Robert J. Bulkley
United States Senator
from Ohio
In office
December 1, 1930 – January 3, 1939
Preceded byRoscoe C. McCulloch
Succeeded byRobert A. Taft
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 21st district
In office
March 4, 1911 – March 3, 1915
Preceded byJames H. Cassidy
Succeeded byRobert Crosser
Personal details
Robert Johns Bulkley

(1880-10-08)October 8, 1880
Cleveland, Ohio
DiedJuly 21, 1965(1965-07-21) (aged 84)
Cleveland, Ohio
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Katherine Pope, Helen Robbins
Alma materHarvard University

Robert Johns Bulkley (October 8, 1880 – July 21, 1965) was a United States Democratic Party politician from Ohio. He served in the United States House of Representatives, and in the United States Senate from 1930 until 1939.

Life and career

Bulkley was born to a wealthy family in Cleveland, Ohio in 1880. He attended the private University School before graduating from Harvard College and law school. He commenced the practice of law in Cleveland, Ohio in 1906. Bulkley served two terms in the House from 1911-1915 from the 21st District on Cleveland's East Side. During World War One he served as chief of the legal section of the War Industries Board. He was later elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Theodore E. Burton. Bulkley was re-elected in 1932, but lost a bid for a second full term in 1938 to Robert A. Taft. After his term in the Senate ended, he resumed his practice of law.[1]

While a member of the House of Representatives, Bulkley became an expert on banking. He helped frame the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the Federal Farm Loan Act, which would not pass until 1916.[2]

Bulkley knew Franklin D. Roosevelt from their college days when they worked together on the Harvard Crimson. student newspaper. Senator Bulkley praised President Roosevelt and most of the New Deal, and doled out a great deal of federal patronage. He was a moderate, midway between the liberals and the conservatives. He voted against key New Deal laws such the National Industrial Recovery Act, Tennessee Valley Authority, Agricultural Adjustment Act, Works Progress Administration, soil conservation, and against the wages and hours legislation. Nevertheless, when Roosevelt was trying to purge the Democratic conservatives in 1938, he went to Ohio to praise and endorse Bulkley. The decisive factor for Roosevelt was that Bulkey had voted YEA on the two critical 1937 bills to for court-packing and for executive reorganization.[3]

The Bulkley Building located in Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio is named after him.

Bulkley was married February 17, 1909 to Katherine Pope of Helena, Montana.[4][5]

Electoral history

Ohio 1938 Senate Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Robert A. Taft 1,255,414 53.62%
Democratic Robert J. Bulkley (Incumbent) 1,085,792 46.38%
Majority 169,622 7.24%
Turnout 2,341,206
Republican gain from Democratic
Ohio 1932 Senate Election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert J. Bulkley (Incumbent) 1,293,175 52.53%
Republican Gilbert Bettman 1,126,832 45.77%
Prohibition Frank M. Mecartney 34,760 1.41%
Communist I. O. Ford 7,227 0.29%
Majority 166,343 6.76%
Turnout 2,461,994
Democratic hold
United States Senate special election in Ohio, 1930
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert J. Bulkley 1,046,561 54.78%
Republican Roscoe C. McCulloch 863,944 45.22%
Majority 182,617 9.56%
Turnout 1,910,505
Democratic gain from Republican


  1. ^ "BULKLEY, Robert Johns". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  2. ^ "OHJ Archive". Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  3. ^ Susan Dunn, Roosevelt's Purge: How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party (2010) pp. 121–122.
  4. ^ Neff, William B, ed. (1921). Bench and Bar of Northern Ohio History and Biography. Cleveland: The Historical Publishing Company. p. 310.
  5. ^ Powell, Thomas Edward, ed. (1913). The Democratic party of the state of Ohio: a comprehensive history. Vol. 2. The Ohio Publishing Company.