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The U.S. House election, 1874 was an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1874, which occurred in the middle of President Ulysses S. Grant's second term. It was an important turning point, as the Republicans lost heavily and the Democrats gained control of the House. It signaled the imminent end of Reconstruction, which Democrats opposed.

With the election following the Panic of 1873, Grant's Republican Party was crushed in the elections, losing their majority and almost half their seats to the Democratic Party. This was the first period of Democratic control following the Civil War. The economic crisis and the inability of Grant to find a solution lead the his party's defeat.

As Rhodes [7:131-3] explains:

In the fall elections of 1874 the issue was clearly defined: Did the Republican President Ulysses S. Grant and Congress deserve the confidence of the country? and the answer was unmistakably No, although the early contests in Vermont and Maine gave little indication of it. Even James G. Blaine, an acute judge of popular sentiment, failed in his forecast and, as he traveled through the West, gave his hearers to understand that the next House was certain to be Republican and himself its Speaker. Those who may have been inclined to doubts were encouraged by the revival of the song of 1840 "Oh! have you heard the news from Maine?" and the Republicans of Ohio and Indiana went to the polls on their October election day with a certain confidence of success. But the Democrats carried both these States and made notable gains in members of Congress. In November, they elected Samuel J. Tilden governor of New York by 50,000 majority and William Gaston governor of Massachusetts by 7000 and also carried Pennsylvania.
The Democrats had won a signal victory, obtaining control of the next House of Representatives which would stand Democrats 168, Liberals and Independents 14, Republicans 108 as against the two-thirds Republican majority secured by the election of 1872. Since 1861 the Republicans had controlled the House and now with its loss came a decrease in their majority in the Senate....
The political revolution from 1872 to 1874 was due to the failure of the Southern policy of the Republican party, to the Credit Mobilier and Sanborn contract scandals, to corrupt and inefficient administration in many departments and to the persistent advocacy of Grant by some close friends and hangers-on for a third presidential term. Some among the opposition were influenced by the President's backsliding in the cause of civil service reform, and others by the failure of the Republican party to grapple successfully with the financial question. The depression, following the financial Panic of 1873, and the number of men consequently out of employment weighed in the scale against the party in power. In Ohio, the result was affected by the temperance crusade in the early part of the year. Bands of women of good social standing marched to saloons before which or in which they sang hymns and, kneeling down, prayed that the great evil of drink might be removed. Sympathizing men wrought with them in causing the strict law of the State against the sale of strong liquor to be rigidly enforced. Since Republicans were in the main the instigators of the movement, it alienated from their party a large portion of the German American vote.
But the elections did not on the other hand mean that the country placed implicit faith in the Democratic party. Many shrank from the contemplation of a rule in which the South might have a preponderating influence. Indeed the sentiment of Republicans, who voted the Democratic ticket or staid away from the polls, in order to punish their party might have been expressed in the words of the old Scottish minister's prayer concerning Charles I, "Laird shak him ower the mouth o' hell but dinna cast him in."



  • Appletons' Annual Cyclopædia, 1874 (1875), covers every state.
  • James Ford Rhodes. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 7. 1920. Page number: 131.

Overall results

Party Total seats (change) Seat percentage
Democratic Party 182 +94 62.1%
Republican Party 103 -96 35.1%
Independent 8 +3 2.7%
Totals 293 +1 100.0%
     80.1-100% Republican      80.1-100% Democratic
     60.1-80% Republican      60.1-80% Democratic
     <=60% Republican      <=60% Democratic
House seats by party holding plurality in state
     6+ Republican gain      6+ Democratic gain
     3-5 Republican gain      3-5 Democratic gain
     1-2 Republican gain      1-2 Democratic gain
     no net change


District Incumbent Party Elected Status Opponent
California 1 Charles Clayton Republican
Retiring William Adam Piper (D) 49.1%
Ira P. Rankin (R) 26.8%
John F. Swift (I) 24.1%
California 2 Horace F. Page Republican
Running Horace F. Page (R) 43.4%
Henry Larkin (D) 38.7%
Charles A. Tuttle (I) 17.8%
California 3 John K. Luttrell Democratic
Running John K. Luttrell (D) 46.7%
C. B. Denio (R) 36.1%
Charles F. Reed (I) 17.1%
California 4 Sherman O. Houghton Republican
Running Peter D. Wigginton (D) 48.8%
Sherman O. Houghton (R) 34.6%
J. S. Thompson (I) 16.7%

See also



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