Samuel J. Barrows

Samuel June Barrows
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th district
In office
March 4, 1897  March 3, 1899
Preceded by Harrison H. Atwood
Succeeded by Henry F. Naphen
Personal details
Born May 26, 1845
New York, New York
Died New York, New York
April 21, 1909 (aged 63)
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Katherine Isabel Hayes Chapin
Children Mabel Hay Barrows, (m. Henry Raymond Mussey).
Alma mater Harvard Divinity School, B.D. 1874
Religion Baptist, Unitarian

Samuel June Barrows (May 26, 1845 – April 21, 1909) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Barrows was born in New York City to a strict Baptist family. After his father's death, Barrows was sent to school until he became ill around the age of 7 or 8. Barrows' doctor recommended that he leave school.[1] After leaving school, Barrows' mother, Jane Weekes Barrow, sent him to work for a printing press owned by Richard Hoe, a cousin of Barrows' late father. There he learned to be a messenger and telegrapher, as well as shorthand. He tried to enlist in the United States Navy during the American Civil War but was rejected because of poor health.[2] Barrows then went to a hydropathic sanitarium for treatment and became the personal secretary of the presiding doctor. There he met his future wife, Isabel C. Barrows, who was a medical student at the sanitarium at the time. During his stay at the sanitarium, Samuel picked up the nickname "June" because it was an apt description of his sunny personality. He then used "June" as his middle name or "J" as his middle initial for the rest of his life.

Finding a calling to be a minister, he attended the Harvard Divinity School in 1871. While there, he was the Boston correspondent of the New York Tribune. After graduating, he served for four years as minister of the First Parish in Dorchester, Massachusetts and then became editor of the Unitarian publication, the Christian Register for the next sixteen.[3]

Barrows went with the Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, under the command of General Stanley, and with the Black Hills Expedition in 1874, commanded by General Custer. In 1873 he took part in the Battle of the Tongue River.

Throughout his life, Barrows was an advocate for women's suffrage, African American rights, assimilation of Native Americans and prison reform. He fought for these reforms throughout his life and time in Congress. On the international stage, Barrows was an activist for ending hunger and achieving peace – one of his first actions in Congress was to send ships carrying grain to India to feed the starving and later he served as executive secretary of the Russian Famine Relief Commission.[4]

Samuel J. Barrows

Barrows was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-fifth Congress (March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1899). During his term in Congress, he promoted legislation that would remove Native Americans from reservations, believing that cultural assimilation would lead to equality. Also a pacifist, Barrows bitterly opposed the Spanish–American War.[5] He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1898 to the Fifty-sixth Congress.

After a failed nomination for Librarian of Congress,[6] he accepted a position as the Corresponding Secretary of the New York Prison Association where he would serve from 1899 to 1909. In this role, Barrows successfully advocated for juvenile courts, parole, probation, indeterminate sentences, and improved prison conditions. Additionally, he argued forcefully against capital punishment and the fee system.[7]

Barrows was the American representative to the International Prison Congress of 1895, 1900, and 1905, and president-elect of the 1910 congress before his death.

Barrows died on April 21, 1909, of pneumonia in New York City’s Presbyterian Hospital. His remains were cremated and the ashes placed in a private burying ground near Georgeville, Quebec, Canada.

Outside of his vast professional attentions, Barrows had a wide array range of interests and talents included musical composition and singing oratorios, studying the Greeks (he wrote The Isles and Shires of Greece), metal crafting, writing poetry, camping (he and his wife Isabella wrote one of the first books on the subject, The Shaybacks in Camp: Ten Summers under Canvas), travel, and foreign languages of which he spoke three, read two, and was in the process of learning another at the time of his death.[8] and [9]


External links


  1. Isabel Chapin Barrows, A Sunny Life: the Biography of Samuel June Barrows (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1913).
  2. Leslie H. Fishel, "Barrows, Samuel June," American National Biography Online.(February 2000).
  3. Leslie H. Fishel, "Barrows, Samuel June," American National Biography Online. (February 2000).
  4. Paul U, Kellogg, "Samuel June Barrows: A Circuit Rider in the Humanities," Sixty-Fourth Annual Report of the Prison Association of New York (September 1909): 59 and 64.
  5. Leslie H. Fishel, "Barrows, Samuel June," American National Biography. (February 2000).
  6. Thorvald Solberg, "A Chapter in the Unwritten History of the Library of Congress from January 17 to April 5, 1899: The Appointment of Herbert Putnam as Librarian," The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 9, no. 3 (July 1939)
  7. Leslie H. Fishel, "Barrows, Samuel June," American National Biography. (February 2000).
  8. Leslie H. Fishel, "Barrows, Samuel June," American National Biography. (February 2000).
  9. Paul U, Kellogg, “Samuel June Barrows: A Circuit Rider in the Humanities,” Sixty-Fourth Annual Report of the Prison Association of New York (September 1909): 59 and 64.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harrison H. Atwood
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 10th congressional district

March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1899
Succeeded by
Henry F. Naphen
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