United States House of Representatives elections, 1848

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United States House of Representatives elections, 1848
United States
1846 ←
August 7, 1848 - November 6, 1849[1] → 1850

All 233[2] seats to the United States House of Representatives
117 seats were needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Howell Cobb-crop.jpg Robert Charles Winthrop - Brady-Handy.jpg
Leader Howell Cobb Robert C. Winthrop
Party Democratic Whig
Leader's seat Georgia-6th Massachusetts-1st
Last election 112 seats 116 seats
Seats won 113[2] 108
Seat change Increase 1 Decrease 8

  Third party Fourth party
  Giddings brady 1955-65rr.jpg LCLevin-small.jpg
Leader Joshua Reed Giddings Lewis Charles Levin
Party Free Soil American
Leader's seat Ohio-20th Pennsylvania-1st
Last election 0 seats 1 seats
Seats won 9 1
Seat change Increase 9 Steady

Speaker before election

Robert C. Winthrop
Whig

Elected Speaker

Howell Cobb
Democratic

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 31st Congress were held at various dates in each state between August 7, 1848 (Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri) and November 6, 1849 (Mississippi). California also elected two Representatives at-large on November 11, 1849, in anticipation of statehood. They were seated September 11, 1850

The Democrats gained one seat, taking the plurality from the Whigs, who had gained a majority just two years earlier in the election of 1846.

The Mexican–American War, which ended with an American victory several months before the election, was a big factor in the election. Zachary Taylor, a general in the war, was elected president as a Whig, but the Democrats, who instigated the war, were rewarded for their victory by regaining their House majority. The fiercely abolitionist Free Soil Party was a huge spoiler in this election, earning 9 seats in districts that generally supported Whig politicians.

When Congress assembled on December 3, 1849, no single party was able to win a majority of the vote for Speaker of the House. The Whigs split; the majority renominating Robert Charles Winthrop of Massachusetts but the southern Whigs split off to support Meredith Poindexter Gentry of Tennessee. The Democrats put forth Howell Cobb of Georgia, while the Free Soilers supported David Wilmot of Pennsylvania, author of the Wilmot Proviso.

The impasse continued until the 63d ballot. Two dozen other candidates were offered in the hopes that someone else could gain a majority. The Democrats and Free Soilers attempted a compromise on the 40th ballot, but this was exposed when Edward Stanly, a Whig from North Carolina, exposed the deal. After the 59th ballot, Stanly offered a proposal, which was accepted. The House would take three additional ballots. If no candidate won the majority, whoever placed first on the 63d ballot would be declared the new Speaker. On December 22, Cobb was chosen on the 63d ballot with 102 votes to 99 for Winthrop and 20 scattering.[3]

Election summaries[edit]

Wisconsin was apportioned an additional seat in 1848[4] and two more seats were added for the new States of California[5]

113 9 1 1 108
Democratic FS I AKN Whig
State Type Date Total
seats
Democratic Whig Free Soil Other
Seats Change Seats Change Seats Change Seats Change
Michigan District November 7, 1848
(Election Day)[6]
3 2 Decrease1 1 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Steady
New Jersey District 5 1 Steady 4 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
New York District 34 1 Decrease10 32 Increase9 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Wisconsin District 3[7] 1 Decrease1 1 Increase1 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Arkansas At-large August 7, 1848 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Delaware At-large November 6, 1848 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Florida At-large October 2, 1848 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Georgia District October 2, 1848 8 4 Steady 4 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Illinois District August 7, 1848 7 6 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Iowa District August 7, 1848 2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Maine District September 11, 1848 7 5 Decrease1 2 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Steady
Massachusetts District November 13, 1848 10[8] 0 Steady 8 Decrease2 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Missouri District August 7, 1848 5 5 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Ohio District October 10, 1848 21 11 Increase1 8 Decrease3 2 Increase2 0 Steady
Pennsylvania District October 10, 1848 24 9 Increase2 13 Decrease3 1 Increase1 1[9] Steady
South Carolina District October 9–10, 1848 7 7 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Vermont District September 5, 1848 4 1 Steady 3 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
1849 elections
Alabama District August 6, 1849 7 5 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
California At-large November 11, 1849[10] 2 1 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Steady 1[11] Increase1
Connecticut District April 2, 1849 4 2 Increase2 1 Decrease3 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Indiana District August 6, 1849 10 8 Increase2 1 Decrease3 1 Increase1 0 Steady
Kentucky District August 6, 1849 10 4 Steady 6 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Louisiana District November 5, 1849 4 3 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Maryland District October 3, 1849 6 3 Increase1 3 Decrease1 0 Steady 0 Steady
Mississippi District November 5–6, 1849 4 4 Increase1 0 Decrease1 0 Steady 0 Steady
New Hampshire District March 13, 1849 4 2 Steady 1 Steady 1 Increase1 0 Decrease1[12]
North Carolina District August 7, 1849 9 3 Steady 6 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Rhode Island District April 4, 1849 2 0 Decrease1 2 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Steady
Tennessee District August 2, 1849 11 7 Increase1 4 Decrease1 0 Steady 0 Steady
Texas District August 6, 1849 2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Virginia District April 26, 1849 15 13 Increase4 2 Decrease4 0 Steady 0 Steady
Total[2] 232 113
48.7%
Increase1 108
46.6%
Decrease8 9
3.9%
Increase9 2
0.9%
Steady
House seats
Democratic
  
48.71%
Whig
  
46.55%
Free Soil
  
3.88%
Know-Nothing
  
0.43%
Others
  
0.43%

Complete returns[edit]

California[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
California at-large
2 seats on a general ticket
None (District created) Independent gain George W. Wright (I) 22%
Edward Gilbert (D) 20.6%

Rodman M. Price 16.3%
P. A. Morse 8.3%
Lewis Dent 8.2%
E. J. C. Kewen 7.3%
W. M. Sheppard 7.2%
William E. Shannon 5.4%
Peter Halsted 2.4%
L. W. Hastings 0.9%
Pierson B. Reading 0.7%
W. H. Russell 0.4%
J. S. Thompson 0.3%
Kimball H. Dimmick 0.2%
None (District created) Democratic gain

Florida[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Florida at-large Edward C. Cabell Whig 1846 Re-elected Edward C. Cabell (W) 53.5%
William Pope Duval (D) 46.5%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Excludes states admitted during the 31st Congress
  2. ^ a b c Includes late elections
  3. ^ Speaker of the House election, 1849, from Ourcampaigns.com, with detailed information about each ballot
  4. ^ Stat. 235
  5. ^ Stat. 452
  6. ^ In 1845, Congress passed a law providing for a uniform date for choosing electors. Congressional elections were unaffected by this law, but the date was gradually adopted by the states for Congressional elections
  7. ^ Increase of 1 seat
  8. ^ One vacancy for the duration of the 31st Congress
  9. ^ 1 Know-Nothing
  10. ^ Seated September 11, 1850 after admission to the Union
  11. ^ 1 Independent
  12. ^ Previous election had 1 Independent