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Norris Cotton
Norris Cotton.jpg
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
August 8, 1975 – September 18, 1975
Appointed byMeldrim Thomson Jr.
Preceded byLouis C. Wyman
Succeeded byJohn A. Durkin
In office
November 8, 1954 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byRobert W. Upton
Succeeded byLouis 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 bySherman Adams
Succeeded byPerkins Bass
Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Norris Henry Cotton

(1900-05-11)May 11, 1900
Warren, New Hampshire, U.S.
DiedFebruary 24, 1989(1989-02-24) (aged 88)
Lebanon, New Hampshire, U.S.
Resting placeSchool Street Cemetery
Lebanon, New Hampshire
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ruth Isaacs Cotton
Eleanor Coolidge Brown Cotton
ParentsHenry Lang Cotton
Elizabeth Moses
EducationWesleyan University
The George Washington University

Norris Henry 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

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. He was the son of Henry Lang and Elizabeth Moses Cotton. 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 congressional 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.

Cotton voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957,[2] 1960,[3] and 1968,[4] as well as the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,[5] the Voting Rights Act of 1965,[6] and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court,[7] but against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Cotton was the only New England senator do so.[8] 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.[9] 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. Cotton was the last senator to return to the senate via appointment for 43 years until Arizona's former Senator Jon Kyl was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey in 2018 following the death of Senator John McCain.

Death and legacy

Cotton died on February 24, 1989, in Lebanon, aged 88.[1] He is interred at School Street Cemetery in Lebanon.

The Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon is named for him, and a federal building in Manchester also bears his name.[10] There is a New Hampshire historical marker (number 231) in Warren, unveiled in 2012, which says that his rise from humble beginnings "embodied an American way of life."[11]

Family life

He married Ruth Isaacs on May 11, 1927. They had no children. Ruth died in 1978 and he married Eleanor Coolidge Brown in 1980.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Norris Cotton, 88, Former New Hampshire Senator". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  2. ^ "HR. 6127. CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1957".
  6. ^ "TO PASS S. 1564, THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965".
  8. ^ "HR. 7152. PASSAGE".
  9. ^ "U.S. Senate: Art & History Home > Historical Minutes > 1964-Present > Closest Election in Senate History". Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  10. ^ "Norris Cotton Federal Building". Emporis. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "New NH marker honors former Sen. Norris Cotton". AP. July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2014.

External links

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
This page was last edited on 2 June 2021, at 00:12
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