Born in Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio, Burton attended the public schools, Grand River Institute, Austinburg, Ohio, and Iowa College, Grinnell, Iowa; graduated from Oberlin College in 1872 and commenced the practice of law in 1875.
He won a third effort in 1894 to the Fifty-fourth United States Congress. He would serve seven additional terms for the 21st District. He was appointed to the Senate in 1908 (state legislatures appointed senators until 1913), serving a single term. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Rivers and Harbors.
He did not seek a second term, instead moving to New York City to work in banking. He returned to Ohio in 1928 to run for the Senate again. This time, he won a special election on November 6, 1928 (serving from December 15, 1928), filling a vacancy was created by the death of Frank B. Willis. Burton served only a year of Willis' term before his own death.
Born in Jefferson, Ohio, Theodore E. Burton graduated from Oberlin College and became a prominent Cleveland attorney. He was elected to Congress in 1888 and served from 1889-91, 1895-1909, and 1921-28. He was elected U.S. Senator in 1908 and 1928 and was a leading contender for the U.S. Presidency in 1916. Due to his work in saving Niagara Falls from development and his opposition to wasteful waterways projects, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Burton chairman of the Inland Waterways Commission in 1907 and the National Waterways Commission in 1909. Burton is credited with pushing legislation through Congress that authorized the construction of the Panama Canal and negotiating agreements to ensure its neutrality. He lobbied to fight wasteful spending and influence of big business and sponsored the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. As president of the American Peace Society, Burton hosted the First World Conference on International Justice in Cleveland in 1928, attended by 13,000, including world leaders.
From 1900-12 Burton owned a country residence in Dover (now Westlake) Ohio, built in 1838 by Thomas and Jane Hurst, recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1936 and commemorated by an Ohio Historical Marker in 2002.