Skip to main content
Historical Biography

Solicitor General: Charles Evans Hughes, Jr.

Photo of Solicitor General Charles Evans Hughes, Jr.
Charles Evans Hughes, Jr.
20th Solicitor General, -

Charles Evans Hughes, Jr. was born on November 30, 1889 in New York, New York. Charles was the only son of former Secretary of State, Chief Justice of the United States, and 1916 Republican Presidential nominee Charles Evans Hughes, and mother, Antoinette. Charles was known to have always been a serious and dedicated student, who was distinguished at an early age. He graduated at the age of 16 from the Collegiate School (New York) and went on to Brown University to achieve the highest purely scholastic honor of admission to Phi Beta Kappa. While at Brown he won a number of prizes in public speaking and debating, setting the stage for his future as a respected lawyer. Again, Hughes graduated early in 1909, immediately enrolling in Harvard Law School. By his junior and final year at Harvard he became editor of the Harvard Law Review (1911-1912).

Hughes was admitted to the bar in 1913, and began practice in New York City with Bryne & Cutcheon from 1912-1913. He then worked as law secretary to New York State Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo briefly before joining the firm of Cadwalder, Wickersham & Taft, where he practiced from 1914-1916. Charles then joined his father’s New York firm of Hughes, Schurman & Dwight, mostly dealing in corporation law. Duty to his nation in the outbreak of the first World War caused Hughes to take a leave from litigating in 1917. As a private in the U.S. Army, Charles was assigned to the 305th Field Artillery unit in the 77th Division and served overseas. Hughes earned the rank of Second Lieutenant before heading back to the U.S. in 1919.

President Hoover selected Hughes to be U.S. Solicitor General on June 1, 1929. Hughes’ appointment was perceived with some controversy seeing that his father was the former Secretary of State. The advocacy of influential New York bar members solidified his nomination and appointment, as they defended Hughes’ abilities being all of his own merit. His service as Solicitor General was cut short by Hoover’s appointment of Charles Evans Hughes, Sr. to Chief Justice, after the resignation of William Taft. This appointment meant the end of Hughes’ term, since the Solicitor General litigates cases in the Supreme Court. Charles Jr. worked as Solicitor General until April 1930. While in office he defended the United States and Interstate Commerce Commission in 1929 against state railroads while advocating the Hoch-Smith resolution’s constitutionality as a measure for the regulation rates for transportation in interstate commerce.

Upon returning to private practice, Hughes became a partner in Hughes, Hubbard & Ewing. His breadth of civic involvement included serving as director of the New York Life Insurance Company (1930-1934), first chairman of the New York Mayor’s Committee on Unity in 1938, and Chairman of the War Committee of Bar, City of New York (1942-1944). Hughes was a Brown University Fellow and a trustee of the Teachers’ College at Columbia University, where he was a member of Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

Charles had a love for music, as he and his wife often attended operas and musical concerts. Hughes died of a brain tumor on January 21, 1950, and was survived by his wife Marjorie Bruce Stuart, and children: Charles Evans 3rd, Henry Stuart, Helen and Marjorie Bruce. He was laid to rest in New York.

Updated September 18, 2023