United States House of Representatives elections, 1789

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United States House of Representatives elections, 1788-89
United States
December 22, 1788 - March 5, 1789[1]
→ 1790

All 59[2] seats to the United States House of Representatives
30 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Muhlenberg.jpg James Madison.jpg
Leader Frederick Muhlenberg James Madison
Party Pro-Administration Anti-Administration
Leader's seat Pennsylvania-AL Virginia-5th
Seats won 37[3] 28[3]
Popular vote 16,282 14,714

1stHouse.svg

Results:
  Federalist majority
  Anti-Federalist majority
  Even split

Speaker before election

None

Elected Speaker

Frederick Muhlenberg
Pro-Administration

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 1st Congress were held in 1788 and 1789, coinciding with the election of George Washington as first President of the United States. The dates and methods of election were set by the states. Actual political parties did not yet exist, but new members of Congress were informally categorized as either "pro-Administration" (i.e., pro-Washington and pro-Hamilton) or "anti-Administration".

The first session of the first House of Representatives came to order in Federal Hall, New York City on March 4, 1789, with only thirteen members present. The requisite quorum (thirty members out of fifty-nine) was not present until April 1, 1789. The first order of business was the election of a Speaker of the House. On the first ballot, Frederick Muhlenberg was elected Speaker by a majority of votes. The business of the first session was largely devoted to legislative procedure rather than policy.

Election summaries[edit]

In the 18th and much of the 19th century, each state set its own date for elections. In many years, elections were even held after the legal start of the Congress, although typically before the start of the first session. In the elections for the 1st Congress, five states held elections in 1788, electing a total of 29 Representatives, and six held elections in 1789, electing a total of 30 seats. Two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, did not ratify the Constitution until November 21, 1789 and May 29, 1790 respectively, well after the Congress had met for the first time, and, consequently, elected representatives late, in 1790, leaving North Carolina unrepresented in the 1st session and Rhode Island in the 1st and 2nd sessions of a total of 3 sessions.

State Type Date Total
seats
Pro-
Administration
Anti-
Administration
1788 elections
Connecticut At-large December 22, 1788 5 5 0
Massachusetts District (8) December 18, 1788[4] 8 6 2
New Hampshire At-large December 15, 1788[5] 3 2 1
Pennsylvania At-large November 26, 1788 8 6 2
South Carolina District (5) November 24–25, 1788 5 2 3
1789 elections
Delaware At-large January 7, 1789 1 1 0
Georgia At-large/District[6] (3) February 9, 1789 3 0 3
Maryland At-large/District[7] (6) January 7–11, 1789 6 2 4
New Jersey At-large February 11, 1789 4 4 0
New York District (6) March 3–5, 1789 6 3 3
Virginia District (10) February 2, 1789 10 3 7
1790 elections
North Carolina District (5) February, 1790 5 2 3
Rhode Island At-large August 31, 1790 1 1 0
Total[3] 65 37
56.9%
28
43.1%

House composition[edit]

Beginning of the 1st Congress[edit]

A A A A A A A A
A A A A A A A A A A
P P P A A A A A A A
P
P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P

End of the 1st Congress[edit]

Six seats were filled late because North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution late. One pro-Administration representative resigned and the seat remained open at the end of the Congress.

A A
A A A A A A A A A A
A A A A A A A A A A
P P P V A A A A A A
P
P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P P P
P P P P P P P P P P
P P
Key:
A = Anti-Administration
P = Pro-Administration
V = Vacant

Complete returns[edit]

The states of North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution late and thus elected representatives to the 1st Congress in 1790.

Connecticut[edit]

District Result Candidates
Connecticut at-large
5 seats on a general ticket
Pro-Administration win Benjamin Huntington[8] (P)
Roger Sherman (P)
Jonathan Sturges (P)
Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (P)
Jeremiah Wadsworth (P)

John Chester
Jesse Root
Jedediah Strong
Erastus Wolcott
James Hillhouse (P)
John Treadwell
Stephen Mix Mitchell (P)
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win

Delaware[edit]

Delaware had a single representative at this time. Under the law at the time, each voter cast two votes for representative, at least one of whom had to be from a different county.[9]

District Result Candidates
Delaware At-Large Pro-Administration win John M. Vining (P) 43.6%
Rhoads Shankland (A) 23.9%
Gunning Bedford, Jr. 15.0%
Joshua Clayton (P) 13.2%
Allen MacLean 4.4%

Georgia[edit]

Georgia had a mixed at-large/district system for the 1st Congress. Representatives were elected at-large, but for three district-based seats.

District Result Candidates
Georgia 1
Called the Lower district
Anti-Administration win James Jackson (A) 50.9%
William Houstoun 33.6%
Henry Osborne 14.5%
James Seagrove 0.6%
Others 0.4%
Georgia 2
Called the Middle district
Anti-Administration win Abraham Baldwin (A) 69.%
Henry Osborne 15.2%
Joseph Sumner 10.4%
Isaac Briggs 2.7%
William Houstoun 1.5%
James Jackson 0.6%
Others 0.5%
Georgia 3
Called the Upper district
Anti-Administration win George Mathews (A) 96.5%
Henry Osborne 2.0%
Anthony Wayne 0.7%
Joseph Sumner 0.4%
Others 0.7%

Maryland[edit]

At the time, Maryland had a mixed district/at-large system similar to Georgia's. Under Maryland law, "candidates were elected at-large but had to be residents of a specific district with the statewide vote determining winners from each district."[10]

District Result Candidates
Maryland 1 Anti-Administration win Michael J. Stone (A) 65.4%
George Dent (P) 34.6%
Maryland 2 Anti-Administration win Joshua Seney (A) 100%
Maryland 3 Anti-Administration win Benjamin Contee (A) 70.1%
John F. Mercer (A) 29.9%
Maryland 4 Anti-Administration win William Smith (A) 69.1%
Samuel Sterett (A) 30.9%
Maryland 5 Pro-Administration win George Gale (P) 70.7%
John Done 23.8%
William V. Murray (P) 5.5%
Maryland 6 Pro-Administration win Daniel Carroll (P) 74.8%
Abraham Faw 25.2%

Massachusetts[edit]

Massachusetts required a majority vote, necessitating additional votes if no one won a majority. This was necessary in 4 of the districts.

Massachusetts House Elections, 1788
Party Candidate Votes %
Pro-Administration 6 elected 6,232 54.4%
Anti-Administration 2 elected 5,228 45.6%
District Result Candidates[11]
First ballot Second ballot Third ballot Fourth ballot Fifth ballot
Massachusetts 1 Pro-Administration win Fisher Ames (P) 50.7%
Samuel Adams (A) 32.3%
Sam Aster 4.3%
Charles Jarvisa 2.8%
Benjamin Austin 2.7%
John Adams (P) 1.9%
Others 5.3%
Massachusetts 2 Pro-Administration win Benjamin Goodhue (P) 38.6%
Jonathan Jackson (P) 26.6%
Nathan Daneseg 20.1%
Samuel Holten 13.8%
Benjamin Goodhue (P) 67.0%
Jonathan Jackson (P) 33.0%
Massachusetts 3 Anti-Administration win Nathaniel Gorham 36.4%
Elbridge Gerry (A) 26.1%
Joseph Bradley Varnum (A) 17.2%
John Brooks (P) 7.2%
James Winthrop 3.4%
Loammi Baldwin 2.9%
Others 4.4%
Elbridge Gerry (A) 61.1%
Joseph Bradley Varnum (A) 19.6%
William Hulberg 11.0%
James Winthrop (A) 4.4%
Ebenezer Bridge 2.8%
Others 1.2%
Massachusetts 4 Pro-Administration win Theodore Sedgwick (P) 35.6%
Samuel Lyman (P) 14.7%
William Whiting 13.4%
Thomson J. Skinner (A) 10.4%
William Williams 8.7%
John Worthington 7.3%
John Bacon 4.1%
Theodore Sedgwick (P) 45.7%
William Whiting 36.9%
Thomson J. Skinner (A) 14.9%
John Bacon (A) 2.5%
Samuel Lyman (P) 32.9%
Theodore Sedgwick (P) 30.6%
William Whiting 22.9%
Thomson J. Skinner (A) 12.8%
Theodore Sedgwick (P) 47.0%
Samuel Lyman (P) 39.3%
William Whiting 11.7%
Theodore Sedgwick (P) 50.2%
Samuel Lyman (P) 47.8%
John Bacon 1.3%
Massachusetts 5 Pro-Administration win George Partridge (P) 90.4%
Others 9.6%
Massachusetts 6 Pro-Administration win George Thatcher (P) 62.1%
Josiah Thacker 19.2%
Nathan Willing 7.7%
Massachusetts 7 Pro-Administration win George Leonard (P) 54.0%
Phanuel Bishop (A) 26.0%
David Cobb (P) 18.3%
Massachusetts 8 Anti-Administration win Jonathan Grout (A) 35.3%
Tim Paine 29.8%
Artemas Ward (P) 15.1%
Moses Gill 5.8%
Abiel Wilder 3.8%
John Sprague 3.3%
Others 4.9%
Tim Paine (P) 45.4%
Jonathan Grout 42.1%
Artemas Ward (P) 11.3%
Others 1.2%
Jonathan Grout (A) 55.7%
Tim Paine 37.1%
Artemas Ward (P) 7.2%

New Hampshire[edit]

New Hampshire electoral law required a candidate to receive votes from a majority of voters for election (16.7% of votes). No candidate won such a majority on the first ballot, so a second election had to be held, on February 2, 1789

District Result Candidates
First ballot Second ballot
New Hampshire at-large
3 seats on a general ticket
Pro-Administration win Benjamin West (P) 15.4%
Samuel Livermore (A) 14.6%
Paine Wingate (P) 13.4%
Abiel Foster[12] (P) 8.0%
John Sullivan 7.1%
Nicholas Gilman (P) 5.6%
Joshua Atherton 5.2%
Nathaniel Peabody 5.1%
Peirse Long 4.4%
Benjamin Bellows 3.4%
Others 17.9%
Benjamin West (P) 33.0%
Samuel Livermore (A) 26.2%
Nicholas Gilman (P) 19.5%

Abiel Foster[12] (P) 19.5%
John Sullivan 1.9%
Anti-Administration win
Pro-Administration win

Benjamin West did not serve, resigning before the start of the 1st Congress. A special election was held to fill the resulting vacancy which was won by Abiel Foster (P)

New Jersey[edit]

District Result Candidates[11]
New Jersey At-Large
4 seats on a general ticket
Pro-Administration win James Schureman (P) 19.9%
Elias Boudinot (P) 13.0%
Lambert Cadwalader (P) 12.5%
Thomas Sinnickson (P) 12.0%

Abraham Clark (P) 10.5%
Jonathan Dayton (P) 9.9%
Robert Hoops 3.7%
Whitten Cripps 3.4%
Benjamin Van Cleve 2.9%
James Parker 2.5%
John Witherspoon 12.5%
Thomas Henderson (P) 1.7%
Robert L. Hooper 1.4%
Josiah Hornblower 1.0%
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win

The election of all four representatives was contested, but the records that explaing the precise grounds on which the election was contested have been lost due to the burning of Washington in the War of 1812. It is known to have related to questions of regularity and procedure. All four representatives' elections were ruled valid.[13]

New York[edit]

New York held elections to the 1st Congress on March 3 and 4, 1789. At the time, districts were unnumbered. They are retroactively numbered in this section.

District Result Candidates
New York 1 Anti-Administration win William Floyd (A) 100%
New York 2 Pro-Administration win John Laurance (P) 85.7%
John Broome (A) 13.2%
Philip Pell (A) 1.2%
New York 3 Pro-Administration win Egbert Benson (P) 50.4%
Theodorus Bailey (A) 49.6%
New York 4 Anti-Administration win John Hathorn (A) 100%
New York 5 Pro-Administration win Peter Silvester (P) 51.2%
Matthew Adgate 47.2%
John Williams 1.6%
New York 6 Anti-Administration win Jeremiah Van Rensselaer (A) 54.5%
Abraham Ten Broeck (P) 45.5%

Pennsylvania[edit]

Pennsylvania held elections to the 1st Congress on November 26, 1788. For this first election (and again in 1792 election for the 3rd Congress), Pennsylvania chose to elect all of its representatives on a single state-wide general ticket, an attempt by the pro-Administration-majority legislature to prevent anti-Administration candidates from winning seats.

District Result Candidates[14]
Pennsylvania At-Large
8 seats on a general ticket
Pro-Administration win Frederick Muhlenberg (P) 7.49%
Henry Wynkoop (P) 7.09%
Thomas Hartley (P) 7.02%
George Clymer (P) 6.96%
Thomas Fitzsimons (P) 6.95%
Thomas Scott (P) 6.94%
Peter Muhlenberg (A) 6.38%
Daniel Hiester (A) 6.37%

John Allison (P) 6.08%
Stephen Chambers (P) 6.06%
William Findley (A) 5.66%
William Irvine (A) 5.58%
Charles Pettit (A) 5.57%
William Montgomery (A) 5.46%
Blair McClenachan (A) 5.35%
Robert Whitehall (A) 5.03%
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Pro-Administration win
Anti-Administration win
Anti-Administration win

South Carolina[edit]

District Result Candidates[11]
South Carolina 1
Also known as the Charleston Division
Pro-Administration win William L. Smith (P) 53.1%
Alexander Gillon (A) 31.4%
David Ramsay (P) 15.5%
South Carolina 2
Also known as the Beaufort Division
Anti-Administration win Aedanus Burke (A) 99.3%
South Carolina 3
Also known as the Georgetown Division
Pro-Administration win Daniel Huger (P) 75.0%
John Page 25.0%
South Carolina 4
Also known as the Camden Division
Anti-Administration win Thomas Sumter (A) 100.0%
South Carolina 5
Also known as the Ninety-Six Division
Anti-Administration win Thomas Tudor Tucker (A) 100%

In the 1st district, William L. Smith (P)'s election was contested by David Ramsay (P) who claimed that Smith had not been a citizen for the required 7 years at the time of his election, the House Committee on Elections ruled in Smith's favor [13]

Virginia[edit]

District Result Candidates
Virginia 1 Pro-Administration win Alexander White (P) 100%
Virginia 2 Anti-Administration win John Brown (A)[8]
Virginia 3 Anti-Administration win Andrew Moore (A)[8]
George Hancock (P)
Virginia 4 Pro-Administration win Richard Bland Lee (P)[8]
John Pope
Virginia 5 Anti-Administration win James Madison, Jr. (A) 57.4%
James Monroe (A) 42.6%.
Virginia 6 Anti-Administration win Isaac Coles (A)[8]
Virginia 7 Anti-Administration win John Page (A)[8]
Spencer Roane
Meriwether Smith
Arthur Lee
Francis Corbin
Virginia 8 Anti-Administration win Josiah Parker (A) 48.1%
Thomas Mathews 39.7%
Isaac Avery 12.1%
Virginia 9 Anti-Administration win Theodorick Bland (A)[8]
Edward Carrington
Thomas Rivers
Sterling Edmunds
Thomas Stith
Charles B. Jones
Creed Taylor
William Ronald
William Macon
Virginia 10 Pro-Administration win Samuel Griffin (P)[8]
Benjamin Harrison
Miles Selden, Jr.

Theodorick Bland (A) of the 9th district died in office and a special election was held to fill the resulting vacancy, which elected William B. Giles (A).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Unless otherwise noted, election data are from A New Nation Votes and Ourcampaigns.com
  • Source for election dates: Dubin, Michael J. (1998). United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results. McFarland and Company. 
  1. ^ Excludes states admitted after the start of the 1st Congress
  2. ^ 6 more seats were added by the admission of new States after the start of this Congress
  3. ^ a b c Includes late elections
  4. ^ Massachusetts had a majority vote requirement for election. Four representatives were elected in the general election and four in subsequent trials, a total of 5 trials had to be held between January 29, 1789 and May 11, 1789
  5. ^ New Hampshire had a majority vote requirement for election. No representatives were elected in the general election and three were returned at a subsequent trial held February 2, 1789
  6. ^ Georgia had three representatives elected by the whole state electorate, who had to choose one candidate from each district.
  7. ^ Maryland had six representatives elected by the whole state electorate, who had to choose one candidate from each district.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Source does not give numbers of votes
  9. ^ A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
  10. ^ A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
  11. ^ a b c Only candidates with at least 1% of the vote listed
  12. ^ a b Won subsequent special election
  13. ^ a b 1st Congress membership roster
  14. ^ Wilkes University Elections Statistics Project

External links[edit]