Royal S. Copeland

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This article is about the U.S. Senator. For the Canadian football player, see Royal Copeland (gridiron football).
Royal Samuel Copeland
United States Senator
from New York
In office
March 4, 1923 – June 17, 1938
Preceded by William M. Calder
Succeeded by James M. Mead
Personal details
Born (1868-11-07)November 7, 1868
Dexter, Michigan
Died June 17, 1938(1938-06-17) (aged 69)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Michigan

Royal Samuel Copeland (November 7, 1868 – June 17, 1938), a United States Senator from New York from 1923 until 1938, was an academic, homeopathic physician, and politician. He held elected offices in both Michigan (as a Republican) and New York (as a Democrat).

Early life and medical career[edit]

Born in Dexter, Michigan to parents Roscoe P. Copeland and Frances J. (Holmes) Copeland, Royal Copeland graduated from the Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) with a bachelor's degree. In 1888, he taught school in Sylvan Township, Michigan. He graduated in 1889 from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a degree in medicine. After graduate studies in Europe, Copeland practiced medicine in Bay City, Michigan, from 1890 to 1895. Copeland was admitted to the Homeopathy Society of Michigan on May 21, 1890, and was made secretary of the society in October 1893. He was a professor of Ophthalmology and Otology in the University of Michigan Medical School's Homeopathic Department from 1895 until 1908.

Political career in Michigan[edit]

During his time as a medical professor in Ann Arbor, Copeland was active in municipal politics. He served as Republican mayor of Ann Arbor from 1901 to 1903, as president of the Ann Arbor Board of Education from 1907 to 1908, and as president of the Ann Arbor Board of Park Commissioners.[citation needed]

Political career in New York[edit]

On July 15, 1908, Copeland married Frances Spalding. The same year, Copeland moved to New York City to take a position as dean at the New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital,[1] a position he left in 1918 to serve as President of the New York Board of Health. He gained much positive public attention for keeping New Yorkers calm during the influenza outbreak of 1918.[2]

In 1922, Copeland ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate, defeating first-term Republican Senator William M. Calder. Franklin D. Roosevelt served as his honorary campaign manager for this election.[2][3] Copeland was re-elected in 1928 over Republican challenger Alanson B. Houghton, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain and a former U.S. Representative. Copeland was again re-elected in 1934, this time defeating future U.S. Congressman E. Harold Cluett.[4]

During his three terms in the Senate, Copeland served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration from 1933 to 1936 and chairman of the Committee on Commerce from 1935 to 1938. In 1935-1936 Copeland served as Chairman of the highly controversial Copeland Committee, which gave a scathing review of air traffic safety and the operation of the Bureau of Air Commerce. Copeland served as primary author and sponsor of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 which entrenched special protections for homeopaths. He was the primary sponsor of the Copeland "Anti-kickback" Act, which targeted kickbacks to federal contractors, subcontractors and officials from construction employees.[5]

Copeland was close to the regular Democratic organization in New York, the boss-led Tammany Hall. He was a conservative Democrat and not especially supportive of the New Deal policies of his fellow New Yorker, Franklin Roosevelt. He was also a friend of Harry S. Truman when they both served in the U.S. Senate. Copeland was known for his successful efforts to bring air conditioning to the Senate.

In 1937 he lost the Democratic nomination for Mayor of New York City to Judge Jeremiah T. Mahoney, and the Republican nomination to incumbent Republican Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia.[6] Senator Copeland died in office on June 17, 1938 and was buried at Mahwah Cemetery in Mahwah, New Jersey.

Office Type Location Party Elected Took Office Left Office
Mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan Executive Ann Arbor, Michigan Republican 1900 March 4, 1901 March 4, 1903
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Legislature Washington, DC Democrat 1922 March 4, 1923 March 4, 1929
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Legislature Washington, DC Democrat 1928 March 4, 1929 March 4, 1935
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Legislature Washington, DC Democrat 1934 March 4, 1935 June 17, 1938

Election results[edit]

Year Office Subject Party Votes Portion Opponent Party Votes Portion
1922 U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Royal S. Copeland Democratic 1,276,667 49.5% William M. Calder Republican 995,421 38.6%
1928 U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Royal S. Copeland Democratic 2,084,273 46.7% Alanson B. Houghton Republican 2,034,014 45.6%
1934 U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York Royal S. Copeland Democratic 2,046,377 52.0% E. Harold Cluett Republican 1,363,440 34.7%
1937 Democratic nomination for Mayor of New York City Royal S. Copeland Democratic c. 200,000 2/5 Jeremiah T. Mahoney Democratic c. 400,000 3/5
Republican nomination for Mayor of New York City Royal S. Copeland 1/3 Fiorello H. LaGuardia Republican 2/3

Honors and society memberships[edit]

Copeland was a member of several honor societies and fraternal organizations, including the Pi Gamma Mu, international honor society in social sciences, which he served in various positions, Delta Kappa Epsilon, the New York Athletic Club, the National Democratic Club, the Elks, the Freemasons, the Knights Templar, the Shriners, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the Sons of the American Revolution.[citation needed]

At various times Copeland served as President, Vice President, and Secretary of the Michigan Homeopathic Society; President of the American Ophthalmological, Otological, and Laryngological Society; President American Institute of Homeopathy; Vice President of the American Public Health Association; Member of the National Board of Control of Epworth League; President of the Michigan Epworth League; member of the Tuberculosis Commission of Michigan; trustee of Michigan State Tuberculosis Sanitarium; and he was elected three times to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.[citation needed]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ "New York Homeopathic Medical College and Flower Hospital". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Robins, Natalie (2005). Copeland's Cure: Homeopathy and the War Between Conventional and Alternative Medicine. New York: Knopf. pp. 154–166. New York did come out better than any other city in the nation 
  3. ^ Robert Dallek, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 14.
  4. ^ Congressional Biography of E. Harold Cluett.
  5. ^ Whittaker, William G. (November 30, 2007). "The Davis-Bacon Act: Institutional Evolution and Public Policy" (PDF). CRS report no. 94-408. United States Congressional Research Service. pp. 14–15, 41. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Perplexing Primary", TIME Magazine, Monday, September 27, 1937 (free access on May 28, 2008.)
Political offices
Preceded by
Gottlob Luick
Mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan
Succeeded by
Arthur Brown
United States Senate
Preceded by
William M. Calder
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from New York
Served alongside: James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Robert F. Wagner
Succeeded by
James M. Mead