- Mar 7, 2009
Also, the House needed a quorum which would have been at least 115 members out of the 229 representatives. Automatically absent from that quorum were the 36 members of the seven Southern states that had already seceded and whose seats remained in the House but were vacant. Add to that lot the 33 seats which hadn't been filled yet because state elections for those seats had not taken place as of April 15, 1861 when Lincoln called for the emergency session. At that point it meant that at least 69 members would not be part of the quorum leaving 160 total members remaining. Out of the remaining 160 members some would be in Europe or places unknown and some would be too sick or have other problems that prevented them from making the special session. And finally, add to the list the seats from the remaining Southern states that might become vacant between Lincoln's call and the convening of the special session of Congress. As it turned out, another 23 seats became vacant when Virginia, North Carolina, and Arkansas seceded in April and May 1861.Not only that but many congressmen and their families went on vacations during the recess with some traveling to Europe. Time had to be given to contact the lawmakers and more time for them to return home and then to Washington.