1858 and 1859 United States Senate elections

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United States Senate elections, 1858 and 1859

← 1856/57 Various dates 1860/61 →

22 of the 66 seats in the United States Senate (with special elections)
34 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
 
Party Democratic Republican
Last election 34 seats 15 seats
Seats before 42 20
Seats won 13 8
Seats after 38 25
Seat change Decrease 4 Increase 5
Seats up 17 3

  Third party Fourth party
 
Party Know Nothing Other
Last election 2 seats 4 seats
Seats before 4 0
Seats won 0 0
Seats after 2 0
Seat change Decrease 2 Steady
Seats up 2 0

Majority Party before election

Democratic Party

Elected Majority Party

Democratic Party

U.S. Postage, 1958 issue, commemorating the Lincoln and Douglas debates.

The United States Senate elections of 1858 and 1859 were elections which had the Republican Party gain five additional seats in the United States Senate, but the Democrats retained their majority. That majority would erode in 1860 with the secession of the southern states leading up to the Civil War. In Illinois, incumbent Stephen A. Douglas (D) and challenger Abraham Lincoln (R) held a series of seven debates, known as the "Lincoln–Douglas debates."

As this election was prior to ratification of the seventeenth amendment, Senators were chosen by State legislatures.

Results summary[edit]

Senate Party Division, 36th Congress (1859-1861)

  • Majority Party: Democratic (38–25)
  • Minority Party: Republican (25–26)
  • Other Parties: American (2)
  • Total Seats: 66–68

Change in Senate composition[edit]

Before the elections[edit]

D3 D2 D1
D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11 D12 D13
D23 D22 D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14
D24 D25 D26
Ran
D27
Ran
D28
Ran
D29
Ran
D30
Ran
D31
Ran
D32
Ran
D33
Ran
Majority → D34
Ran
KN4
Unknown
D42
Retired
D41
Retired
D40
Retired
D39
Retired
D38
Retired
D37
Ran
D36
Ran
D35
Ran
KN3
Unknown
KN2 KN1 R20
Ran
R19
Ran
R18
Ran
R17 R16 R15 R14
R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 R13
R3 R2 R1

As a result of the elections[edit]

D3 D2 D1
D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11 D12 D13
D23 D22 D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14
D24 D25 D26
Re-elected
D27
Re-elected
D28
Re-elected
D29
Re-elected
D30
Re-elected
D31
Re-elected
D32
Re-elected
D33
Hold
Majority → D34
Hold
R24
Gain
R25
Gain
KN1 KN2 V1
D Loss
D38
Gain
D37
Gain
D36
Hold
D35
Hold
R23
Gain
R22
Gain
R21
Gain
R20
Re-elected
R19
Re-elected
R18
Re-elected
R17 R16 R15 R14
R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 R13
R3 R2 R1
Key:
D# Democratic
KN# Know Nothing
R# Republican
V# Vacant

Race summaries[edit]

Special elections during the 35th Congress[edit]

In these elections, the winners were seated during 1858 or in 1859 before March 4; ordered by election date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Minnesota
(Class 1)
New state Minnesota's first senators were elected May 11, 1858.
Democratic gain.
Green tickY Henry M. Rice (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]
Minnesota
(Class 2)
New state Minnesota's first senators were elected May 11, 1858.
Democratic gain.
Oregon
(Class 2)
New state Oregon's first senators were elected in 1858 in advance of statehood.[1]
Democratic gain.
Oregon
(Class 3)
New state Oregon's first senators were elected in 1858 in advance of statehood.[1]
Democratic gain.
North Carolina
(Class 3)
Thomas Clingman Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee elected November 23, 1858 to finish the term.[2][3]
South Carolina
(Class 2)
Arthur P. Hayne Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired when successor elected.
Winner elected December 3, 1858.
Democratic hold.
Winner was also elected to the next term, see below.

Races leading to the 36th Congress[edit]

In these general elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning March 4, 1859; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 2 seats.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral
history
Alabama Clement Claiborne Clay Democratic 1853 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1858.
Arkansas William K. Sebastian Democratic 1848 (Appointed)
1848 (Special)
1853
Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Delaware Martin W. Bates Democratic 1857 (Special) Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Democratic hold.
Georgia Robert Toombs Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected in 1858.
Illinois Stephen A. Douglas Democratic 1846
1852
Incumbent re-elected January 5, 1859.
Iowa George Wallace Jones Democratic 1848
1852
Incumbent lost renomination.
New senator elected January 26, 1858.[5]
Republican gain.
Kentucky John B. Thompson Know Nothing 1852 or 1853 Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
New senator elected in January 1858.
Democratic gain.
Louisiana Judah P. Benjamin Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Maine William P. Fessenden Republican 1854 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Massachusetts Henry Wilson Republican 1855 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Michigan Charles E. Stuart Democratic 1853 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
Minnesota James Shields Democratic 1849 (Illinois)
1849 (Illinois: Election voided)
1849 (Illinois: Special)
1855 (Illinois: Lost)
1858 (Minnesota)
Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected December 15, 1859.[6]
Republican gain.
Mississippi Albert G. Brown Democratic 1854 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
New Hampshire John P. Hale Republican 1846
1853 (Retired)
1855
Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
New Jersey William Wright Democratic 1852 or 1853 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
North Carolina David Reid Democratic 1854 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858 or 1859.
Democratic hold.
Oregon Delazon Smith Democratic 1859 Incumbent lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until 1860.
Delazon Smith (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]
Rhode Island Philip Allen Democratic 1853 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
South Carolina Arthur P. Hayne Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired.
New senator elected December 3, 1858.
Democratic hold.
Winner was also elected to finish the current term, see above.
Tennessee John Bell Know Nothing 1847
1853
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Democratic gain.
Texas Sam Houston Democratic 1846
1847
1853
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1859.
Democratic hold.
Virginia Robert M. T. Hunter Democratic 1846
1852
Incumbent re-elected in 1858.

Race leading to the 37th Congress[edit]

In this general election, the winner was elected for the term beginning March 4, 1861.

This election involved a Class 3 seat.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral
history
Kentucky
(Class 3)
John J. Crittenden Know Nothing 1817
1819 (Resigned)
1835
1841 (Retired)
1842 (Appointed)
1842 or 1843 (Special)
1843
1848 (Resigned)
1853
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected December 12, 1859, far in advance of the term.
Winner wasn't seated until term began March 4, 1861.
Democratic gain.
Green tickY John C. Breckinridge (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]

Elections during the 36th Congress[edit]

In this election, the winner was elected in 1859 on or after March 4; ordered by date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Texas
(Class 1)
Matthias Ward Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost nomination to finish the term.
Winner was elected December 5, 1859.
Democratic hold.
Green tickY Louis Wigfall (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]

Illinois[edit]

1859 United States Senate election in Illinois

← 1852 January 5, 1859 1864 →
  Stephen A Douglas - headshot.jpg Abraham Lincoln by Byers, 1858 - crop.jpg
Nominee Stephen Douglas Abraham Lincoln
Party Democratic Republican
Electoral vote 54 46
Popular vote 211,124[7] 244,242[7]
Percentage 46.4% 53.6%

The October surprise of the election was the endorsement of the Democrat Douglas by former Whig John J. Crittenden. Non-Republican former Whigs comprised the biggest block of swing voters, and Crittenden's endorsement of Douglas rather than Lincoln, also a former Whig, reduced Lincoln's chances of winning.[8]

On election day, as the districts were drawn to favor Douglas' party, the Democrats won 40 seats in the state house of Representatives, and the Republicans won 35. In the state senate, Republicans held 11 seats, and Democrats held 14. Stephen A. Douglas was reelected by the legislature, 54–46, even though Lincoln's Republicans won the popular vote with a percentage of 50.6%, or by 3,402 votes.[9] However, the widespread media coverage of the debates greatly raised Lincoln's national profile, making him a viable candidate for nomination as the Republican candidate in the upcoming 1860 presidential election. He would go on to secure both the nomination and the presidency, beating Douglas (as the Northern Democratic candidate), among others, in the process.

Lincoln also went on to be in contact with editors looking to publish the debate texts. George Parsons, the Ohio Republican committee chairman, got Lincoln in touch with Ohio's main political publisher, Follett and Foster, of Columbus. They published copies of the text, and titled the book, Political Debates Between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas in the Celebrated Campaign of 1858, in Illinois. Four printings were made, and the fourth sold 16,000 copies.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Two New Senators". timesmachine.nytimes.com.
  2. ^ Byrd, Robert C.; Wolff, Wendy (October 1, 1993). "The Senate, 1789-1989: Historical Statistics, 1789-1992" (volume 4 Bicentennial ed.). U.S. Government Printing Office., page 150
  3. ^ "Hon. Thomas L. Clingman--The new Senator from North Carolina". timesmachine.nytimes.com.
  4. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, 1859. Springfield, IL: Bailache & Baker, Printers. 1859.
  5. ^ Clark, Dan Elbert. History of Senatorial Elections in Iowa: A Study in American Politics. p. 119.
  6. ^ a b "From Minnesota.; ELECTION OF A UNITED STAES SENATOR--THREATENED IMPEACHMENT OF THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR". timesmachine.nytimes.com.
  7. ^ a b "IL US Senate 1858". OurCampaigns.com. OurCampaigns. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America. Pages 273–277, 282.
  9. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 284–285.
  10. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 305–306.