1861 United States Senate election in New York

The 1861 United States Senate election in New York was held on February 5, 1861, by the New York State Legislature to elect a U.S. Senator (Class 3) to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate.

1861 United States Senate election in New York
← 1855 February 5, 1861 1867 →

Majority vote of each house needed to win
  Ira Harris.jpg HoratioSeymour circa1860.png
Nominee Ira Harris Horatio Seymour
Party Republican Democratic
Senate 22 9
Percentage 68.75% 28.13%
House 88 31
Percentage 68.75% 24.22%

Senator before election

William Seward

Elected Senator

Ira Harris


Whig William H. Seward had been re-elected in February 1855 to this seat, had become a Republican upon the foundation of that party in September 1855, and his term would expire on March 3, 1861. Seward did not seek re-election, instead being certain to be appointed to an office in the incoming Abraham Lincoln administration.

The election was held amid the ongoing secession crisis, as much of the South had already seceded in anticipation of the impending inauguration of President Lincoln.

Legislative compositionEdit

At the 1859 state election, 23 Republicans and 9 Democrats were elected for a two-year term in the State Senate. At the 1860 election, 93 Republicans and 35 Democrats were elected to the Assembly for the session of 1861. The 84th New York State Legislature met from January 1 to April 16, 1861, at Albany, New York.

Thus, Republicans were assured of electing the next Senator unless the party split.

Republican caucusEdit


Though Seward was no longer a factor in the election, his political patron Thurlow Weed expected to control the outcome. His preferred candidate was William Evarts, a leading member of the New York City bar who had chaired the New York delegation at the 1860 Republican National Convention. However, Evarts was opposed by Horace Greeley, the influential editor of the New York Tribune who had joined Weed and Seward to control the Whig and Republican parties in the state for the past several years. A third candidate in the race, Ira Harris, held himself out at Weed's disposal in case Evarts could not be elected.[1]

Caucus resultsEdit

After weeks of canvassing, formal ballots were held in which Greeley and Evarts exchanged the lead as Harris slipped behind. On the ninth ballot, when it appeared Greeley would win the nomination (and thus the election), Weed ordered the Evarts men to vote for Harris.[1]

Greeley fell short of a majority on the ninth ballot, and on the tenth, Harirs was nominated.[1]


Both in the Assembly and the Senate a strict party vote confirmed the caucus selections.

In the Assembly 119 votes were given. Republicans Smith Anthony (Cayuga Co.), Martin Finch (Essex Co.), Henry A. Prendergast (Chautauqua Co.), Victor M. Rice (Erie Co.) and Perez H. Field (Ontario Co.); and Democrats Luke F. Cozans (NYC), Benjamin H. Long (Erie Co.), N. Holmes Odell (Westchester Co.) and Christian B. Woodruff (NYC); did not vote.

In the State Senate, 31 votes were given. William H. Ferry (Rep., 19th D.) was absent.


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

1861 United States Senator election result
Office House Republican Democrat
U.S. Senator State Senate (32 members) Ira Harris 22 Horatio Seymour 9
State Assembly (128 members) Ira Harris 88 Horatio Seymour 31


Harris served one term, and remained in office until March 3, 1867.


  1. ^ a b c Jordan, David M. (1971). Roscoe Conkling of New York: Voice in the Senate. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. pp. 31–34.


See alsoEdit