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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURTON, HAROLD HITZ - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURTON, HAROLD HITZ (22 June 1888-29 Oct. 1964), mayor of Cleveland, U.S. senator, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Jamaica Plains, Mass., to Dr. Alfred Edgar and Gertrude Hitz Burton. He graduated from Bowdoin College (1909), and received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School (1912) after which he came to Cleveland to work for two years. He served during WORLD WAR I, receiving a citation from the U.S. Government, the Purple Heart, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

Burton practiced law in Cleveland after the war. He was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1928 as a Republican. From 1930-31 he was Cleveland law director, becoming acting mayor from Nov. 1931-Feb. 1932, and in 1935 was elected mayor for the first of 3 terms. During his administration, the rackets in Cleveland were broken up; and the mayor promoted Cleveland as a convention center, hosting the REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION OF 1936. Burton acquired $40 million from the state for relief assistance. When there were strikes, the mayor encouraged negotiations, but did what was necessary to preserve order.

In 1940, Burton was elected senator, serving until 1945 when Pres. Truman appointed him to the Supreme Court. In 1951 he wrote the Court opinion outlawing racial segregation in railroad dining cars, and he participated in the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing school segregation. He retired from the Court in 1958, living in Washington and he occasionally presided as judge. He married Selma Florence Smith on 15 June 1912 and had 4 children, Barbara (Mrs. H. Chas. Weidner), Deborah (Mrs. Wallace Adler), William, and Robert. He died in Washington, D.C.

Harold H. Burton Papers, WRHS.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 04:55:33 PM

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