*Party division totals are based on election day results.
The 34th Congress (1855–1857) started badly. As pro- and antislavery supporters killed one another in the “Bleeding Kansas” territory, the House took two months and 133 ballots to elect a Speaker by a plurality instead of the customary majority. The conflict in the West quickly spilled into Washington as the Senate backed Kansas’ pro-slavery constitution, while the House favored an antislavery version after a committee investigation revealed widespread voter fraud. After Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner vehemently denounced pro-slavery Members, Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat him senseless with a cane on the Senate Floor.