1838 and 1839 United States Senate elections

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.

1838 and 1839 United States Senate elections

← 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

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

Results summaryEdit

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

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

Change in compositionEdit

Before the electionsEdit

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
Maine
Ran
Majority → D27
N.Y.
Ran in different party
W17
Vt.
Retired
D35
Conn.
Retired
D34
Ind.
Retired
D33
Ohio
Retired
D32
Va.
Retired
D31
Pa.
Unknown
D30
Miss.
Unknown
D29
Mich.
Unknown
D28
Mo.
Ran
W16
R.I.
Unknown
W15
Tenn. (reg)
Ran
W14
N.J.
Ran
W13
Mass.
Ran
W12
Md.
Ran
W11
Del.
Ran
W10 W9 W8 W7
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6

Result of the electionsEdit

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
Maine
Re-elected
Majority → D27
Mo.
Re-elected
W17
Vt.
Hold
W18
Conn.
Gain
W19
Ind.
Gain
W20
Miss.
Gain
V4
Va.
D Loss
V3
Pa.
D Loss
V2
N.Y.
D Loss
V1
Mich.
D Loss
D28
Ohio
Hold
W16
R.I.
Hold
W15
Tenn. (reg)
Re-elected
W14
N.J.
Re-elected
W13
Mass.
Re-elected
W12
Md.
Re-elected
W11
Del.
Re-elected
W10 W9 W8 W7
W1 W2 W3 W4 W5 W6

Beginning of the next termEdit

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
Tenn. (reg)
W Declined
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 summariesEdit

Special elections during the 25th CongressEdit

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.
New senator elected January 4, 1838.
Whig hold.
Winner was also elected to the next term, see below.
Tennessee
(Class 1)
Felix Grundy Democratic 1829 (Special)
1833
Incumbent resigned July 4, 1838 to become U.S. Attorney General.
New senator elected September 17, 1838.
Whig gain.
Winner was also elected to the next term (see below), but declined.
Mississippi
(Class 1)
Thomas H. Williams Democratic 1838 (Appointed) Interim appointee elected January 30, 1839.
Democratic hold.
Successor was not elected to the next term, see below.

Races leading to the 26th CongressEdit

In these regular 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.
Delaware Richard H. Bayard Whig 1836 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1838 or 1839.
Indiana John Tipton Democratic 1832 (Special)
1832
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1838.
Whig gain.
Maine Reuel Williams Democratic 1837 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1838 or 1839.
Maryland William Merrick Whig 1838 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1839.
Massachusetts Daniel Webster Whig 1827 (Special)
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839.
Michigan Lucius Lyon Democratic 1835 Incumbent retired.
Legislature failed to elect until 1840.
Democratic loss.
[data unknown/missing]
Mississippi Thomas H. Williams Democratic 1838 (Appointed)
1839 (Special)
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Winner elected in 1838.
Whig gain.
Missouri Thomas H. Benton Democratic 1821
1827
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839.
New Jersey Samuel L. Southard Whig 1821 (Appointed)
1820
1823 (Resigned)
1833
Incumbent re-elected in 1839.
New York Nathaniel P. Tallmadge Democratic 1833 Incumbent ran for re-election as a Whig.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Ohio Thomas Morris Democratic 1833 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1838.
Democratic hold.
Pennsylvania Samuel McKean Democratic 1833 Unknown if incumbent retired or lost.
Legislature failed to elect until 1840 after the 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 November 3, 1838.
Whig hold.
Tennessee Ephraim H. Foster Whig 1838 (Special) Incumbent re-elected.
Incumbent then declined the seat.
Vermont Benjamin Swift Whig 1833 Incumbent retired.
Winner elected in 1839.
Whig hold.
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]

Special election during the 26th CongressEdit

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.

ConnecticutEdit

DelawareEdit

IndianaEdit

MaineEdit

MarylandEdit

Maryland (Regular)Edit

Maryland (Special)Edit

MassachusettsEdit

MichiganEdit

MississippiEdit

Mississippi (Regular)Edit

Mississippi (Special)Edit

MissouriEdit

New JerseyEdit

New YorkEdit

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.[a] The Democratic vote was scattered among many men, nobody receiving more than 2. Four more ballots were held with a similar result.[b] 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  Y 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.

OhioEdit

PennsylvaniaEdit

Rhode IslandEdit

TennesseeEdit

There were three elections to the same seat due to the July 4, 1838 resignation of Democrat Felix Grundy to become U.S. Attorney General.

Tennessee (Special, 1838)Edit

Whig Ephraim H. Foster was elected September 17, 1838 to finish the term.

Tennessee (Regular)Edit

Foster was also elected to the next term, but Foster declined the seat, refusing to take the Tennessee General Assembly's instructions on how to vote, so he left office March 3, 1839 and the seat was vacant when the term began.

Tennessee (Special, 1839)Edit

The legislature then elected Grundy back to the seat November 19, 1839, but he died a year later.

VermontEdit

VirginiaEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ J. Fred Parker, Secretary of State (1914). Manual, with Rules and Orders, for the use of the General Assembly of the State of Rhode Island, 1914. Providence, RI: E. L. Freeman Company, State Printers. p. 149.

SourcesEdit