77th New York State Legislature

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77th New York State Legislature
Old State Capitol at Albany NY.jpg
The Old State Capitol (1879)

Duration: January 1 – December 31, 1854

President of the State Senate: Lt. Gov. Sanford E. Church (D)
Temporary President of the State Senate: Andrew B. Dickinson (W), from January 30
Speaker of the State Assembly: Robert H. Pruyn (W)
Members: 32 Senators
128 Assemblymen
Senate Majority: Whig (23-9)
Assembly Majority: Whig (80-25-18-5)

1st: January 3 – April 17, 1854
<76th 78th>

The 77th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 3 to April 17, 1854, during the second year of Horatio Seymour's governorship, in Albany.


Under the provisions of the New York Constitution of 1846, 32 Senators were elected in single-seat senatorial districts for a two-year term, the whole Senate being renewed biennially. The senatorial districts (except those in New York City) were made up of entire counties. 128 Assemblymen were elected in single-seat districts to a one-year term, the whole Assembly being renewed annually. The Assembly districts were made up of entire towns, or city wards, forming a contiguous area, all in the same county. The City and County of New York was divided into four senatorial districts, and 16 Assembly districts.

At this time there were two major political parties: the Democratic Party and the Whig Party.

The Democratic Party was split into two factions: the Hard-Shells (or Hards) and the Soft-Shells (or Softs). In 1848, the Democratic Party had been split into Barnburners and Hunkers. The Barnburners left the party, and ran as the Free Soil Party, with presidential candidate Martin Van Buren. Afterwards the larger part of the Free Soilers re-joined the Democratic Party. During the following years, the Hunkers split over the question of reconciliation with the Barnburners. The Hards were against it, denying the Barnburners to gain influence in the Party. The Softs favored reconciliation with the intention of maintaining enough strength to win the elections. Both Hards and Softs favored a compromise on the slavery question: to maintain the status quo and to leave the decision to the local population in new Territories or States if they want slavery or not, as expressed in the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Barnburners were against the permission of slavery in new Territories or States, but were now the minority in the party. The small faction of the Free Soil Party which advocated abolition of slavery, ran their own State ticket as the "Free Democratic Party".

About this time the Temperance movement began to enter politics to advocate legal and/or political measures to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages, and endorsed candidates of the major parties who favored prohibition.


The New York state election, 1853 was held on November 8. Due to the Democratic split, of the ten statewide elective offices up for election, eight were carried by the Whigs, and two by the Democrats. The approximate statewide party strength, as shown by the vote for Secretary of State, was: Whig 160,000; Hard 99,000; Soft 96,000; and Free Democrats 14,000.


The Legislature met for the regular session at the Old State Capitol in Albany on January 3, 1854; and adjourned on April 17.

Robert H. Pruyn (W) was elected Speaker with 74 votes against 24 for George De Witt Clinton (Hard) and 17 for Jonathan C. Collins (Soft).

On January 20, the Legislature passed "An Act to perfect an amendment of the Constitution, providing means for the completion of the canals of this State".

On January 30, Andrew B. Dickinson (W) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate.

On February 15, a special election was held at which the Canal Amendment was ratified by the voters with 185,771 votes For; and 60,526 votes Against the proposed amendment.[1]

On April 4, the Legislature elected Victor M. Rice (W) as the first State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

State Senate


Note: There are now 62 counties in the State of New York. The counties which are not mentioned in this list had not yet been established, or sufficiently organized, the area being included in one or more of the abovementioned counties.


The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued in office as members of this Legislature. James H. Hutchins changed from the Assembly to the Senate.

District Senator Party Notes
1st Hugh Halsey Dem.-Hard/Temp.
2nd James H. Hutchins* Dem.-Hard
3rd Thomas J. Barr Dem.-Hard
4th Thomas R. Whitney Whig on November 7, 1854, elected to the 34th U.S. Congress
5th Mark Spencer Dem.-Soft
6th Erastus Brooks Whig
7th William H. Robertson Whig
8th Robert A. Barnard Whig
9th John D. Watkins Dem
10th Eliakim Sherrill Whig
11th Clarkson F. Crosby Whig
12th Elisha N. Pratt Whig
13th James C. Hopkins Whig also Postmaster of Granville
14th George Richards Whig
15th Zenas Clark Dem.-Soft
16th George Yost Whig
17th Peter S. Danforth Dem.-Hard
18th Ebenezer Blakely Whig contested; vacated on March 14
Adam Storing Democrat seated on March 14
19th Daniel G. Dorrance Whig
20th Simon C. Hitchcock Democrat
21st Robert Lansing Democrat
22nd James Munroe* Whig
23rd George W. Bradford Whig
24th William Clark Whig
25th Josiah B. Williams* Whig
26th Andrew B. Dickinson Whig on January 30, elected President pro tempore
27th William S. Bishop Whig
28th Ben Field Whig
29th Myron H. Clark* Whig on November 7, 1854, elected Governor of New York
30th Martin Butts Whig
31st James O. Putnam Whig
32nd Alvah H. Walker Whig


  • Clerk: Hugh J. Hastings
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: Joseph Garlinghouse
  • Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms: Hiram M. Eaton
  • Doorkeeper: Samuel R. Tuell
  • Assistant Doorkeeper: Almond Becker

State Assembly


The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued as members of this Legislature.

Party affiliations follow the vote on Speaker.

District Assemblymen Party Notes
Albany 1st Stephen M. Hollenbeck Dem.-Hard
2nd Israhiah W. Chesebro Whig
3rd Robert H. Pruyn Whig elected Speaker
4th Archibald A. Dunlop Whig
Allegany 1st Gideon H. Jenkins Whig
2nd Lucius S. May Whig
Broome Robert Harpur Whig
Cattaraugus 1st William H. Wood Whig took his seat on January 9
2nd James Kirkland Whig
Cayuga 1st Justus Townsend Whig
2nd Mosely Hutchinson Whig
3rd Mathias Hutchinson* Whig
Chautauqua 1st Walter L. Sessions* Whig
2nd Francis W. Palmer Whig
Chemung John M. Randall Dem.-Soft
Chenango 1st Levi Harris Whig
2nd Rufus J. Baldwin Whig
Clinton George V. Hoyle* Whig
Columbia 1st Milton Martin Whig
2nd Harvey W. Gott Whig
Cortland Perrin H. McGraw Whig
Delaware 1st Samuel F. Miller Dem.-Soft
2nd Daniel Rowland Dem.-Soft
Dutchess 1st Peter P. Monfort Whig died on February 26, 1854
2nd George W. Sterling Free Dem./Temp.
3rd William H. Bostwick Dem.-Hard
Erie 1st William W. Weed Whig
2nd Rollin Germain Whig
3rd Charles A. Sill Whig
4th Edward N. Hatch Whig
Essex Jonathan Burnet* Whig
Franklin Andrew W. Ferguson Dem.-Soft
Fulton and Hamilton Wesley Gleason Whig
Genesee 1st Theodore C. Peters* Whig
2nd Joseph Cook* Whig
Greene 1st Joshua Fiero Jr. Whig
2nd George Robertson Whig
Herkimer 1st Gardner Hinkley Dem.-Soft
2nd Dean Burgess Dem.-Soft
Jefferson 1st Calvin Littlefield Whig
2nd Alden Adams Whig contested; vacated on February 3
Jesse E. Willis seated on February 3
3rd William Dewey Whig
Kings 1st John G. Bergen Whig
2nd Samuel D. Backus Whig
3rd Samuel D. Morris Dem.-Hard
Lewis Jonathan C. Collins Dem.-Soft
Livingston 1st Leman Gibbs Dem.-Hard
2nd Abram Lozier* Whig
Madison 1st Samuel White 2nd Dem.-Hard
2nd Franklin M. Whitman Dem.-Hard
Monroe 1st Lyman Payne* Whig
2nd James L. Angel Whig
3rd Pliny B. Holdridge Whig
Montgomery 1st Aaron W. Hull Whig
2nd Hezekiah Baker Whig
New York 1st Peter H. Graham Whig
2nd George De Witt Clinton Dem.-Hard
3rd Daniel W. Clarke Dem.-Soft contested; vacated on February 18
Patrick H. Maguire Dem.-Hard seated on February 18
4th Theodore A. Ward Whig
5th Edmund P. Barrow Whig
6th William B. Aitken Dem.-Hard
7th Charles C. Leigh Dem.-Soft
8th George H. Richards Dem.-Soft
9th Daniel Willis Whig
10th Joseph W. Savage Whig
11th James M. Boyd Whig
12th Peter Dawson Dem.-Soft
13th Frederick A. Conkling Whig
14th John P. Cumming Whig
15th Edward A. Ware Whig
16th Alexander P. Sharp Whig "Independent Whig", but voted for Pruyn
Niagara 1st Robert Dunlap Dem.-Hard
2nd Reuben F. Wilson* Dem.-Hard
Oneida 1st Joseph Benedict Whig
2nd A. Pierson Case Whig
3rd Derick L. Boardman Whig
4th James Mitchell Whig
Onondaga 1st James M. Munro Free Dem.
2nd Milton A. Kinney Whig
3rd Daniel P. Wood* Whig
4th William Richardson Whig
Ontario 1st Jesse Cost Whig
2nd Stephen V. R. Mallory Whig took his seat on January 16
Orange 1st Charles W. Cushman Dem.-Hard
2nd Charles M. Thompson Dem.-Hard
3rd Andrew J. Mills Dem.-Hard
Orleans Jeremiah Freeman Whig
Oswego 1st DeWitt C. Littlejohn* Whig
2nd Azariah Wart Dem.-Soft
Otsego 1st Lewis Whipple Whig
2nd Andrew A. Mather Free Dem.
3rd St. Paul Seeley Dem.-Soft
Putnam James J. Smalley Dem.-Hard
Queens John A. Searing Dem.-Hard
Rensselaer 1st Jonathan Edwards Whig
2nd Lyman Wilder Dem.-Soft
3rd George Brust Dem.-Hard
Richmond Nicholas Crocheron Whig
Rockland John I. Suffern Dem.-Hard/Temp
St. Lawrence 1st Barnabas Hall* Dem.-Soft
2nd Silas Baldwin Whig
3rd Levi Miller Dem.-Soft
Saratoga 1st George W. Neilson Whig
2nd Joseph Baucus Dem.-Hard
Schenectady Matthew Winne Jr. Whig
Schoharie 1st Jacob J. Barton Dem.-Hard
2nd James S. Wood Dem.-Hard
Seneca David D. Scott Whig
Steuben 1st John F. Williams Dem.-Soft
2nd Benajah P. Bailey Whig
3rd Obadiah Stephens Whig
Suffolk 1st George Miller Whig/Temp.
2nd William S. Preston Dem.-Hard
Sullivan Amos Y. Sheeley Dem.-Hard
Tioga Lewis P. Legg Dem.-Soft
Tompkins 1st Benjamin Joy Temperance
2nd Eli Beers Whig
Ulster 1st Meeker Gorham Whig
2nd John B. Howell Free Dem.
Warren David Noble 2nd Dem.-Hard
Washington 1st Ebenezer McMurray Whig
2nd George W. Thorn Whig
Wayne 1st Willis G. Wade Whig
2nd John P. Bennett Whig
Westchester 1st Elijah Lee Dem.-Hard
2nd Jacob Odell* Dem.-Hard
Wyoming Alonzo B. Rose* Whig
Yates David G. Underwood Whig


  • Clerk: Richard U. Sherman
  • Deputy Clerk: Loren B. Sessions
  • Sergeant-at-Arms: Silas D. Nicholas
  • Doorkeeper: John Davis
  • First Assistant Doorkeeper: Byron Ellsworth
  • Second Assistant Doorkeeper: John Lewis


  1. see Documents of the Senate (77th Session) (1854; No. 65, pg. 41ff)