George O. Rathbun

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George O. Rathbun, New York Congressman.

George Oscar Rathbun (October 16, 1802 – January 4, 1870)[1] was a U.S. Representative from New York.


Born in Scipioville, near Auburn, New York, the son of Edward and Anna Fuller Rathbun. He attended the Auburn schools, studied law, attained admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Auburn. He married Eliza Treat Gould on October 16, 1823.[1]

A Democrat, he served as Clerk of the Cayuga County Board of Supervisors and was Auburn's Postmaster from 1837 to 1841.

Rathbun was elected to the Twenty-eighth and Twenty-ninth Congresses, serving from March 4, 1843 to March 3, 1847.

During his first term he was Chairman of the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, and in his second he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

On April 23, 1844, Rathbun was involved in a physical confrontation on the House floor with former Speaker John White. White, a Whig, was delivering a speech in defense of Senator Henry Clay, the Whig nominee for President in that year's presidential election, and objected to a ruling from the Speaker denying him time to conclude his remarks. When Rathbun told White to be quiet, White confronted him and their disagreement lead to a fistfight between the two with dozens of their colleagues rushing to break up the fight. During the disturbance, an unknown visitor fired a pistol into the crowd, wounding a police officer. Both Rathbun and White subsequently apologized for their actions.[2]

Rathbun opposed slavery and later became involved with the Barnburners. He became a Republican when that party was founded in the 1850s.

He continued to practice law, and was a Delegate to the 1867 New York constitutional convention.

Death and burial[edit]

Rathbun died in Auburn, New York on January 4, 1870. He was interred in Auburn's Fort Hill Cemetery.


U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Maynard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 25th congressional district

March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1847
Succeeded by
Harmon S. Conger

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website