United States House of Representatives elections, 1878

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United States House of Representatives elections, 1878
United States
1876 ←
November 5, 1878
(8 states held elections between June 3, 1878 and September 3, 1879)

→ 1880

All 293 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
  Majority party Minority party
 
Party Democratic Republican
Last election 152 seats 141 seats
Seats won 149[1] 131
Seat change Decrease 3 Decrease 10
Popular vote 2,864,095 2,762,003
Percentage 40.9% 39.5%
Swing Decrease 9.3 Decrease 7.3

  Third party
 
Party Greenback
Last election 0 seats
Seats won 13
Seat change Increase 13
Popular vote 919,832
Percentage 13.1%
Swing Increase 13.1%

Speaker before election

Samuel Randall
Democratic

Elected Speaker

Samuel Randall
Democratic

Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1878[2] for Representatives to the 46th United States Congress. These elections occurred in the middle of President Rutherford B. Hayes's term.

With a sour economy as the nation's pressing issue, both major parties lost seats to the new Greenback Party, which was established to promote the long-term use of paper money as a solution to stop enormous economic fluctuations. The Democratic Party remained the largest party, but lost its majority. However, it allied with several independent politicians and was able to remain in power. Notable freshmen included James B. Weaver, who would later run for President as the Populist candidate in the 1892 election. This was the fourth and last recorded House election where both major parties lost seats at the same time.

Election summaries[edit]

143 6 13 131
Democratic I Gb Republican
State Type Total
seats
Democratic Republican Greenback
Seats Change Seats Change Seats Change
Alabama District 8 7 Decrease 1 0 Steady 1 Increase 1
Arkansas District 4 4 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
California[3] District 4 1 Steady 3 Steady 0 Steady
Colorado At-large 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
Connecticut District 4 1 Decrease 2 3 Increase 2 0 Steady
Delaware At-large 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Florida District 2 2 Increase 1 0 Decrease 1 0 Steady
Georgia District 9 9[4] Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Illinois District 19 6 Decrease 2 12 Increase 1 1 Increase 1
Indiana[5] District 13 6 Increase 2 6 Decrease 3 1 Increase 1
Iowa[5] District 9 0 Steady 7 Decrease 2 2 Increase 2
Kansas District 3 0 Steady 3 Steady 0 Steady
Kentucky District 10 10[6] Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Louisiana District 6 6 Increase 2 0 Decrease 2 0 Steady
Maine[5] District 5 0 Steady 3 Decrease 2 2 Increase 2
Maryland District 6 5 Decrease 1 1 Increase 1 0 Steady
Massachusetts District 11 1 Steady 10 Steady 0 Steady
Michigan District 9 0 Decrease 1 9 Increase 1 0 Steady
Minnesota District 3 1 Increase 1 2 Decrease 1 0 Steady
Mississippi District 6 6 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Missouri District 13 12[6] Increase 3 0 Decrease 4 1 Increase 1
Nebraska At-large 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
Nevada At-large 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
New Hampshire District 3 0 Decrease 1 3 Increase 1 0 Steady
New Jersey District 7 3 Decrease 1 4 Increase 1 0 Steady
New York District 33 9[4] Decrease 7 24 Increase 7 0 Steady
North Carolina District 8 6 Decrease 1 1 Steady 1 Increase 1
Ohio[5] District 20 11 Increase 3 9 Decrease 3 0 Steady
Oregon[5] At-large 1 1 Increase 1 0 Decrease 1 0 Steady
Pennsylvania District 27 8 Decrease 2 17 Steady 2 Increase 2
Rhode Island District 2 0 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
South Carolina District 5 5 Increase 3 0 Decrease 3 0 Steady
Tennessee District 10 9 Increase 1 1 Decrease 1 0 Steady
Texas District 6 5 Decrease 1 0 Steady 1 Increase 1
Vermont[5] District 3 0 Steady 2 Decrease 1 1 Increase 1
Virginia District 9 8 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
West Virginia[5] District 3 3 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Wisconsin District 8 3 Steady 5 Steady 0 Steady
Total 293 149[1]
50.9%
Decrease 3 131
44.7%
Decrease 10 13
4.4%
Increase 13
House seats
Democratic
  
50.85%
Republican
  
44.71%
Greenback
  
4.44%

In 1845, Congress passed a law providing for a uniform nationwide date for choosing Presidential electors. This law did not affect election dates for Congress, which remained within the jurisdiction of State governments, but over time, the States moved their Congressional elections to that date. By the 1870s, the majority of states had moved their elections to that date. In 1878/9, there were still 7 states with earlier election dates, and 1 state with a later election date:

California's elections were the last time that a state held congressional general elections after November.

House seats by party holding plurality in state
  80+ to 100% Democratic
  80+ to 100% Republican
  60+ to 80% Democratic
  60+ to 80% Republican
  <=60% Democratic
  <=60% Republican
Net gain in party representation
   
  6+ Republican gain
  3-5 Democratic gain
   
  1-2 Democratic gain
  1-2 Greenback gain
  1-2 Republican gain
  no net change

Complete list of races[edit]

California[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
California 1 Horace Davis Republican 1876 Incumbent re-elected Horace Davis (R) 48.4%
Clitus Barbour (Workingmen) 44.5%
Charles A. Sumner (D) 7.1%
California 2 Horace F. Page Republican 1872 Incumbent re-elected Horace F. Page (R) 51.9%
Thomas J. Clunie (D) 34.4%
H. B. Williams (Workingmen) 13.8%
California 3 John K. Luttrell Democratic 1872 Incumbent retired
Democratic hold
Campbell P. Berry (D) 50.1%
Joseph McKenna (R) 49.6%
G. T. Elliott (Workingmen) 0.3%
California 4 Romualdo Pacheco Republican 1876 Incumbent re-elected Romualdo Pacheco (R) 40.5%
Wallace Leach (D) 31.8%
James J. Ayers (Workingmen) 27.7%

Florida[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Florida 1 Robert H. M. Davidson Democratic 1876 Re-elected Robert H. M. Davidson (D) 56.8%
Simon B. Conover (R) 40.9%
Edmund C. Weeks (IR) 2.3%
Florida 2 Horatio Bisbee, Jr. Republican 1876 Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Noble A. Hull (D) 50.0%
Horatio Bisbee, Jr. (R) 50.0%

In the 2nd district, the difference between the two candidates, in the initial returns, was just 28 votes. Bisbee challenged Hull's election, and was eventually awarded the seat, on January 22, 1881

South Carolina[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
South Carolina 1 Joseph Rainey Republican 1870 (special) Lost re-election
Democratic gain
John S. Richardson (D) 61.7%
Joseph Rainey (R) 38.3%
South Carolina 2 Richard H. Cain Republican 1876 Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Michael P. O'Connor (D) 60.9%
Edmund W. M. Mackey (R) 39.1%
South Carolina 3 D. Wyatt Aiken Democratic 1876 Re-elected D. Wyatt Aiken (D) 79.1%
J. F. Ensor (R) 20.9%
South Carolina 4 John H. Evins Democratic 1876 Re-elected John H. Evins (D) 96.8%
Alexander S. Wallace (R) 3.2%
South Carolina 5 Robert Smalls Republican 1874 Lost re-election
Democratic gain
George D. Tillman (D) 71.2%
Robert Smalls (R) 28.8%

South Carolina was one state rampant with voter fraud, particularly through the use of tissue ballots, thin ballots hidden in the normal ballot, typically 10 to 20 at a time. The almost statewide exclusion of Republicans as Commissioners of Elections, and the ensuing appointment of nearly all Democratic Managers of Elections, allowed to Democratic Managers to perpetrate this scheme. When the votes were counted and more votes than voters were found, the Managers removed and destroyed the Republican ballots resulting in the complete takeover of the state.[7][8][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Includes 6 Independent Democrats
  2. ^ 1879 in California, the last regular Congressional election in an odd-numbered year
  3. ^ Elections held late
  4. ^ a b Includes 2 Independent Democrats
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Elections held early
  6. ^ a b Includes 1 Independent Democrat
  7. ^ The New York Times, November 16, 1878 - NYT Free Archive
  8. ^ The New York Times, February 5, 1879 - NYT Free Archive
  9. ^ The Life of James Abram Garfield, by William Ralston Balch, 1881