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Historical Biography

Edwin L. Weisl, Jr.

Edwin L. Weisl, Jr., AAG, Lands Division
Edwin L. Weisl, Jr.
18th Assistant Attorney General, Lands Division, -

Early History/Schooling:  Edwin L. Weisl, Jr., was born on October 17, 1929 to Alice and Edwin Weisl, Sr.  His father was a close friend of President Johnson and the chair of the New York State Democratic Party.  Edwin Weisl, Jr. received a B.A. from Yale University in 1951 and a law degree from Columbia University.   

Tenure as AAG:  President Johnson appointed Weisl as Assistant Attorney General on March 24, 1965, to replace Ramsey Clark, who had been promoted to Deputy Attorney General.  During One of Weisl’s contributions to the Division was the name change on October 1965 from Lands Division to Land and Natural Resources Division.  This change reflected the Division’s increasing workload in the field of conservation of natural resources.  Weisl’s tenure as AAG, the Division helped draft legislation addressing air and water pollution.  He testified before Congress a number of times on conservation issues.  The Division also defended the treaty rights of Yakima tribe members to fish salmon in the Columbia River despite state law restrictions.  Weisl argued Hughes v. Washington before the Supreme Court, urging reversal of the decision that a grantee of land bounded by navigable water acquires a right to accretion formed along the shore.

Career:  Weisl served on a Navy destroyer during the Korean War.  After graduation from Columbia Law School, Weisl joined the firm Simpson, Thacher, and Bartlett in New York City.  After serving as AAG of the Lands Division for two years, Weisl was appointed AAG of the Civil Division by President Johnson in 1967.  In 1969, Weisl left the Justice Department and returned to Simpson, Thacher, & Bartlett as a partner.  In 1973, he was named the Administrator of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs of New York City.  In September 1975, Weisl resigned his post as Parks Chief.

Personal:  Weisl married, and later divorced, Reyna Lander.  The couple had one daughter, Angela Jane.  Weisl later married Barbara Butler.  He had a passion for the study of Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Italian painting.  Weisl served as chairman of the Robert Lehman Foundation, which supports the visual arts and works closely with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Weisl died in 2005.

This material is based on the review of a variety of historical sources, and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed.  If you have any corrections or additional information about this individual or about the history of the Division, please contact ENRD.

Updated June 8, 2023