For the third time in a decade, the House of Representatives was deadlocked in the choice of a Speaker. After nearly two months of voting, First-term Representative William Pennington of New Jersey was elected on the 44th ballot.
The Republican Party controlled just under half of the seats in the House. They hoped that their candidate for Speaker, Representative John Sherman of Ohio, would win enough third-party votes to be elected Speaker. The Democrats sponsored Representative Thomas S. Bocock of Virginia, as the prior Speaker (James L. Orr of South Carolina) had retired. The American Party Representatives scattered their votes on the first few ballots. Sherman moved into first place on the second ballot, and he hit his all-time high of 112 on the 11th ballot (four votes shy of a majority). Unlike the deadlocks of 1849 and 1855, the House devoted large chunks of time to debate during the 1859-1860 voting for Speaker. The chief topic of debate was the policy of the federal government in relation to expansion of slavery and Sherman's role in the publication of a book ("The Impending Crisis and How to Meet It" by Hinton Harper) on the deliterious effects of slavery on the Southern economy. Bocock withdrew his name from consideration after the 11th ballot to allow other Democrats an opportunity to test their chances of being elected. In the meantime, the Americans had concentrated their votes on Alexander Boteler of Virginia, who was in second place on the 15th ballot of