FRANCIS B. BIDDLE PAPERS
SCOPE NOTE: This collection consists of the personal papers of former U.S. attorney general Francis Biddle. It is one of three portions comprising the larger collection of the Biddle Family Papers that include the papers of his wife, Katherine Biddle* and a series of family correspondence. (*See separate finding aids.)
Of interest are lengthy correspondence files relating to Biddle's appointments as judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (1939); U.S. attorney general (1941); and member-judge of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany (1945-46).
Notable correspondents include, among many others, Dean Acheson, Conrad Aiken, Thurman Arnold, Bernard Berenson, Henry Beston, Norman Birkett, Alain Bosquet, Van Wyck Brooks, Stimson Bullitt, Roy Basler, William Rose Benet, Richard Crowder, Agnes de Mille, Gertrude Ely, T.S. Eliot, Abe Fortas, Felix Frankfurter, Learned Hand, Oscar Hammerstein, August Heckscher, J. Edgar Hoover; Cordell Hull, Sturgis Ingersoll, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Emmet Lavery, Frieda Lawrence, Robert Lowell, Clare Boothe Luce, Henry McCarter, Archibald MacLeish, Jacques Maritain, Gian Carlo Menotti, Marion Merrell, Nancy Mitford, Henry Morgenthau, Lewis Mumford, L. Quincy Mumford, Charlton Ogburn, Boies Penrose, Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt (particularly wartime memoranda, 1944-45), A.L. Rowse, Karl Shapiro, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Lisa Sergio, Edward R. Stettinius, Adlai Stevenson, Harry L. Stimson, Leopold and Olga Stokowski, Allen Tate, Virgil Thomson, Lionel Trilling, Harry S. Truman, Robert Wagner, Henry A. Wallace, Herbert Wechsler, Owen Wister, and Mark Van Doren.
Included are correspondence files and manuscripts relating to Biddle's major works including his two-volume autobiography, A Casual Past (1961), and In Brief Authority, (1962); two works on Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mr. Justice Holmes (1942), and Justice Holmes, Natural Law, and the Supreme Court (a series of lectures, 1961); The World's Best Hope (1949); and The Fear of Freedom (1952). There are also typescripts and reprints of many articles by Biddle, as well as correspondence and manuscripts relating to a play about the English Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania William Penn (1644-1718), written by Biddle and adapted for the stage by Richard Waters.
Note on the index: An effort has been made to index as many individual correspondents as possible; however time constraints have made it necessary to index selectively for some folders. For a complete listing of correspondents, it is therefore advisable to consult the folder descriptions. If the names of individuals listed in a particular folder description are marked with an asterisk (*) it can be assumed that only those so marked are indexed and that unmarked names for the SAME folder are not indexed. If no asterisks mark any names for a given folder, it can be assumed that ALL names listed for that folder have been indexed. Also note that names appear as given or as signed, unless further information is available.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Francis B. Biddle was born in Paris, France, on May 9, 1886. He attended Groton School in Massachusetts and Harvard University where he was graduated A.B. in 1909 and LL.B. in 1911. The following year he became private secretary to Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 1912, he was also admitted to the Penssylvania bar and entered practice in Philadelphia first with Biddle, Paul & Jayne (until 1915), and then with Barnes, Biddle & Myers (becoming a member in 1915 and continuing until 1939). In 1935, Biddle was appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, a position he held until the National Recovery Act was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court that same year. From 1938 to 1939 he acted as chief counsel for the joint congressional committee that conducted an investigation of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1939, he was appointed judge of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He left the bench the following year when Roosevelt appointed him solicitor general.
Biddle became attorney general, in 1941, serving until after Roosevelt's death in 1945. As attorney general he was chief prosecutor of eight German spies and saboteurs apprehended on the coasts of Florida and Long Island during the early part of the Second World War. He also administered the U.S. wartime internment of aliens, although he disagreed with the policy as a violation of civil liberties. On October 12, 1942, he was able to remove Italian-Americans from the status of enemy aliens. After the war, Biddle was appointed American member-judge of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.
In 1947, Biddle was invited by Harry Truman to consider nomination for the position of secretary general to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); however, because of dissension among the other delegates regarding nominations, his name was not formally presented. Some weeks later, Truman nominated him as American representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council; however, when the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate hesitated to approve the nomination, Biddle removed his name from consideration.
In addition to his work with the federal government, Biddle served in official posts in many private organizations. He was national chairman of Americans for Democratic Action (1950-53); member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands (1951-61); chairman of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial Committee (1956-66); vice-chairman of the board of trustees of the Twentieth Century Fund of New York (1951-67); and chairman of the national committee of the American Civil Liberties Union (c.1964-68).
Francis Biddle was married to the poet Katherine Garrison Chapin. He died in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on October 4, 1968.
- Dictionary of American Biography (1999).
- The National Cyclopedia of American Biography .
- Biddle, Francis, A Casual Past (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1961); In Brief Authority (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1962)
Bulk dates: 1940-1966
Span dates: 1912-1968
Extent: 14 boxes; 22.25 linear feet
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edmund Randolph Biddle
Processed by Lisette C. Matano, June 1998. Revised August 2000.
b/w photograph - black and white photograph
AC - autograph card
ACS - autograph card sigend
AL - autograph letter
ALS - autograph letter signed
AM - autograph manuscript(s)
AMS - autograph manuscript signed
AN - autograph note
ANS - autograph note signed
MSS - manuscript(s)
PRN - printed item(s)
TC - typed card
TCS - typed card signed
TL - typed letter
TLS - typed letter signed
TM - typed manuscript
TMS - typed manuscript signed
TN - typed note
TNS - typed note signed
Transcr. - transcription
Transl. - translation
FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS SERIES:
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 1
Box 1 Folder 1 through Box 5.1 Folder 14)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 2
Box 6 Folder 1 through Box 6 Folder 75)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 3
Box 6 Folder 76 through Box 6 Folder 87)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 4
Box 7 Folder 1 through Box Box 7 Folder 83)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 5
Box 7 Folder 84 through Box 7 Folder 100)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 6
Box 8 Folder 1 through Box 8 Folder 62)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 7
Box 9 Folder 1 through Box 12 Folder 69)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS: SERIES 8
Box 13 Folder 1)
GO TO FRANCIS BIDDLE PAPERS INDEX
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