Robert Roberts Hitt
|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
December 4, 1882 - September 20, 1906
|Robert M.A. Hawk (5th)|
Thomas J. Henderson (6th)
Thomas J. Henderson (9th)
Vespasian Warner (13th)
|Reuben Ellwood (5th)|
Edward D. Cooke (6th)
Henry S. Boutell (9th)
Frank O. Lowden (13th)
|Constituency||5th district (1882-1883)|
6th district (1883-1895)
9th district (1895-1903)
13th district (1903-1906)
|13th United States Assistant Secretary of State|
May 4, 1881 - December 19, 1881
|J.C. Bancroft Davis|
|Born||January 16, 1834|
Urbana, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||September 20, 1906 (aged 72)|
Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island, U.S.
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. There he was educated at Rock River Seminary and later at De Pauw University. An expert shorthand writer (one of few men of his time who represented that skill), he became a very close friend of future President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, at the request of Lincoln, Hitt served as a shorthand note-taker. Lincoln's legal days in Chicago is when he had first employed Hitt.
In 1872, Hitt was a personal secretary for Indiana Senator Oliver P. Morton, In December 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him First Secretary of the American Legation in Paris; he served from 1874 to 1881, and as Chargé d'Affaires a part of that time.
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 and 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. ..."
During the last years of his life, he was Regent of the Smithsonian Institution.
He died on September 20, 1906. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Mount Morris, Illinois, along with his parents.