U.S. Senate, 1881 Election


Date: October 25, 1881
Cycle: 1881
Office: U.S. Senate
State: Minnesota
District: Statewide
Candidate Gender Party Votes Percent Margin
William Windom Man Republican 115 83.33 +71.74
James K. Smith Man Democrat 16 11.59
Thomas (Thos.) Wilson Man Republican 2 1.45
William Crooks Man Democrat 1 0.72
Henry Hastings (H.H.) Sibley Man Democrat 1 0.72
James J. Hill Man Democrat 1 0.72
Oscar F. (O.F.) Perkins Man Republican 1 0.72
William Meighen Man Greenback 1 0.72

Election by the state legislature with each chamber voting separately. Special election to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Republican U.S. Senator William Windom on March 7, 1881 after being appointed Secretary of the Treasury by James Garfield. Windom received 29 of 38 votes in the state Senate with Smith receiving five and one each for Crooks, Sibley, Hill, and Wilson. Windom received 86 of 100 votes in the state House with 11 for Smith, and one each for Wilson, Berker, and Meighen. The legislature declared Windom the duly elected U.S. Senator in a joint convention on October 26, 1881.

Smith was an attorney from St. Paul, former state Senator (SD 01, 1861-1864; SD 24, 1876-1878) and sitting state Representative (HD 24, 1879-1883; HD 26, 1883-1885).

Wilson was a former Associate Justice (1864-1865) and Chief Justice (1865-1869) of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Crooks a civil engineer from St. Paul, chairman of the Democratic state committee, former state Representative (HD 23, 1875-1878) and sitting state Senator (SD 23, 1881-1883).

Sibley was a Wisconsin U.S. House territorial delegate (1848-1849), Minnesota U.S. House territorial delegate (1849-1853), member of the Minnesota Territorial House (HD 06, 1855), member and president of the 1857 Minnesota Constitutional Convention, and first Governor of the state (1858-1860).

Hill was a railroad executive from St. Paul.

Perkins was an attorney from Northfield and former state Senator (SD 08, 1867-1869).

Meighen was a farmer from Forestville, former state Representative (HD 09, 1859-1861; HD 14, 1868-1870), former state Senator (SD 03, 1873-1877), Greenback nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 1877, Democratic-Greenback U.S. House nominee for the 1st CD in 1878, and Greenback-Labor nominee for Governor in 1879.


  • Journal of the Senate of the Extra Session of the Legislature of the State of Minnesota, 1881 (p. 39-40, 53). The Winona Daily Republican, October 26, 1881 (p. 1).