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Theodore Elijah Burton is Born

Today in Masonic History Theodore Elijah Burton is born in 1851.

Theodore Elijah Burton was an American politician.

Burton was born on December 20th, 1851 in Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio. He attended public schools before attending Grand River Institute a private boarding high school. He then attended Iowa College before transferring to Oberlin College where he graduated in 1872. He moved to Chicago to study law under Lyman Trumbull a personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln.

Burton setup a private practice in Cleveland in 1875. Shortly after he was elected to first public office as a member of the Cleveland City Council.

In 1888, Burton was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He initially served only one term, he failed in his reelection bid in 1890. In 1894 he was finally reelected to the United States House of Representatives where he served eight terms. During his tenure he was noted for his efforts to preserve Niagara Falls. He also sponsored the bill authorizing construction of the Panama Canal. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Burton as the chairman of the Inland Waterways commissions and in 1909 to the National Waterways commission.

In 1908, Burton was elected to the Untied States Senate, this was after being elected the same year to the United States House of Representatives for his seventh time. In the Senate he served as Chairman of the Committee on Rivers and Harbors.

In 1914, Burton did not seek another term in the United States Senate. Instead he moved to New York City and worked in banking for several years. In 1916 he was considered as presidential nominee, although he only received 77.5 votes of the 987 cast at the convention.

In 1920, Burton returned to Ohio where he was elected again to the United States House of Representatives. He was reelected three more times to the House of Representatives. In 1922 he was appointed by President Warren G. Harding to the World Debt Funding Commission. He was also chairman of the United States delegation to the conference for the control of international traffic in arms at Geneva, Switzerland, in 1925.

In 1928, Burton became the president of the American Peace Society, a pacifist organization. The idea of the society had been around as far back 1815. The American Peace Society was formed by merging of several societies in states in the Northeast. As president, Burton hosted the First World Conference on International Justice in Cleveland in 1928. Approximately 13,000 people attended including several world leaders.

In 1928, Burton was up for reelection in the House of Representatives, instead he sought, successfully, to fill a vacated United States Senate seat.

Burton passed away while serving in the Senate on October 28th, 1929. This is also notable as it is the day before Black Tuesday, the event which triggered the Great Depression in the United States.

Burton was a member of Iris Lodge No. 229 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was also a member of Webb Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, Orion Commandery, Knights Templar and Al Koran Shrine Temple all of which were also in Cleveland.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.