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Burton L. French

Burton L. French
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1933
Preceded by Himself (as At-Large District Congressman)
Succeeded by Compton White, Sr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1917 – March 3, 1919
Preceded by Robert M. McCracken
Succeeded by Himself (as 1st district Congressman)
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1911 – March 3, 1915
Preceded by Thomas Ray Hamer
Succeeded by Robert M. McCracken
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1903 – March 3, 1909
Preceded by Thomas L. Glenn
Succeeded by Thomas Ray Hamer
Personal details
Born (1875-08-01)August 1, 1875
Carroll County, Indiana
Died September 12, 1954(1954-09-12) (aged 79)
Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.
Resting place Moscow Cemetery
Moscow, Idaho, U.S.
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Winifred Estel Hartley French
(m. 1904–1934, her death)[1][2]
Children Winifred (d.1908, 3 mos.)[3]
Residence Moscow
Alma mater University of Idaho, 1901
University of Chicago,
Ph.M. 1903, read law
Profession Attorney
Religion Presbyterian

Burton Lee French (August 1, 1875 – September 12, 1954) was a congressman from Idaho. French served as a Republican in the House from 1903 to 1909, 1911 to 1915 and 1917 to 1933. With a combined 26 years in office, he remains the longest-serving U.S. House member in Idaho history.


  • Early years 1
  • Congress 2
    • Election results 2.1
  • Death 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early years

Born in Carroll County, Indiana, French was the fourth of nine children and moved with his parents in 1880 to Kearney, Nebraska, and to Princeton, Idaho via San Francisco two years later. A year later they moved to Palouse, Washington, and French attended public schools and graduated in 1891. French entered the University of Idaho at Moscow in 1893, but interrupted his studies to teach school in Kendrick and Juliaetta, Idaho. He finished his degree in 1901 and then was a fellow at the University of Chicago 1901–1903 in political science and studied law. He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice back in Idaho at Moscow. French was a member of the state legislature from 1898–1902, first elected while an undergraduate student. While in the legislature, he met his wife, Winfred E. Hartley. She was a Boise schoolteacher from Nebraska and they were married in 1904. They had a daughter that died as an infant in 1908.[4]


French was first elected to Congress in 1902 at age 27 and won his last election in 1930. He was originally elected as the sole at-large member from Idaho, representing the entire state. Idaho gained a second seat for the 1912 election and both seats were at-large through the 1916 election. Beginning with the 1918 election, French represented the state's First Congressional District, with the term commencing in March 1919.

Election results

U.S. House elections (Idaho at-large):
Results 1902–1910
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1902 Burton French
1904 Burton French (inc.)
1906 Burton French (inc.)
1910 Burton French
U.S. House elections (Idaho at-large, seat A):
Results 1912–1916
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1912 Burton French (inc.)^
1916 Burton French
U.S. House elections (Idaho's 1st district): Results 1918–1934
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1918 L.I. Purcell 15,672 36.7% Burton French (inc.)^ 27,084 63.3%
1920 Nell K. Irion 15,218 26.0% Burton French (inc.) 34,654 59.3% Riley Rice Independent 8,605 14.7%
1922 George Waters 13,772 26.7% Burton French (inc.) 24,167 46.8% W.W. Deal Progressive 13,673 26.5%
1924 Perry Mitchell 20,234 37.5% Burton French (inc.) 33,347 61.8% Roy Rabbit Socialist 340 0.6%
1926 L.L Burtenshaw 15,903 33.7% Burton French (inc.) 31,250 66.3%
1928 Joe Tyler 19,064 30.0% Burton French (inc.) 43,770 68.9% Gust Nelson Socialist 677 1.1%
1930 Compton White 18,657 35.1% Burton French (inc.) 34,527 64.9%
1932 Compton White 42,784 54.9% Burton French (inc.) 32,545 41.8% A. Cornell Liberty 2,614 3.4%
1934 Compton White (inc.) 42,323 62.0% Burton French 25,969 38.0%

^ Incumbent when he won seat with new designation in 1912 and 1918.


French died in Ohio in 1954 after a year's battle with leukemia.[4] He had been a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, from 1935 to 1947, when he retired. His wife had died of an extended illness twenty years earlier in 1934 in Moscow[1] and both are buried at Moscow Cemetery east of the city, with their infant daughter (1908).[3][6]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

  1. ^ a b "Mrs. B.L. French passes at Moscow". Lewiston Morning Tribune. February 1, 1934. p. 2. 
  2. ^ "Winifred Hartley French". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Winifred French". Find a Grave. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Biography of Burton Lee French". University of Idaho Library. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Office of the Clerk: Election statistics". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved March 11, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Burton French is taken by death". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. September 13, 1954. p. 6. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas L. Glenn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large congressional district

1903 – 1909
Succeeded by
Thomas Ray Hamer
Preceded by
Thomas Ray Hamer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large congressional district

1911 – 1915
Succeeded by
Robert M. McCracken
Preceded by
Robert M. McCracken
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's at-large congressional district

1917 – 1919
Succeeded by
(1st district)
Preceded by
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Idaho's 1st congressional district

1919 – 1933
Succeeded by
Compton I. White, Sr.
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