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Robert Roberts Hitt
Robert R. Hitt, from- The Biographical record of Ogle County, Illinois (IA biographicalreco01sjcl) (page 16 crop).jpg
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois
In office
December 4, 1882 – September 20, 1906
Preceded byRobert M.A. Hawk
Succeeded byFrank O. Lowden
Constituency5th district (1882-1883)
6th district (1883-1895)
9th district (1895-1903)
13th district (1903-1906)
13th United States Assistant Secretary of State
In office
May 4, 1881 – December 19, 1881
PresidentJames A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
Preceded byJohn Hay
Succeeded byJ.C. Bancroft Davis
Personal details
Born(1834-01-16)January 16, 1834
Urbana, Ohio, U.S.
DiedSeptember 20, 1906(1906-09-20) (aged 72)
Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
ChildrenR. S. Reynolds Hitt
ProfessionSecretary, politician

Robert Roberts Hitt (January 16, 1834 – September 20, 1906) was an American diplomat and Republican politician from Illinois. He served briefly as Assistant Secretary of State in the short-lived administration of James A. Garfield but resigned alongside Secretary James G. Blaine after Garfield's assassination in 1881. He returned to Washington to represent Northwestern Illinois in the United States House of Representatives from 1882 to his death. After 1885, he was the senior Republican on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, which he chaired from 1889 to 1891 and 1895 until his death in 1906.

Early life

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. He was educated at Rock River Seminary and De Pauw University.[citation needed]

He became a very close friend of future President of the United States Abraham Lincoln.[when?][citation needed] As an expert shorthand writer, Hitt served as a note-taker for Lincoln during the famous Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858.[citation needed]

In 1872, Hitt was a personal secretary for Indiana Senator Oliver P. Morton.

Diplomatic career

In December 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Hitt as First Secretary of the American Legation in Paris. He served from 1874 to 1881 and was Chargé d'Affaires during part of his term.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State (1881)

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

U.S. Representative (1882–1906)

Hitt was elected to represent Illinois' 5th district in the United States House of Representatives in 1882. Hitt became Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the Fifty-first Congress and from the Fifty-fourth to Fifty-ninth Congresses.

When the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 came up for renewal in 1892, he argued against the alien documentation provisions of the bill: "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.

Death and legacy

He died on September 20, 1906. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mount Morris, Illinois, along with his parents.

Hitt is the namesake of the community of Hitt, Missouri.[2]

See also


  1. ^ 23 Cong. Rec. 3923 (1892).
  2. ^ "Scotland County Place Names, 1928–1945". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original on June 24, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
Political offices Preceded byJohn Hay United States Assistant Secretary of State May 4, 1881 – December 19, 1881 Succeeded byJ.C. Bancroft Davis U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byRobert M.A. Hawk Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 5th congressional district December 4, 1882 – March 4, 1883 Succeeded byReuben Ellwood Preceded byThomas J. Henderson Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 6th congressional district March 4, 1883 – March 4, 1895 Succeeded byEdward D. Cooke Preceded byHamilton K. Wheeler Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 9th congressional district March 4, 1895 – March 3, 1903 Succeeded byHenry S. Boutell Preceded byVespasian Warner Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 13th congressional district March 4, 1903 – September 20, 1906 Succeeded byFrank O. Lowden