74th New York State Legislature

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74th New York State Legislature
73rd 75th
Old State Capitol at Albany NY.jpg
The Old State Capitol (1879)
Jurisdiction New York, United States
Term January 1 – December 31, 1851
Members 32
President Lt. Gov. Sanford E. Church (D)
Temporary President James M. Cook (W), from February 10;
Edwin D. Morgan (W), from March 29
Party control Whig (17-15)
Members 128
Speaker Henry J. Raymond (W);
Joseph B. Varnum, Jr. (W) Acting, from June 10
Party control Whig (83-45)
1st January 7 – April 17, 1851
1st June 10 – July 11, 1851

The 74th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 7 to July 11, 1851, during the first year of Washington Hunt's governorship, in Albany.


Under the provisions of the New York Constitution of 1846, 32 Senators were elected in single-seat senatorial districts for a two-year term, the whole Senate being renewed biennially. The senatorial districts (except those in New York City) were made up of entire counties. 128 Assemblymen were elected in single-seat districts to a one-year term, the whole Assembly being renewed annually. The Assembly districts were made up of entire towns, or city wards, forming a contiguous area, all in the same county. The City and County of New York was divided into four senatorial districts, and 16 Assembly districts.

At this time there were two major political parties: the Democratic Party and the Whig Party. The Whigs were split into two opposing factions: the Seward/Weed faction (the majority, opposed to the Compromise of 1850) and the "Silver Grays" (supporters of President Millard Fillmore and his compromise legislation, led by Francis Granger whose silver gray hair originated the faction's nickname). The Anti-Rent Party mostly endorsed Whig or Democratic nominees. The radical abolitionists appeared as the Liberty Party.


The New York state election, 1850 was held on November 5.

Washington Hunt (Whig) was elected Governor; and Sanford E. Church (Dem.) was elected Lieutenant Governor. The other three statewide elective offices up for election were carried by the Democrats.

82 Whigs, 44 Democrats and 2 Independents were elected to the State Assembly.


The Legislature met for the regular session at the Old State Capitol in Albany on January 7, 1851; and adjourned on April 17.

Henry J. Raymond (Whig) was elected Speaker with 80 votes against 42 for Noble S. Elderkin (Dem.). Richard U. Sherman (W) was elected Clerk of the Assembly with 81 votes against 44 for the incumbent James R. Rose (D).

On February 4, the Legislature failed to elect a U.S. Senator to succeed Daniel S. Dickinson (Dem.), and the seat became vacant on March 4, 1851.

On February 25, Joseph B. Varnum, Jr. was elected Speaker pro tempore, to preside over the Assembly during the absence of Speaker Raymond.

On March 3, Senator William A. Dart questioned the right of Marius Schoonmaker to keep his seat in the Senate. Schoonmaker had been elected to Congress at the last State election, but Congress would not actually meet until December. After some debate, the Senate decided on March 5 that Schoonmaker "is a member of the present Senate... and will remain so, until he accepts the office of member of Congress, or until he otherwise vacates his seat in the Senate."[1]

On March 19,[2] the Legislature elected Hamilton Fish (W) to the vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

On April 17, twelve Democratic state senators resigned, leaving the Senate without the necessary quorum of two-thirds to pass "An Act to provide for the completion of the Erie canal enlargement, and the Black River and Genesee Valley canals".

On May 27, a special election was held to fill the vacancies in the State Senate. Six of the resigned senators were re-elected; five vacancies were filled with men who later voted for the passage of the bill; and one election resulted in a tie.

The Legislature met for a special session on June 10, 1851; and adjourned on July 11.

Due to ill health, Speaker Raymond did not attend the special session, and Joseph B. Varnum Jr. was again elected Speaker pro tempore, to preside over the Assembly during the special session.[3]

On June 24, the Canal Enlargement Bill was passed in the Senate by a vote of 22 to 8.

On July 2, the Whig majority admitted their party fellow Wiliam J. Gilbert to the vacant seat.

State Senate[edit]


Note: There are now 62 counties in the State of New York. The counties which are not mentioned in this list had not yet been established, or sufficiently organized, the area being included in one or more of the abovementioned counties.


The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued in office as members of this Legislature. Caleb Lyon and Moses P. Hatch changed from the Assembly to the Senate between the regular and the special session.

District Senator Party Notes
1st William Horace Brown* Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27;
died on July 4, 1851
2nd John A. Cross* Whig
3rd Richard S. Williams* Whig
4th Clarkson Crolius* Whig
5th James W. Beekman* Whig
6th Edwin D. Morgan* Whig on March 29, elected President pro tempore
7th Benjamin Brandreth* Democrat
8th John Snyder* Democrat resigned on April 17
Joseph Halstead Whig on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Snyder
9th James C. Curtis* Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27
10th Marius Schoonmaker* Whig on November 5, 1850, elected to the 32nd U.S. Congress;
resigned his seat in the State Senate on July 26, 1851
11th Stephen H. Johnson* Whig
12th Thomas B. Carroll* Democrat
13th James M. Cook* Whig on February 10, elected President pro tempore
14th Thomas Crook* Democrat
15th William A. Dart* Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27
16th George H. Fox* Democrat resigned on April 17
John Sanford Democrat on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Fox
17th Sidney Tuttle* Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27
18th John Noyes*[4] Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27
19th Charles A. Mann* Democrat resigned on April 17
Benjamin N. Huntington Whig on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Mann
20th Asahel C. Stone* Democrat resigned on April 17
Moses P. Hatch Democrat on April 17, resigned his seat in the Assembly;
on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Stone
21st Alanson Skinner* Democrat resigned on April 17
Caleb Lyon Ind. on April 26, resigned his seat in the Assembly;
on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Skinner
22nd George Geddes* Whig
23rd Levi Dimmick* Whig resigned on November 12, 1851
24th William Beach* Whig
25th Henry B. Stanton* Democrat resigned on April 17; re-elected on May 27
26th George B. Guinnip* Democrat resigned on April 17
William J. Gilbert Whig on July 2, seated by resolution of the State Senate to fill vacancy, in place of Guinnip[5]
27th Samuel Miller* Whig
28th Alonzo S. Upham* Whig
29th Charles Colt* Whig
30th Charles D. Robinson* Whig
31st George R. Babcock* Whig
32nd Robert Owen Jr.* Whig


  • Clerk: William H. Bogart
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: George W. Bull
  • Doorkeeper: Ransom Van Valkenburgh
  • Assistant Doorkeeper: George A. Loomis

State Assembly[edit]


The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued as members of this Legislature.

Party affiliations follow the vote on Speaker.

District Assemblymen Party Notes
Albany 1st Robert Babcock Democrat
2nd Adam I. Shultes Whig
3rd Hamilton Harris Whig
4th Eli Perry Democrat
Allegany 1st Emery E. Norton Whig
2nd Anson Congdon Democrat
Broome Roger W. Hinds Whig
Cattaraugus 1st Alonzo A. Gregory Whig
2nd William J. Nelson Whig
Cayuga 1st Levi Colvin Democrat
2nd George Underwood Whig
3rd Delos Bradley Whig
Chautauqua 1st Austin Smith Whig
2nd Daniel W. Douglass Whig
Chemung Samuel Minier Democrat
Chenango 1st Levi Harris Whig
2nd Laman Ingersoll Whig
Clinton Henry G. Hewit Whig
Columbia 1st John D. Langdon Whig
2nd Philetus W. Bishop Whig
Cortland Alvan Kellogg Whig
Delaware 1st Samuel Doyle Democrat
2nd William Gleason Jr. Whig
Dutchess 1st Charles Robinson* Democrat
2nd Howland R. Sherman Whig
3rd William H. Feller Whig
Erie 1st Orlando Allen* Whig
2nd William A. Bird Whig
3rd Henry Atwood Whig
4th Charles C. Severance Whig
Essex Abraham Welden Whig
Franklin William A. Wheeler* Whig
Fulton and Hamilton John Stewart Democrat
Genesee 1st Albert Rowe Whig
2nd Levi Fisk Whig
Greene 1st J. Atwater Cooke Whig
2nd Henry Kinsley Democrat
Herkimer 1st John H. Wooster Democrat
2nd Daniel Shall Democrat
Jefferson 1st William A. Gilbert Whig
2nd John Pool Jr. Democrat
3rd Lorin Bushnell Democrat
Kings 1st George E. Baker Whig
2nd Howard C. Cady Whig
3rd Edward T. Backhouse Whig
Lewis Caleb Lyon Ind. ran as an Independent, but voted for Raymond as Speaker;
resigned on April 26; elected to the State Senate on May 27
Dean S. Howard on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Lyon
Livingston 1st Alvin Chamberlin Whig
2nd Orrin D. Lake Whig
Madison 1st Jairus French Democrat
2nd Franklin B. Hoppin Whig
Monroe 1st Nathaniel H. Fordyce Whig
2nd William A. Fitzhugh Whig
3rd Caleb B. Corser Whig
Montgomery 1st Solomon P. Heath Whig
2nd Conrad P. Snell Democrat
New York 1st Albert A. Thompson Democrat
2nd Charles R. Swords Whig
3rd Henry J. Allen* Democrat
4th Abram Wakeman* Whig
5th Michael Dougherty Democrat
6th Wyllis Blackstone Whig
7th Henry J. Raymond* Whig elected Speaker
8th Sanford L. Macomber Whig
9th John Ryan Whig
10th Lebbeus B. Ward Whig
11th James Dewey Whig
12th William S. Gregory Whig
13th Joseph B. Varnum, Jr.* Whig on February 25, elected Speaker pro tempore;
on June 10, re-elected Speaker pro tempore
14th George Clark Whig
15th John J. Townsend* Whig
16th William D. Greene Whig
Niagara 1st Abijah H. Moss Whig
2nd Jeptha W. Babcock Whig
Oneida 1st Joseph Benedict Whig
2nd Lorenzo Rouse Whig
3rd Lewis Rider Democrat
4th George Brayton Whig
Onondaga 1st Demosthenes C. Le Roy Democrat
2nd John F. Clark Democrat
3rd George Stevens Whig
4th Daniel Denison Democrat
Ontario 1st Thomas J. McLouth Whig
2nd Henry Pardee Whig
Orange 1st Oliver Belknap Whig
2nd Phineas Rumsey Whig
3rd Milton Barnes Democrat
Orleans Silas M. Burroughs* Democrat
Oswego 1st Moses P. Hatch Democrat resigned on April 17; elected to the State Senate on May 27
William P. Curtis on May 27, elected to fill vacancy, in place of Hatch
2nd Benjamin F. Lewis Democrat
Otsego 1st Henry J. Campbell Whig
2nd Edwin S. Coffin Ind. ran as a "Free Soil Independent", but voted for Elderkin as Speaker
3rd Worthington Wright Democrat
Putnam William Bowne* Democrat
Queens James Maurice Democrat
Rensselaer 1st George Lesley* Whig
2nd William Russell Democrat
3rd Oliver C. Thompson Democrat
Richmond William H. Anthon Whig
Rockland Jacob Sickles Democrat
St. Lawrence 1st Smith Stilwell Democrat
2nd John Horton* Democrat
3rd Noble S. Elderkin* Democrat
Saratoga 1st Abraham Leggett Whig
2nd John L. Perry Whig
Schenectady Reuben Ellwood Whig
Schoharie 1st Lewis Rockwell Democrat
2nd Abraham L. Lawyer Democrat
Seneca Orin Southwick Whig
Steuben 1st Charles G. Higby Democrat
2nd James H. Miles Whig
3rd Joel Carrington Whig
Suffolk 1st Franklin Tuthill Whig
2nd Egbert T. Smith Democrat
Sullivan Jonathan Stratton Democrat
Tioga James Ely Whig
Tompkins 1st Alexander Graham Whig
2nd Benjamin G. Ferris Whig
Ulster 1st William F. Russell Democrat
2nd John P. Davis* Democrat
Warren David Noble 2d Democrat
Washington 1st Thomas C. Whiteside Whig
2nd James Farr Whig
Wayne 1st Edward W. Bottum Whig
2nd Theron G. Yeomans Whig
Westchester 1st Daniel Clark Briggs Whig
2nd Theodore H. Benedict Whig
Wyoming Wolcott J. Humphrey Whig
Yates Samuel Jayne Jr. Democrat unsuccessfully contested by John Underwood[6]


  • Clerk: Richard U. Sherman
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: Willett B. Goddard
  • Doorkeeper: Samuel R. Tuell
  • First Assistant Doorkeeper: John Parks
  • Second Assistant Doorkeeper: Thomas E. Osborn


  1. ^ see Senate Journal; pg. 235 and 240–246
  2. ^ The session of March 18 was lengthy and continued until after midnight; Fish was elected between midnight and 2 a.m. on March 19.
  3. ^ Journal of the Assembly (74th Session) (1851, Vol. II; pg. 1191)
  4. ^ John Noyes (c. 1798–1852), son of State Senator John Noyes (c. 1769–1830); see History of Preston, NY
  5. ^ At the special election on May 27, Gilbert (Whig) and Guinnip (Dem.) received 4,480 votes each. The State Canvass Committee determined "no choice", as was the rule in the case of a tie. Nevertheless the Whig majority in the Senate voted to admit party fellow Gilbert.
  6. ^ see A Compilation of Cases of Contested Elections to Seats in the Assembly of the State of New York (1871; pg. 240–257)