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United States Senate election in New York, 1875

The 1875 United States Senate election in New York was held on January 19 and 20, 1875, by the New York State Legislature to elect a U.S. Senator (Class 1) to represent the State of New York in the United States Senate.


  • Background 1
  • Candidates 2
    • Democratic caucus 2.1
    • Republican caucus 2.2
  • Election 3
  • Result 4
  • Aftermath 5
  • Notes 6
  • Sources 7


Republican Reuben E. Fenton had been elected in January 1869 to this seat, and his term would expire on March 3, 1875.

At the State election in November 1873, a Republican majority was elected for a two-year term (1874-1875) in the State Senate. At the State election in November 1874, Democrat Samuel J. Tilden was elected Governor, 75 Democrats and 53 Republicans were elected for the session of 1875 to the Assembly, and Democrat Albert P. Laning was elected in the 31st District to fill a vacancy in the State Senate. The 98th New York State Legislature met from January 5 to May 19, 1875, at Albany, New York.


Democratic caucus

The caucus of Democratic State legislators met on January 15, State Senator Albert P. Laning, of Buffalo, presided. All but one of the legislators were present, only Assemblyman John M. Roscoe, of Schoharie County, was sick. The caucus nominated Francis Kernan for the U.S. Senate. Kernan had been the Democratic/Liberal Republican candidate for Governor in November 1872 but had been defeated by John Adams Dix. Now Kernan was the choice of Tammany boss John Kelly who had succeeded the corrupt William M. Tweed. Kelly was opposed by John C. Jacobs, who proposed Ex-State Senator Henry C. Murphy, Jacobs's predecessor from the 3rd District, and the Democratic candidate who had lost the U.S. Senate elections in 1867 and 1869 when the Democrats were the minority. Kelly stood firm in his intention to dominate the Democratic Party, and had the caucus nomination made by viva voce vote instead of the more traditional secret ballot. Jacobs and Murphy had expected to get votes from many legislators who would not dare to cross Kelly openly, but had to abandon their hopes when the secret ballot was voted down 74 to 13.

1875 Democratic caucus for United States Senator result
Office Candidate First ballot
U.S. Senator Francis Kernan 77
Henry C. Murphy 9
John T. Hoffman 1

Republican caucus

The caucus of the Republican State legislators nominated Ex-U.S. Senator from New York Edwin D. Morgan.


On January 19, the Democratic majority of the Assembly nominated Francis Kernan, and the Republican majority of the State Senate nominated Ex-U.S. Senator Edwin D. Morgan. On January 20, both Houses met in joint session to compare nominations, and finding that they disagreed, proceeded to a joint ballot. Francis Kernan was elected, the first Democratic U.S. Senator from New York since 1851 when Daniel S. Dickinson left office.


1875 United States Senator election result
Office House Democrat Republican Democrat
U.S. Senator State Senate
(32 members)
Francis Kernan 13 Edwin D. Morgan 16
State Assembly
(128 members)
Francis Kernan 74 Edwin D. Morgan 52 John T. Hoffman 1
Joint Ballot
(160 members)
Francis Kernan 87 Edwin D. Morgan 68 John T. Hoffman 1

Note: The vote for Ex-Governor of New York Hoffman was cast by Reuben E. Fenton's brother-in-law Samuel Scudder, a Democratic Assemblyman from Cattaraugus County.


Kernan served one term, and remained in office until March 3, 1881. In January 1881, he was nominated by the Democratic caucus for re-election, but was defeated by Republican Thomas C. Platt.



  • Members of the 44th United States Congress
  • NEW-YORK ELECTIONS.; Results of the Official Canvass for the Various Officers in NYT on November 19, 1874
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