*Party division totals are based on election day results.
The 35th Congress (1857–1859) opened under Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate, but for the first time Republicans stood as the dominant opposition party. In Kansas, anti-slavery voters boycotted (and the territorial legislature rejected) the pro-slavery constitutional referendum—the effect of which reverberated all the way to Washington. The debate in the House over the Kansas controversy led to a huge brawl on the floor that ended only after one Member’s hairpiece was ripped off. Congress passed legislation for another constitutional referendum that, if approved, guaranteed Kansas federal aid or, if rejected, postponed statehood.
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1No clear data for this period exist.
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.