My entry for most obscure Ricochet Intel question ever:
According to the Constitution senators serve 6 year terms and 1/3 of the Senate is up for election every 2 years. How did the first US Senate of 1789 deal with this? Were some of that first class of senators up for reelection after only 2 years? If so, how did they determine which senators would have truncated terms?
Article I Section 3 seems to address this, but the language is somewhat confusing.
Anyone have Michael Barone on speed dial?
Answer by Diane Ellis
As per Fred Cole's Wikipedia link:
The three classes of the Senate were specified by Article I, Section 3:
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year.
From the Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, 1789-1793:
Thursday, May 14, 1789. The committee appointed to consider and report a mode of carrying into effect the provision in the second clause of the third section of the first article of the Constitution, reported:
Whereupon, Resolved, That the Senators be divided into three classes:
- The first to consist of Mr. Langdon, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Morris, Mr. Henry, Mr. Izard, and Mr. Gunn;
- The second of Mr. Wingate, Mr. Strong, Mr. Paterson, Mr. Bassett, Mr. Lee, Mr. Butler and Mr. Few;
- And the third of Mr. Dalton, Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Elmer, Mr. Maclay, Mr. Read, Mr. Carroll, and Mr. Grayson.
That three papers of an equal size, numbered 1, 2, and 3, be, by the Secretary, rolled up and put into a box, and drawn by Mr. Langdon, Mr. Wingate, and Mr. Dalton, in behalf of the respective classes in which each of them are placed; and that the classes shall vacate their seats in the Senate according to the order of numbers drawn for them, beginning with number one: And that, when Senators shall take their seats from States that have not yet appointed Senators, they shall be placed by lot in the foregoing classes, but in such manner as shall keep the classes as nearly equal as may be in numbers.
And from the Journal of Friday, May 15, 1789:
The Senate proceeded to determine the classes, agreeably to the resolve of yesterday, on the mode of carrying into effect the provision of the second clause of the third section of the first article of the constitution, and the numbers being drawn, the classes were determined as follows:
Lot No. 1, drawn by Mr. Dalton, contained Mr. Dalton, Mr. Ellsworth, Mr. Elmer, Mr. Maclay, Mr. Read, Mr. Carroll, and Mr. Grayson, whose seats shall, accordingly, be vacated in the Senate, at the expiration of the second year.
Lot No. 2, drawn by Mr. Wingate, contained Mr. Wingate, Mr. Strong, Mr. Paterson, Mr. Bassett, Mr. Lee, Mr. Butler, and Mr. Few, whose seats shall, accordingly be vacated in the Senate, at the expiration of the fourth year. Lot No. 3, drawn by Mr. Langdon, contained Mr. Langdon, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Morris, Mr. Henry, Mr. Izard, and Mr. Gunn, whose seats shall, accordingly, be vacated in the Senate, at the expiration of the sixth year.