1854 United States House of Representatives elections

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1854 United States House of Representatives elections

← 1852 August 4, 1854 – November 6, 1855 1856 →

All 234 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives[1]
118 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party Third party
  William Alexander Richardson - Brady-Handy.jpg Nathaniel Prentice Banks.jpg
Leader William A. Richardson Henry M. Fuller Nathaniel P. Banks
Party Democratic Whig Know Nothing
Leader's seat Illinois 5 Pennsylvania 12 Massachusetts 7
Seats before 158 71 0
Seats after 83[2][3] 54[Note 2] 51[2][3][Note 1]
Seat change Decrease 75 Decrease 17 Increase 51

  Fourth party Fifth party
  Lewis D. Campbell 35th Congress 1859.jpg Schuyler Colfax portrait.jpg
Leader Lewis D. Campbell Schuyler Colfax
Party Republican People's Party
Leader's seat Ohio 3 Indiana 9
Seats before 4 0
Seats after 37[Note 2][Note 3] 9[4][Note 2]
Seat change Increase 33[Note 4] Increase 9

Speaker before election

Linn Boyd
Democratic

Elected Speaker

Nathaniel P. Banks
American

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 34th Congress were held during President Franklin Pierce's term at various dates in different states from August 1854 to November 1855.

This midterm election was among the most disruptive in American history, auguring the collapse of the Second Party System. Both major parties, the Democratic Party and the Whig Party, organized as rivals for roughly 20 years, lost critical voter support. The Whig Party disintegrated over the slavery issue even as Northern voters, strongly opposing the Kansas–Nebraska Act, shifted sharply against Democrats. The elected majority temporarily coalesced as the Opposition Party. This transitional party included Whigs, Free Soil members, American Party members or Know Nothings, the People's Party of Indiana, Anti-Nebraska candidates, a few disaffected Northern Democrats, and members of the nascent Republican Party, which soon would amalgamate most of these factions, becoming the new rival to the Democrats.

Candidates opposed to the Democratic Party won widely in the North through November 1854, while the American Party, ignoring slavery and opposing immigration particularly by Catholics from Ireland and Germany, won seats from both major parties, but to the net loss of Democrats, in New England and the South in 1855.

Congress passed the Kansas–Nebraska Act in May 1854 after aggressive sponsorship by the Pierce Administration and Democrats led by Senator Stephen Douglas, including an outspoken contingent of radical pro-slavery legislators. It repealed the 1820 Missouri Compromise and triggered the Bleeding Kansas conflict. With widely foreseen risks and immediately negative results, the Act publicly discredited the Democratic Party, fueling new partisan and sectional rancor. It created violent uncertainty on the frontier by abruptly making slavery potentially legal in territories originally part of the Louisiana Purchase and attractive to contemporary settlers. Settlers were expected to determine the status of slavery locally. This idea appealed to Democratic politicians and to some voters in its shape and intent, but proved unworkable in Kansas where the status of slavery would be closely disputed between more numerous settlers from the North and geographically closer settlers from the South. Even some Southern voters who supported slavery, particularly Whigs, felt repealing the Missouri Compromise was politically reckless, and that attempting to push slavery by law and force into territories where settlers predictably were unlikely to want it generated needless hostility, politically endangering its continued legal protection even in the South. These fears proved prescient.

The election of the Speaker was the lengthiest and most contentious in history. More than 21 Representatives vied for the post. After two months and 133 ballots, American Party Representative Nathaniel Banks of Massachusetts, who was also a Free Soiler, defeated Democrat William Aiken of South Carolina both by plurality and a margin of three votes.[5]

Election summaries[edit]

34th Congress United States House of Representatives.svg
State Type Date Total
seats
Opposition Democratic American
Seats Change[Note 5] Seats Change Seats Change
Arkansas District August 4, 1854 2 0 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Iowa District August 7, 1854 2 1 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
Missouri District August 7, 1854 7 6 Increase2 1 Decrease2 0 Steady
Vermont District September 5, 1854 3 3 Steady 0 Steady 0 Steady
California At-large September 6, 1854 2 0 Steady 2 Steady 0 Steady
Maine District September 11, 1854 6 5 Increase2 1 Decrease2 0 Steady
Florida At-large October 2, 1854 1 0 Steady 1 Steady 0 Steady
South Carolina District October 9–10, 1854 6 0 Steady 6 Steady 0 Steady
Indiana District October 10, 1854 11 9 Increase8 2 Decrease8 0 Steady
Ohio District October 10, 1854 21 21 Increase12 0 Decrease12 0 Steady
Pennsylvania District October 10, 1854 25 17 Increase8 7 Decrease9 1 Increase1
Illinois District November 7, 1854
(Election Day)[Note 6]
9 4 Steady 5 Steady 0 Steady
Michigan District 4 3 Increase2 1 Decrease3 0 Steady
New Jersey District 5 4 Increase3 1 Decrease3 0 Steady
New York District 33 25 Increase13 5 Decrease16 3 Increase3
Wisconsin District 3 2 Increase2 1 Decrease2 0 Steady
Massachusetts District November 12, 1854 11 0 Decrease10 0 Decrease1 11 Increase11
Delaware At-large November 14, 1854 1 0 Steady 0 Decrease1 1 Increase1
New Hampshire District March 13, 1855 3 0 Steady 0 Decrease3 3 Increase3
Connecticut District April 2, 1855 4 0 Steady 0 Decrease4 4 Increase4
Rhode Island District April 4, 1855 2 0 Steady 0 Decrease2 2 Increase2
Virginia District May 24, 1855 13 0 Steady 12 Decrease1 1 Increase1
North Carolina District August 2, 1855 8 0 Decrease3 5 Steady 3 Increase3
Tennessee District August 2, 1855 10 0 Decrease5 5 Steady 5 Increase5
Alabama District August 6, 1855 7 0 Decrease1 5 Decrease1 2 Increase2
Kentucky District August 6, 1855 10 0 Decrease5 4 Decrease1 6 Increase6
Texas District August 6, 1855 2 0 Steady 1 Decrease1 1 Increase1
Georgia District October 1, 1855 8 0 Decrease2 6 Steady 2 Increase2
Louisiana District November 5, 1855 4 0 Decrease1 3 Steady 1 Increase1
Mississippi District[Note 7] November 5–6, 1855 5 0 Steady 4 Decrease1 1 Increase1
Maryland District November 6, 1855 6 0 Decrease2 2 Decrease2 4 Increase4
Total 234 100[2][3]
42.7%
Increase29[Note 8] 83[2][3]
35.0%
Decrease75 51[2][3]
21.8%
Increase51
House seats
Democratic
35.47%
Whig
23.08%
American
21.79%
Republican
15.81%
People's
3.85%

Arkansas[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Arkansas 1 Alfred B. Greenwood Democratic 1853 Incumbent re-elected.
Arkansas 2 Albert Rust Democratic 1854 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
  • Albert Rust (Democratic) 65.95%
  • E.G. Walker (Whig) 34.05%

California[edit]

Note: From statehood to 1864, California's representatives were elected at-large, with the top two vote-getters winning election from 1849 to 1858; in 1860 when California gained a seat in the House the top three vote-getters were elected.

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
California at-large
2 seats on a general ticket
Milton S. Latham Democratic 1852 Incumbent withdrew.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
James W. Denver (Democratic) 22.41%
Philemon T. Herbert (Democratic) 22.24%
George W. Bowie (Whig) 21.14%
Calhoun Benham (Whig) 20.94%
James Churchman (Broderick Democratic) 6.09%
James A. McDougall (Broderick Democratic) 6.07%
Milton S. Latham (Broderick Democratic) 1.12%
James A. McDougall Democratic 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.

Florida[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Florida at-large Augustus Maxwell Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected. Augustus Maxwell (Democratic) 55.26%
Thomas Brown (Whig) 44.74%

Iowa[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Iowa 1 Bernhart Henn Democratic 1850 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
  • Augustus Hall (Democratic) 50.27%
  • R.L. Clark (Whig) 49.50%
  • J.L. Ashbaugh (Independent) 0.23%
Iowa 2 William Vandever Whig 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig hold.

Maine[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Maine 1 Moses Macdonald Democratic 1850 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
  • John M. Wood (Republican) 59.36%
  • Samuel Wells (Democratic) 39.91%
  • Lorenzo D. Wilkinson (Independent) 0.74%
Maine 2 Samuel Mayall Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
  • John J. Perry (Republican) 56.88%
  • William K. Kimball (Democratic) 42.46%
  • Charles J. Gilman (Independent) 0.66%
Maine 3 E. Wilder Farley Whig 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
Maine 4 Samuel P. Benson Whig 1852 Incumbent re-elected.
Republican gain.
Maine 5 Israel Washburn, Jr. Whig 1850 Incumbent re-elected.
Republican gain.
Maine 6 Thomas J. D. Fuller Democratic 1848 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Thomas J. D. Fuller (Democratic) 42.39%
  • James A. Milliken (Republican) 38.74%
  • Noah Smith (Whig) 18.88%

Missouri[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Missouri 1 Thomas Hart Benton Benton Democratic (Opposition) 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Missouri 2 Alfred W. Lamb Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Missouri 3 James J. Lindley Whig 1853 Incumbent re-elected.
Missouri 4 Mordecai Oliver Whig 1852 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Mordecai Oliver (Whig) 41.95%
  • S.L. Leonard (Democratic) 34.21%
  • Shelton J. Howe (Benton Democratic) 19.08%
  • J.F. Pitt (Ind. Whig) 4.76%
Missouri 5 John G. Miller Whig 1850 Incumbent re-elected.
Missouri 6 John S. Phelps Democratic 1844 Incumbent re-elected.
Missouri 7 Samuel Caruthers Whig 1853 Incumbent re-elected.

Pennsylvania[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Pennsylvania 1 Thomas B. Florence Democratic 1848 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 2 Joseph R. Chandler Whig 1848 Incumbent lost re-election as an Independent.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Pennsylvania 3 John Robbins Democratic 1848 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Pennsylvania 4 William Henry Witte Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
American gain.
Pennsylvania 5 John McNair Democratic 1850 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania 6 William Everhart Whig 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Democratic gain.
  • John Hickman (Democratic) 58.97%
  • John M. Broomall (Whig) 41.03%
Pennsylvania 7 Samuel A. Bridges Democratic 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
Pennsylvania 8 J. Glancy Jones Democratic 1854 Incumbent re-elected.
Pennsylvania 9 Isaac E. Hiester Whig 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Independent gain.
Pennsylvania 10 Ner Middleswarth Whig 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig hold.
  • John C. Kunkel (Whig) 55.99%
  • Amos Boughter (Democratic) 43.01%
  • George A. Seiler (Independent) 1.00%
Pennsylvania 11 Christian M. Straub Democratic 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
  • James H. Campbell (Republican) 38.87%
  • William L. Dewart (Democratic) 36.68%
  • Joseph W. Cake (Democratic) 21.90%
  • Kimber Cleaver (Know Nothing) 2.56%
Pennsylvania 12 Hendrick B. Wright Democratic 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Whig gain.
Pennsylvania 13 Asa Packer Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Asa Packer (Democratic) 58.67%
  • Edward F. Stewart (Whig) 41.33%
Pennsylvania 14 Galusha A. Grow Democratic 1850 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Galusha A. Grow (Democratic) 95.22%
  • Jim Grow (Independent) 4.56%
  • Olin L. Hawley (Independent) 0.23%

Vermont[edit]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Vermont 1 James Meacham Whig 1849 Incumbent re-elected.
  • James Meacham (Whig) 71.35%
  • Solomon W. Jewett (Democratic) 28.65%
Vermont 2 Andrew Tracy Whig 1852 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
  • Justin S. Morrill (Republican) 50.26%
  • J.W. Parker (Democratic) 35.07%
  • Oscar L. Shafter (Free Soil) 14.68%
Vermont 3 Alvah Sabin Whig 1852 Incumbent re-elected.
  • Alvah Sabin (Whig) 68.54%
  • William Heywood (Democratic) 31.46%

Wisconsin[edit]

Election results in Wisconsin for 1854:[6]

District Incumbent Party First
elected
Result Candidates
Wisconsin 1 Daniel Wells, Jr. Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected.
Wisconsin 2 Ben C. Eastman Whig 1850 Incumbent retired.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
Wisconsin 3 Alvah Sabin Whig 1852 Incumbent lost re-election.
New member elected.
Republican gain.
  • Charles Billinghurst (Republican) 55.9%
  • John B. Macy (Democratic) 36.0%
  • Harvey G. Turner (Independent) 8.1%

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ While Martis, et al. count 51 American Party members, Dubin (p. 174) counts 52.
  2. ^ a b c Counted as part of the plurality-winning "Opposition Party".
  3. ^ According to Dubin (p. 174), this figure includes 13 Republicans, along with approximately 24 Anti-Nebraskans.
  4. ^ Compared to Free Soilers elected in the previous election of 1852.
  5. ^ Compared to Whigs, Free Soilers, and Independents elected in the previous election of 1852.
  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. ^ At-large district abolished in redistricting.
  8. ^ Compared to just Whig Party members elected in the previous election of 1852. If Whig Party and Free Soil Party members are counted together, the increase was only Increase25.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://mcimaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/34th-Congress.png
  2. ^ a b c d e Martis, pp. 108–109.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives* 1789–Present". Office of the Historian, House of United States House of Representatives. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  4. ^ Dubin, p. 174.
  5. ^ Allan Nevins (1947). Ordeal of the Union, Volume II: A House Dividing 1852-1857. New York. pp. 413–415.
  6. ^ "Wisconsin U.S. House Election Results" (PDF). Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 5, 2012. Retrieved August 27, 2014.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]