1848 United States elections
|Presidential election year|
|Election day||November 7|
|Incumbent president||James K. Polk (Democratic)|
|Partisan control||Whig Gain|
|Popular vote margin||Whig +4.8%|
|Zachary Taylor (W)||163|
|Lewis Cass (D)||127|
|1848 presidential election results. Blue denotes states won by Cass, buff denotes states won by Taylor. Numbers indicate the electoral votes won by each candidate.|
|Overall control||Democratic Hold|
|Seats contested||19 of 60 seats|
|Net seat change||Whig +4|
|Overall control||Democratic Gain|
|Seats contested||All 237 voting members|
|Net seat change||Democratic +1|
The 1848 United States elections elected the members of the 31st United States Congress. The election took place during the Second Party System, nine months after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican–American War. With the issue of slavery (and its extension into western territories) dividing the nation, the Free Soil Party established itself as the third most powerful party in Congress. California joined the union before the next election, and elected its first Congressional delegation to the 31st Congress. Whigs won the Presidency, but Democrats won a plurality in the House and retained control of the Senate.
In the Presidential election, Whig General Zachary Taylor defeated Democratic former Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan and the Free Soil candidate, former President Martin Van Buren. Taylor won most of the Northeast and several Southern states, giving him a fairly comfortable majority in both the electoral and popular vote. One-term incumbent Democratic President James K. Polk chose to retire rather than seek re-election (becoming the first elected president to do so), and Cass defeated Supreme Court Justice Levi Woodbury and Secretary of State James Buchanan on the fourth ballot at the 1848 Democratic National Convention. Van Buren, the former Democratic President, ran against Cass for political reasons (Cass was a prominent supporter of slavery) and possibly for personal reasons (Cass helped defeat Van Buren's 1844 bid for the Democratic nomination). Taylor was recruited by the Whigs to replicate the success of the Whig's only previous successful candidate, General William Henry Harrison, and he easily triumphed over other Whig candidates. Taylor's win made him the last President to win election as neither a Democrat nor a Republican.
In the House, Democrats picked up a small number of seats, taking the plurality. The Whigs lost a small number of seats but remained the second largest party, while the Free Soil Party picked up a handful of seats. The House elected Democrat Howell Cobb as Speaker after sixty-three ballots.
- United States presidential election, 1848
- United States House of Representatives elections, 1848
- United States Senate elections, 1848
- Not counting special elections.
- Congressional seat gain figures only reflect the results of the regularly-scheduled elections, and do not take special elections into account.
- No party won a majority in the House of Representatives, but a Democrat was elected as Speaker of the House.
- "1848 Presidential Election". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Reichley, James (1992). The Life of the Parties: A History of American Political Parties. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 86. ISBN 0-7425-0888-9.
- "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- Jenkins, Jeffery A.; Stewart III, Charles (April 2001). Sophisticated Behavior and Speakership Elections: The Elections of 1849 and 1855–56. Midwest Political Science Association. Chicago, IL. p. 29. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- "Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present". United States Senate. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
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