Norris Henry Cotton (May 11, 1900 – February 24, 1989) was born in Warren, New Hampshire, and was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Wesleyan University in Connecticut. While in college, he served as a clerk to the New Hampshire State Senate. He also served as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1923 as one of the youngest legislators in history. He became a lawyer after attending The George Washington University Law School and practiced law in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Cotton was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives again in 1943, and served as majority leader that year and as Speaker from 1945 to 1947. In 1946, Cotton was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New Hampshire's 2nd congressional district for the first time. He served until 1954, when he ran for a seat in the United States Senate from New Hampshire in a special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of incumbent Senator Charles W. Tobey. He was elected to a full term in 1956, reelected twice and served in the Senate until 1975.
He was a prominent leader of his party in the Senate, chairing the Senate Republican Conference from 1973 to 1975. He did not run for reelection in 1974. Three days before his final term ran out, Cotton resigned to allow the governor to appoint Louis C. Wyman. Cotton returned to the Senate in August 1975 after the election of his successor was contested.
Cotton died on February 24, 1989, in Lebanon, aged 88.
The Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon is named for him, and a federal building in Manchester also bears his name. There is a New Hampshire historical marker (number 231) in Warren, unveiled in 2012, which says that his rise from humble beginnings "embodied an American way of life.”
Additionally, The Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital is the main charity of The Knights of the York Cross of Honour.
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