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Robert B. Hawley

Robert Bradley Hawley (October 25, 1849 - November 28, 1921) was a businessman and politician from Galveston, Texas, elected as U.S. Representative (1897-1901) from Texas's 10th congressional district.

Early life and education

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Hawley attended Catholic parochial schools and the Christian Brothers College there. After his father died when he was young, Hawley took on the duties of caring for his mother and siblings while still in his teens.

Career

Hawley moved to Galveston, Texas, in 1875 at the age of 21. He became a merchant, importer, and manufacturer in that bustling city for the next twenty years. He was elected to serve as president of the Galveston Board of Education from 1889 to 1893.

Political career

Hawley became active in Republican Party politics at a time when Texas was almost completely dominated by the Democratic Party. The Galveston area was a center of urbanized population, as well as of immigration and African-American population, had a higher than usual Republican representation. Hawley was elected as the temporary chairman of the Republican State convention in San Antonio on September 4, 1890 and served as a delegate to several Republican National conventions.

In 1896 the one-term Democratic Congressman Miles Crowley chose not to run for reelection from Texas' 10th congressional district, which runs mostly northwest from the Greater Houston area, including Galveston County. Hawley ran and was elected to the open seat as a Republican to the Fifty-fifth Congress. A young Albert Lasker worked on his campaign before moving to Chicago and a career in advertising. Hawley successfully ran for reelection in 1898 for the Fifty-sixth Congress.

In each election Hawley triumphed with less than 50% of the vote, due to the splitting of many white voters at the time between the Democrats and the new Populist Party. During his four years in Congress, he was the only Republican elected from Texas.

In office when Galveston was destroyed by the powerful 1900 hurricane, Hawley decided not to seek reelection. He was succeeded by the Democrat George Burgess.

In 1901 the Texas legislature passed a poll tax, which sharply reduced voting by minorities and poor whites, and essentially ended Republican and Populist competition with the Democrats. Total voter participation dropped markedly in the state in the early 1900s, leaving elections dominated by white Democrats.[1][2]

Later years

Hawley returned to his business pursuits in Galveston. In 1906, he established interests in Cuba and became president of the Cuban American Sugar Company.[3] Its success enabled him to add to his business fortune.

In 1921 he was living at 36 Gramercy Park in New York City with his daughter and her husband Arthur G. Learned.[3] On the evening of November 27, he was ill with indigestion. Administered a "restorative", he fell asleep around 4 a.m., but was found dead in his bed four hours later on the morning on November 28, 1921.[3] He was interred in the Lakeview Cemetery of his adopted hometown of Galveston, Texas.

Legacy and honors

  • In 1899, Jonathan Pierce, the postmaster of Deming's Bridge, in Matagorda County, Texas, gained renaming of the post office and town to Hawley in his honor, in thanks for the appointment of Pierce's son to the US Naval Academy. Today its population is less than 700.[4][5]

Election results

1896 U.S. House Texas Congressional District 10 Election.
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Robert B. Hawley 17,936 45.8%
Democratic J.H. Shelburne 15,757 40.2%
Populist Noah Allen 5,476 14%
1898 U.S. House Texas Congressional District 10 Election.
Party Candidate Votes Percentage
Republican Robert B. Hawley 17,757 48%
Democratic W.S. Robson 16,462 44.5%
Populist J.W. Baird 2,604 7%
Independent Frank Gary 186 0.5%

Notes

External links

  • Election results, Our Campaigns
  • Obituary: "Robert B. Hawley Dead" New York Times, 29 November 1921
  • Find-A-Grave page for Rep. Hawley.

Source

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