USS Cleveland CL-55 Reunion Association

Christening of USS CLEVELAND by Mrs. Harold Hitz Burton, Nov. 1, 1941, at N.Y. Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.

Christening of USS CLEVELAND by Mrs. Harold Hitz Burton
Nov. 1, 1941, at N.Y. Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.

“The U.S.S. Cleveland, a new eighteen-million-dollar cruiser of ten thousand tons, was built in the New York Shipbuilding Company yards at Camden, New Jersey. Mrs. Harold H. Burton, wife of Senator Burton, christened the ship with a bottle of Ohio champagne. This was the first government ship to bear the name of Ohio’s first city since the sale of the thirty-one-year-old U.S.S. Cleveland in 1930. The older ship saw duty in the North Atlantic in WWI.”

Source: Cleveland: The Making of a City, William Ganson Rose, page 997.

BURTON, HAROLD HITZ (22 June 1888-29 Oct. 1964), mayor of Cleveland, U.S. senator, and associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Jamaica Plains, Mass., to Dr. Alfred Edgar and Gertrude Hitz Burton. He graduated from Bowdoin College (1909), and received his LL.B. from Harvard Law School (1912) after which he came to Cleveland to work for two years. He served during World War I, receiving a citation from the U.S. Government, the Purple Heart, and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. Burton practiced law in Cleveland after the war.

He was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1928 as a Republican. From 1930-31 he was Cleveland law director, becoming acting mayor from Nov. 1931-Feb. 1932, and in 1935 was elected mayor for the first of 3 terms. During his administration, the rackets in Cleveland were broken up; and the mayor promoted Cleveland as a convention center, hosting the Republican National Convention of 1936. Burton acquired $40 million from the state for relief assistance. When there were strikes, the mayor encouraged negotiations, but did what was necessary to preserve order.

In 1940, Burton was elected senator, serving until 1945 when Pres. Truman appointed him to the Supreme Court. In 1951 he wrote the Court opinion outlawing racial segregation in railroad dining cars, and he participated in the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing school segregation. He retired from the Court in 1958, living in Washington and he occasionally presided as judge. He married Selma Florence Smith on 15 June 1912 and had 4 children, Barbara (Mrs. H. Chas. Weidner), Deborah (Mrs. Wallace Adler), William, and Robert. He died in Washington, D.C.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University.