Norris Cotton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Norris Cotton
Norris Cotton.jpg
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
August 8, 1975 – September 18, 1975
Preceded by Louis C. Wyman
Succeeded by John A. Durkin
In office
November 8, 1954 – December 31, 1974
Preceded by Robert W. Upton
Succeeded by Louis C. Wyman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1947 – November 7, 1954
Preceded by Sherman Adams
Succeeded by Perkins Bass
Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Norris Henry Cotton
(1900-05-11)May 11, 1900
Warren, New Hampshire, U.S.
Died February 24, 1989(1989-02-24) (aged 88)
Lebanon, New Hampshire, U.S.
Resting place School Street Cemetery
Lebanon, New Hampshire
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ruth Isaacs Cotton
Eleanor Coolidge Brown Cotton
Parents Henry Lang Cotton
Elizabeth Moses
Education Wesleyan University
The George Washington University
Profession Lawyer

Norris H. Cotton (May 11, 1900 – February 24, 1989) was an American politician from the state of New Hampshire. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a U.S. Representative and subsequently as a U.S. Senator.[1]

Early life[edit]

Cotton was born on a farm in Warren, New Hampshire, and was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Wesleyan University in Connecticut. While in college, he served as a clerk to the New Hampshire State Senate. He also served as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1923 as one of the youngest legislators in history. He became a lawyer after attending The George Washington University Law School and practiced law in Lebanon, New Hampshire.


Cotton was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives again in 1943, and served as majority leader that year and as Speaker from 1945 to 1947.

In 1946 Cotton was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New Hampshire's 2nd district for the first time. He served until 1954 when he ran for a seat in the United States Senate from New Hampshire in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of incumbent Senator Charles W. Tobey. He was elected to a full term in 1956, reelected twice and served in the Senate until 1975.

One of his most controversial votes came when he was the only senator from New England to vote against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, Cotton would vote for later civil rights acts such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. He was a prominent leader of his party in the Senate, chairing the Senate Republican Conference from 1973 to 1975. He did not run for reelection in 1974. Three days before his final term ran out Cotton resigned to allow the governor to appoint Louis C. Wyman.

Cotton returned to the Senate in August 1975 after the election of his successor was contested. The closest Senate election in history, it went through two recounts at the state level, followed by protracted debate on the Senate floor, until both candidates agreed to a special election.[2] Cotton served as a temporary senator until the September 1975 special election, the result of which was not challenged. Cotton returned to Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Death and legacy[edit]

Cotton died on February 24, 1989, (age 88 years, 289 days) in Lebanon.[1] He is interred at School Street Cemetery, Lebanon, Grafton County, New Hampshire.

The comprehensive cancer center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon is named for him, and the federal building in Manchester, New Hampshire, also bears his name. There is a historical marker in Warren, New Hampshire, which was unveiled in 2012, and says his rise from humble beginnings embodies the American way of life.[3]

Family life[edit]

Son of Henry Lang and Elizabeth Moses Cotton, he married Ruth Isasaacs on May 11, 1927, and the couple had no children. Ruth died in 1978 and he married Eleanor Coolidge Brown in 1980.[1]


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Sherman Adams
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district

1947 – 1954
Succeeded by
Perkins Bass
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Robert W. Upton
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from New Hampshire
November 8, 1954 – December 31, 1974
Served alongside: Styles Bridges, Maurice J. Murphy, Jr., Thomas J. McIntyre
Succeeded by
Louis C. Wyman
Preceded by
Louis C. Wyman
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from New Hampshire
August 8, 1975 – September 18, 1975
Served alongside: Thomas J. McIntyre
Succeeded by
John A. Durkin
Party political offices
Preceded by
Margaret Chase Smith
Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference
Succeeded by
Carl Curtis
Preceded by
Charles W. Tobey
Republican nominee for
U.S. Senator from New Hampshire (Class 3)

1954, 1956, 1962, 1968
Succeeded by
Louis C. Wyman
Political offices
Preceded by
Sherman Adams
Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
Succeeded by
J. Walker Wiggin