Early life and education
Heaton was born in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio, March 10, 1823 to James Heaton (1779–1841) and Mary Morrell (1782–1871), migrants from the East. He completed preparatory studies and studied law as a legal apprentice. He was admitted to the bar.
After getting active in politics, Heaton was elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1855.
During the American Civil War, in 1863 Heaton was appointed as a special agent of the United States Treasury Department and the United States depository in New Bern, North Carolina after Union troops occupied the area. A contraband camp was set up near the city to begin education of former slaves for independence. In 1864, he was offered the appointment as the Third Auditor of the Treasury but declined.
Heaton decided to stay in North Carolina, where he served as a member of its constitutional convention in 1867 under Reconstruction. When the state was readmitted to representation, he was elected as a Republican to the Fortieth Congress and reelected to the Forty-first Congress, serving from July 15, 1868, until his death. He was chairman of the Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures (Forty-first Congress).
After his nomination as a Republican candidate for reelection to the Forty-second Congress, he died in Washington, D.C., on June 25, 1870. His body was returned to New Bern, where he was interred in the National Cemetery.
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