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CROSSER, ROBERT

CROSSER, ROBERT (7 June 1874-3 June 1957) was a Democratic politician who represented the Cleveland area in the United States Congress for 38 years between 1912 and 1954. Influenced by Mayor TOM L. JOHNSON and the writing of Henry George, Crosser was dedicated to eliminating poverty and advocated equal rights for all. Born in Holytown, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to James and Barbara C. Crosser, his family emigrated to Salineville, Ohio in 1881. Crosser graduated from Kenyon College with an A.B. in 1897 and attended Columbia's and Cincinnati's Law Schools, earning his LL.B. in 1901, when he was admitted to the Ohio bar. He practiced law in Cleveland from 1901 until 1923.

Crosser became involved in local politics through his work for Mayor Johnson. In 1910, he was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives and in 1912 he was chosen as a delegate to Ohio's fourth constitutional convention. Crosser won election as Congressman-at-large in 1912 and as representative of Ohio's 21st congressional district in 1914 and 1916. He was defeated in 1918 and 1920 largely because of his opposition to the military draft. He regained the seat in 1922 and held it until 1954, when he was defeated by CHARLES VANIK in the Democratic Party primary.

Although a member of the Democratic Party, Crosser considered himself an independent who followed the dictates of his conscience. He won the nickname of "Fighting Bob" for his soap-box, street corner campaigning and upset victory in the 1912 Congressional election. His political independence resulted in his being passed over for the powerful leadership positions in the U.S. Congress and often cost him the support of the Democratic Party in the primaries. Considered an authority on transportation in Congress, Crosser served as chairman of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee (1948-52) and the first congressional Flood Control Committee. A strong supporter of postal and railroad workers, he authored legislation giving railroad workers security benefits that were the most liberal of its day.

Crosser married Isabelle D. Hogg on April 18, 1906 and they had four children, Justine, Barbara, Robert, and James. Crosser suffered from arthritis and from 1934 was confined to a wheelchair. He died in his home in Bethesda, Maryland, and was buried in Highland Park Cemetery.