit]

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

Senate[edit]

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.

House of Representatives[edit]

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

Changes in membership[edit]

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

Senate[edit]

State
(class)
Vacator Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation
New Hampshire
(2)
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time. John Parker Hale (R) July 30, 1855
New Hampshire
(3)
Vacant Charles G. Atherton died during the previous Congress. Successor was elected. James Bell (R) July 30, 1855
Alabama
(3)
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time. Benjamin Fitzpatrick (D) November 26, 1855
Pennsylvania
(3)
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time. William Bigler (D) January 14, 1856
Missouri
(3)
Vacant Elected but did not take seat until after Congress began session. James S. Green (D) January 12, 1857
California
(3)
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time. William M. Gwin (D) January 13, 1857
Indiana
(3)
Vacant Legislature failed to elect on time. Graham N. Fitch (D) February 4, 1857
Delaware
(2)
John M. Clayton (O / W) Died November 9, 1856. Successor was appointed. Joseph P. Comegys (O / W) November 19, 1856
Maine
(1)
Hannibal Hamlin (D) Resigned January 7, 1857 to become Governor of Maine. Successor was appointed. Amos Nourse (R) January 16, 1857
Delaware
(2)
Joseph P. Comegys (O / W) Appointment expired January 14, 1857 upon successor's election. Martin W. Bates (D) January 14, 1857
Iowa
(3)
James Harlan (O / FS) Presented his credentials and took his seat December 31, 1855; owing to irregularities in the legislative proceedings the Senate declared the seat vacant in January 1857. He was subsequently re-elected to fill the vacancy James Harlan (R) January 29, 1857

House of Representatives[edit]

  • 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 Vacator Reason for change Successor Date successor
seated
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 (KN) 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 28, 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 (KN) Resigned February 28, 1857 Vacant Not filled this term

Employees[edit]

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

References[edit]

  • 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[edit]