Robert R. Hitt

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Robert Roberts Hitt
Robert R. Hitt.jpg
13th United States Assistant Secretary of State
In office
May 4, 1881 – December 19, 1881
Preceded by John Hay
Succeeded by J.C. Bancroft Davis
Personal details
Born (1834-01-16)January 16, 1834
Urbana, Ohio, U.S.
Died September 20, 1906(1906-09-20) (aged 72)
Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political party Republican
Profession Secretary, Politician

Robert Roberts Hitt (January 16, 1834 – September 20, 1906) was an Assistant Secretary of State and later a member of the United States House of Representatives.

He was born in Urbana, Ohio to Reverend Thomas Smith Hitt and Emily John Hitt. He and his parents moved to Mount Morris, Illinois in 1837. There he was educated at Rock River Seminary and later at De Paul University. An expert shorthand writer and only one at that time who represented that skill, he became a very close friend of President of the United States Abraham Lincoln, so close that during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, at the request of Lincoln, Hitt was used as a shorthand note taker. Lincoln had first used him in many trials in Chicago, Illinois when Lincoln was a lawyer.

In 1872, Hitt was a personal secretary for Senator Oliver P. Morton and in December 1874 he was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant First Secretary of the American Legation in Paris, serving from 1874 to 1881 and as Chargé d'Affaires a part of that time.

Hitt's former home in Washington, D.C.

He was United States Assistant Secretary of State under James G. Blaine during President James A. Garfield and President Chester A. Arthur's Administrations in 1881 and was elected to represent Illinois 5th district in the United States House of Representatives in 1882. He became Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the Fifty-first Congress. When the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 came up for renewal in 1892, he argued against the alien documentation provisions of the bill, saying: "Never before in a free country was there such a system of tagging a man, like a dog to be caught by the police and examined, and if his tag or collar is not all right, taken to the pound or drowned and shot. Never before was it applied by a free people to a human being, with the exception (which we can never refer to with pride) of the sad days of slavery . . . ."[1]

He was appointed in July 1898 by President William McKinley as a member of the commission created by the Newlands Resolution to establish government in the Territory of Hawaii.

During the last years of his life he was Regent of the Smithsonian Institution. He died on September 20, 1906. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mount Morris, Illinois along with his parents.

References[edit]

  1. ^ 23 Cong. Rec. 3923 (1892).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Hay
United States Assistant Secretary of State
May 4, 1881 – December 19, 1881
Succeeded by
J.C. Bancroft Davis
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert M.A. Hawk
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 5th congressional district

December 4, 1882 – March 3, 1883
Succeeded by
Reuben Ellwood
Preceded by
Thomas J. Henderson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 6th congressional district

March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1895
Succeeded by
Edward D. Cooke
Preceded by
Hamilton K. Wheeler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1895 – September 20, 1906
Succeeded by
Henry S. Boutell