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Robert John Cornell Edit Profile

United States representative , politician , Catholic priest

Robert John Cornell, O Praem was a Roman Catholic priest and American politician who served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Wisconsin from 1975 to 1979.


Cornell, Robert John was born on December 16, 1919 in Gladstone, Michigan, United States. Son of Ralph Florman and Veronica Sullivan Cornell.


Bachelor, St. Norbert College, 1941. Master of Arts, Catholic University America, 1945. Doctor of Philosophy, Catholic University America, 1957.


He earned his B.A. from St. Norbert College (De Pere, Wisconsin) in 1941 and his M.A. On June 17, 1944, he was ordained a priest of the Norbertine Order after six years in the order. Cornell taught social sciences in parochial schools in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1941 to 1947. He taught at St. Norbert High School, Abbot Pennings High School and St. Norbert College.

He was a professor of history and political science at St. Norbert College from 1947 to 1974, and again from 1979 until his death in 2009. However, he lost to State Assemblyman Toby Roth in 1978 to the 96th Congress. In 1980, he decided to seek a rematch against Roth, but abandoned his bid when the Vatican ordered all priests to withdraw from politics.

He was the second (after Father Robert Drinan) and last Roman Catholic priest to serve as a voting representative in the United States Congress. Cornell lived in De Pere, Wisconsin until his death at the age of 89 in 2009. "I lived my life for the two greatest things in this world, my God and my country," he said during a speech he made at St. Norbert College.


  • He was reelected in 1976 to the 95th Congress, becoming the first Democrat to win a second term in what is now the 8th in 62 years.


Quotations: "I lived my life for the two greatest things in this world, my God and my country,".


He was the chairman of the Eighth Congressional District of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin from 1969 to 1974, and was a member of the State Administrative Committee of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin from 1969 to 1974. Cornell was elected as a member of the Democratic Party from Wisconsin's 8th congressional district in 1974, to the 94th United States Congress defeating freshman Republican Harold Vernon Froehlich to become the first Democrat to represent this district in 30 years, and only the fourth to represent this district or its predecessors (it was the 9th District prior to 1933) in the 20th century.


Ralph Florman

Veronica Sullivan Cornell