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Joseph P. Cotton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joseph P. Cotton
8th Under Secretary of State
In office
June 20, 1929 – March 10, 1931
President Herbert Hoover
Preceded by J. Reuben Clark
Succeeded by William Richards Castle, Jr.
Personal details
Born Joseph Potter Cotton
(1875-07-22)July 22, 1875
Newport, Rhode Island
Died March 10, 1931(1931-03-10) (aged 55)
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland [1]
Spouse(s) Jessie I. Child [2]
Children Joseph Potter, Jr.
Isabel [2]
Parents Joseph Potter Cotton
Isabella Cole [2]
Alma mater Harvard University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (LL.B.)
Profession Lawyer, Politician

Joseph Potter Cotton ( July 22, 1875 – March 10, 1931) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the United States Under Secretary of State from 1929 until his death in 1931.[3]


Cotton was born in Newport, Rhode Island on July 22, 1875. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard College in 1896 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1900.[4] In New York, he worked as a prominent lawyer and in 1907 became a member of the law firm Cravath, Henderson and De Gersdorff. In 1915, he went to Washington to work as a federal attorney for the Alaskan Railway Commission.[1] He became a law partner of William Gibbs McAdoo in 1919 and founded the firm of McAdoo, Cotton & Franklin. He also served as the Chief of the US Food Administration's Meat Division [5] where he became friends with President Herbert Hoover who then served as the head of the United States Food Administration.[6][7][2]

Cotton was a major policy adviser to Hoover and was appointed as the Under Secretary of State on June 7, 1929 when the latter became President. He served as the acting Secretary of State, and succeeded in maintaining the dominant influence of the United States, when Henry Stimson went to assist as the Chairman of the U.S. delegation to the London Naval Conference.[8][9]

Cotton was admitted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from an infection of the spinal cord where surgeons removed a tumor from his spine. He developed blood-poisoning in his right eye, which had to be removed. He underwent two major operations and succumbed to complications from infections on March 10, 1931.[10]

Mr. Cotton's passing is a great loss to the Government and to our country. He was my friend for over 20 years. He has given much of his life to public service and has never refused a demand of the public interest. His abilities, his character, his devotion to the highest of purposes made him a great citizen.

— President Herbert Hoover [11]


  • Joseph Potter Cotton (1905). The Constitutional Decisions of John Marshall. ISBN 978-1-58477-050-3. in two volumes Vol. 1, Vol. 2 (New York and London).
  • Joseph Potter Cotton (1909). A Preliminary Analysis of the Legal System of Employers Liability in the State of New York.


  1. ^ a b "Jos P Cotton succumbs at Johns Hopkins". Cumberland Evening Times. 11 March 1931. p. 8. Retrieved August 8, 2014 – via open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b c d William Richard Cutter (1931). American Biography: A New Cyclopedia. Pub. under the direction of the American historical society. p. 146.
  3. ^ "Joseph Potter Cotton". Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, United States Department of State. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Joseph Potter Cotton, Under Secretary of State Called". The Independent Record. 11 March 1931. p. 1. Retrieved August 8, 2014 – via open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ Robert Alphonso Taft (1 December 1997). The Papers of Robert A. Taft. Kent State University Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-87338-572-5.
  6. ^ "Hoover in England with his assistants". The New York Times. 20 July 1918. p. 4. Retrieved August 8, 2014 – via open access publication – free to read
  7. ^ "First Fruit". 17 June 1929. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Castle for Cotton". 13 April 1931. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Delegates Depart". 20 January 1930. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Death of Cotton". 23 March 1931. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  11. ^ Peters, Gerhard. "Herbert Hoover: "Statement on the Death of Joseph P. Cotton, Under Secretary of State.,"". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 8 August 2014.

Further reading

Political offices
Preceded by
J. Reuben Clark
Under Secretary of State
Succeeded by
William Richards Castle, Jr.
This page was last edited on 5 September 2018, at 00:49
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