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Robert Charles Winthrop
Robert Charles Winthrop


In office
December 6, 1847 – March 4, 1849
President James K. Polk
Preceded by John W. Davis
Succeeded by Howell Cobb

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st district
In office
November 9, 1840 – May 25, 1842
November 29, 1842 – July 30, 1850
Preceded by Abbott Lawrence
Nathan Appleton
Succeeded by Nathan Appleton
Samuel A. Eliot

In office
July 30, 1850 – February 1, 1851
Preceded by Daniel Webster
Succeeded by Robert Rantoul, Jr.

Born May 12, 1809
Boston, Massachusetts
Died November 16, 1894 (aged 85)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Whig
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Cabot Blanchard
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Lawyer, Politician, Philanthropist
Portrait by Daniel Huntington, 1882

Robert Charles Winthrop (Boston, Massachusetts, May 12, 1809 – Boston, Massachusetts, November 16, 1894) was an American lawyer and philanthropist and one time Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Thomas Lindall Winthrop (New London, Connecticut, March 6, 1760 – Boston, Massachusetts, February 22, 1841) and wife (m. Boston, Massachusetts, July 25, 1786) Elizabeth Bowdoin Temple (Boston, Massachusetts, October 23, 1769 – Boston, Massachusetts, July 23, 1825), attended the prestigious Boston Latin School, and graduated from Harvard University in 1828.

On March 12, 1832, he married Elizabeth Cabot Blanchard (Boston, Massachusetts, May 27, 1809 – June 14, 1842), daughter of Francis Blanchard (baptised Salem, Massachusetts, February 1, 1784 – age estimated 29 at death, Wenham, Massachusetts, June 26, 1813) and wife (m. Boston, Massachusetts, August 29, 1808) Mary Ann Cabot (baptised Salem, Massachusetts, May 9, 1784 – Boston, Massachusetts, July 25, 1809), with whom he had three children.

After studying law with Daniel Webster he was admitted to the bar in 1831 and practiced in Boston. He served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1835 to 1840, and served as Speaker of the House of that body from 1838 to 1840.

Winthrop was elected US Representative from Massachusetts as a Whig to the 26th United States Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Abbott Lawrence; he was reelected to the 27th Congress and served from November 9, 1840, to May 25, 1842, when he resigned. He was subsequently elected to the 27th Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his successor, Nathan Appleton; he was reelected to the 28th and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from November 29, 1842 until to July 30, 1850, and served as the Speaker of the House during the 30th Congress.

After Daniel Webster resigned to become Secretary of State in 1850, Winthrop resigned from House and was appointed by fellow Whig Governor George Briggs to fill the remainder of Webster's Senate term. Winthrop's views proved no more palatable to abolitionists than did Webster's, and he failed to win reelection by the Legislature to either of Massachusetts' Senate seats in 1851. Later that year, Winthrop actually won a popular plurality in the race for Massachusetts Governor but as the state Constitution required a majority, the election was thrown into the Legislature and the same coalition of Democrats and Free Soilers defeated him again. His final venture into elected political office was as a presidential elector on the Whig ticket in 1852. Afterwards, Winthrop became an independent, unsuccessfully supporting Millard Fillmore, John Bell, and George McClellan.

With his political career over at the young age of 41, Winthrop spent the remainder of his life in literary, historical, and philanthropic pursuits.[1] He was a major early patron of the Boston Public Library and president of the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1855 to 1885, during which time he wrote a biography of his ancestor John Winthrop. He served as the president of the Massachusetts Bible Society for several years where he advocated that Christian morality was the necessary condition of a free society.[2] His most notable contributions came as permanent Chairman and President of the Peabody Education Fund Trustees, which he served from 1867 to his death. As well as steering the contributions of the Peabody Trust, Winthrop gave his own money to various Southern schools, the most long lasting of which was the $1500 of seed money provided to a teacher's college that renamed itself Winthrop University in gratitude. He became a noted orator, delivering the eulogy for George Peabody in 1870 and at the ceremony that opened the Washington Monument in 1884.

He died in Boston in 1894, and is interred in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

One of his children was Robert Charles Winthrop, Jr. (Boston, Massachusetts, December 7, 1834 – Boston, Massachusetts, June 5, 1905), who married on June 1, 1869 Elizabeth Mason (Massachusetts, October 1, 1844 – Boston, Massachusetts, April 22, 1924), daughter of Robert Means Mason (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, September 25, 1810 – Savannah, Georgia, March 13, 1879) and wife (m. December 4, 1843) Sarah Ellen Francis (Massachusetts, May 17, 1819 – Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, September 27, 1865) and paternal granddaughter of Jeremiah Mason and wife Mary Means, whose daughter Margaret Tyndal Winthrop (Massachusetts, February 23, 1880 – Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, Brittany, July 7, 1970[3]) married at 10 Walnut St., Boston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1906 James Grant Forbes.

Winthrop is a great-great-grandfather of United States Senator and 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry, and a seventh generation descendant of the founding governor the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop.

References

  1. ^ "Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions", Robert Charles Winthrop, Google Book Search. Retrieved 07-03-2007.
  2. ^ Speech to the Massachusetts Bible Society (05-28-1849), quoted in Robert Winthrop, Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions, Little, Brown & Co., 1852, p. 172.
  3. ^ New York Times 1970 Jl 9, 37:6

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Abbott Lawrence
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st congressional district

November 9, 1840 – May 25, 1842
Succeeded by
Nathan Appleton
Preceded by
Nathan Appleton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 1st congressional district

November 29, 1842 – July 30, 1850
Succeeded by
Samuel A. Eliot
Political offices
Preceded by
John Wesley Davis
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
December 6, 1847 – March 4, 1849
Succeeded by
Howell Cobb
United States Senate
Preceded by
Daniel Webster
United States Senator (Class 1) from Massachusetts
July 30, 1850 – February 1, 1851
Served alongside: John Davis
Succeeded by
Robert Rantoul, Jr.
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Robert Charles Winthrop (1809-05-121894-11-16) was an American philanthropist, congressman from Massachusetts and one-time Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Sourced

  • I confess, Sir, I am at a loss to conceive how any man, who has ever read our Constitution as originally framed, or as it now exists, can listen a moment to such an argument. If anything be clearer than another on its face, it is, that it was intended to constitute a Christian State. I deny totally the gentleman's position, that the religious expressions it contains were intended only to show forth the pious sentiments of those who framed it. They were intended to incorporate into our system the principles of Christianity, — principles which belonged not only to those who framed, but to the whole people who adopted it. Sir, the people of that day were a Christian people; they adopted a Christian Constitution; they no more contemplated the existence of infidelity than the Athenian laws provided against the perpetration of parricide. They established a Christian Commonwealth; they wrote upon its walls, Salvation, and upon its gates, Praise; and Christianity is as clearly now its corner-stone, as if the initial letter of every page of our Statute Book, like that of some monkish manuscript, were illuminated with the figure of the Cross!
    • Speech, "The Testimony of Infidels" (1836-02-11), delivered before the Massachusetts House of Representatives in opposition to a bill that would allow atheists to testify in court, quoted in Robert Winthrop, Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions, Little, Brown and Company, 1852, pp 194-195 [1]
  • Our Country,—whether bounded by the St. John's and the Sabine, or however otherwise bounded or described, and be the measurements more or less,—still our Country, to be cherished in all our hearts, to be defended by all our hands.
    • Toast at Faneuil Hall on the Fourth of July, 1845. Compare: "Our country! in her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong", Stephen Decatur (1779–1820), toast offered by at a public dinner at Norfolk, Va., April, 1816.
  • All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.
    • Speech to the Massachusetts Bible Society (1849-05-28), quoted in Robert Winthrop, Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions, Little, Brown & Co., 1852, p. 172 [2]
  • A star for every State, and a State for every star.
    • Address on Boston Common (1862).
  • There are no points of the compass on the chart of true patriotism.
    • Letter to Boston Commercial Club (1879).
  • The poor must be wisely visited and liberally cared for, so that mendicity shall not be tempted into mendacity, nor want exasperated into crime.
    • Yorktown Oration (1881).
  • Slavery is but half abolished, emancipation is but half completed, while millions of freemen with votes in their hands are left without education. Justice to them, the welfare of the States in which they live, the safety of the whole Republic, the dignity of the elective franchise,—all alike demand that the still remaining bonds of

ignorance shall be unloosed and broken, and the minds as well as the bodies of the emancipated go free.

    • Yorktown Oration (1881).

External links

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