Skip to main content
Historical Biography

Solicitor General: Francis Biddle

Photo of Solicitor General Francis Biddle
Francis Biddle
25th Solicitor General, -

Francis Beverley Biddle (May 9, 1886–October 4, 1968) was one of four sons of Algernon Biddle, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. 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 University in 1909 (A.B.) and a law degree in 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 1935, President Roosevelt nominated him to be chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. In 1939, he became a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He only served here for one year, leaving to become the United States Solicitor General.

This was also a short-lived position; Roosevelt nominated him to the position of Attorney General of the United States in 1941. He served in this position throughout most of World War II. At President Truman's request, he resigned after Roosevelt's death. Shortly after, Truman appointed Biddle as a judge at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.

Francis Biddle was married to the poet Katherine Garrison Chapin. He died in Hyannis, Massachusetts, on October 4, 1968. He had two sons, Edmund Randolph Biddle and Garrison Chapin. He was the subject of the 2004 play Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass, who served as Biddle's personal secretary from 1967-1968.

Updated September 18, 2023