Utah History Encyclopedia


By Jay M. Haymond
Born in Ogden, Weber County, on 20 October 1926, Lawrence Junior Burton graduated from Ogden High School in 1944. He then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from January 1945 to July 1946. He graduated from Weber College in 1948, after having married Janice Shupe of North Ogden in 1947. They are the parents of four children. As a student at Weber College he studied political science and then served as public relations director and athletic manager from 1948 to 1950. He also served as editor of the National Junior College Athletic Association magazine from 1948 to 1961. Burton went on to receive advanced degrees from the University of Utah in 1951 and from Utah State University in 1956 in political science. He undertook postgraduate studies at Georgetown and George Washington universities in 1957 and 1958.

Lawrence Burton served as legislative assistant to U.S. Representative Henry Aldous Dixon in 1957 and 1958. He was assistant professor of Political Science at Weber College from 1958 to 1960 and administrative assistant to Utah Governor George Dewey Clyde from 1960 to 1962.

Burton was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1962, defeating Democrat M. Blaine Peterson. Burton served four successive terms, until 1970. His popularity was shown by the winning margins of his campaigns, which climbed from 51 percent to 65 percent. He gave up his seat in the House to run for the Senate seat held by Frank E. Moss. Burton, who could not carry enough votes in populous Salt Lake and Utah counties, was defeated by Senator Moss.

As the representative from Utah's First Congressional District, Burton worked on the ill-fated Dixie reclamation project, which would have provided water-storage facilities to the southwestern part of the state. He helped pass legislation for the establishment of Canyonlands National Park and the expansion of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. He attached a legislative rider to the bill authorizing the Central Arizona Project; the rider authorized beginning the Central Utah Project, which will bring water from the Uinta Basin of the Colorado River drainage to Utah and Juab counties in the Great Basin drainage.

After his career in the U.S. Congress, Burton worked for John Volpe in the Department of Transportation and for Rogers Morton in the Department of the Interior before returning to Utah. He served on the prestigious Land Law Review Commission of the U.S. Department of the Interior, which helped create the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) in 1976. FLPMA strengthened the BLM in its efforts to manage federal lands. Burton currently lives in retirement in Utah.