1858 and 1859 United States Senate elections

The 1858 and 1859 United States Senate elections were elections which had the Republican Party gain five additional seats in the United States Senate, but the Democrats retained their majority. That majority would erode in 1860 with the secession of the southern states leading up to the Civil War.

1858 and 1859 United States Senate elections

← 1856 & 1857 Various dates 1860 & 1861 →

22 of the 66 seats in the United States Senate (with special elections)
34 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
 
Party Democratic Republican
Last election 34 seats 15 seats
Seats before 42 20
Seats won 13 8
Seats after 38 25
Seat change Decrease 4 Increase 5
Seats up 17 3

  Third party Fourth party
 
Party Know Nothing Others
Last election 2 seats 4 seats
Seats before 4 0
Seats won 0 0
Seats after 2 0
Seat change Decrease 2 Steady
Seats up 2 0

Majority Party before election


Democratic

Elected Majority Party


Democratic

U.S. postage stamp, 1958 issue, commemorating the Lincoln and Douglas debates

In Illinois, incumbent Stephen A. Douglas (D) and challenger Abraham Lincoln (R) held a series of seven debates, known as the "Lincoln–Douglas debates." As this election was prior to ratification of the seventeenth amendment, senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Results summaryEdit

Senate Party Division, 36th Congress (1859-1861)

  • Majority party: Democratic (38–25)
  • Minority party: Republican (25–26)
  • Other parties: American (2)
  • Total seats: 66–68

Change in Senate compositionEdit

Before the electionsEdit

D3 D2 D1
D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11 D12 D13
D23 D22 D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14
D24 D25 D26
Ran
D27
Ran
D28
Ran
D29
Ran
D30
Ran
D31
Ran
D32
Ran
D33
Ran
Majority → D34
Ran
KN4
Unknown
D42
Retired
D41
Retired
D40
Retired
D39
Retired
D38
Retired
D37
Ran
D36
Ran
D35
Ran
KN3
Unknown
KN2 KN1 R20
Ran
R19
Ran
R18
Ran
R17 R16 R15 R14
R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 R13
R3 R2 R1

As a result of the electionsEdit

D3 D2 D1
D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10 D11 D12 D13
D23 D22 D21 D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14
D24 D25 D26
Re-elected
D27
Re-elected
D28
Re-elected
D29
Re-elected
D30
Re-elected
D31
Re-elected
D32
Re-elected
D33
Hold
Majority → D34
Hold
R24
Gain
R25
Gain
KN1 KN2 V1
D Loss
D38
Gain
D37
Gain
D36
Hold
D35
Hold
R23
Gain
R22
Gain
R21
Gain
R20
Re-elected
R19
Re-elected
R18
Re-elected
R17 R16 R15 R14
R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 R11 R12 R13
R3 R2 R1
Key:
D# Democratic
KN# Know Nothing
R# Republican
V# Vacant

Race summariesEdit

Special elections during the 35th CongressEdit

In these elections, the winners were seated during 1858 or in 1859 before March 4; ordered by election date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Minnesota
(Class 1)
New state Minnesota's first senators were elected May 11, 1858.
Democratic gain.
 Y Henry M. Rice (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]
Minnesota
(Class 2)
Minnesota's first senators were elected May 11, 1858.
Democratic gain.
Oregon
(Class 2)
New state Oregon's first senators were elected in 1858 in advance of statehood.[1]
Democratic gain.
Oregon
(Class 3)
Oregon's first senators were elected in 1858 in advance of statehood.[1]
Democratic gain.
North Carolina
(Class 3)
Thomas Clingman Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee elected November 23, 1858 to finish the term.[2][3]
South Carolina
(Class 2)
Arthur P. Hayne Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired when successor elected.
Winner elected December 3, 1858.
Democratic hold.
Winner was also elected to the next term; see below.

Races leading to the 36th CongressEdit

In these regular elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning March 4, 1859; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 2 seats.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral
history
Alabama Clement Claiborne Clay Democratic 1853 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1858.
Arkansas William K. Sebastian Democratic 1848 (Appointed)
1848 (Special)
1853
Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Delaware Martin W. Bates Democratic 1857 (Special) Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Democratic hold.
Georgia Robert Toombs Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected in 1858.
Illinois Stephen A. Douglas Democratic 1846
1852
Incumbent re-elected January 5, 1859.
Iowa George Wallace Jones Democratic 1848
1852
Incumbent lost renomination.
New senator elected January 26, 1858.[5]
Republican gain.
Kentucky John B. Thompson Know Nothing 1851 (Early) Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
New senator elected in January 1858.
Democratic gain.
Louisiana Judah P. Benjamin Democratic 1852 Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Maine William P. Fessenden Republican 1854 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Massachusetts Henry Wilson Republican 1855 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
Michigan Charles E. Stuart Democratic 1853 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
Minnesota James Shields Democratic 1849 (Illinois)
1849 (Illinois: Election voided)
1849 (Illinois: Special)
1855 (Illinois: Lost)
1858 (Minnesota)
Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected December 15, 1859.[6]
Republican gain.
Mississippi Albert G. Brown Democratic 1854 (Special) Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
New Hampshire John P. Hale Republican 1846
1853 (Retired)
1855
Incumbent re-elected in 1859.
New Jersey William Wright Democratic 1852 or 1853 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
North Carolina David Reid Democratic 1854 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858 or 1859.
Democratic hold.
Oregon Delazon Smith Democratic 1859 Incumbent lost re-election.
Legislature failed to elect.
Democratic loss.
Seat would remain vacant until 1860.
Delazon Smith (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]
Rhode Island Philip Allen Democratic 1853 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1858.
Republican gain.
South Carolina Arthur P. Hayne Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired.
New senator elected December 3, 1858.
Democratic hold.
Winner was also elected to finish the current term, see above.
Tennessee John Bell Know Nothing 1847
1853
Unknown if incumbent retired or lost re-election.
New senator elected in 1858.
Democratic gain.
Texas Sam Houston Democratic 1846
1847
1853
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected in 1859.
Democratic hold.
Virginia Robert M. T. Hunter Democratic 1846
1852
Incumbent re-elected in 1858.

Elections during the 36th CongressEdit

In this election, the winner was elected in 1859 on or after March 4; ordered by date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Texas
(Class 1)
Matthias Ward Democratic 1858 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost nomination to finish the term.
Winner was elected December 5, 1859.
Democratic hold.
 Y Louis Wigfall (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]

Race leading to the 37th CongressEdit

In this regular election, the winner was elected for the term beginning March 4, 1861.

This election involved a Class 3 seat.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral
history
Kentucky
(Class 3)
John J. Crittenden Know Nothing 1816
1819 (Resigned)
1835
1841 (Retired)
1842 (Appointed)
1842 or 1843 (Special)
1843
1848 (Resigned)
1854
Incumbent retired.
Winner elected December 12, 1859, far in advance of the term.
Winner wasn't seated until term began March 4, 1861.
Democratic gain.
 Y John C. Breckinridge (Democratic)
[data unknown/missing]

IllinoisEdit

1859 United States Senate election in Illinois
 
← 1853 January 5, 1859 1861 →
     
Nominee Stephen Douglas Abraham Lincoln
Party Democratic Republican
Electoral vote 54 46
Popular vote 166,374[7] 190,468[7]
Percentage 45.33% 51.90%

Incumbent U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas, a Democrat, defeated a challenge by former U.S. Representative Abraham Lincoln, the Republican nominee. Lincoln, who had been a member of the Whig Party prior to 1856, attacked Douglas for his perceived subservience to the Slave Power, as evidenced by his support for the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the recent Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford. The election was extremely close, hinging on Douglas' ability to appeal to former Whigs who had resisted joining the Republicans following the decline of the Whig party after 1854. In the finale weeks of the campaign, Douglas received the coveted endorsement of Kentucky's John J. Crittenden, a prominent former Whig and Douglas' colleague in the Senate. Crittenden's support for Douglas considerably diminished Lincoln's chances of winning the election.[8]

On election day, the statewide Republican ticket took 50.6% of the popular vote, outpolling the Democrats by a margin of 3,402 votes. Further down ballot, Republican candidates for the state legislature collectively received 24,094 more votes than the Douglas Democrats. (Buchanan Democrats received almost 10,000 votes, and there were a scattering of votes for write-in candidates.) Despite this, strategically drawn district boundaries produced Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature: 40 Democrats and 35 Republicans were elected to the state House of Representatives, while the Democratic margin in the Senate was 14–11. On the day of the election in the Illinois General Assembly, Douglas received 54 votes to Lincoln's 46. The change of just over 300 votes in three state legislative districts from Democrats to Republicans would have been sufficient to deny Democrats a legislative majority and defeat Douglas.[9]

In spite of his defeat, Lincoln's debates with Douglas were followed nationally and established Lincoln as a leading contender for the Republican nomination in the 1860 United States presidential election. In the aftermath of the senatorial election, Lincoln contacted editors looking to publish the texts of the debates. George Parsons, the Ohio Republican committee chairman, got Lincoln in touch with Ohio's main political publisher, Follett and Foster, of Columbus. They published copies of the text under the title, Political Debates Between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglas in the Celebrated Campaign of 1858, in Illinois. Four printings were made, and the fourth sold 16,000 copies.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Two New Senators". The New York Times.
  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 150
  3. ^ "Hon. Thomas L. Clingman--The new Senator from North Carolina". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, 1859. Springfield, IL: Bailache & Baker, Printers. 1859.
  5. ^ Clark, Dan Elbert. History of Senatorial Elections in Iowa: A Study in American Politics. p. 119.
  6. ^ a b "From Minnesota.; ELECTION OF A UNITED STATES SENATOR--THREATENED IMPEACHMENT OF THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR". The New York Times.
  7. ^ a b Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: the Debates That Defined America. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 285.
  8. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 273-77, 282.
  9. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 284–285.
  10. ^ Guelzo, Allen C. (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 305-6.