31st United States Congress

Last updated
31st United States Congress
30th  
  32nd
Capitol1846.jpg
March 4, 1849 – March 4, 1851
Senate President Millard Fillmore (W)
until July 9, 1850
Vacant
from July 9, 1850
Senate President pro tem David R. Atchison (D)
William R. King (D)
House Speaker Howell Cobb (CU)
Members62 senators
233 members of the House
2 non-voting delegates
Senate Majority Democratic
House Majority none: Democratic plurality
Sessions
Special: March 5, 1849 – March 23, 1849
1st: December 3, 1849 – September 30, 1850
2nd: December 2, 1850 – March 4, 1851

The Thirty-first United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1849, to March 4, 1851, during the 16 months of the Zachary Taylor presidency and the first eight months of the administration of Millard Fillmore's. The apportionment of seats in this House of Representatives was based on the Sixth Census of the United States in 1840. The Senate had a Democratic majority, while there was a Democratic plurality in the House.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is unofficially the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being unofficially the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first president of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Contents

Major events

Zachary Taylor Twelfth President of the United States

Zachary Taylor was the 12th president of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Taylor previously was a career officer in the United States Army, rose to the rank of major general and became a national hero as a result of his victories in the Mexican–American War. As a result, he won election to the White House despite his vague political beliefs. His top priority as president was preserving the Union, but he died sixteen months into his term, before making any progress on the status of slavery, which had been inflaming tensions in Congress.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Howell Cobb American politician

Thomas Howell Cobb was an American political figure. A southern Democrat, Cobb was a five-term member of the United States House of Representatives and Speaker of the House from 1849 to 1851. He also served as the 40th Governor of Georgia (1851–1853) and as a Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan (1857–1860).

Major legislation

Compromise of 1850 Compromise on slavery in U.S. territories annexed from Mexico in the Mexican-American war

The Compromise of 1850 was a package of five separate bills passed by the United States Congress in September 1850 that defused a political confrontation between slave and free states on the status of territories acquired in the Mexican–American War. It also set Texas's western and northern borders and included provisions addressing fugitive slaves and the slave trade. The compromise was brokered by Whig Senator Henry Clay and Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas with the support of President Millard Fillmore.

<i>United States Statutes at Large</i>

The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large and abbreviated Stat., are an official record of Acts of Congress and concurrent resolutions passed by the United States Congress. Each act and resolution of Congress is originally published as a slip law, which is classified as either public law or private law (Pvt.L.), and designated and numbered accordingly. At the end of a Congressional session, the statutes enacted during that session are compiled into bound books, known as "session law" publications. The session law publication for U.S. Federal statutes is called the United States Statutes at Large. In that publication, the public laws and private laws are numbered and organized in chronological order. U.S. Federal statutes are published in a three-part process, consisting of slip laws, session laws, and codification.

Donation Land Claim Act

The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850, sometimes known as the Donation Land Act, was a statute enacted in late 1850 by the United States Congress. It was intended to promote homestead settlements in the Oregon Territory. The law, a forerunner of the later Homestead Act, brought thousands of white settlers into the new territory, swelling the ranks of settlers traveling along the Oregon Trail. 7,437 land patents were issued under the law, which expired in late 1855.

States admitted and territories organized

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

New Mexico Territory territory of the United States of America, 1850-1912

The Territory of New Mexico was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from September 9, 1850, until January 6, 1912, when the remaining extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of New Mexico, making it the longest-lived organized incorporated territory of the United States, lasting approximately 62 years.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Party summary

Senate

During this Congress, two Senate seats were added for the new state of California.

Party
(shading shows control)
TotalVacant
Democratic
(D)
Free
Soil

(FS)
Whig
(W)
Other
End of previous congress 36 0 23 1600
Begin 33 2 25 0 60 0
End 36 24 62
Final voting share58.1% 3.2% 38.7% 0.0%
Beginning of next congress 34 2 21 0575

House of Representatives

During this Congress, two House seats were added for the new state of California.

Party
(shading shows control)
TotalVacant
American
(A)
Democratic
(D)
Free
Soil

(FS)
Whig
(W)
Independent
(I)
Other
End of previous congress 1 111 0 114 1 22291
Begin 1 113 9 107 0 0 230 1
End 114 105 13
Final voting share0.4% 49.6% 3.9% 45.7% 0.4% 0.0%
Beginning of next congress 0 128 3 85 0 172330

Leadership

President of the Senate
Millard Fillmore Millard Fillmore by Brady Studio 1855-65-crop.jpg
President of the Senate
Millard Fillmore

Senate

Millard Fillmore Thirteenth President of the United States

Millard Fillmore was the 13th president of the United States (1850–1853), the last to be a member of the Whig Party while in the White House. A former U.S. Representative from New York, Fillmore was elected the nation's 12th vice president in 1848, and succeeded to the presidency in July 1850 upon the death of President Zachary Taylor. He was instrumental in getting the Compromise of 1850 passed, a bargain that led to a brief truce in the battle over slavery. He failed to win the Whig nomination for president in 1852; he gained the endorsement of the nativist Know Nothing Party four years later, and finished third in that election.

Whig Party (United States) Political party in the USA in the 19th century

The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States. It was based among middle class conservatives. It favored business, banks, industry, education and social modernization, and opposed a powerful presidency and territorial expansion. Four presidents belonged to the party while in office. It emerged in the 1830s as the leading opponent of Jacksonian democracy, pulling together former members of the National Republican and the Anti-Masonic Party. It had some links to the upscale traditions of the long-defunct Federalist Party. Along with the rival Democratic Party, it was central to the Second Party System from the early 1840s to the mid-1860s. It originally formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. It became a formal party within his second term, and slowly receded influence after 1854.

President pro tempore of the United States Senate second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate

The President pro tempore of the United States Senate is the second-highest-ranking official of the United States Senate. Article One, Section Three of the United States Constitution provides that the Vice President of the United States is the President of the Senate, and mandates that the Senate must choose a President pro tempore to act in the Vice President's absence. Unlike the Vice President, the President pro tempore is an elected member of the Senate, able to speak or vote on any issue. Selected by the Senate at large, the President pro tempore has enjoyed many privileges and some limited powers. During the Vice President's absence, the President pro tempore is empowered to preside over Senate sessions. In practice, neither the Vice President nor the President pro tempore usually presides; instead, the duty of presiding officer is rotated among junior U.S. Senators of the majority party to give them experience in parliamentary procedure.

House of Representatives

Members

This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed by class, and Representatives by district.

Skip to House of Representatives, below

Senate

Senators were elected by the state legislatures every two years, with one-third beginning new six-year terms with each Congress. Preceding the names in the list below are Senate class numbers, which indicate the cycle of their election. In this Congress, Class 1 meant their term ended with this Congress, facing re-election in 1850; Class 2 meant their term began in the last Congress, facing re-election in 1852; and Class 3 meant their term began in this Congress, facing re-election in 1854.

House of Representatives

The names of members of the House of Representatives are preceded by their district numbers.

Changes in membership

The count below reflects changes from the beginning of the first session of this Congress.

Senate

State
(class)
VacatorReason for changeSuccessorDate of successor's
formal installation [lower-alpha 1]
Illinois
(3)
James Shields (D)Senate voided election March 6, 1849, as Sen. Shields was determined not to have been a US citizen for the number of years required by the Constitution.
Incumbent was re-elected October 27, 1849, having by then qualified.
James Shields (D)Seated December 3, 1849
Maryland
(1)
Reverdy Johnson (W)Resigned March 7, 1849, having been appointed United States Attorney General David Stewart (W)Appointed December 6, 1849
Alabama
(2)
Benjamin Fitzpatrick (D)Sen. Dixon Lewis successor elected November 30, 1849 Jeremiah Clemens (D)Elected November 30, 1849
Maryland
(1)
David Stewart (W)Successor elected January 12, 1850 Thomas Pratt (W)Elected January 12, 1850
South Carolina
(2)
John C. Calhoun (D)Died March 31, 1850 Franklin H. Elmore (D)Appointed April 11, 1850
South Carolina
(2)
Franklin H. Elmore (D)Died May 29, 1850 Robert W. Barnwell (D)Appointed June 4, 1850
Ohio
(1)
Thomas Corwin (W)Resigned July 20, 1850, after being appointed United States Secretary of the Treasury Thomas Ewing (W)Appointed July 20, 1850
Massachusetts
(1)
Daniel Webster (W)Resigned July 22, 1850, after being appointed United States Secretary of State Robert C. Winthrop (W)Appointed July 30, 1850
California
(1)
New stateCalifornia admitted to the Union September 9, 1850.
The first Senator was elected September 10, 1850.
John C. Frémont (D)Elected September 10, 1850
California
(3)
New stateCalifornia admitted to the Union September 9, 1850.
The first Senator was elected September 10, 1850.
William M. Gwin (D)Elected September 10, 1850
South Carolina
(2)
Robert W. Barnwell (D)Successor elected December 18, 1850 Robert Rhett (D)Elected December 18, 1850
Massachusetts
(1)
Robert C. Winthrop (W)Successor elected February 1, 1851 Robert Rantoul, Jr. (D)Elected February 1, 1851

House of Representatives


DistrictVacatorReason for changeSuccessorDate of successor's
formal installation [lower-alpha 1]
Minnesota Territory At-large VacantSeat remained vacant after territory became organized at end of previous congress Henry H. Sibley Seated July 7, 1849
Vermont 3rd George Perkins Marsh (W)Resigned some time in 1849 James Meacham (W)Seated December 3, 1849
Ohio 6th Rodolphus Dickinson (D)Died March 20, 1849 Amos E. Wood (D)Seated December 3, 1849
Virginia 15th Alexander Newman (D)Died September 8, 1849 Thomas Haymond (W)Seated November 8, 1849
Georgia 1st Thomas B. King (W)Resigned March 3, 1850 Joseph W. Jackson (D)Seated March 4, 1850
Massachusetts 2nd Daniel P. King (W)Died July 25, 1850VacantNot filled this term
Iowa 1st William Thompson (D)Seat declared vacant June 29, 1850, after contested election. House ruled neither candidate entitled to seat and forced special election Daniel F. Miller (W)Seated December 20, 1850
Massachusetts 1st Robert C. Winthrop (W)Resigned July 30, 1850, after being appointed to the US Senate Samuel A. Eliot (W)Seated August 22, 1850
Louisiana 2nd Charles M. Conrad (W)Resigned August 17, 1850, after being appointed United States Secretary of War Henry A. Bullard (W)Seated December 5, 1850
New Hampshire 3rd James Wilson (W)Resigned September 9, 1850 George W. Morrison (D)Seated October 8, 1850
California At-large California admitted into the Union September 9, 1850, and seat remained vacant until September 11, 1850 Edward Gilbert (D)Seated September 11, 1850
California At-large California admitted into the Union September 9, 1850, and seat remained vacant until September 11, 1850 George W. Wright (I)Seated September 11, 1850
Pennsylvania 15th Henry Nes (W)Died September 10, 1850 Joel B. Danner (D)Seated December 2, 1850
Pennsylvania 11th Chester P. Butler (W)Died October 5, 1850 John Brisbin (D)Seated November 13, 1850
Louisiana 3rd John H. Harmanson (D)Died October 24, 1850 Alexander G. Penn (D)Seated December 30, 1850
Ohio 6th Amos E. Wood (D)Died November 19, 1850 John Bell (W)Seated January 7, 1851
Texas 1st David S. Kaufman (D)Died January 31, 1851VacantNot filled this term

Committees

Lists of committees and their party leaders.

Joint committees

Caucuses

Employees

Senate

House of Representatives

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 This is the date the member was seated or an oath administered, not necessarily the same date her/his service began.

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References

  1. Jenkins, Jeffery A.; Stewart III, Charles (April 2001). Sophisticated Behavior and Speakership Elections: The Elections of 1849 and 1855–56. Midwest Political Science Association. Chicago, IL. p. 29. Retrieved January 8, 2013.