United States Senate elections, 1854 and 1855

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United States Senate elections, 1854 and 1855

← 1852/53 Various dates 1856/57 →

21 of the 62 seats in the United States Senate (with special elections)
32 seats needed for a majority

  Majority party Minority party
 
Party Democratic Whig
Last election 34 seats 20 seats
Seats before 36 18
Seats won 8 3
Seats after 33 14
Seat change Decrease 3 Decrease 4
Seats up 11 7

  Third party Fourth party
  Republican Disc.svg Free Soil campaign banner.jpg
Party Republican Free Soil
Last election [New party] 2 seats
Seats before 4
Seats won 3 1
Seats after 3 2
Seat change Increase 3 Decrease 2
Seats up Steady 3

  Fifth party
  Citizen Know Nothing.jpg
Party Know Nothing
Last election 1 seat
Seats before 1
Seats won 0
Seats after 1
Seat change Steady
Seats up 0

Majority Party before election

Democratic Party

Elected Majority Party

Democratic Party

The United States Senate elections of 1854 and 1855 were elections which saw the final decline of the Whig Party and the continuing majority of the Democrats. Those Whigs in the South who were opposed to secession ran on the "Opposition Party" ticket, and were elected to a minority. Along with the Whigs, the Senate roster also included Free Soilers, Know Nothings, and a new party: the Republicans. Only five of the twenty-one Senators up for election were re-elected.

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

Results summary

Senate Party Division, 34th Congress (1855-1857)

  • Majority Party: Democratic (35)
  • Minority Party: Opposition (20) (Whigs, Republicans, Know Nothings, Free Soilers)
  • Vacant: 7
  • Total Seats: 62

Change in Senate composition

Before the elections

After the October 14, 1854 special election in Vermont.

D1
D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11
D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12
D22 D23 D24 D25 D26
Ran
D27
Ran
D28
Ran
D29
Ran
D30
Ran
D31
Ran
Majority → D32
Ran
FS4
Retired
KN1 V1 V2 V3 D36
Retired
D35
Unknown
D34
Unknown
D33
Ran
FS3
Retired
FS2
Retired
FS1 W18
Retired
W17
Retired
W16
Retired
W15
Unknown
W14
Unknown
W13
Ran
W12
Ran
W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11
W1

As a result of the elections

D1
D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11
D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12
D22 D23 D24 D25 D26
Re-elected
D27
Re-elected
D28
Re-elected
D29
Hold
D30
Gain
D31
Gain
Majority → D32
Gain
V2 V3 V4 V5
D Loss
V6
D Loss
V7
D Loss
V8
D Loss
V9
D Loss
D33
Gain
V1
W Loss
KN1 FS2
Gain
FS1 R3
Gain
R2
Gain
R1
Gain
W14
Hold
W13
Re-elected
W12
Re-elected
W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 W10 W11
W1

Beginning of the next Congress

D1
D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11
D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12
D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29 D30 D31
Majority → D32
V2 V3 V4 V5 V6 V7 D35
Gain
D34
Gain
D33
V1 KN2
Changed
KN1 FS2 FS1 R7
Gain
R6
Changed
R5
Changed
R4
Changed
R3
W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 R1 R2
W1

Beginning of the first session, December 3, 1855

D1
D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11
D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12
D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29 D30 D31
Majority → D32
KN2 V1 V2 V3 V4 D36
Gain
D35 D34 D33
KN1 FS2 FS1 R9
Gain
R8
Gain
R7 R6 R5 R4 R3
W2 W3 W4 W5 W6 W7 W8 W9 R1 R2
W1
Key:
D# Democratic
FS# Free Soil
KN# Know Nothing
R# Republican
W# Whig
V# Vacant

Race summaries

Special elections during the 33rd Congress

In these special elections, the winners were seated during 1854 or in 1855 before March 4; ordered by election date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Mississippi
(Class 2)
Vacant Legislature had failed to elect in 1853.
Winner elected January 7, 1854.
Democratic gain.
Albert G. Brown (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Connecticut
(Class 3)
Truman Smith Whig 1848 or 1849 Incumbent resigned May 24, 1854.
Winner elected May 24, 1854.
Free Soil gain.
Winner did not run for the next term, see below.
Francis Gillette (Free Soil)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Vermont
(Class 3)
Samuel S. Phelps Whig 1853 (Appointed) Incumbent lost entitlement to sit on March 16, 1854.[1]
Winner elected October 14, 1854.
Free Soil gain.
Winner did not run for the next tern, see below.
Lawrence Brainerd (Free Soil)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Arkansas
(Class 3)
Robert W. Johnson Democratic 1853 (Appointed) Interim appointee elected November 10, 1854.[2]
Winner would also later be elected to the next term, see below.
Robert W. Johnson (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
North Carolina
(Class 2)
Vacant Legislature had failed to elect in 1853.
Winner elected December 6, 1854.
Democratic gain.
David Settle Reid (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]

Races leading to the 34th Congress

In these general elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning March 4, 1855; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 3 seats.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Alabama Benjamin Fitzpatrick Democratic 1848 (Appointed)
1849 (Successor elected)
1853 (Appointed)
1853 (Special)
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until November 26, 1855, see below.
[Data unknown/missing.]
Arkansas Robert W. Johnson Democratic 1853 (Appointed)
1854 (Special)
Incumbent re-elected in 1855. Robert W. Johnson (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
California William M. Gwin Democratic 1850 Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until 1857.
William M. Gwin (Democratic)
Connecticut Francis Gillette Free Soil 1854 (Special) Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1854.
Republican gain.
Lafayette S. Foster (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Florida Jackson Morton Whig 1848 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1854.
Democratic gain.
David Levy Yulee (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Georgia William Crosby Dawson Whig 1847[3] Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
Winner elected in 1854 or 1855.
Democratic gain.
Alfred Iverson, Sr. (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Illinois James Shields Democratic 1848 or 1849 Incumbent lost re-election.
Winner elected in 1854 or 1855.
Democratic hold.
Lyman Trumbull (Democratic)
James Shields (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Iowa Augustus C. Dodge Democratic 1848
1849
Incumbent lost re-election.
Incumbent then resigned February 22, 1855 to become U.S. Minister to Spain.
Winner elected in 1855.
Free Soil gain.
James Harlan (Free Soil)
Augustus C. Dodge (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Indiana John Pettit Democratic 1853 (Special) Incumbent lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant util 1857.
John Pettit (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Kentucky Archibald Dixon Whig 1852 (Special) Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1853, far in advance of the term.
Whig hold.
John J. Crittenden (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Louisiana John Slidell Democratic 1853 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1854 or 1855. John Slidell (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Maryland James Pearce Whig 1843
1849
Incumbent re-elected in 1855. James Pearce (Whig)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Missouri David Rice Atchison Democratic 1843 (Appointed)
1843 (Special)
1849
Incumbent lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until 1857.
David Rice Atchison (Democratic)
Thomas Hart Benton (Democratic)
? (Whig)
New Hampshire John S. Wells Democratic 1855 (Appointed) Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until July 30, 1855, see below.
[Data unknown/missing.]
New York William H. Seward Whig 1849
Incumbent re-elected February 6, 1855.
Winner became a Republican shortly thereafter.
William H. Seward (Whig)
Daniel S. Dickinson (Dem.)/Hard)
Horatio Seymour (Dem./Soft)
Washington Hunt (Whig)
John Adams Dix (Dem./Soft)
Millard Fillmore (Whig)
William F. Allen (Democratic)
Others, see below
North Carolina George Badger Whig 1846 (Special)
1849
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1855.
Democratic gain.
Asa Biggs (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Ohio Salmon P. Chase Free Soil 1849 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected March 4, 1854.[4]
Democratic gain.
George E. Pugh (Democratic) 80 votes
Ephraim R. Eckley (Whig) 15 votes
Salmon P. Chase (Whig) 10 votes
Robert C. Schenck (Whig) 1 vote[4]
Pennsylvania James Cooper Whig 1849 Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Whig loss.
Seat would remain vacant until 1856.
Simon Cameron (Know Nothing)
Charles R. Buckalew (Democratic)
South Carolina Andrew Butler Democratic 1852 (Appointed)
? (Special)
1848
Incumbent re-elected in 1854. Andrew Butler (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Vermont Lawrence Brainerd Free Soil 1854 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1855.
Republican gain.
Jacob Collamer (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Wisconsin Isaac P. Walker Democratic 1848
1849
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1854.
Republican gain.
Charles Durkee (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing.]

Elections during the 34th Congress

In these elections, the winners were elected in 1855 after March 4.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
New Hampshire
(Class 2)
Vacant Democrat Charles G. Atherton had died November 15, 1853.
Democrat Jared W. Williams was appointed to continue Atherton's term.
Williams's appointment expired July 15, 1854 when the legislature then failed to elect a successor.
Winner was elected July 30, 1855.
Republican gain.
John P. Hale (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing.]
New Hampshire
(Class 3)
Vacant Democrat John S. Wells's term had expired March 3, 1855.
Legislature had failed to elect.
Winner was elected late July 30, 1855.
Republican gain.
James Bell (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing.]
Alabama
(Class 3)
Vacant Democrat Benjamin Fitzpatrick's term had expired March 3, 1855.
Legislature had failed to elect.
Incumbent was then elected late November 26, 1855.
Democratic gain.
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing.]

Complete list of races

New York

The election was held on February 6, 1855. William H. Seward had been elected in 1849 to this seat and his term would expire on March 3, 1855. At the time the Democratic Party was split into two opposing factions: the "Hards" and the "Softs". After most of the "Barnburners" had left the party, joining the Whigs, the majority of "Hunkers" split over the question of reconciliation with the minority of Barnburners who had remained Democrats. The Hard faction (led by Daniel S. Dickinson) was against it, in true Hunker fashion claiming all patronage for themselves; the Soft faction (led by William L. Marcy, which included the former Barnburners, advocated party unity as a necessity to defeat the Whigs.

In 1854, the Republican Party was founded as a national party, but in New York the Whigs and the Anti-Nebraska Party ran concurrently at the State election. The unification of these occurred in New York only during the nomination convention for the State election in November 1855. Also running in the 1854 election were the American Party and nominees of the Temperance movement. In a general way, party lines were blurred until the re-alignment during the late 1850s after the disbanding of the American Party.

At the State election in November 1853, 23 Whigs, 7 Hards and 2 Softs were elected for a two-year term (1854-1855) in the State Senate. At the State election in November 1854, Whig State Senator Myron H. Clark was elected Governor of New York, and 82 Whigs, 26 Softs, 16 Hards and 3 Temperance men were elected for the session of 1855 to the New York State Assembly. "Know Nothings are sprinkled miscellaneously among Whigs, Hards and Softs; and exactly how many there are of these gentry in the Assembly Nobody Knows."[5] The 78th New York State Legislature met from January 2 to April 14, 1855, at Albany, New York.

In the Assembly, Seward received 69 votes, given by 65 Whigs; 1 Democrat; 1 Temperance man; 1 Republican and 1 Whig-Republican. Dickinson received 14 votes, given by 13 Democrats and 1 American. Horatio Seymour received the votes of 12 Democrats. Dix received 7 votes, given by 5 Democrats; 1 Independent Democrat and 1 Temperance man. Fillmore received 4 votes, given by 2 Whigs; 1 Democrat and 1 Temperance-American. Horatio Seymour, Jr., received the votes of 2 Americans. King, Butler, Lester, Wait and Bronson received 1 Democratic vote each. Campbell received 1 Temperance-American vote. Howell received 1 American vote. Hoffman and Haven received 1 Whig vote each.

In the State Senate, Seward received 18 Whig votes, Dickinson 5 Hard votes, and Allen 2 Whig votes. Preston and Church received 1 Soft vote each. Hoffman, Babcock, Ullmann and Fillmore received 1 American vote each.

Seward was the choice of both the Assembly and the Senate, and was declared elected.

Candidate Party Senate
(32 members)
Assembly
(128 members)
William H. Seward Whig √ 18 √ 69
Daniel S. Dickinson Dem./Hard 5 14
Horatio Seymour Dem./Soft 12
Washington Hunt Whig 9
John Adams Dix Dem./Soft 7
Millard Fillmore Whig 1 4
William F. Allen Democratic 2
Horatio Seymour Jr. 2
Preston King 1 1
Ogden Hoffman Whig 1 1
Daniel Ullmann American 1
Sanford E. Church Democratic 1
George R. Babcock Whig 1
William W. Campbell American 1
Benjamin F. Butler Democratic 1
Albert Lester Democratic 1
Greene C. Bronson Democratic 1
Solomon G. Haven Opposition 1
John D. Howell 1
L. or J. Wait 1

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Samuel S. Phelps (W-VT) had been appointed by the governor during a recess of the state legislature, and the legislature later convened and adjourned a session without electing a senator to replace fill the vacancy. The Senate ruled that Phelps had lost his entitlement to sit when the legislature adjourned. See The Constitution in Congress. 
  2. ^ Byrd, Robert C.; Wolff, Wendy (October 1, 1993). "The Senate, 1789-1989: Historical Statistics, 1789-1992" (volume 4 Bicentennial ed.). U.S. Government Printing Office. , page 80
  3. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=p90RAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA427&dq=%22william+c.+dawson%22&lr=&as_brr=1&ei=CsTkR7TALI-kswO9g9ncBA#v=onepage&q=%22william%20c.%20dawson%22&f=false
  4. ^ a b Taylor & Taylor, p. 30, vol II.
  5. ^ Result and comment in The Whig Almanac 1855 compiled by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune

References

  • Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present, via Senate.gov
  • The New York Civil List compiled in 1858 (see: pg. 63 for U.S. Senators; pg. 137 for State Senators 1855; pg. 248ff for Members of Assembly 1855)
  • Members of the 34th United States Congress
  • STATE AFFAIRS; Election of a U.S. Senator for Six Years in NYT on February 7, 1855
  • Taylor, William Alexander; Taylor, Aubrey Clarence (1899). Ohio statesmen and annals of progress: from the year 1788 to the year 1900. State of Ohio. 
  • Result Senate: Journal of the Senate (78th Session) (1855; pg. 198)
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