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Rousseau Angelus Burch

Photograph of Rousseau Angelus Burch

Kansas Supreme Court Justice.  Born: August 4, 1862, Williamsport, Indiana.  Married: Clara Louisa Teague, September 25, 1889.  Died:  January 29,1944, Topeka, Kansas.

Born in an Indiana log cabin in 1862, R.A. (Rousseau Angelus) Burch emigrated with his family to Saline County, Kansas in 1869 and rose to become an outstanding justice of the Kansas Supreme Court. 

After graduating from Salina High School in 1879, Burch taught in country schools before continuing his education and graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 1885. Returning to Kansas, he practiced law successfully in Salina until 1902, when he was appointed to a vacant seat on the state supreme court. Thus began 35 years of service as justice and finally chief justice of the high court of Kansas from July 1, 1935 through January 11, 1937.

Ever a scholar, Justice Burch rapidly developed a reputation for clear and concise analytical reasoning, expressed in a style so lucid and trenchant that it was said he had the "faculty of making himself understood, no matter how obtuse the subject nor how obtuse his audience." Among the over 1,900 formal opinions he authored were many which are regarded as classics in the law. In 1937, Burch left the court to become Dean of the Washburn Law School, where he had taught since 1909. Ill health due to injuries from an auto accident cut short his service to Washburn after a scant two years and he passed away on Kansas Day 1944.

Entry: Burch, Rousseau Angelus

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2003

Date Modified: January 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.