*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.
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To view complete lists of individuals who have served in these leadership and official positions since the 1st Congress, visit the People section
1Elected February 2, 1856, upon the one hunderd and thirty-third viva voce vote and the fourth vote under a plurality resolution that day.
2From 1855 to 1861 the local clergy in the District of Columbia conducted the opening prayer. Thereafter, the House has elected a Chaplain at the beginning of each Congress.