1851 United States Senate election in Massachusetts

1851 United States Senate election in Massachusetts
← 1845 January 14–April 24, 1851 1857 →

40 members of the Massachusetts Senate
396 members of the Massachusetts House
Majority vote of each house needed to win
  Charles Sumner by Southworth & Hawes c1850.jpg Robert Charles Winthrop.jpg
Nominee Charles Sumner Robert C. Winthrop
Party Free Soil Whig
Electoral vote 23 (Senate)
193 (House)
14 (Senate)
166 (House)
Percentage 60.53% (Senate)
50.26% (House)
36.84% (Senate)
43.23% (House)

Senator before election

Robert C. Winthrop
Whig

Elected Senator

Charles Sumner
Free Soil

The 1851 United States Senate election in Massachusetts was held during January 1851. Free Soil Party candidate Charles Sumner was elected by a coalition of Free-Soil and Democratic legislators over Whig incumbent Robert C. Winthrop, who had been appointed to finish the term of retiring Senator Daniel Webster.

At the time, Massachusetts elected United States Senators by a majority vote of each separate house of the Massachusetts General Court, the House and the Senate.

Background[edit]

In the 1850 legislative elections, the state was split between three major parties: Whigs, Democrats, and Free Soilers.

In the Senate, 14 Whigs, 14 Democrats, and twelve Free Soilers were elected.

In the House, 175 Whigs, 108 Democrats, and 113 Free Soilers were elected.[1]

Election in the House[edit]

The election for Senator began in the House on January 14, but the House adjourned after no candidate received a majority on the first two ballots.[2]

First ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, first ballot[2][3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 186 48.81%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 167 45.01%
Democratic Henry H. Childs 6 1.57%
Whig Pliny Merrick 5 1.31%
Democratic Isaac Davis 5 1.31%
Democratic Robert Rantoul Jr. 4 1.05%
Democratic George S. Boutwell 2 0.52%
Free Soil Stephen C. Phillips 2 0.52%
Democratic Benjamin F. Hallett 1 0.26%
Whig George N. Briggs 1 0.26%
Free Soil Samuel Hoar 1 0.26%
Unknown John Mills 1 0.26%
Total votes 381 100.00%

Following the first ballot, a motion was made to postpone the election until February 15. Pending that motion, another motion was made to adjourn. The motion to adjourn failed 180-190, and the motion to postpone failed 159-193. The House proceeded to a second ballot.[2]

Second ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, second ballot[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 186 48.56%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 168 43.86%
Democratic Robert Rantoul Jr. 8 2.09%
None Blank votes 4 1.04%
Various Scattering 17 4.44%
Total votes 383 100.00%

Following the failure of the second ballot, the House adjourned for the day. They also adjourned on January 15 without electing a Senator. Following this adjournment, the House Free Soilers threatened that if Sumner was not elected on the next ballot, then they would request the resignation of Democratic Governor George S. Boutwell, who owed his seat to the coalition's support.

Fifth ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, seventh ballot[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 185 48.43%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 169 44.24%
Various Scattering 25 6.54%
None Blank votes 3 0.79%
Total votes 382 100.00%

Sixth ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, sixth ballot[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 187 48.95%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 169 44.24%
Various Scattering 26 6.81%
None Blank votes 3 0.79%
Total votes 382 100.00%

Seventh ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, seventh ballot[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 188 49.21%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 168 43.98%
Various Scattering 26 6.81%
None Blank votes 1 0.26%
Total votes 382 100.00%

Twentieth and twenty-first ballots[edit]

On the twentieth ballot, April 23, Sumner was found to be one vote shy of a majority. However, a single vote had Sumner's name written but crossed out in pencil. After debate, this vote was counted and it was reported that Sumner had a one-vote majority[5], but a Whig member of the House moved to count a previously-discarded vote as "scattering." After another half hour of debate, the motion carried without opposition and Sumner's majority was erased. It was reported that there were two more votes than members voting.[6]

After it was erroneously reported that Sumner had won by one vote, abolitionists throughout the Commonwealth began celebrating.[6]

1851 Senate election in the House, twenty-first ballot[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 194 50.00%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 167 43.04%
Various Scattering 27 6.96%
Total votes 388 100.00%

Twenty-second ballot[edit]

1851 Senate election in the House, twenty-second ballot[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 193 50.00%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 166 43.01%
Various Scattering 27 6.99%
Total votes 386 100.00%

Twenty-third ballot[edit]

On the twenty-third ballot, Sumner fell two votes short of a majority. It was reported that two votes for Sumner found "doubled together" were thrown out.[6]

1851 Senate election in the House, twenty-third ballot[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 191 49.74%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 166 43.22%
Various Scattering 27 7.03%
Total votes 384 100.00%

Twenty-sixth and final ballot[edit]

On the twenty-sixth ballot, it was moved that votes be cast by envelope. Two Whigs were reported to have supported Sumner, one being Nathaniel B. Borden after instructions to do so from his constituents.[1] Sumner was declared the victor with a majority of one. Two blank ballots were not counted.[7]

1851 Senate election in the House, first ballot[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 193 50.26%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 166 43.23%
Democratic Henry W. Bishop 11 2.86%
Free Soil Stephen C. Phillips 4 1.04%
Democratic Caleb Cushing 3 0.78%
Democratic Isaac Davis 3 0.78%
Democratic Henry H. Childs 1 0.26%
Democratic Benjamin F. Hallett 1 0.26%
Democratic Nathaniel Banks 1 0.26%
Total votes 384 100.00%

Election in the Senate[edit]

On January 20, between the fifth and sixth House ballots, Sumner was victorious over Winthrop in the Senate, receiving three votes more than the necessary 20.[9][10]

Votes for Sumner: Austin, Buckingham, Cazneau, Dean, Dewitt, Graves, Griswold, Howe, Kimball, Keyes, Morrison, Mosely, Robinson, Saunders Jr., Tabor, Usher, Welch, Whitney, Warner, Wellington, Wood, Senate President Wood, and Wilson.

Votes for Winthrop: Barney, Bassett, Boynton, Daniels, Hyde, Hubbard, Hawley, Hilliard, Kuhn, Newell, Russell, Sears, Seaver, Wilkins

Vote for Bishop: Beach

1851 United States Senate election in Massachusetts[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Free Soil Charles Sumner 23 60.53%
Whig Robert C. Winthrop 14 36.84%
Democratic Henry W. Bishop 1 2.63%
Total votes 38 100.00%

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Our Boston Correspondence". Detroit Free Press. 5 May 1851. p. 2.
  2. ^ a b c d "Massachusetts U.S. Senator". The Baltimore Sun. 16 Jan 1851. p. 2.
  3. ^ "POLITICAL TREACHERY". The Liberator. Vol. 21 no. 3. 17 Jan 1851. p. 11.
  4. ^ a b c "THE ELECTION FOR SENATOR IN MASSACHUSETTS--MR. SUMNER". National Era. Vol. V no. 5. 30 Jan 1851. p. 18.
  5. ^ "Ocean and Empire State". The Detroit Free Press. 25 April 1851. p. 3.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "The Senatorial Election in Massachusetts". The New York Daily Tribune. 24 April 1851. p. 4.
  7. ^ "CHARLES SUMNER ELECTED UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS". National Era. Vol. V no. 18. 1 May 1851. p. 70.
  8. ^ "CHARLES SUMNER ELECTED UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS". National Era. Vol. V no. 18. 1 May 1851. p. 70.
  9. ^ a b "The Legislature--Election of Charles Sumner U. S. Senator on the part of the Senate". The Boston Herald. 22 Jan 1851. p. 4.
  10. ^ "U. S. SENATOR". The Liberator. Vol. 21 no. 4. 24 Jan 1851. p. 15.