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The Fifty-first 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.marker 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. Both chambers had a Republican majority.

Major events



Major legislation



States admitted and territories organized

  • November 2, 1889 — North Dakotamarker was admitted as a state.
  • November 2, 1889 — South Dakotamarker was admitted as a state.
  • November 8, 1889 — Montanamarker was admitted as a state.
  • November 11, 1889 — Washingtonmarker was admitted as a state.
  • May 2, 1890 — Oklahoma Territory was organized.
  • July 3, 1890 — Idahomarker was admitted as a state.
  • July 10, 1890 — Wyomingmarker was admitted as a state.


The Congress was dominated by the Republican Party. 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 Yellowstonemarker, Wyomingmarker, 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 Force 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.

Party summary

North Dakotamarker, South Dakotamarker, Montanamarker, Washingtonmarker, Idahomarker, and Wyomingmarker were newly admitted to the Union and first represented as states in this Congress.

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.

Senate

TOTAL members: 88

House of Representatives

TOTAL members: 332

Leadership



Senate



House of Representatives



Members

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

Senate

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.

Alabama



Arkansas



California



Colorado



Connecticut



Delaware



Florida



Georgia



Idaho



Illinois



Indiana



Iowa



Kansas



Kentucky



Louisiana



Maine



Maryland



Massachusetts



Michigan



Minnesota



Mississippi



Missouri



Montana



Nebraska



Nevada



New Hampshire



New Jersey



New York



North Carolina



North Dakota



Ohio



Oregon



Pennsylvania



Rhode Island



South Carolina



South Dakota



Tennessee



Texas



Vermont



Virginia



Washington



West Virginia



Wisconsin



Wyoming





House of Representatives

The names of members of the House of Representatives elected statewide on the general ticket or otherwise at-large, are preceded by an "A/L," and the names of those elected from districts, whether plural or single member, are preceded by their district numbers.

Alabama



Arkansas



California



Colorado



Connecticut



Delaware



Florida



Georgia



Idaho



Illinois



Indiana



Iowa



Kansas



Kentucky



Louisiana



Maine



Maryland



Massachusetts



Michigan



Minnesota



Mississippi



Missouri



Montana



Nebraska



Nevada



New Hampshire



New Jersey



New York



North Carolina



North Dakota



Ohio



Oregon



Pennsylvania



Rhode Island



South Carolina



South Dakota

Both representatives were elected statewide on a general ticket.

Tennessee



Texas



Vermont



Virginia



Washington



West Virginia



Wisconsin



Wyoming



Non-voting members



Changes in membership

The count below reflects changes from the beginning of the first session of this Congress.
Senate
  • replacements: 3
  • deaths: 3
  • resignations: 2
  • interim appointments: 1
  • seats of newly admitted states: 12
  • Total seats with changes: 17
House of Representatives
  • replacements: 16
  • deaths: 11
  • resignations: 6
  • contested election:8
  • seats of newly admitted states: 7
  • Total seats with changes: 33


Officers

Senate
Other
House of Representatives


Notes



References



External links




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