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The U.S. House election, 1894 was a realigning election—a major Republican landslide that set the stage for the decisive Election of 1896. The elections of members of the United States House of Representatives in 1894 came in the middle of President Grover Cleveland's second term. The nation was in its deepest economic depression ever following the Panic of 1893, so economic issues were at the forefront. In the spring, a major coal strike damaged the economy of the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. It was accompanied by violence; the miners lost and many moved toward the Populist party. Immediately after the coal strike concluded, Eugene V. Debs led a nationwide railroad strike, called the Pullman Strike. It shut down the nation's transportation system west of Detroit for weeks, until President Cleveland's use of federal troops ended the strike. Debs went to prison (for disobeying a court order). Illinois' Governor John Peter Altgeld, a Democrat, broke bitterly with Cleveland.

The fragmented and disoriented Democratic Party was crushed everywhere outside the South, losing more than half its seats to the Republican Party. Even in the South, the Democrats lost seats to Republican-Populist electoral fusion in Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.[1][2] The Democrats lost 125 seats in the election while the Republicans won 130 seats. This makes the 1894 election the largest midterm election victory in the entire history of the United States.

The main issues revolved around the severe economic depression, which the Republicans blamed on the conservative Bourbon Democrats led by Cleveland. Cleveland supporters lost heavily, weakening their hold on the party and setting the stage for an 1896 takeover by the silverist wing of the party. The Populist Party ran candidates in the South and Midwest, but generally lost ground, outside Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas where state-level fusion with the Republicans was successful despite Populist and Republican antagonism at the national level. The Democrats tried to raise a religious issue, claiming the GOP was in cahoots with the American Protective Association. The allegations seem to have fallen flat as Catholics moved toward the GOP. [Jensen (1971) ch 9]. Democrat William Jennings Bryan lost the Senate race in Nebraska, but came back to win the 1896 presidential nomination.


Overall results

Party Total seats (change) Seat percentage
Republican Party 254 +130 71.1%
Democratic Party 93 -125 26.0%
Populist Party 9 -2 2.5%
Other 1 +0 0.2%
Independents 0 -2 0.0%
Totals 357 +1 100.0%
House seats by party holding plurality in state
     80.1-100% Republican      80.1-100% Democratic
     60.1-80% Republican      60.1-80% Democratic
     ≤60% Republican      ≤60% Democratic
     6+ Republican gain      1-2 Populist gain
     3-5 Republican gain      no net change
     1-2 Republican gain      1-2 Democratic gain


District Incumbent Party Elected Status Opponent
California 1 Thomas J. Geary Democratic
Running John All Barham (R) 41.1%
Thomas J. Geary (D) 37%
Robert F. Grigsby (PP) 19.7%
J. R. Gregory (Proh.) 2.2%
California 2 Anthony Caminetti Democratic
Running Grove L. Johnson (R) 43%
Anthony Caminetti (D) 35.1%
Burdett Cornell (PP) 19.9%
Elam Biggs (Proh.) 1.9%
California 3 Warren B. English Democratic
Running Samuel G. Hilborn (R) 45.5%
Warren B. English (D) 37.8%
W. A. Vann (PP) 14.9%
L. B. Scranton (Proh.) 1.8%
California 4 James G. Maguire Democratic
Running James G. Maguire (D) 48.3%
Thomas B. Shannon (R) 32%
B. K. Collier (PP) 18.4%
Joseph Rowell (Proh.) 1.3%
California 5 Eugene F. Loud Republican
Running Eugene F. Loud (R) 35.7%
Joseph P. Kelly (D) 22.9%
James T. Rogers (PP) 20.9%
James Denman (I) (D) 18.2%
Robert Summers (Proh.) 2.3%
California 6 Marion Cannon Populist
Retiring James McLachlan (R) 44.3%
George S. Patton (D) 27.6%
W. C. Bowman (PP) 23.1%
J. E. McComas (Proh.) 5%
California 7 William W. Bowers Republican
Running William W. Bowers (R) 42.9%
William H. Alford (D) 28.2%
J. L. Gilbert (PP) 25%
W. H. Somers (Proh.) 3.9%


See also



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