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He attended the public schools at Indianapolis, Indiana and was graduated from the Howe Military School, Howe, Indiana in 1899. After graduation, he attended Harvard University. He engaged in banking and finance in New York and Connecticut.
Before and during World War I, he served as captain of infantry, New York National Guard, 1912-1916. He was Captain of infantry, United States Army, July 1916-March 1918 and Captain and Major in the Tank Corps April 1918-August 1919. He went overseas with the American Expeditionary Force on December 12, 1917 and was decorated with the Purple Heart and the French Legion of Honor. He retired from the United States Army on August 8, 1919, with rank of Major and then served as the military secretary to Governor Nathan L. Miller of New York in 1920.
Compton was the deputy secretary of state of New York in 1921 and 1922. He was the executive secretary and treasurer of the Hudson River Regulating District, Albany, New York 1923-1929 and served as aide-de-camp to Gov. Raymond E. Baldwin of Connecticut in 1940 and 1941.
He was elected as a Republican to the Seventy-eighth Congress (January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1945) but was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1944 to the Seventy-ninth Congress. After Congress, he was the president and owner of South Jersey Broadcasting Company from 1945 until his retirement in 1968. He resided in Madison, Connecticut until his death there in 1974 and was buried in West Cemetery.
- Staff report (January 29, 1974). Ranulf Compton, 92, Ex-Representative. New York Times