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 Robert Rantoul, Jr

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Robert Rantoul, Jr

  • Birth 13 Aug 1805 Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Death 7 Aug 1852 Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Burial Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • Plot Larch Avenue, Sub Division 9, Lot 65
  • Memorial ID 7870519

US Congressman, Senator. Elected as a Democrat to represent Massachusetts's 4th District in the Thirty-Second Congress, he served from 1851 until his death. Prior to this he had served for one month in the US Senate. Rantoul was born in Beverly, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University in 1826. Three years later he was admitted to the bar in Salem, and his growing success in both the public and private sectors led him to settle in Boston in 1838. He was a member of the State House of Representatives (1835 to 1839) and the State Board of Education (1837 to 1842), was an appointee to the commission to revise state laws, and a State District Attorney (1846 to 1849). One of the more liberal-minded politicians of his day, Rantoul was a proponent of codification (establishment of a legislative legal code) over traditional common law, which he believed put the poor at a disadvantage in the justice system. He opposed slavery and capital punishment, and was an early supporter of labor unions. In a landmark 1842 case ("Commonwealth v. Hunt") he convinced the State Supreme Court to dismiss indictments of criminal conspiracy against a group of bootmakers who had attempted collective bargaining; before then employers had often used the criminal conspiracy charge to thwart the creation of unions. In 1851, having already been elected to the US House of Representatives, Rantoul also won a special election to complete the Senate term of Daniel Webster; he served in that capacity from February 1 to March 3, whereupon he took his seat in the House. During his 17 months in office he vigorously attacked the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and advocated the construction of a transcontinental railroad. He died in Washington, DC after a brief illness, cutting short a national career of great promise. Senator Charles Sumner eulogized: "Massachusetts has many arrows in her well-stocked quiver; but few could she so ill spare at this moment as the servant we now mourn". There is a cenotaph in his memory at Congressional Cemetery, and the town of Rantoul, Illinois was named for him.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Sep 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7870519
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Rantoul, Jr (13 Aug 1805–7 Aug 1852), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7870519, citing Central Cemetery, Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .