Winthrop, Robert Charles

Winthrop, Robert Charles,

1809–94, American statesman, b. Boston. He studied law under Daniel Webster, was admitted (1831) to the bar, and was (1835–41) a Whig member of the Massachusetts legislature. He served (1842–50) in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming speaker in 1847. Appointed (1850) to the Senate to complete Daniel Webster's unexpired term, he was defeated (1851) for reelection by Charles Sumner. He was generally considered a moderate in the sectional disputes leading up to the Civil War. He gained a reputation as an orator and was the chief speaker at the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington Monument (1848) and again (1885) at its dedication. After 1851 he chiefly devoted himself to literary and philanthropic work. Winthrop College in South Carolina was named in his honor. His writings include The Life and Letters of John Winthrop (1864–67), Washington, Bowdoin, and Franklin (1876), and Memoir of Henry Clay (1880).
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Winthrop, Robert Charles

(1807–94) U.S. representative/senator; born in Boston, Mass. After studying law in Daniel Webster's office, he served in the state legislature before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives (Whig, Mass.; 1840–50). He was Speaker of the House from 1847–49. Appointed to succeed Daniel Webster in the U.S. Senate (1850–51), he was defeated for reelection by antislavery forces the following year. A scholar and orator, he published a biography of his illustrious ancestor, John Winthrop.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.