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Historical Biography

Solicitor General: James Crawford Biggs

Photo of Solicitor General James Crawford Biggs
James Crawford Biggs
22nd Solicitor General, -

James Crawford Biggs was born in Oxford, North Carolina, on August 29, 1872, to William and Elizabeth Arlington (Cooper) Biggs. Biggs was a student at the Horner Military School in Oxford from 1883-1887 before attending the University of North Carolina. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1893 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He was a member of Zeta Psi Fraternity as well as the scholastic honors fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa. Biggs studied law at UNC Law School from 1893-1894 and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1894. He began a law practice in his hometown of Oxford, while teaching simultaneously as a professor at UNC (1898-1900) and Trinity Law School (1911-1912), in Durham, NC. From 1894-1898, Biggs also served as an adjutant in the North Carolina state guard.

Biggs was elected to serve two terms as the mayor of Oxford in 1897 and 1898. He served as a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives from Durham County in 1905. He continued his ascendency in the North Carolina legal system, serving as a state supreme court reporter (1905-1907), and then as a judge in the Superior Court of North Carolina, from 1907-1911. He resigned from this position in 1911 in order to resume private law practice in Raleigh, NC. From 1917-1918, Biggs was given an opportunity to litigate on the federal level when he was chosen to be a special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General in charge of oil litigation against the Southern Pacific Railroad in California.

President Roosevelt appointed Biggs solicitor general in May 1933, at the start of the New Deal. While serving as SG, Biggs advocated on behalf of the U.S. government in the gold clause cases, in which the constitutionality of the Gold Repeal Joint Resolution was challenged. In all of these cases, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the resolution as a valid exercise of the power of Congress over the monetary system expressly delegated to it by the U.S. Constitution.

Biggs returned to private practice in Raleigh in March 1935. Soon afterward, the government called upon Biggs for his expertise to assist the attorney general in the Northern Pacific Land Grant Case. He also served as chairman on the North Carolina Board of elections from 1935-1932, trustee of the UNC Methodist Orphanage, president of the North Carolina Bar Association from 1914-1915, and a member of the executive committee and counsel of the American Red Cross, 1933-1935.

He was married to Margie Jordan for 53 years, with whom he had one daughter, Marjorie. James Biggs died on January 30, 1960, at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Updated September 18, 2023