42nd United States Congress

The Forty-second 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, 1871, to March 4, 1873, during the third and fourth years of Ulysses S. Grant's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Eighth Census of the United States in 1860. Both chambers had a Republican majority.

42nd United States Congress
41st ←
→ 43rd
March 4, 1871 – March 4, 1873
Senate PresidentSchuyler Colfax (R)
Senate President pro temHenry B. Anthony (R)
House SpeakerJames G. Blaine (R)
Members74 senators
243 members of the House
10 non-voting delegates
Senate MajorityRepublican
House MajorityRepublican
1st: March 4, 1871 – April 20, 1871
2nd: December 4, 1871 – June 10, 1872
3rd: December 2, 1872 – March 4, 1873

Major events

Major legislation

Party summary

The count below identifies party affiliations at the beginning of the first session of this Congress, and includes members from vacancies and newly admitted states, when they were first seated. Changes resulting from subsequent replacements are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.


(shading shows control)
Total Vacant

End of the previous congress 12 0 62 74 0
Begin 14 1 55 70 4
End 17 54 722
Final voting share 23.6% 1.4% 75.0%
Beginning of the next congress 19 3 50 72 2

House of Representatives

(shading shows control)
Total Vacant


End of the previous congress 67 0 0 169 (Conservative)
241 2
Begin 93 1 3 144 0 241 2
End 97 141 2421
Final voting share 40.1% 0.4% 1.2% 58.3% 0.0%
Beginning of the next congress 91 0 4 189 6
290 2


Schuyler Colfax portrait
President of the Senate Schuyler Colfax


House of Representatives


This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed in order of seniority, and Representatives are listed by district.

Skip to House of Representatives, below


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 began in the last Congress, requiring re-election in 1874; Class 2 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring re-election in 1876; and Class 3 meant their term ended in this Congress, requiring re-election in 1872.

Henry B. Anthony - Brady-Handy
Senate President pro tempore Henry B. Anthony

House of Representatives

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

42 us house membership
House seats by party holding plurality in state
  80+% to 100% Democratic
  80+% to 100% Republican
  60+% to 80% Democratic
  60+% to 80% Republican
  Up to 60% Democratic
  Up to 60% Republican
Blaine, James G
Speaker of the House James G. Blaine

Changes in membership

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


  • replacements: 0
  • deaths: 0
  • resignations: 2
  • contested elections: 0
  • Total seats with changes: 4
Vacator Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation
Virginia (2) Vacant Legislature had failed to elect.
Previous incumbent re-elected March 15, 1871.
John W. Johnston (D) March 15, 1871
Georgia (2) Vacant Foster Blodgett presented credentials as Senator-elect, but the Senate declared him not elected.
Successor elected November 14, 1871.
Thomas M. Norwood (D) November 14, 1871
Mississippi (2) Vacant Delayed taking seat in order to serve as Governor of Mississippi James L. Alcorn (R) December 1, 1871
North Carolina (2) Vacant Legislature had failed to elect.
Successor elected January 30, 1872.
Matt W. Ransom (D) January 30, 1872
Kentucky (3) Garrett Davis (D) Died September 22, 1872.
Successor appointed September 27, 1872.
Appointee was later elected January 21, 1873, to finish the term.[1]
Willis B. Machen (D) September 27, 1872
Louisiana (3) William P. Kellogg (R) Resigned November 1, 1872, after being elected Governor of Louisiana Vacant Not filled this Congress
Massachusetts (2) Henry Wilson (R) Resigned March 3, 1873, after being elected U.S. Vice President Vacant Not filled this Congress

House of Representatives

District Vacator Reason for change Successor Date of successor's
formal installation
District of Columbia At-large New seat District of Columbia's At-large district created March 4, 1871, and remained vacant until April 21, 1871 Norton P. Chipman (R) April 21, 1871
Illinois At-large Vacant Rep. John A. Logan resigned at the end of the previous congress after being elected to the US Senate John L. Beveridge (R) November 7, 1871
Michigan 4th Vacant Rep. Thomas W. Ferry resigned at the end of the previous congress after being elected to the US Senate Wilder D. Foster (R) December 4, 1871
Illinois 6th Burton C. Cook (R) Resigned August 26, 1871 Henry Snapp (R) December 4, 1871
Louisiana 4th James McCleery (R) Died November 5, 1871 Alexander Boarman (LR) December 3, 1872
Massachusetts 9th William B. Washburn (R) Resigned December 5, 1871, after being elected Governor of Massachusetts Alvah Crocker (R) January 2, 1872
Arkansas 3rd John Edwards (LR) Lost contested election February 9, 1872 Thomas Boles (R) February 9, 1872
Massachusetts 7th George M. Brooks (R) Resigned May 13, 1872, after becoming judge of probate for Middlesex County Constantine C. Esty (R) December 2, 1872
Texas 3rd William T. Clark (R) Lost contested election May 13, 1872 Dewitt C. Giddings (D) December 13, 1872
Ohio 1st Aaron F. Perry (R) Resigned July 14, 1872 Ozro J. Dodds (D) October 9, 1872
Georgia 4th Thomas J. Speer (R) Died August 18, 1872 Erasmus W. Beck (D) December 2, 1872
Connecticut 1st Julius L. Strong (R) Died September 7, 1872 Joseph R. Hawley (R) December 2, 1872
Pennsylvania 13th Ulysses Mercur (R) Resigned December 2, 1872, after becoming an assoc. justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Frank C. Bunnell (R) December 24, 1872
Illinois At-large John L. Beveridge (R) Resigned January 4, 1873, after being elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois Vacant Not filled this term
South Carolina 2nd Robert C. De Large (R) Seat declared vacant January 24, 1873, after election was contested by Christopher C. Bowen Vacant Not filled this term
Florida At-large Josiah T. Walls (R) Lost contested election January 29, 1873 Silas L. Niblack (D) January 29, 1873


Lists of committees and their party leaders, for members (House and Senate) of the committees and their assignments, go into the Official Congressional Directory at the bottom of the article and click on the link (1 link), in the directory after the pages of terms of service, you will see the committees of the Senate, House (Standing with Subcommittees, Select and Special) and Joint and after the committee pages, you will see the House/Senate committee assignments in the directory, on the committees section of the House and Senate in the Official Congressional Directory, the committee's members on the first row on the left side shows the chairman of the committee and on the right side shows the ranking member of the committee.


House of Representatives

Joint committees

  • Conditions of Indian Tribes (Special)
  • Enrolled Bills
  • Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States




House of Representatives

See also


  1. ^ Byrd & Wolff, p. 112
  • 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.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1989). The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.
  • Martis, Kenneth C. (1982). The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

External links

1870 United States elections

The 1870 United States elections occurred in the middle of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant's first term, during the Third Party System. Members of the 42nd United States Congress were chosen in this election. The election took place during the Reconstruction Era, and many Southerners were barred from voting. It was also the first election after the passage of the 15th Amendment, which prohibits state and federal governments from denying the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (although disenfranchisement would continue). The Republican Party maintained a majority in both houses of Congress, although Democrats picked up several seats in both chambers.

In the House, Democrats won major gains, but Republicans retained a solid majority.In the Senate, Democrats won moderate gains, but Republicans retained a commanding majority.

1872 State of the Union Address

The 1872 State of the Union Address was given by Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th United States President, on December 2, 1872. He did not speak it to the 42nd United States Congress, because that was the custom at the time. He said, "In transmitting to you this my fourth annual message it is with thankfulness to the Giver of All Good that as a nation we have been blessed for the past year with peace at home, peace abroad, and a general prosperity vouchsafed to but few peoples." IT was given during the Reconstruction Era, when African Americans were freed.

Amnesty Act

The Amnesty Act of 1872 was a United States federal law passed on May 22, 1872 which reversed most of the penalties imposed on former Confederates by the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted on July 9, 1868. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited the election or appointment to any federal or state office of any person who had held any of certain offices and then engaged in insurrection, rebellion, or treason. However, the section provided that a two-thirds vote by each House of the Congress could override this limitation. The 1872 act was passed by the 42nd United States Congress and the original restrictive Act was passed by the United States Congress in May 1866.Specifically, the 1872 Act removed voting restrictions and office-holding disqualification against most of the secessionists who rebelled in the American Civil War, except for senators and Representatives of the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh Congresses and officers in the judicial, military, and naval service of the United States, heads of Departments, and foreign ministers of the United States.In the spirit of the act, then United States President Ulysses S. Grant, by proclamation dated June 1, 1872, directed all district attorneys having charge of proceedings and prosecutions against those who had been disqualified by the Fourteenth Amendment to dismiss and discontinue them, except as to persons who fall within the exceptions named in the act. President Grant also pardoned all but 500 former top Confederate leaders.

The 1872 Act affected over 150,000 former Confederate troops who had taken part in the American Civil War.

Benjamin S. Turner

Benjamin Sterling Turner (March 17, 1825, Weldon, North Carolina – March 21, 1894, Selma, Alabama) was an American businessman and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives representing Alabama's 1st congressional district in the 42nd United States Congress.

Comstock laws

The Comstock Laws were a set of federal acts passed by the United States Congress under the Grant administration along with related state laws. The "parent" act (Sect. 211) was passed on March 3, 1873, as the Act for the "Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use". This Act criminalized usage of the U.S. Postal Service to send any of the following items:




sex toys

personal letters with any sexual content or information

or any information regarding the above items.A similar federal act (Sect. 245) of 1909 applied to delivery by interstate "express" or any other common carrier (such as railroad, instead of delivery by the U.S. Postal Service).

In Washington, D.C., where the federal government had direct jurisdiction, another Comstock act (Sect. 312) also made it illegal (punishable by up to 5 years at hard labor), to sell, lend, or give away any "obscene" publication, or article used for contraception or abortion. Section 305 of the Tariff Act of 1922 forbade the importation of any contraceptive information or means.In addition to these federal laws, about half of the states enacted laws related to the federal Comstock laws. These state laws are considered by Dennett to also be "Comstock laws".

The laws were named after their chief proponent, Anthony Comstock. Comstock received a commission from the Postmaster General to serve as a special agent for the U.S. Postal Service.Numerous failed attempts were made to repeal or modify these laws and eventually, many of them (or portions of them) were declared unconstitutional. In 1919 in a law journal, a judge, after reviewing the various laws (especially state laws) called the set of them "haphazard and capricious" and lacking "any clear, broad, well-defined principle or purpose".

Emanuel Fortune

Emanuel Fortune (3 January 1833 – 27 January 1897) was an American politician who represented Jackson Country.

Fortune was born into slavery in 1832 on the Waddell Plantation near Marianna, Florida. Fortune worked as a shoemaker before entering politics. Fortune was a African Methodist Episcopal Church layman and was appointed to the county board of voter registration. In the 1850s Fortune married Sarah Jane Miers; the couple's son, Timothy Thomas Fortune, became a noted radical newspaper editor and activist for African American rights..

Fortune was elected to the 1868 Florida Constitutional Convention as one of four representatives for Jackson County. Fortune was forced to leave Jackson Country due to lawlessness and served the remainder of his elected term in Jacksonville.In November 1871 Jackson testified at the United States Senate Select Committee on Outrages in Southern States, a special session of the 42nd United States Congress that investigated Ku Klux Klan violence in North Carolina and Florida. Jackson was questioned by the chairman of the committee, Henry Wilson, and Thomas F. Bayard. Jackson testified as to the difficulty that black farmers had in obtaining small parcels of land and the racially motivated attacks and violence that he had witnessed.Fortune is buried at the Old Jacksonville City Cemetery in Duval County, Florida.

Harrison E. Havens

Harrison Eugene Havens (December 15, 1837 – August 16, 1916) was an American lawyer and politician. He was born in Franklin County, Ohio and was the Republican Party Representative from Missouri for the 4th District in the 42nd United States Congress between 1871 and 1873, and for the 6th District in the 43rd United States Congress from 1873 to 1875.

Jabez G. Sutherland

Jabez Gridley Sutherland (October 6, 1825 – November 20, 1902) was a politician and judge from the U.S. state of Michigan.

Sutherland was born in Van Buren, New York. He completed preparatory studies, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1848. He commenced practice in Saginaw, Michigan and served as prosecuting attorney of Saginaw County in 1848 and 1849.

Sutherland was delegate to the State constitutional conventions in 1850 and 1867 and was a member of the Michigan House of Representatives in 1853. He served as judge of the tenth circuit court of Michigan from 1863 to 1871, when he resigned to enter Congress.

Sutherland was elected as a Democrat from Michigan's 6th congressional district to the 42nd United States Congress, serving from March 4, 1871 to March 3, 1873. He was not a candidate for re-nomination in 1872.

Sutherland moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1873 and resumed the practice of law. He was also a member of the faculty of what is now the University of Utah in 1889 and president of the Territorial Bar Association in 1894 and 1895. In 1891 he published the influential legal treatise "Statutes and Statutory Construction," which remains an influential guide for how statutes should be interpreted. He moved to California in 1897.

Sutherland died in Berkeley, California and is interred in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.

Jackson Orr

Jackson Orr (September 21, 1832 – March 15, 1926) was a lawyer, Civil War officer, businessman, and two-term Republican U.S. Representative from western Iowa. Continuing westward, he spent the last five decades of his life in Colorado.

Born at Washington Court House, Ohio, Orr moved with his parents to Benton, Indiana, in 1836.

He attended the common schools and Indiana University at Bloomington.

He moved to Jefferson, Iowa, in 1856. He studied law and was admitted to the bar.

From 1861 to 1863, he served in the Union Army as captain of Company H, 10th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment .

He engaged in mercantile pursuits in the City of Montana (now Boone), Iowa, and served as member of the Iowa House of Representatives in 1868. That year, (when Iowa had six seats in the U.S. House), he fell two votes short of winning the Republican nomination to represent Iowa's 6th congressional district.In 1870 Orr won the Republican nomination, and was elected to represent the 6th district in the 42nd United States Congress. Based on the 1870 census, Iowa received three more seats in the House, and Orr's home county was then included in Iowa's new 9th congressional district. Running in the new district, Orr won election to the 43rd United States Congress, where he chaired the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Interior. He served in Congress from March 4, 1871 to March 3, 1875.

Orr was not a candidate for renomination in 1874, but instead moved to Silverton, a mining town in a newly opened area of southwestern Colorado Territory, in 1875.

In Colorado, Orr was elected county judge and served for three years. He moved to Denver, Colorado, and engaged in the practice of his profession and also in the real estate business. In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur appointed him as one of three commissioners to implement a treaty between the United States and the Ute tribe. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination for Colorado's at-large Congressional seat in 1884. He served as president of the Denver Fire and Police Board in 1893 and 1894.

He died in Denver on March 15, 1926. He was interred in Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.

James C. Harper

James Clarence Harper (December 6, 1819 – January 8, 1890) was a United States Representative in Congress from the state of North Carolina for one term (1871–1873). Harper was born in Pennsylvania but moved in 1840 to what would soon become Caldwell County, North Carolina. A Democrat, he was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in the special election of 1865, after receiving, in August of that year, a pardon from President Andrew Johnson for his part in "the late rebellion." He was re-elected in 1866. Harper was seemingly elected again in 1868, but the election was later declared illegal.In 1870, Harper was elected to the 42nd United States Congress as a Democrat or "Conservative," as some North Carolina Democrats were calling themselves at the time. He did not run for re-election in 1872.

Harper was the father-in-law of Judge Clinton A. Cilley. Many of Harper's papers, including almost fifty years of his diaries, can be found in the Southern Historical Collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This James C. Harper should not be confused with his relative, Captain James Cunningham Harper (1893–1986), who became a famous band director in Lenoir, NC.

Leonard Myers

Leonard Myers (November 13, 1827 – February 11, 1905) was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania during the American Civil War and the early years of Reconstruction.

List of United States Senators in the 42nd Congress by seniority

This is a complete list of members of the United States Senate during the 42nd United States Congress listed by seniority, from March 4, 1871, to March 3, 1873.

Order of service is based on the commencement of the senator's first term. Behind this is former service as a senator (only giving the senator seniority within his or her new incoming class), service as vice president, a House member, a cabinet secretary, or a governor of a state. The final factor is the population of the senator's state.Senators who were sworn in during the middle of the Congress (up until the last senator who was not sworn in early after winning the November 1872 election) are listed at the end of the list with no number.

List of United States federal legislation, 1789–1901

This is a chronological, but incomplete, list of United States federal legislation passed by the 1st through 56th United States Congresses, between 1789 and 1901. For the main article on this subject, see List of United States federal legislation. Additional lists can be found at List of United States federal legislation: Congress of the Confederation, List of United States federal legislation, 1901–2001 and List of United States federal legislation, 2001–present.

List of members of the United States House of Representatives in the 42nd Congress by seniority

This is a complete list of members of the United States House of Representatives during the 42nd United States Congress listed by seniority.

As an historical article, the districts and party affiliations listed reflect those during the 42nd Congress (March 4, 1871 – March 3, 1873). Current seats and party affiliations on the List of current members of the United States House of Representatives by seniority will be different for certain members.Seniority depends on the date on which members were sworn into office. Since many members are sworn in on the same day, subsequent ranking is based on previous congressional service of the individual and then by alphabetical order by the last name of the congressman.

Committee chairmanship in the House is often associated with seniority. However, party leadership is typically not associated with seniority.

Note: The "*" indicates that the representative/delegate may have served one or more non-consecutive terms while in the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.

Second Enforcement Act

The Enforcement Act of 1871, sometimes called the Civil Rights Act of 1871 or the Second Ku Klux Klan Act, was a United States federal law. The act was the second of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress from 1870 to 1871 during the Reconstruction Era to combat attacks on the suffrage rights of African Americans from groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Republican Representative John C. Churchill from New York introduced his bill H.R. 2634 in the 41st United States Congress. The bill was passed by Congress in February 1871 and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on February 28, 1871.

Seth Wakeman

Seth Wakeman (January 15, 1811 – January 4, 1880) was a U.S. Representative from New York.

Wakeman was born in Franklin, Vermont, the son of Nathan Wakeman and Phoebe Johnston. Nathan Wakeman's family soon moved to Pembroke, New York. He joined the New York Militia for the War of 1812, and died in Malone, New York while on military duty.

Seth Wakeman attended the common schools in Pembroke. He served as a constable and justice of the peace, and studied law.

He was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law in Batavia, New York. A Whig, he served in other offices, including Genesee County Treasurer, and from 1850 to 1856 he was Genesee County District Attorney.

He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Genesee Co, 1st D.) in 1856 and 1857.

He served as member of the State constitutional convention in 1867 and 1868.

Wakeman was elected as a Republican to the 42nd United States Congress, holding office from March 4, 1871, to March 3, 1873. Afterwards he resumed the practice of law.

He died in Batavia, New York, January 4, 1880. He was interred in Elmwood Cemetery.

Third Enforcement Act

The Enforcement Act of 1871 (17 Stat. 13), also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Force Act of 1871, Ku Klux Klan Act, Third Enforcement Act, or Third Ku Klux Klan Act, is an Act of the United States Congress which empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations. The act was passed by the 42nd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on April 20, 1871. The act was the last of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress from 1870 to 1871 during the Reconstruction Era to combat attacks upon the suffrage rights of African Americans. The statute has been subject to only minor changes since then, but has been the subject of voluminous interpretation by courts.

This legislation was asked for by President Grant and passed within one month of when the president sent the request to Congress. Grant's request was a result of the reports he was receiving of widespread racial threats in the Deep South, particularly in South Carolina. He felt that he needed to have his authority broadened before he could effectively intervene. After the act's passage, the president had the power for the first time to both suppress state disorders on his own initiative and to suspend the right of habeas corpus. Grant did not hesitate to use this authority on numerous occasions during his presidency, and as a result the first era KKK was completely dismantled and did not resurface in any meaningful way until the first part of the 20th century. Several of its provisions still exist today as codified statutes. The most important of these is 42 U.S.C. § 1983: Civil action for deprivation of rights.

Timber Culture Act

The Timber Culture Act was a follow-up act to the Homestead Act. The Timber Culture Act was passed by Congress in 1873. The act allowed homesteaders to get another 160 acres (65 ha) of land if they planted trees on one-fourth of the land, because the land was "almost one entire plain of grass, which is and ever must be useless to cultivating man." (qtd. in Daily Life on the 19th Century American Frontier by Aleesha White)

William G. Donnan

William G. Donnan (June 30, 1834 – December 4, 1908) was a pioneer lawyer, Civil War officer, and two-term Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa's 3rd congressional district during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Born in West Charlton, a hamlet in Saratoga County, New York, Donnan attended the district schools and Cambridge Academy.

He was graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1856.

He moved to Independence, Iowa, in 1856.

After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1856, and commenced practice at Independence in 1857. From 1857 to 1862, he was the treasurer and recorder of Buchanan County, Iowa.

In 1862, he entered the Union Army as a private in Company H, 27th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was promoted to the grade of first lieutenant and brevetted captain and major. He was adjutant on the staff of Gen. James Isham Gilbert. His hundred twenty-eight letters written to his wife Mary during the War are a valuable historical resource.

Following the War, he was elected to the Iowa Senate, initially serving in 1868 and 1870. He was largely instrumental in securing the establishment of the Mental Health Institute (formerly called the Iowa State Hospital for the Insane) at Independence.In 1870, incumbent Republican Third District Congressman William B. Allison focused on winning election to the U.S. Senate, and thus declined to seek re-election to his House seat. Donnan was elected as a Republican to succeed him, serving in the 42nd United States Congress. Donnan was re-elected two years later (in 1872), to serve in the Forty-third Congress. He declined to be a candidate for reelection in 1874. In all, he served in Congress from March 4, 1871 to March 3, 1875.

After his term ended, he resumed the practice of law at Independence, and remained active in politics. He was again elected to the Iowa Senate, serving from 1884 to 1886. He served as delegate-at-large to the 1884 Republican National Convention, and as chairman of the Republican State Central Committee from 1884 to 1886.

He later became president of the First National Bank of Independence. He died in Independence, on December 4, 1908. He was interred in Oakwood Cemetery.

The now-disincorporated town of Donnan, Iowa, in Fayette County was named for him.

United States Congresses (and year convened)

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