Committee of Thirty-three (1861)

Updated: April 09, 2012

The Committee of Thirty-three was a select committee of the House of Representatives established on December 4, 1860 to explore possibilities for resolving the nation's secession crisis.

On November 6, 1860, American voters elected Republican Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth President of the United States. Alarmed by what they considered to be extremist views held by Lincoln and Radical Republicans, Southerners began escalating their threats to leave the Union. On November 10, only four days after Lincoln's victory, South Carolina was the first state to act, calling for a state convention to consider secession. On December 3, 1860, when the second session of the 36th Congress convened, President James Buchanan sent the legislature a message requesting an "exploratory amendment" to deal with the secession crisis. Congressmen from both houses responded with a flurry of proposals to save the Union.

On December 4, 1860, by a vote of 145 to 38, the House formed a select committee to entertain ideas to avert disunion. Known as the Committee of Thirty-three, the group consisted of one representative from each state. The members of the committee were:

Name

State

Political Party

Houston, George S.

Alabama

Democrat

Rust, Albert

Arkansas

Democrat

Burch, John C.

California

Democrat

Ferry, Orris F.

Connecticut

Republican

Whiteley, William G.

Delaware

Democrat

Hawkins, George S.

Florida

Democrat

Love, Peter E.

Georgia

Democrat

Kellogg, William

Illinois

Republican

Dunn, William M.

Indiana

Republican

Curtis, Samuel

Iowa

Republican

Bristow, Francis

Kentucky

Opposition

Taylor, Miles

Louisiana

Democrat

Morse, Freeman H.

Maine

Republican

Davis, Henry W.

Maryland

American

Adams, Charles F.

Massachusetts

Republican

Howard, William A.

Michigan

Republican

Windom, William

Minnesota

Republican

Davis, Reuben

Mississippi

Democrat

Phelps, John S.

Missouri

Democrat

Tappan, Mason

New Hampshire

Republican

Stratton, John L. N.

New Jersey

Republican

Humphrey, James

New York

Republican

Winslow, Warren

North Carolina

Democrat

Corwin, Thomas

Ohio

Republican

Stout, Lansing

Oregon

Democrat

Campbell, James H.

Pennsylvania

Republican

Robinson, Christopher

Rhode Island

Republican

Boyce, William W.

South Carolina

Democrat

Nelson, Thomas A. R.

Tennessee

Opposition

Hamilton, Andrew J.

Texas

Democrat

Morrill, Justin S.

Vermont

Republican

Millson, John S.

Virginia

Democrat

Washburn, Cadwallader C.

Wisconsin

Republican


On December 11, Thomas Corwin of Ohio chaired the first meeting of the committee. The members considered numerous proposals during the course of its existence, which ended on January 14, 1861. In the committee's majority report, Corwin informed the full House that the members were unable to agree on compromise solutions regarding the crucial issues dividing the nation. The committee did, however, endorse a proposed constitutional amendment first introduced by Charles Adams and later sponsored by Corwin. Nearly identical to a measure introduced earlier in the Senate by William Seward, the Corwin Amendment aimed to reassure Southerners (particularly those living in the Border States) that the incoming administration had no intentions of meddling with slavery in states where it already existed. The measure would have prohibited Congress from interfering with the institution of slavery in any state. Both houses of Congress eventually endorsed the proposed amendment, but it was never ratified because only two state legislatures (Ohio and Maryland) approved it.

As was the case with the Senate Committee of Thirteen, the House Committee of Thirty-three was unable to find enough common ground to prevent the dissolution of the Union and the onset of civil war.

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"Committee of Thirty-three," Ohio Civil War Central, 2021, Ohio Civil War Central. 18 Jun 2021 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=929>

APA Style

"Committee of Thirty-three." (2021) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved June 18, 2021, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=929

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