BULKLEY, ROBERT JOHNS (8 Oct. 1880-21 July 1965), a prominent banker and businessman, was a Democratic U.S. Representative from 1910-14 and U.S. senator from 1930-39. Born in Cleveland, to Charles Henry and Roberta Johns Bulkley, he received an A.B. (1902) and M.A. (1906) from Harvard, and studied law for a year. Bulkley was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1907.

Urged by Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON to run for Congress, Bulkley was elected in 1910. As a member of the Banking & Currency Committee, he helped frame the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, but lost his bid for reelection in 1915. During WORLD WAR I he served the legal departments of several federal boards. Returning to Cleveland, he headed the Bulkley Bldg. Co. and helped found the Morris Plan Bank of Ohio, serving as president and chairman of the board for over 30 years. He was a founder of the NORTHERN OHIO OPERA ASSOC. in 1927.

In 1930, Bulkley ran to fill the unexpired term of Sen. THEODORE BURTON. Advocating Prohibition's repeal, he won and was reelected in 1932. He supported the New Deal and also backed Roosevelt's plan to enlarge the Supreme Court, which contributed to his defeat by Republican Robt. A. Taft in 1938. He then became senior partner in the Cleveland firm of Bulkley & Butler.

Bulkley married Katherine C. Pope (d. 1932) on 17 Feb. 1909 and had 3 children, William Pope, Robt. Johns and Katharine. In 1934 he married Helen Graham Robbins; they had one child, Rebecca Johns. Bulkley died in Cleveland.


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, Series I, WRHS.

Finding aid for the Robert Johns Bulkley Papers, Series II, WRHS.

Article Categories