United States House of Representatives elections, 1788 and 1789
All 59[Note 2] seats to the United States House of Representatives
30 seats were needed for a majority
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.
- 1 Election summaries
- 2 House composition
- 3 Complete returns
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
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 Representatives. 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.
|Connecticut||At-large||December 22, 1788||5||5||0|
|Massachusetts||District (8)||December 18, 1788[Note 4]||8||6||2|
|New Hampshire||At-large||December 15, 1788[Note 5]||3||2||1|
|Pennsylvania||At-large||November 26, 1788||8||6||2|
|South Carolina||District (5)||November 24–25, 1788||5||2||3|
|Delaware||At-large||January 7, 1789||1||1||0|
|Georgia||At-large/District[Note 6] (3)||February 9, 1789||3||0||3|
|Maryland||At-large/District[Note 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|
|North Carolina||District (5)||February, 1790||5||2||3|
|Rhode Island||At-large||August 31, 1790||1||1||0|
Beginning of the 1st Congress
End of the 1st Congress
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.
The states of North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution late and thus elected representatives to the 1st Congress in 1790.
5 seats on a general ticket
|Pro-Administration win||√ Benjamin Huntington[Note 8] (P)
√ Roger Sherman (P)
√ Jonathan Sturges (P)
√ Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (P)
√ Jeremiah Wadsworth (P)
James Hillhouse (P)
Stephen Mix Mitchell (P)
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.
|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 had a mixed at-large/district system for the 1st Congress. Representatives were elected at-large, but for three district-based seats.
Called the Lower district
|Anti-Administration win||√ James Jackson (A) 50.9%
William Houstoun 33.6%
Henry Osborne 14.5%
James Seagrove 0.6%
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%
Called the Upper district
|Anti-Administration win||√ George Mathews (A) 96.5%
Henry Osborne 2.0%
Anthony Wayne 0.7%
Joseph Sumner 0.4%
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."
|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 required a majority vote, necessitating additional votes if no one won a majority. This was necessary in 4 of the districts.
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
|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[Note 10] (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%
|√ Benjamin West (P) 33.0%
√ Samuel Livermore (A) 26.2%
√ Nicholas Gilman (P) 19.5%
Abiel Foster[Note 10] (P) 19.5%
John Sullivan 1.9%
|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%
The election of all four representatives was contested, but the records that explained 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.
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.
|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 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 statewide general ticket, an attempt by the pro-Administration-majority legislature to prevent anti-Administration candidates from winning seats.
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%
|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 
|Virginia 1||Pro-Administration win||√ Alexander White (P) 100%|
|Virginia 2||Anti-Administration win||√ John Brown (A)[Note 8]|
|Virginia 3||Anti-Administration win||√ Andrew Moore (A)[Note 8]
George Hancock (P)
|Virginia 4||Pro-Administration win||√ Richard Bland Lee (P)[Note 8]
|Virginia 5||Anti-Administration win||√ James Madison, Jr. (A) 57.4%
James Monroe (A) 42.6%.
|Virginia 6||Anti-Administration win||√ Isaac Coles (A)[Note 8]|
|Virginia 7||Anti-Administration win||√ John Page (A)[Note 8]
|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)[Note 8]
Charles B. Jones
|Virginia 10||Pro-Administration win||√ Samuel Griffin (P)[Note 8]
Miles Selden, Jr.
- United States elections, 1789
- 1st United States Congress
- History of the United States Constitution#The New Government
- Excludes the two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, admitted after the start of the 1st Congress.
- Six more seats were added by the admission of two new States (North Carolina and Rhode Island) after the start of this Congress.
- Includes late elections: North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the United States Constitution after the 1st Congress had started to meet, and didn't hold their elections for U.S. Representatives until February and August 1790, respectively.
- 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.
- 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.
- Georgia had three representatives elected by the whole state electorate, who had to choose one candidate from each district.
- Maryland had six representatives elected by the whole state electorate, who had to choose one candidate from each district.
- Source does not give numbers of votes.
- Only candidates with at least 1% of the vote listed.
- Won subsequent special election.
- "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825 - Delaware 1789 U.S. House of Representatives". Tufts Digital Library, Tufts University. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825 - Maryland 1789 U.S. House of Representatives". Tufts Digital Library, Tufts University. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "First Congress March 4, 1789, to March 3, 1791 [membership roster]" (PDF). artandhistory.house.gov. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "1st Congress 1789-1791 At Large Election" (PDF). Wilkes University Elections Statistics Project. January 16, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825". Tufts Digital Library, Tufts University. Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Dubin, Michael J. (March 1, 1998). United States Congressional Elections, 1788-1997: The Official Results of the Elections of the 1st Through 105th Congresses. McFarland and Company. ISBN 978-0786402830.
- Martis, Kenneth C. (January 1, 1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989. Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0029201701.
- "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives* 1789–Present". Office of the Historian, United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
- Office of the Historian (Office of Art & Archives, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives)