- Francis Biddle
Francis Beverley Biddle (
May 9, 1886– October 4, 1968) was an American lawyer and judgewho was Attorney General of the United States during World War IIand who served as the primary American judge during the postwar Nuremberg trials.
Biddle was one of four sons of Algernon Biddle, a law professor at the
University of Pennsylvania. He was also a great-great-grandson of Edmund Randolph, [ [http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/biddle.html#RAH0SAB6S] ] and a half second cousin four times removed of James Madison. [ [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~cbjbar/descendancy.html] ] He was born in Paris, while his family was living abroad. He graduated from the Groton School, where he participated in boxing. He earned degrees from Harvard Universityin 1909 (A.B.) and a law degreein 1911. He first worked as a private secretary to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.He spent the next 27 years practicing law in Philadelphia. In 1912, he supported the presidential candidacy of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's renegade Bull Moose Party.
In 1935, President
Franklin D. Rooseveltnominated him to be chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, then four years later, became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He only served one year before leaving to become the United States Solicitor General. This also turned out to be a short-lived position when Roosevelt nominated him to the position of Attorney General of the United States in 1941.
Serving in this position throughout most of World War II, Biddle is perhaps best remembered as Attorney General for his actions in directing the
Federal Bureau of Investigationarrest of "enemy aliens" on December 7, 1941as the precursor to Executive Order 9066which authorized the US Japanese internment camps of the second world war [See [http://asms.k12.ar.us/armem/tsang/INDEX2.HTM Chronology Of Internment Camps] from the University of Central ArkansasArkansas Memory Project.] .
When Roosevelt died, President
Harry S. Trumanasked for Biddle's resignation so Truman could replace him with Tom Clark, one of Truman's poker buddies. Biddle, who wore spats, relates in his memoirs that Truman was quite ill-at-ease. Once Truman got it out, Biddle put his arm around the President and said, "See, Harry, that wasn't so hard." Shortly after, Truman appointed Biddle as a judge at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
In 1947, he was nominated by Truman as the American representative on the
United Nations Economic and Social Council. However, after the Republican Party refused to act on the nomination, Biddle asked Truman to withdraw his name.
In the early 1950s, he was named as chairman of the
Americans for Democratic Action, then one decade later, wrote two volumes of memoirs: "A Casual Past" in 1961 and "In Brief Authority" the following year. His final position came as chairman of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Commission, which he resigned in 1965.
Biddle's writing skills had long been in evidence prior to the release of his memoirs. In 1927, he wrote a novel about
Philadelphiasociety, "The Llanfear Pattern." In 1942, he took advantage of his close association with Oliver Wendell Holmes 30 years earlier with a biography of the jurist, "Mr. Justice Holmes," then wrote "Democratic Thinking and the War" two years later. His 1949 book, "The World's Best Hope" looked at the United States' role in the post-war era.
Biddle was married to the poet Katherine Garrison Chapin. He died of a heart attack in
Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on October 4, 1968. He had two sons, Edmund Randolph Biddle and Garrison Chapin, and was the subject of the 2004 play "Trying" by Joanna McClelland Glass, who had served as Biddle's personal secretary from 1967 to 1968.
* [http://www.nndb.com/people/110/000054945/ Biography with the picture]
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