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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURTON, THEODORE ELIJAH - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BURTON, THEODORE ELIJAH (20 Dec. 1851-28 Oct. 1929) served as a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives (1889-91, 1895-1909, 1921-28) and U.S. Senate (1909-15, 1928-29). Born in Jefferson, Ohio, to Rev. Wm. and Elizabeth Grant Burton, he attended Grinnell Academy & College in Iowa 2 years before returning to Ohio, earning an A.B. from Oberlin College (1872), studying law with Lyman Trumbull in Chicago, and coming to Cleveland to practice law after being admitted to the Ohio bar in 1875. He served on city council (1886-88) before being elected to Congress. Defeated for reelection by Democrat TOM L. JOHNSON† in 1890, he resumed law practice, being elected again to Congress in 1894, serving 7 terms.

With Cleveland improving the CUYAHOGA RIVER and its harbor, Burton promoted development of the Great Lakes waterways, serving and later chairing the Rivers & Harbors Committee in the House of Representatives.

In 1907 Burton returned to Cleveland challenging Tom L. Johnson in the mayoral election. After his defeat, Burton returned to Congress and chaired the new Inland Waterways Commission and its successor the Natl. Waterways Commission, (1908-12). From 1908-12 he also studied worldwide banking systems on the Natl. Monetary Commission. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1909, Burton retired in 1915, becoming president of Merchants' Natl. Bank in New York City (1917-19). He was again elected to the House of Representatives in 1921 and served on the World War Foreign Debt Commission which restructured payments of wartime loans made to foreign countries. Burton was active in the peace movement, was president of the American Peace Society for many years, and gave up his seat in the House in 1928 to pursue this cause before being elected to the U.S. Senate. Never married, Burton died in Washington, and was buried in Cleveland in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Burton authored several books. On 16 Apr. 1928, the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Cleveland Public Service Medal in recognition of his service.

Theodore E. Burton Papers, WRHS.

Crissey, Forest. Theodore E. Burton, American Statesman (1956).

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 04:57:10 PM

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