About Robert Nelson Stanfield, Jr.
Robert Nelson Stanfield (July 9, 1877 – April 13, 1945) was an American politician and rancher from the state of Oregon. A native of the state, he was a rancher before entering politics and serving in the Oregon House of Representatives, including one session as Speaker. A Republican, he served on term in the United States Senate from 1921 to 1927.
Robert Stanfield was born near the city of Umatilla, in Eastern Oregon on July 9, 1877. He lived in Umatilla until 1882 when his family moved to Pendleton where his father ran a freight forwarding business. In 1885, the family moved to the former Buel Atwood place on Butter Creek, near Echo, Oregon. After the family moved to Butter Creek, he attended school at the Thomson School and then at the Butter Creek School built on land his father donated to the school district.
In the fall of 1895, he enrolled in the state normal school at neighboring Weston. His education was interrupted by the death of his father, Robert N. Stanfield, Sr., on April 15, 1896. He left school in 1897, after completing two years, and took over management of the Stanfield ranch on Butter Creek from his mother. From the original ranch on Butter Creek, he and his brothers built up a large livestock organization with multiple ranches. He was also involved in banking in Echo and Baker. He started with cattle and then switched mainly to sheep. During World War I his herd was estimated to include 350,000 head of sheep, making him the world's largest sheep rancher.
In 1912, Stanfield was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Republican representing District 22 which included Morrow and Umatilla counties. He continued in the state house through 1917, serving as Speaker during the 1917 session. The next year, he ran against Charles L. McNary for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, losing in the May primary.
In 1920, Stanfield was elected as a Republican to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1921, to March 4, 1927. While in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee to Examine Branches of the Civil Service (Sixty-eighth Congress) and a member of the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys (Sixty-ninth Congress). During his time in Congress, he took hearings about public land use to the western states for the first time. He considered his greatest success the construction of the Owyhee Dam and irrigation projects in Malheur County, one of the first desert land reclamation projects. His reputation was rough and ready. In the midst of prohibition, he was arrested following a drunken bar fight in Baker, Oregon. When he ran for re-election, his major opponents were the WCTU and the KKK. His admiring cowboy constituency could not elect him.
He ran for the Republican nomination in 1926. He lost in the May primary election to Frederick Steiwer. He then earned a position on the general election ballot as an independent candidate. He lost to Steiwer a second time.
He ran in the 1928 primary to be a candidate for Representative and was defeated again.
After Congress he returned to Oregon and resumed his former business pursuits, and in 1945 died in Weiser, Idaho. Robert Stanfield was buried in Hillcrest Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Inez Hill and one daughter, Barbara.