51st United States Congress

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51st United States Congress
50th ← → 52nd
USCapitol1906.jpg
United States Capitol (1906)

Duration: March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1891

Senate President: Levi P. Morton (R)
Senate Pres. pro tem: John J. Ingalls (R)
House Speaker: Thomas B. Reed (R)
Members: 88 Senators
332 Representatives
9 Non-voting members
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

Sessions
Special: March 4, 1889 – April 2, 1889
1st: December 2, 1889 – October 1, 1890
2nd: December 1, 1890 – March 3, 1891

The Fifty-first United States Congress, referred to by some critics as the Billion Dollar 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, 1889, to March 4, 1891, during the first two years of the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

The apportionment of seats in this House of Representatives was based on the Tenth Census of the United States in 1880. Both chambers had a Republican majority. This marked the first time since the 43rd United States Congress that both chambers were controlled by the president's party.

Contents

Major events[edit]

Major legislation[edit]

Benjamin Harrison and the Congress are portrayed as a "Billion-Dollar Congress," wasting the surplus in this cartoon from Puck.

It was responsible for a number of pieces of landmark legislation, many of which asserted the authority of the federal government.

Emboldened by their success in the elections of 1888, the Republicans enacted virtually their entire platform during their first 303-day session, including a measure that provided American Civil War veterans with generous pensions and expanded the list of eligible recipients to include noncombatants and the children of veterans. Grover Cleveland had vetoed a similar bill in 1887. It was criticized as the "Billion Dollar Congress'" for its lavish spending and, for this reason it incited drastic reversals in public support that led to Cleveland's reelection in 1892.

Other important legislation passed into law by the Congress included the McKinley tariff, authored by Representative, and future President, William McKinley; the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibited business combinations that restricted trade; and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the U.S. government to mint silver. The last two were concessions to Western farmer interests in exchange for support of the tariff and would become central tenets of the Populist Party later in the decade. They were authored by Senator John Sherman.

The Fifty-first Congress was also responsible for passing the Land Revision Act of 1891, which created the national forests. Harrison authorized America's first forest reserve in Yellowstone, Wyoming, the same year.

Other bills were discussed but failed to pass, including two significant pieces of legislation focused on ensuring African Americans the right to vote. Henry Cabot Lodge sponsored a so-called Lodge Bill that would have established federal supervision of Congressional elections so as to prevent the disfranchisement of southern blacks. Henry W. Blair sponsored the Blair Education Bill, which advocated the use of federal aid for education in order to frustrate southern whites employing literacy tests to prevent blacks from registering to vote.

States admitted and territories organized[edit]

  • November 2, 1889: North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted as the 39th and 40th states.
  • November 8, 1889: Montana was admitted as the 41st state.
  • November 11, 1889: Washington was admitted as the 42nd state.
  • May 2, 1890: Oklahoma Territory was organized.
  • July 3, 1890: Idaho was admitted as the 43rd state.
  • July 10, 1890: Wyoming was admitted as the 44th state.

Party summary[edit]

The count below identifies party affiliations at the beginning of this Congress. Changes resulting from subsequent replacements are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.

Six new states were admitted during this Congress, and their Senators and Representatives were elected throughout the Congress.

Senate[edit]

Party
(Shading shows control)
Total Vacant
Democratic
(D)
Republican
(R)
Other
End of the previous congress 37 38 (Readjuster)
1
76 0
Begin 37 39 0 76 0
End 35 51 86 2
Final voting share 40.7% 59.3% 0.0%
Beginning of the next congress 39 47 2
(Populist)
88 0

House of Representatives[edit]

Party
(Shading shows control)
Total Vacant
Democratic
(D)
Socialist Labor
(L)
Republican
(R)
Other
End of the previous congress 167 2 152 (Independent Republican,
National Greenback,
Independent)

4
325 0
Begin 159 0 164 0 323 2
End 152 1 175 328 3
Final voting share 46.3% 0.3% 53.4% 0.0%
Beginning of the next congress 238 0 86 8
(Populist)
332 0

Leadership[edit]

President of the Senate
Levi P. Morton

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Members[edit]

This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed by class, and Representatives are listed by district.

Skip to House of Representatives, below

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 began in the last Congress, requiring reelection in 1892; Class 2 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1894; and Class 3 meant their term ended in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1890.

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]

  • Replacements: 3
  • Deaths: 3
  • Resignations: 2
  • Interim appointments: 1
  • Seats of newly admitted states: 12
  • Total seats with changes: 17
State
(class)
Vacator Reason for vacancy Subsequent Date of successor's installation
Rhode Island
(2)
Jonathan Chace (R) Resigned April 9, 1889.
Successor was elected.
Nathan F. Dixon III (R) April 10, 1889
New Hampshire
(2)
Gilman Marston (R) Successor was elected June 18, 1889. William E. Chandler (R) June 18, 1889
South Dakota
(2)
New seats South Dakota achieved statehood November 2, 1889.
First senators were elected October 16, 1889.[1]
Richard F. Pettigrew (R) November 2, 1889
South Dakota
(3)
Gideon C. Moody (R)
Montana
(1)
New seats Montana achieved statehood November 8, 1889.
First Senator was elected January 1, 1890.[2]
His election was challenged based on the legitimacy of the nacent state legislature.
The Senate resolved the dispute in his favor April 16, 1890 and he was seated that day.[3]
Wilbur F. Sanders (R) April 16, 1890
Montana
(2)
Montana achieved statehood November 8, 1889.
First Senator was elected January 2, 1890.[2]
His election was challenged based on the legitimacy of the nacent state legislature.
The Senate resolved the dispute in his favor April 16, 1890 and he was seated that day.[3]
Thomas C. Power (R) April 16, 1890
Washington
(1)
New seats Washington achieved statehood November 11, 1889. John B. Allen (R) November 20, 1889
Washington
(3)
Watson C. Squire (R)
Kentucky
(2)
James B. Beck (D) Died May 3, 1890.
Successor was elected.
John G. Carlisle (D) May 26, 1890
North Dakota
(3)
New seats North Dakota achieved statehood November 2, 1889.
First senators were elected November 25, 1889.
Gilbert A. Pierce (R) November 21, 1889
North Dakota
(1)
Lyman R. Casey (R) November 25, 1889
Idaho
(2)
New seats Idaho achieved statehood July 3, 1890. George L. Shoup (R) December 18, 1890
Idaho
(3)
William J. McConnell (R)
Wyoming
(2)
New seats Wyoming achieved statehood July 10, 1890.
New Senator was elected November 15, 1890.
Joseph M. Carey (R) November 15, 1890
Wyoming
(1)
Wyoming achieved statehood July 10, 1890.
New Senator was elected November 18, 1890.
Francis E. Warren (R) November 24, 1890
Maryland
(3)
Ephraim K. Wilson (D) Died February 24, 1891. Vacant until next Congress
California
(1)
George Hearst (D) Died February 28, 1891. Vacant until next Congress

House of Representatives[edit]

  • Replacements: 16
  • Deaths: 11
  • Resignations: 6
  • Contested election:8
  • Seats of newly admitted states: 7
  • Total seats with changes: 33
District Vacator Reason for change Successor Date successor seated
Missouri 4th Vacant Elected to finish Rep. James N. Burnes who was re-elected to this Congress, but died during previous one. In addition, Rep. Charles F. Booher was elected to finish Burnes's term in previous Congress but chose not to run for re-election for this Congress. Robert P. C. Wilson (D) December 2, 1889
Illinois 19th Richard W. Townshend (D) Died March 9, 1889 James R. Williams (D) December 2, 1889
Kansas 4th Thomas Ryan (R) Resigned April 4, 1889 after being appointed U.S. Minister to Mexico Harrison Kelley (R) December 2, 1889
Louisiana 3rd Edward J. Gay (D) Died May 30, 1889 Andrew Price (D) December 2, 1889
Nebraska 2nd James Laird (R) Died August 17, 1889 Gilbert L. Laws (R) December 2, 1889
New York 9th Samuel S. Cox (D) Died September 10, 1889 Amos J. Cummings (D) November 5, 1889
New York 27th Newton W. Nutting (R) Died October 15, 1889 Sereno E. Payne (R) December 2, 1889
Dakota Territory At-large George A. Mathews (R) Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 2, 1889 Territory achieved statehood
North Dakota At-large Henry C. Hansbrough (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 2, 1889 New seat
South Dakota At-large Oscar S. Gifford (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seats November 2, 1889 New seats
John Pickler (R)
Montana Territory At-large Thomas H. Carter (R) Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 7, 1889 Territory achieved statehood
New York 6th Frank T. Fitzgerald (D) Resigned November 4, 1889 after being elected Register of New York County Charles H. Turner (D) December 9, 1889
Washington Territory At-large John B. Allen (R) Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 11, 1889 Territory achieved statehood
Pennsylvania 4th William D. Kelley (R) Died January 9, 1890 John E. Reyburn (R) February 18, 1890
West Virginia 4th James M. Jackson (D) Election was successfully challenged on February 3, 1890 Charles B. Smith (R) February 3, 1890
West Virginia 1st John O. Pendleton (D) Election was successfully challenged on February 26, 1890 George W. Atkinson (R) February 26, 1890
Maryland 5th Barnes Compton (D) Election was successfully challenged on March 20, 1890 Sydney E. Mudd (R) March 20, 1890
New York 24th David Wilber (R) Died April 1, 1890 John S. Pindar (D) November 4, 1890
Virginia 3rd George D. Wise (D) Election was successfully challenged on April 10, 1890 Edmund Waddill, Jr. (R) April 12, 1890
Pennsylvania 3rd Samuel J. Randall (D) Died April 13, 1890 Richard Vaux (D) May 20, 1890
Kentucky 6th John G. Carlisle (D) Resigned May 26, 1890 after being elected to the U.S. Senate William W. Dickerson (D) June 21, 1890
Alabama 4th Louis W. Turpin (D) Election was successfully challenged on June 4, 1890 John V. McDuffie (R) June 4, 1890
Idaho Territory At-large Fred Dubois (R) Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until July 3, 1890 Territory achieved statehood
Wyoming Territory At-large Joseph M. Carey (R) Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until July 10, 1889 Territory achieved statehood
Montana At-large Thomas H. Carter (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 8, 1889 New seat
Washington At-large John L. Wilson (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 20, 1889 New seat
Missouri 14th James P. Walker (D) Died July 19, 1890 Robert H. Whitelaw (D) November 4, 1890
Pennsylvania 27th Lewis F. Watson (R) Died August 25, 1890 Charles W. Stone (R) November 4, 1890
Arkansas 2nd Clifton R. Breckinridge (D) Election was successfully challenged on September 5, 1890, however Rep-elect John M. Clayton died during election challenge, so seat was declared vacant. Breckinridge was elected to open seat. Clifton R. Breckinridge (D) November 4, 1890
South Carolina 7th William Elliott (D) Election was successfully challenged on September 23, 1890 Thomas E. Miller (R) September 24, 1890
Virginia 4th Edward C. Venable (D) Election was successfully challenged on September 23, 1890 John M. Langston (R) September 23, 1890
California 1st John J. De Haven (R) Resigned October 1, 1890 Thomas J. Geary (D) December 9, 1890
Idaho At-large Willis Sweet (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seat October 1, 1890 New seat
Iowa 7th Edwin H. Conger (R) Resigned October 3, 1890 after being appointed U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Brazil Edward R. Hays (R) November 4, 1889
Oklahoma Territory At-large David A. Harvey (R) Territory organized from Indian Territory. Took seat November 4, 1890 New seat
Wyoming At-large Clarence D. Clark (R) Territory achieved statehood. Took seat December 1, 1890 New seat
New York 8th John H. McCarthy (D) Resigned January 14, 1891 after being appointed justice of the City Court of New York Vacant until next Congress
Tennessee 10th James Phelan Jr. (D) Died January 30, 1891 Vacant until next Congress

Committees[edit]

Lists of committees and their party leaders.

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Joint committees[edit]

Employees[edit]

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives…, p. 21
  2. ^ a b "Congressional Series of United States Public Documents". Government Printing Office. 1893. p. 64. 
  3. ^ a b Taft, George S.; Furber, George P.; Buck, George M.; Webb, Charles A.; Pierce, Herbert R. (1913). "Compilation of Senate Election Cases from 1789 to 1913". U.S. Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. , p. 727
  • 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]