Elections to the United States House of Representatives were held in 1874 and 1875 for Representatives to the 44th Congress, occurring in the middle of PresidentUlysses S. Grant's second term with a deep economic depression underway. It was an important turning point, as the Republicans lost heavily and the Democrats gained control of the House, it signaled the imminent end of Reconstruction, which Democrats opposed. Historians emphasize the factors of economic depression and attacks on the Grant administration for corruption as key factors in the vote.
With the election following the Panic of 1873, Grant's Republican Party was crushed in the elections, losing their majority and almost half their seats to the Democratic Party. This was the first period of Democratic control since the pre-war era, the economic crisis and the inability of Grant to find a solution led to his party's defeat. This was the second-largest swing in the history of the House (only behind the 1894 elections), and is the largest House loss in the history of the Republican Party.
In the south, the Democrats and Conservatives continued their systematic destruction of the Republican coalition; in the South, Scalawags moved into the Democratic Party. The Democratic landslide signaled the imminent end of Reconstruction, which Democrats opposed and a realignment of the Republican coalition that had dominated American politics since the late 1850s.
While the ongoing end of Reconstruction in the South was one of the main reasons for the shift, turn-of-the-century historian James Ford Rhodes explored the multiple causes of the results in the North:
- "In the fall elections of 1874 the issue was clearly defined: Did the Republican President Ulysses S. Grant and Congress deserve the confidence of the country? and the answer was unmistakably No....
- "The Democrats had won a signal victory, obtaining control of the next House of Representatives which would stand Democrats 168, Liberals and Independents 14, Republicans 108 as against the two-thirds Republican majority secured by the election of 1872. Since 1861 the Republicans had controlled the House and now with its loss came a decrease in their majority in the Senate....
- "The political revolution from 1872 to 1874 was due to the failure of the Southern policy of the Republican party, to the Credit Mobilier and Sanborn contract scandals, to corrupt and inefficient administration in many departments and to the persistent advocacy of Grant by some close friends and hangers-on for a third presidential term. Some among the opposition were influenced by the President's backsliding in the cause of civil service reform, and others by the failure of the Republican party to grapple successfully with the financial question, the depression, following the financial Panic of 1873, and the number of men consequently out of employment weighed in the scale against the party in power. In Ohio, the result was affected by the temperance crusade in the early part of the year. Bands of women of good social standing marched to saloons before which or in which they sang hymns and, kneeling down, prayed that the great evil of drink might be removed. Sympathizing men wrought with them in causing the strict law of the State against the sale of strong liquor to be rigidly enforced, since Republicans were in the main the instigators of the movement, it alienated from their party a large portion of the German American vote."
Colorado was admitted as a State in 1876 adding one new seat. Colorado held two elections in 1876, one for the last part of the 44th Congress, and the second, in November, for the 45th Congress.