Paul Drennan Cravath

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Paul Drennan Cravath
Cravath 2423487202 d138468007 o.jpg
Paul Drennan Cravath with daughter Vera circa 1913
Born (1861-07-14)July 14, 1861
Berlin Heights, Ohio
Died July 1, 1940(1940-07-01) (aged 78)
Locust Valley, New York
Nationality United States
Education Oberlin College
Columbia Law School
Occupation Lawyer
Known for The Cravath System
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight 240 lb (109 kg)
Spouse(s) Agnes Huntington (1892–1926)
Children Vera Agnes Huntington Cravath

Paul Drennan Cravath (July 14, 1861 – July 1, 1940) was a prominent Manhattan lawyer and a partner of the law firm today known as Cravath, Swaine & Moore.[1]


He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1886 and was awarded first Municipal Law prize.

He joined the law firm of Blatchford, Seward & Griswold in 1899. His book of business included: Bethlehem Steel, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Kuhn, Loeb & Co., Chemical Bank, E. R. Squibb & Sons, Columbia Gas & Electric, Studebaker Corp.[2] His name was added to the firm's moniker in 1901.[3] Cravath was the authoritative head of the firm from 1906 until his death in 1940, and his formal statement of his conceptions of proper management of a law office still control its operations.[4] Even today, that law firm structure is widely called "the Cravath System."

Foreign policy[edit]

Cravath was highly influential in foreign policy as a leader of the "Atlanticist" movement, comprising influential upper-class lawyers, bankers, academics, and politicians of the Northeast, committed to a strand of Anglophile internationalism. For Cravath, the conflict served as an epiphany, building a deep concern with foreign policy that dominated his remaining career. Fiercely Anglophile, he demanded American intervention in the war against Germany. His goal was to build close Anglo-American cooperation that would be the guiding principle of postwar international organization.[5]

He was one of the founding officers of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1921. The founding President of the CFR was John W. Davis, a name partner of the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, while Cravath served as the inaugural Vice-President. Cravath became chairman of the Metropolitan Opera in 1931. He died in 1940.[2]

Fisk University[edit]

Cravath spent most of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, where his father Erastus Milo Cravath was a co-founder and the first President of Fisk University from 1875 to 1900. Cravath served as a member and Chairman of the Fisk Board of Trustee’s for over thirty years and until his death in 1940.


He had a daughter: Vera Agnes Huntington Cravath (1895–1985). She was born on August 28, 1895.[6] Vera Cravath married at least twice: to Lt. James S. Larkin, about 1917, and to William Francis Gibbs in 1927. She died in Rockport, Massachusetts in July 1985.[6]


  1. ^ Richard E. Mendales (July 1, 2001). "Paul Drennan Cravath". American National Biography. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  2. ^ a b "Died". Time magazine. July 8, 1940. Retrieved 2008-12-08. "Paul Drennan Cravath, 78, massive, magisterial corporation lawyer, head of one of the nation's greatest law firms, Cravath, de Gersdorif, Swaine & Wood; of a heart attack; in Locust Valley, L. I." 
  3. ^ Lawdragon, April 2006
  4. ^ Robert Taylor Swaine, The Cravath Firm and Its Predecessors (New York: Ad Press, 1946-48)
  5. ^ Priscilla Roberts, "Paul D. Cravath, the First World War, and the Anglophile Internationalist Tradition." Australian Journal of Politics and History 2005 51(2): 194-215. Issn: 0004-9522 Fulltext in Ebsco
  6. ^ a b "Vera Cravath Gibbs, 89, Dies; Was Active in Opera Groups". New York Times. July 30, 1985. Retrieved 2009-11-30. "Vera Cravath Gibbs, a former member of the board of the Metropolitan Opera Association and widow of William Francis Gibbs, the naval architect, died Saturday at her home in Rockport, Mass., following a heart attack. She was 89 years old." 

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