Bulkley, Robert J. (Robert Johns), 1911-1962

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Robert Johns Bulkley (1880-1965) distinguished himself in the fields of law, business, politics, and public service. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he was born on October 8, 1880, to Charles Henry and Roberta (Johns) Bulkley. His father, a prominent and wealthy businessman, was in large part responsible for the development of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System. Robert Johns Bulkley attended Brooks Military Academy and graduated from University School in 1898. He entered Harvard University in 1900 and was editor of the Crimson in his senior year. After graduation in 1902, Bulkley took a year-long trip around the world with Harry M. Ayres. He then returned to Harvard Law School where he took a special two year program leading to a Master of Arts degree. Upon his return to Cleveland, Bulkley joined the law firm of Henderson, Quail and Siddell. In 1909 he helped to establish the firm of Bulkley, Hauxhurst, Saeger and Jamison.

In 1910 Bulkley ran for United States Congress as a Democrat and waged a successful campaign while concentrating on the tariff question. During his two terms in the House, he was an active member of the Banking and Currency Committee, and of the Glass Subcommittee which drafted the Federal Reserve Act. He was also chairman of the House subcommittee on Rural Credits which laid the groundwork for the Farm Loan Act passed by the next Congress.

Defeated for in his bid for reelection in 1914, Bulkley returned to Cleveland where he participated in the organization of The Morris Plan Bank of Cleveland, of which he served as president and chairman of the board during the next thirty-eight years.

When World War I began, Bulkley returned to Washington where he served as chief legal officer for the General Munitions Board. When this board was reorganized as the War Industries Board, Bulkley became its chief legal counsel. He also reorganized the legal department of the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation during this period.

After the war, Bulkley served as the president of the Bulkley Building Company which erected the four million dollar Bulkley Building on Cleveland's Euclid Avenue. In 1927 Bulkley helped to organize the Northern Ohio Opera Association which brought the city government and over 500 individual guarantors together in a partnership in order to underwrite the expenses of bringing the Metropolitan Opera to Cleveland. Bulkley was a principle figure behind the Opera Association until 1939.

Bulkley again became active in politics during the late 1920s when he became chairman of the Cuyahoga County Campaign Committee for Alfred E. Smith. In 1930 Bulkley ran for the United States Senate and was elected for a two year period, filling the position vacated when Theodore Burton died. The campaign of 1930 centered on the Prohibition issue with Bulkley leading the "wet" forces in a traditionally dry state. In 1932 Bulkley ran again and was elected to a full term. He remained in the Senate until 1939 when his seat was taken by Robert A. Taft. While in the Senate he was active on the Banking and Currency Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Commerce and Manufactures Committee. He helped formulate the Banking Acts of 1933 and 1935, and established a reputation as an ardent supporter of the New Deal.

After his defeat by Robert A. Taft in 1938, Bulkley returned to banking and to the practice of law. He formed the law firm of Bulkley, Butler, and Rini with offices in Cleveland and Washington, D. C. When the Second World War broke out, Bulkley served on the United States Board of Appeals in visa cases. In the post-war era, he was a director of the Pere Marquette Railway until it merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and was a member of the Cuyahoga County Charter Commission from 1948-1950. In 1952, he was Ohio's favorite son candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

Bulkley was a member of the Wilberforce Foundation, an honorary trustee of University School, a director of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Cleveland and Ohio Bar Associations, and was active in numerous social clubs. He was a delegate to the Democratic Conventions of 1912, 1916, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, and 1960.

Robert J. Bulkley died on July 21, 1965, at the age of 84. He was survived by his wife, the former Helen Graham Robbins, whom he married in 1934. His first wife, Katharine Pope Bulkley, died in 1932.

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Robert Johns Bulkley

From the guide to the Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, Series II, 1890-1941, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

click here to view the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History entry for Robert Johns Bulkley

Robert Johns Bulkley (1880-1965) distinguished himself in the fields of law, business, politics, and public service. He was born on October 8, 1880, in Cleveland, Ohio, to Charles Henry and Roberta (Johns) Bulkley. His father, a prominent and wealthy businessman, was in large part responsible for the development of the Cleveland Metropolitan Park System. Robert Johns Bulkley attended Brooks Military Academy and graduated from University School, University Heights, Ohio, in 1898. He entered Harvard University in 1900 and was editor of the Crimson in his senior year. After graduation in 1902, Bulkley took a year-long trip around the world with Harry M. Ayres. He then returned to the Harvard Law School where he took a special two year program leading to a Master of the Arts degree. Upon his return to Cleveland, Bulkley joined the law firm of Henderson, Quail and Siddell. In 1909, he helped to establish the firm of Bulkley, Hauxhurst, Saeger and Jamison. Also in 1909, he married Katharine Pope.

In 1910, Bulkley ran for Congress as a Democrat and waged a successful campaign against Republican incumbent James H. Cassidy while concentrating on the tariff question. He was reelected in 1912 in a campaign against Frederick L. Taft. During his two terms in the House, he was an active member of the Banking and Currency Committee and of the Glass Subcommittee which drafted the Federal Reserve Act. He was also chairman of the House Subcommittee on Rural Credits which laid the groundwork for the Farm Loan Act passed by the next congress.

In 1914, Bulkley was defeated in the Democratic primary by Robert Crosser. He returned to Cleveland where, in 1916, he participated in the organization of The Morris Plan Bank of Cleveland, of which he served as president and chairman of the board during the next thirty-eight years.

When World War I began, Bulkley returned to Washington where, beginning in 1917, he served as the chief legal officer for the General Munitions Board. When this board was reorganized as the War Industries Board, Bulkley became its chief legal counsel. He also reorganized the legal department of the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation during this period.

After the war, Bulkley served as the president of the Bulkley Building Company which erected the four million dollar Bulkley Building on Cleveland's Euclid Avenue. In 1927 Bulkley helped to organize the Northern Ohio Opera Association which brought the city government and over 500 individual guarantors together in a partnership in order to underwrite the expenses of bringing the Metropolitan Opera to Cleveland. Bulkley was a principle figure behind the Opera Association until 1939.

Bulkley again became active in politics during the late 1920s when he became chairman of the Cuyahoga County Campaign Committee for Alfred E. Smith. In 1930 Bulkley ran for the United States Senate and was elected for a two year period, filling the position vacated when Theodore Burton died. The campaign of 1930 centered on the Prohibition issue with Bulkley leading the "wet" forces in a traditionally dry state. In 1932 Bulkley ran again and was elected to a full term. He remained in the Senate until 1939 when his seat was taken by Robert A. Taft. While in the Senate he was active on the Banking and Currency Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Commerce and Manufactures Committee. He helped formulate the Banking Acts of 1933 and 1935, and established a reputation as an ardent supporter of the New Deal.

After his defeat by Robert A. Taft in 1938, Bulkley returned to banking and to the practice of law. He formed the law firm of Bulkley, Butler, and Rini with offices in Cleveland and Washington, D. C. When the Second World War broke out, Bulkley served on the United States Board of Appeals in visa cases. In the post-war era, he was a director of the Pere Marquette Railway until it merged with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, and was a member of the Cuyahoga County Charter Commission from 1948-1950. In 1952, he was Ohio's favorite son candidate for the Democratic nomination for President.

Bulkley was a member of the Wilberforce Foundation, an honorary trustee of University School, a director of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Cleveland and Ohio Bar Associations, and was active in numerous social clubs. He was a delegate to the Democratic Conventions of 1912, 1916, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, and 1960.

Robert J. Bulkley died on July 21, 1965, at the age of 84. He was survived by his wife, the former Helen Graham Robbins, whom he married in 1934. His first wife, Katharine Pope Bulkley, died in 1932.

From the guide to the Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, 1886-1967, (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Fetter mss., 1875-1988 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Foreign Relations. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1934. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn William Roscoe Thayer papers, 1762-1927 (inclusive), 1872-1921 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, Series II, 1890-1941 Western Reserve Historical Society
creatorOf Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, 1886-1967 Western Reserve Historical Society
referencedIn Ludlow mss., 1898-1948 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly
Role Title Holding Repository
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Legislators--United States--Correspondence
Democratic Party (U.S.)
Prohibition--Ohio--History--Sources
United States. General Munitions Board
Presidents--United States--Election--1932
Society for Savings in the City of Cleveland--History
Presidential candidates--United States
Bulkley, Robert Johns, 1880-1965
United States--Politics and government--1901-1953
Hasty Pudding Club
Prohibition--United States
Currency question--United States
Occupation
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Person

Birth 1911

Death 1962

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