1856 United States House of Representatives elections

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United States House of Representatives elections, 1856

← 1854 August 4, 1856 – November 4, 1857[Note 1] 1858/59 →

All 237[Note 2] seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
118 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  James Lawrence Orr - Brady-Handy.jpg GalushaAaron.jpg
Leader James Orr Galusha Grow
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat South Carolina-5th Pennsylvania-14th
Last election 83 seats 37 seats
Seats won 133[Note 2][Note 3] 90
Seat change Increase 50 Increase 53

  Third party
  Hwdavis.jpg
Leader Henry Winter Davis
Party Know Nothing
Leader's seat Maryland-4th
Last election 51 seats
Seats won 14
Seat change Decrease 37

Speaker before election

Nathaniel Banks
American

Elected Speaker

James Orr
Democratic

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 35th Congress were held in 1856 and 1857. The elections returned a semblance of normality to the Democratic Party, as they retook a House majority and retained the presidency with the election of James Buchanan. However, the party was permanently divided over the slavery issue.

Earlier in the year, the Whig Party disbanded. With the majority of Whig and People's Party Representatives joining the Republican cause, the Republican Party finished second for their first time. Meanwhile, the short-lived Know-Nothing movement declined and the American Party began to fall apart. The Democrats (including Francis Preston Blair Jr. who was elected as an Independent Democrat (a.k.a. a "Benton Democrat") to Missouri's 1st District), aided by much support from recent immigrants, took advantage of the situation and became the majority, despite increasingly fragmented support within the party.

Special elections[edit]

There were special elections in 1858 and 1859 during the 34th United States Congress and 35th United States Congress.

34th Congress[edit]

35th Congress[edit]

District Vacator Reason for Vacancy Candidates
Representative Party First elected
Minnesota at-large
(Seat A)
New state Minnesota was admitted May 11, 1858.
New member elected October 13, 1857.
Republican gain.
William Wallace Phelps (Democratic) 17.31% (Seat A)
James Michael Cavanaugh (Democratic) 17.17% (Seat B)
George Loomis Becker (Democratic) 17.12%
Henry Adoniram Swift (Republican) 16.19%
Cyrus Aldrich (Republican) 16.11%
Morton S. Wilkinson (Republican) 16.10%
Minnesota at-large
(Seat B)
New state Minnesota was admitted May 11, 1858.
New member elected October 13, 1857.
Republican gain.

Election summaries[edit]

Two seats were added for the new state of Minnesota[1], which was unrepresented for part of the 1st session.

133 14 90
Democratic AKN Republican
State Type Date Total
seats
Democratic Republican Know-Nothing
Seats Change Seats Change[Note 4] Seats Change
Arkansas District August 4, 1856 2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Iowa District August 4, 1856 2 0 Decrease1 2 Increase1 0 Steady
Missouri District August 4, 1856 7 5[Note 5] Increase4 0 Decrease6 2 Increase2
Vermont District September 2, 1856 3 0 Steady 3 Steady 0 Steady
Maine District September 8, 1856 6 0 Decrease1 6 Increase1 0 Steady
Florida At-large October 6, 1856 1 1 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
South Carolina District October 13–14, 1856 6 6 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Indiana District October 14, 1856 11 6 Increase4 5 Decrease4 0 Steady
Ohio District October 14, 1856 21 9 Increase9 12 Decrease9 0 Steady
Pennsylvania District October 14, 1856 25 15 Increase9 10 Decrease8 0 Decrease1
California At-large November 4, 1856
(Election Day)[Note 6]
2 2 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
Delaware At-large 1 1 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Decrease1
Illinois District 9 5 Steady 4 Steady 0 Steady
Massachusetts District 11 0 Steady 11 Increase11 0 Decrease11
Michigan District 4 0 Decrease1 4 Increase1 0 Steady
New Jersey District 5 3 Increase2 2 Decrease2 0 Steady
New York District 33 12 Increase7 21 Decrease4 0 Decrease3
Wisconsin District 3 0 Decrease1 3 Increase1 0 Steady
Late elections (after the Congress began on March 4, 1857)
New Hampshire District March 10, 1857 3 0 Steady 3 Increase3 0 Decrease3
Rhode Island District April 1, 1857 2 0 Steady 2 Increase2 0 Decrease2
Connecticut District April 6, 1857 4 2 Increase2 2 Increase2 0 Decrease4
Virginia District May 28, 1857 13 13 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Decrease1
Alabama District August 3, 1857 7 7 Increase2 0 Steady 0 Decrease2
Kentucky District August 3, 1857 10 8 Increase4 0 Steady 2 Decrease4
Texas District August 3, 1857 2 2 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Decrease1
North Carolina District August 6, 1857 8 7 Increase2 0 Steady 1 Decrease2
Tennessee District August 6, 1857 10 7 Increase2 0 Steady 3 Decrease2
Georgia District October 5, 1857 8 6 Steady 0 Steady 2 Steady
Mississippi District October 5–6, 1857 5 5 Increase1 0 Steady 0 Decrease1
Minnesota At-large October 13, 1857[Note 7] 2 2 Increase2 0 Steady 0 Steady
Louisiana District November 3, 1857 4 3 Steady 0 Steady 1 Steady
Maryland District November 4, 1857 6 3 Increase1 0 Steady 3 Decrease1
Total[Note 2] 236 132[Note 3]
56.1%
Increase48 90
38.0%
Decrease8[Note 4] 14
5.9%
Decrease38
House seats
Democratic
56.12%
Republican
37.97%
Know-Nothing
5.91%

California[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
California at-large
2 seats on a general ticket
James W. Denver Democratic 1854 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Charles L. Scott (Democratic) 29.9%
Joseph C. McKibbin (Democratic) 21%
A. B. Dibble (Know Nothing) 20.7%
Ira P. Rankin (Independent) 13%
J. N. Turner (Republican) 12.5%
Philemon T. Herbert Democratic 1854 Incumbent retired after manslaughter acquittal.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.

Florida[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Florida at-large Augustus Maxwell Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
George S. Hawkins (Democratic) 53.1%
James McNair Baker (Know Nothing) 46.9%

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Excludes states admitted during this Congress
  2. ^ a b c Includes late elections.
  3. ^ a b Includes one Independent Democrat (a.k.a. a "Benton Democrat"): Francis Preston Blair Jr. of MO-01.
  4. ^ a b Compared to the 100 Opposition Party members in previous election of 1854.
  5. ^ Includes one Independent Democrat (a.k.a. a "Benton Democrat"): Francis Preston Blair Jr. of MO-01. Note that while Martis (p. 110) and Dubin (p. 176) list him as an "Independent Democrat" or "Benton Democrat", others sources (e.g. the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress) list Blair as a "Republican".
  6. ^ In 1845, Congress passed a law providing for a uniform date for choosing presidential electors (see: Statutes at Large, 28th Congress, 2nd Session, p. 721). Congressional elections were unaffected by this law, but the date was gradually adopted by the states for Congressional elections as well.
  7. ^ New state. Representatives seated May 11, 1858, during the 1st session.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 11 Stat. 166

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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.
  • Moore, John L., ed. (1994). Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections (Third ed.). Congressional Quarterly Inc. ISBN 978-0871879967.
  • "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives* 1789–Present". Office of the Historian, House of United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 21, 2015.

External links[edit]