51st United States Congress

51st United States Congress
50th ←
→ 52nd

March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1891
Members88 senators
332 representatives
9 non-voting delegates
Senate MajorityRepublican
Senate PresidentLevi P. Morton (R)
House MajorityRepublican
House SpeakerThomas B. Reed (R)
Special: March 4, 1889 – April 2, 1889
1st: December 2, 1889 – October 1, 1890
2nd: December 1, 1890 – March 3, 1891

The 51st United States Congress, referred to by some critics as the Billion Dollar 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, 1889, to March 4, 1891, during the first two years of the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

The apportionment of seats in this House of Representatives was based on the Tenth Census of the United States in 1880.

The Republicans maintained their majority in the Senate, and won the majority in the House. With Benjamin Harrison being sworn in as President on March 4, 1889, This gave the Republicans an overall federal government trifecta for the first time since the 43rd Congress in 1873-1875.

Major events

Major legislation

Benjamin Harrison and the Congress are portrayed as a "Billion-Dollar Congress," wasting the surplus in this cartoon from Puck.

It was responsible for a number of pieces of landmark legislation, many of which asserted the authority of the federal government.

Emboldened by their success in the elections of 1888, the Republicans enacted virtually their entire platform during their first 303-day session, including a measure that provided American Civil War veterans with generous pensions and expanded the list of eligible recipients to include noncombatants and the children of veterans. Grover Cleveland had vetoed a similar bill in 1887. It was criticized as the "Billion Dollar Congress'" for its lavish spending and, for this reason it incited drastic reversals in public support that led to Cleveland's reelection in 1892.

Other important legislation passed into law by the Congress included the McKinley tariff, authored by Representative, and future President, William McKinley; the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibited business combinations that restricted trade; and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which required the U.S. government to mint silver. The last two were concessions to Western farmer interests in exchange for support of the tariff and would become central tenets of the Populist Party later in the decade. They were authored by Senator John Sherman.

The Fifty-first Congress was also responsible for passing the Land Revision Act of 1891, which created the national forests. Harrison authorized America's first forest reserve in Yellowstone, Wyoming, the same year.

Other bills were discussed but failed to pass, including two significant pieces of legislation focused on ensuring African Americans the right to vote. Henry Cabot Lodge sponsored a so-called Lodge Bill that would have established federal supervision of Congressional elections so as to prevent the disfranchisement of southern blacks. Henry W. Blair sponsored the Blair Education Bill, which advocated the use of federal aid for education in order to frustrate southern whites employing literacy tests to prevent blacks from registering to vote.

States admitted and territories organized

  • November 2, 1889: North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted as the 39th and 40th states.
  • November 8, 1889: Montana was admitted as the 41st state.
  • November 11, 1889: Washington was admitted as the 42nd state.
  • May 2, 1890: Oklahoma Territory was organized.
  • July 3, 1890: Idaho was admitted as the 43rd state.
  • July 10, 1890: Wyoming was admitted as the 44th state.

Party summary

The count below identifies party affiliations at the beginning of this Congress. Changes resulting from subsequent replacements are shown below in the "Changes in membership" section.

Six new states were admitted during this Congress, and their senators and representatives were elected throughout the Congress.


(shading shows control)
End of previous congress37381[a]760
Final voting share40.7%59.3%0.0%
Beginning of next congress36462[b]844

House of Representatives

(shading shows control)
End of previous congress16721524[c]3250
Final voting share46.4%0.3%53.3%0.0%
Beginning of next congress2380868[d]3320


President of the Senate
Levi P. Morton


House of Representatives


This list is arranged by chamber, then by state. Senators are listed by class, 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 reelection in 1892; Class 2 meant their term began in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1894; and Class 3 meant their term ended in this Congress, requiring reelection in 1890.

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.


  • Replacements: 3
  • Deaths: 3
  • Resignations: 2
  • Interim appointments: 1
  • Seats of newly admitted states: 12
  • Total seats with changes: 17
Vacated byReason for vacancySubsequentDate of successor's installation
Rhode Island
Jonathan Chace (R)Resigned April 9, 1889.
Successor was elected.
Nathan F. Dixon III (R)April 10, 1889
New Hampshire
Gilman Marston (R)Successor was elected June 18, 1889.William E. Chandler (R)June 18, 1889
South Dakota
New seatsSouth Dakota achieved statehood November 2, 1889.
First senators were elected October 16, 1889.[1]
Richard F. Pettigrew (R)November 2, 1889
South Dakota
Gideon C. Moody (R)
New seatsMontana achieved statehood November 8, 1889.
First Senator was elected January 1, 1890.[2]
His election was challenged based on the legitimacy of the nascent state legislature.
The Senate resolved the dispute in his favor April 16, 1890 and he was seated that day.[3]
Wilbur F. Sanders (R)April 16, 1890
Montana achieved statehood November 8, 1889.
First Senator was elected January 2, 1890.[2]
His election was challenged based on the legitimacy of the nascent state legislature.
The Senate resolved the dispute in his favor April 16, 1890 and he was seated that day.[3]
Thomas C. Power (R)April 16, 1890
New seatsWashington achieved statehood November 11, 1889.John B. Allen (R)November 20, 1889
Watson C. Squire (R)
James B. Beck (D)Died May 3, 1890.
Successor was elected.
John G. Carlisle (D)May 26, 1890
North Dakota
New seatsNorth Dakota achieved statehood November 2, 1889.
First senators were elected November 25, 1889.
Gilbert A. Pierce (R)November 21, 1889
North Dakota
Lyman R. Casey (R)November 25, 1889
New seatsIdaho achieved statehood July 3, 1890.George L. Shoup (R)December 18, 1890
William J. McConnell (R)
New seatsWyoming achieved statehood July 10, 1890.
New Senator was elected November 15, 1890.
Joseph M. Carey (R)November 15, 1890
Wyoming achieved statehood July 10, 1890.
New Senator was elected November 18, 1890.
Francis E. Warren (R)November 24, 1890
Ephraim K. Wilson (D)Died February 24, 1891 having already been re-elected to the next term.Vacant until next Congress
George Hearst (D)Died February 28, 1891.Vacant until next Congress

House of Representatives

  • Replacements: 16
  • Deaths: 11
  • Resignations: 6
  • Contested election:8
  • Seats of newly admitted states: 7
  • Total seats with changes: 33
DistrictVacated byReason for changeSuccessorDate successor seated
Missouri 4thVacantElected to finish Rep. James N. Burnes who was re-elected to this Congress, but died during previous one. In addition, Rep. Charles F. Booher was elected to finish Burnes's term in previous Congress but chose not to run for re-election for this Congress.Robert P. C. Wilson (D)December 2, 1889
Illinois 19thRichard W. Townshend (D)Died March 9, 1889James R. Williams (D)December 2, 1889
Kansas 4thThomas Ryan (R)Resigned April 4, 1889 after being appointed U.S. Minister to MexicoHarrison Kelley (R)December 2, 1889
Louisiana 3rdEdward J. Gay (D)Died May 30, 1889Andrew Price (D)December 2, 1889
Nebraska 2ndJames Laird (R)Died August 17, 1889Gilbert L. Laws (R)December 2, 1889
New York 9thSamuel S. Cox (D)Died September 10, 1889Amos J. Cummings (D)November 5, 1889
New York 27thNewton W. Nutting (R)Died October 15, 1889Sereno E. Payne (R)December 2, 1889
Dakota Territory At-largeGeorge A. Mathews (R)Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 2, 1889Territory achieved statehood
North Dakota At-largeHenry C. Hansbrough (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 2, 1889New seat
South Dakota At-largeOscar S. Gifford (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seats November 2, 1889New seats
John Pickler (R)
Montana Territory At-largeThomas H. Carter (R)Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 7, 1889Territory achieved statehood
New York 6thFrank T. Fitzgerald (D)Resigned November 4, 1889 after being elected Register of New York CountyCharles H. Turner (D)December 9, 1889
Washington Territory At-largeJohn B. Allen (R)Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until November 11, 1889Territory achieved statehood
Pennsylvania 4thWilliam D. Kelley (R)Died January 9, 1890John E. Reyburn (R)February 18, 1890
West Virginia 4thJames M. Jackson (D)Election was successfully challenged on February 3, 1890Charles B. Smith (R)February 3, 1890
West Virginia 1stJohn O. Pendleton (D)Election was successfully challenged on February 26, 1890George W. Atkinson (R)February 26, 1890
Arkansas 1stWilliam H. Cate (D)Election was successfully challenged on March 5, 1890Lewis P. Featherstone (L)March 5, 1890
Maryland 5thBarnes Compton (D)Election was successfully challenged on March 20, 1890Sydney E. Mudd (R)March 20, 1890
New York 24thDavid Wilber (R)Died April 1, 1890John S. Pindar (D)November 4, 1890
Virginia 3rdGeorge D. Wise (D)Election was successfully challenged on April 10, 1890Edmund Waddill Jr. (R)April 12, 1890
Pennsylvania 3rdSamuel J. Randall (D)Died April 13, 1890Richard Vaux (D)May 20, 1890
Kentucky 6thJohn G. Carlisle (D)Resigned May 26, 1890 after being elected to the U.S. SenateWilliam W. Dickerson (D)June 21, 1890
Alabama 4thLouis W. Turpin (D)Election was successfully challenged on June 4, 1890John V. McDuffie (R)June 4, 1890
Idaho Territory At-largeFred Dubois (R)Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until July 3, 1890Territory achieved statehood
Wyoming Territory At-largeJoseph M. Carey (R)Territory achieved statehood. Remained in seat until July 10, 1889Territory achieved statehood
Montana At-largeThomas H. Carter (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 8, 1889New seat
Washington At-largeJohn L. Wilson (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seat November 20, 1889New seat
Missouri 14thJames P. Walker (D)Died July 19, 1890Robert H. Whitelaw (D)November 4, 1890
Pennsylvania 27thLewis F. Watson (R)Died August 25, 1890Charles W. Stone (R)November 4, 1890
Arkansas 2ndClifton R. Breckinridge (D)Election was successfully challenged on September 5, 1890, however Rep-elect John M. Clayton died during election challenge, so seat was declared vacant. Breckinridge was elected to open seat.Clifton R. Breckinridge (D)November 4, 1890
South Carolina 7thWilliam Elliott (D)Election was successfully challenged on September 23, 1890Thomas E. Miller (R)September 24, 1890
Virginia 4thEdward C. Venable (D)Election was successfully challenged on September 23, 1890John M. Langston (R)September 23, 1890
California 1stJohn J. De Haven (R)Resigned October 1, 1890Thomas J. Geary (D)December 9, 1890
Idaho At-largeWillis Sweet (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seat October 1, 1890New seat
Iowa 7thEdwin H. Conger (R)Resigned October 3, 1890 after being appointed U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to BrazilEdward R. Hays (R)November 4, 1890
Oklahoma Territory At-largeDavid A. Harvey (R)Territory organized from Indian Territory. Took seat November 4, 1890New seat
Wyoming At-largeClarence D. Clark (R)Territory achieved statehood. Took seat December 1, 1890New seat
New York 8thJohn H. McCarthy (D)Resigned January 14, 1891 after being appointed justice of the City Court of New YorkVacant until next Congress
Tennessee 10thJames Phelan Jr. (D)Died January 30, 1891Vacant until next Congress


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 (4 links), 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

  • Accounts (Chairman: Henry J. Spooner; Ranking Member: Solomon G. Comstock)
  • Agriculture (Chairman: Edward H. Funston; Ranking Member: William H. Hatch)
  • Alcoholic Liquor Traffic (Select)
  • Appropriations (Chairman: Joseph G. Cannon; Ranking Member: Mark S. Brewer)
  • Banking and Currency (Chairman: George W.E. Dorsey; Ranking Member: Joseph R. Reed)
  • Claims (Chairman: William G. Laidlaw; Ranking Member: George W. Dargan)
  • Coinage, Weights and Measures (Chairman: Charles P. Wickham; Ranking Member: Richard P. Bland)
  • Commerce (Chairman: Charles S. Baker; Ranking Member: Henry Stockbridge Jr.)
  • Disposition of Executive Papers
  • District of Columbia (Chairman: William W. Grout; Ranking Member: John J. Hemphill)
  • Education (Chairman: James O'Donnell; Ranking Member: Henry P. Cheatham)
  • Elections (Chairman: Jonathan H. Rowell; Ranking Member: Solomon G. Comstock)
  • Enrolled Bills (Chairman: Robert P. Kennedy; Ranking Member: Constantine B. Kilgore)
  • Expenditures in the Agriculture Department (Chairman: Robert M. La Follette; Ranking Member: Edward Lane)
  • Expenditures in the Interior Department (Chairman: Nathaniel P. Banks; Ranking Member: James D. Richardson)
  • Expenditures in the Justice Department (Chairman: James S. Sherman; Ranking Member: John C. Tarsney)
  • Expenditures in the Navy Department (Chairman: John G. Sawyer; Ranking Member: Judson C. Clements)
  • Expenditures in the Post Office Department (Chairman: John M. Brower; Ranking Member: Thomas S. Flood)
  • Expenditures in the State Department (Chairman: Joseph A. Scranton; Ranking Member: Marion Biggs)
  • Expenditures in the Treasury Department (Chairman: Louis E. Atkinson; Ranking Member: William Cogswell)
  • Expenditures in the War Department (Chairman: Robert M. Yardley; Ranking Member: William C.P. Breckinridge)
  • Expenditures on Public Buildings (Chairman: Thomas S. Flood; Ranking Member: Joseph H. O'Neil)
  • Foreign Affairs (Chairman: Robert R. Hitt; Ranking Member: Hamilton D. Coleman)
  • Indian Affairs (Chairman: Bishop W. Perkins; Ranking Member: John L. Wilson)
  • Invalid Pensions (Chairman: Edmund N. Morrill; Ranking Member: Gilbert L. Laws)
  • Judiciary (Chairman: Ezra B. Taylor; Ranking Member: Joseph R. Reed)
  • Labor (Chairman: William H. Wade; Ranking Member: Aaron T. Bliss)
  • Levees and Improvements of the Mississippi River (Chairman: Julius C. Burrows; Ranking Member: Charles D. Beckwith)
  • Manufactures (Chairman: James Buchanan; Ranking Member: William D. Bynum)
  • Merchant Marine and Fisheries (Chairman: John M. Farquhar; Ranking Member: Hamilton G. Ewart)
  • Mileage (Chairman: John Lind; Ranking Member: Thomas J. Clunie)
  • Military Affairs (Chairman: Byron M. Cutcheon; Ranking Member: Samuel P. Snider)
  • Militia (Chairman: David B. Henderson; Ranking Member: Harrison Kelley)
  • Mines and Mining (Chairman: Thomas H. Carter; Ranking Member: Myron H. McCord)
  • Naval Affairs (Chairman: Charles A. Boutelle; Ranking Member: Hamilton D. Coleman)
  • Pacific Railroads (Chairman: John Dalzell; Ranking Member: James P. Flick)
  • Patents (Chairman: Benjamin Butterworth; Ranking Member: H. Clay Evans)
  • Pensions (Chairman: Milton De Lano; Ranking Member: Thomas H. B. Browne)
  • Printing (Chairman: Charles A. Russell; Ranking Member: James D. Richardson)
  • Private Land Claims (Chairman: Lucien B. Caswell; Ranking Member: Hamilton G. Ewart)
  • Post Office and Post Roads (Chairman: Henry H. Bingham; Ranking Member: James H. Blount)
  • Public Buildings and Grounds (Chairman: Seth L. Milliken; Ranking Member: Oscar S. Gifford)
  • Public Lands (Chairman: Lewis E. Payson; Ranking Member: William S. Holman)
  • Railways and Canals (Chairman: Henry C. McCormick; Ranking Member: Gilbert L. Laws)
  • Revision of Laws (Chairman: Thomas M. Browne; Ranking Member: Frederic T. Greenhalge)
  • Rivers and Harbors (Chairman: Thomas J. Henderson; Ranking Member: Frederick G. Niedringhaus)
  • Rules (Chairman: Charles F. Crisp; Ranking Member: James H. Blount)
  • Standards of Official Conduct
  • Territories (Chairman: Isaac S. Struble; Ranking Member: George W. Smith)
  • War Claims (Chairman: Ormsby B. Thomas; Ranking Member: Jonathan P. Dolliver)
  • Ways and Means (Chairman: William McKinley; Ranking Member: Robert M. La Follette)
  • Whole

Joint committees

  • Conditions of Indian Tribes (Special)
  • Disposition of (Useless) Executive Papers
  • The Library
  • Printing



Legislative branch agency directors


House of Representatives

  • Chaplain: William H. Milburn (Methodist)
  • Clerk: John B. Clark Jr., until December 2, 1889
  • Doorkeeper: Charles E. Adams
  • Postmaster: James L. Wheat, resigned October 1, 1890
    • James W. Hathaway, elected December 10, 1890
  • Clerk at the Speaker’s Table: Nathaniel T. Crutchfield
    • Edward F. Goodwin
  • Reading Clerks: John A. Reeve (D) and Azro J. Maxham (R)
  • Sergeant at Arms: John P. Leedom, until December 2, 1889
    • Adoniram J. Holmes, from December 2, 1889

See also


  1. ^ Readjuster
  2. ^ Populist
  3. ^ Independent Republican, Greenback, Independent
  4. ^ Populist


  1. ^ Journal of the House of Representatives…, p. 21
  2. ^ a b "Congressional Series of United States Public Documents". Government Printing Office. 1893. p. 64.
  3. ^ a b Taft, George S.; Furber, George P.; Buck, George M.; Webb, Charles A.; Pierce, Herbert R. (1913). "Compilation of Senate Election Cases from 1789 to 1913". U.S. Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office., p. 727
  • 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

Media files used on this page

United States Capitol in 1906
51 us house membership.png

Summary of party control of U.S. house seats in the 51st United States Congress following election. Stripes indicate a tie between two or more parties.


  80.1-100% Democratic seat majority
  60.1-80% Democratic seat majority
  60% or less Democratic seat plurality
  60% or less Republican seat plurality
  60.1-80% Republican seat majority
  80.1-100% Republican seat majority
Thomas Brackett Reed - Brady-Handy.jpg
Thomas Brackett Reed. Library of Congress description: "Reed, Hon. Thomas B. of Maine".
Levi Morton - Brady-Handy portrait - standard crop.jpg
Republican Levi Parsons Morton of N.Y., the 22nd Vice President of the United States under Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893); also Representative for New York's 11th district (1879-1881), United States Minister to France under James A. Garfield (1881-1885), and, after his Vice-Presidentship, Governor of New York (1895–1896). Photograph from the Brady-Handy collection of the Library of Congress, restored by Adam Cuerden
American politician John James Ingalls.
51st United States Congress Senators.svg
Author/Creator: Assorted-Interests, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Red means 2 Republicans. Purple means 1 Republican and 1 Democrat. Blue means 2 Democrats. Gray represents territories.
Billion dollar Congress.jpg
Harrison portrayed as wasting the surplus gained under Cleveland