Aylett R. Cotton biography

Aylett R. Cotton

U.S. Congressperson

1826 – 1912


Who was Aylett R. Cotton?

Aylett Rains Cotton was a nineteenth-century politician, lawyer, judge, teacher and miner from Iowa and California.

Born in Austintown, Ohio, Cotton attended local public schools as a child and later Cottage Hill Academy in Ellsworth, Ohio in 1842 and 1843. He taught school and moved to DeWitt, Iowa with his father in 1844. He attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in 1845 and taught school at Union Academy in Fayette County, Tennessee from 1845 to 1847.

He returned to Iowa in 1847, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1848, commencing practice in Iowa. Cotton moved to California in 1849 and engaged in mining on the Feather River. He moved to Lyons, Iowa in 1851 and became county judge of Clinton County, Iowa the same year, serving until 1853. He was prosecuting attorney of Clinton County in 1854, mayor of Lyons from 1855 to 1857 and was a member of the Iowa constitutional convention in 1857.

Cotton was a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1868 to 1870, serving as Speaker of the House in his final term.

In 1870 he was elected a Republican to represent Iowa's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. While serving in the Forty-second Congress, he narrowly defeated Democrat William E. Leffingwell to win a second term, becoming a member of the Forty-third Congress. Although his official Congressional biography states that he declined to run for a third term in 1874, newspaper reports indicate that he was an active but unsuccessful candidate for renomination at the Republican district convention in DeWitt, Iowa, on September 1, 1874, losing to John Q. Tufts on the 30th ballot. In all, he served from March 4, 1871 to March 3, 1875.


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Nov 29, 1826
Also known as
  • Aylett Cotton
  • United States of America
  • Allegheny College
Lived in
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
  • San Francisco
Oct 30, 1912
San Francisco

on July 23, 2013

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