The 84th New York State Legislature, consisting of the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, met from January 1 to April 16, 1861, during the third year of Edwin D. Morgan's governorship, in Albany.
Under the provisions of the New York Constitution of 1846, 32 Senators and 128 assemblymen were elected in single-seat districts; senators for a two-year term, assemblymen for a one-year term. The senatorial districts were made up of entire counties, except New York County (four districts) and Kings County (two districts). The Assembly districts were made up of entire towns, or city wards, forming a contiguous area, all within the same county.
At this time there were two major political parties: the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democrats split over the slavery issue and presidential nomination. Two State tickets were nominated, one supporting Stephen A. Douglas for President, the other supporting John C. Breckinridge.
The New York state election, 1860 was held on November 6. Gov. Edwin D. Morgan and Lt. Gov. Robert Campbell (both Rep.) were re-elected. The other two statewide elective offices were also carried by the Republicans. The approximate party strength at this election, as expressed by the vote for Governor was: Republican 358,000; Douglas Democratic 294,000; and Breckinridge Democratic 19,000.
The Legislature met for the regular session at the Old State Capitol in Albany on January 1, 1861; and adjourned on April 16.
DeWitt C. Littlejohn (R) was re-elected Speaker with 90 votes against 31 for Francis Kernan (D).
On January 16, the Legislature elected Benjamin F. Bruce (R) as Canal Commissioner, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Commissioner-elect Samuel H. Barnes (R).
On February 5, the Legislature elected Ex-Supreme Court Justice Ira Harris (R) to succeed William H. Seward as U.S. Senator from New York for a six-year term beginning on March 4, 1861.
On February 8, Ephraim Goss (R) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate "for this day."
On February 19, Jay Gibbons (D) asked the Assembly to appoint a Select Committee to investigate allegations that he had "corruptly solicited a consideration for his official action in regard to a bill now pending before this House, to increase the salary of the assistant district attorney of the County of Albany." Speaker Littlejohn appointed assemblymen Bingham, Tuthill (both R), Hutchings, Kernan and Taber (all three D) to this Committee. Mitchell Sanford and Theophilus C. Callicot appeared for Gibbons's defence during the proceedings.
On March 7, Peter P. Murphy (R) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate "for this day." On the same day, a Committee was appointed to "enquire and report whether it be necessary to appoint a President pro tempore, or whether the President pro tempore chosen at the previous session holds his office during the present session."
On March 12, the Committee reported that it is necessary to appoint a President pro tempore, and that the President pro tempore chosen at the previous session does not continue in office at the next session. Besides, the committee opined that a President pro tempore can only be appointed if the Lieutenant Governor is actually absent, and that the appointment ceases whenever the Lieutenant Governor returns.
On March 25, Erastus S. Prosser (R) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate "for this day." Later on the same day, William H. Ferry (R) was elected President pro tempore of the State Senate "for the balance of the Session."
On April 3, the Select Committee's resolution to expel Jay Gibbons was adopted by a vote of 99 to 8.
The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued in office as members of this Legislature.Clerk: James Terwilliger
Sergeant-at-Arms: James C. Clark
Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms: George H. Knapp
Doorkeeper: Peter Kilmer
First Assistant Doorkeeper: Charles Johnson
Second Assistant Doorkeeper: John H. France
Third Assistant Doorkeeper: Caspar Walter
The asterisk (*) denotes members of the previous Legislature who continued as members of this Legislature.
Party affiliations follow the vote for Speaker and U.S. Senator.Clerk: Hanson A. Risley
Sergeant-at-Arms: Charles D. Easton
Doorkeeper: George C. Dennis
First Assistant Doorkeeper: Henry Henderson
Second Assistant Doorkeeper: Sanders Wilson