United States Senate elections, 1838 and 1839

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United States Senate elections, 1838 and 1839
United States
1836 / 1837 ←
Dates vary by state → 1840 / 1841

17 of the 52 seats in the United States Senate (plus special elections)
27 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
 
Party Democratic Whig
Last election 35 seats 17 seats
Seats before 35 17
Seats won 3 10
Seats after 28 20
Seat change Decrease 7 Increase 3
Seats up 10 7

Majority party before election

Democratic

Elected Majority party

Democratic

The United States Senate elections of 1838 and 1839 were elections which had the Democratic Party lose seven seats in the United States Senate, but still retain a majority.

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

Results summary[edit]

Senate Party Division, 26th Congress (1839–1841)

  • Majority Party: Democratic (28–29)
  • Minority Party: Whig (19–23)
  • Total Seats: 52

Change in Senate composition[edit]

Before the elections[edit]

After the January 4, 1838 special election in Maryland.

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6
D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9 D8 D7
D17 D18 D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26
Ran
Majority → D27
Ran in different party
W17
Retired
D35
Retired
D34
Retired
D33
Retired
D32
Retired
D31
Unknown
D30
Unknown
D29
Unknown
D28
Ran
W16
Unknown
W15
Ran
W14
Ran
W13
Ran
W12
Ran
W11
Ran
W10 W9 W8 W7
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6

Result of the elections[edit]

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6
D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9 D8 D7
D17 D18 D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26
Re-elected
Majority → D27
Re-elected
W17
Hold
W18
Gain
W19
Gain
W20
Gain
V4
D Loss
V3
D Loss
V2
D Loss
V1
D Loss
D28
Hold
W16
Hold
W15
Re-elected
W14
Re-elected
W13
Re-elected
W12
Re-elected
W11
Re-elected
W10 W9 W8 W7
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6

Beginning of the next Congress[edit]

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6
D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9 D8 D7
D17 D18 D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26
Majority → D27
W17 W18 W19 V5
W resigned
V4 V3 V2 V1 D28
W16 W15 W14 W13 W12 W11 W10 W9 W8 W7
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6
Key:
D# Democratic
W# Whig
V# Vacant

Race summaries[edit]

Special elections during the 25th Congress[edit]

In these special elections, the winners were seated during 1838 or before March 4, 1839; ordered by election date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Maryland
(Class 1)
Joseph Kent Whig 1833 Incumbent died November 24, 1837.
Successor elected January 4, 1838.
Whig hold.
Winner was also elected to the next term, see below.
William Duhurst Merrick (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Tennessee
(Class 1)
Felix Grundy Democratic 1829 (Special)
1833
Incumbent resigned July 4, 1838 to become U.S. Attorney General.
Winner elected September 17, 1838.
Whig gain.
Winner was also elected to the next term (see below), but resigned at the end of the term.
Ephraim H. Foster (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Mississippi
(Class 1)
Thomas H. Williams Democratic 1838 (Appointed) Incumbent appointee elected January 30, 1839.
Democratic hold.
Winner was not elected to the next term, see below.
Thomas H. Williams (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]

Races leading to the 25th Congress[edit]

In these general elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning March 4, 1839; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 1 seats.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Connecticut John Niles Democratic 1835 (Special) Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1838 or 1839.
Whig gain.
Thaddeus Betts (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Delaware Richard H. Bayard Whig 1836 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1838 or 1839. Richard H. Bayard (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Indiana John Tipton Democratic 1832 (Special)
1832
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1838.
Whig gain.
Albert White (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Maine Reuel Williams Democratic 1837 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1838 or 1839. Reuel Williams (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Maryland William Merrick Whig 1838 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1839. William Merrick (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Massachusetts Daniel Webster Whig 1827
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839. Daniel Webster
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Michigan Lucius Lyon Democratic 1837 Incumbent retired.
Legislature failed to elect until 1840.
Democratic loss.
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Mississippi Thomas H. Williams Democratic 1838 (Appointed)
1838 or 1839 (Special)
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Winner elected in 1838.
Whig gain.
John Henderson (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Missouri Thomas H. Benton Democratic 1821
1827
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839. Thomas H. Benton
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
New Jersey Samuel L. Southard Whig 1821 (Appointed)
1821
1823 (Resigned)
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839. Samuel L. Southard (Whig)
New York Nathaniel P. Tallmadge Democratic 1833 Incumbent ran under a different party.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Nathaniel P. Tallmadge (Whig)
Samuel Nelson (Democratic)
Samuel Beardsley (Democratic)
Others
Ohio Thomas Morris Democratic 1833 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1838.
Democratic hold.
Benjamin Tappan (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Pennsylvania Samuel McKean Democratic 1833 Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Legislature failed to elect until 1840 after the regularly scheduled election in December 1838 was postponed due to the Buckshot War.
Democratic loss.
None.
Rhode Island Asher Robbins Whig 1835 (Special)
1827
1833
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Winner elected in 1838 or 1839.
Whig hold.
Nathan F. Dixon (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Tennessee Ephraim H. Foster Whig 1838 (Special) Incumbent re-elected.
Incumbent resigned before the beginning of the next term.
Ephraim H. Foster (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Vermont Benjamin Swift Whig 1833 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1839.
Whig hold.
Samuel S. Phelps (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
Virginia William C. Rives Democratic 1832 (Special)
1834 (Resigned)
1836 (Special)
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Legislature failed to elect until 1841.
Democratic loss.
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]

Special election during the 26th Congress[edit]

In this special election, the winner was seated in 1839 after March 4.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Tennessee
(Class 1)
Ephraim H. Foster Whig 1838 (Appointed)
1838 or 1839
Incumbent had been elected to the next term (see above), but resigned at the end of the term.
Winner elected November 19, 1839.
Democratic gain.
Felix Grundy (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]

Complete list of races[edit]

New York[edit]

The New York election was held February 5, 1839 by the New York State Legislature. Nathaniel P. Tallmadge had been elected as a Jacksonian Democratic in 1833 to this seat, and his term would expire on March 3, 1839.

On February 4, 1839, the State Legislature elected on joint ballot Spencer, Cooke, Hall and Haight to the offices they were nominated for, but on the next day they could not agree on a U.S. Senator.

The Assembly nominated Nathaniel P. Tallmadge "by the votes of all the Whig members." (see Hammond, page 512)

Although the Democratic State Senate majority did not object to be outvoted on joint ballot for the election of Whigs to State offices, they rejected the idea of electing a renegade Democratic to the U.S. Senate, and took refuge to the only means to defeat Tallmadge: They did not nominate anybody, following the precedents of 1819-1820 and 1825-1826, so that a joint ballot could not be held. On the first ballot, Tallmadge received 13 votes out of 31 cast, all Whigs.[1] The Democratic vote was scattered among many men, nobody receiving more than 2. Four more ballots were held with a similar result.[2] On the sixth ballot, all Whigs and two Democrats voted for Samuel Beardsley, who received 16 votes, one short of the necessary number for a nomination. The Democrats then abandoned further balloting, fearing that the Whigs would vote for anybody who received by chance three Democratic votes, just to force any nomination, thus enabling the Legislature to proceed to the joint ballot.

Candidate Party New York Senate
(32 members)
Assembly
(128 members)
First
ballot
Second
ballot
Third
ballot
Fourth
ballot
Fifth
ballot
Sixth
ballot
First
ballot
Nathaniel P. Tallmadge Whig 13 13 13 √ 82
Samuel Nelson Democratic 2
Samuel Beardsley Democratic 1 2 2 16
William C. Bouck Democratic 1 1 1 1
Churchill C. Cambreleng Democratic 1 1 1 1
Hiram Denio Democratic 1 1 1 1
John A. Dix Democratic 1 1 1 1
Charles E. Dudley Democratic 1 1 1 1
Azariah C. Flagg Democratic 1 1 1 1
Freeborn G. Jewett Democratic 1 1 1 1
Ebenezer Mack Democratic 1 1 1 1
Charles McVean Democratic 1 1 1 1
Joseph D. Monell Democratic 1 1 1 1
John Savage Democratic 1 1 1 1
Jacob Sutherland Democratic 1 1 1 1
John Tracy Democratic 1 1 1 1
Greene C. Bronson Democratic 1
Reuben H. Walworth Democratic 1
Levi Beardsley Democratic 1 1 1
Benjamin F. Butler Democratic 1 1 1
Abijah Mann Jr. Democratic 1 1 1

No further action was taken by this Legislature, and the seat became vacant on March 4, 1839. Tallmadge would later be elected in 1840.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whig John Maynard did not vote on the first five ballots.
  2. ^ The on-line copy of the Senate journal omits the pages with the second and third ballot.