Cordenio Severance

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Cordenio Arnold Severance (1862 - 1925) was an American lawyer from Minnesota. He co-founded the American Law Institute and served as President of the American Bar Association. His wife known as Mrs. Cordenio A. Severance published the book Indian Legends of Minnesota.


Severance was born in Mantorville, Minnesota in 1862. He attended Carleton College from 1877 to 1880 and then read law from 1882 to 1883 in Kasson, Minnesota. He was admitted to the state bar and by 1887, he had entered into partnership in St. Paul with former U.S. Attorney and Governor Cushman Davis and future U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Frank Kellogg. The law firm of Davis, Kellogg & Severance (known today as Briggs and Morgan) won national acclaim to such an extent that U.S. Steel retained Severance to defend them against the federal government in various lawsuits before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Through his personal connections, Severance also maintained a high profile in civic affairs. From 1917 to 1918, he served as the Chairman of the Red Cross Commission to Serbia, a country he returned to following the First World War as a trustee of the Carnegie Foundation.

From 1921 to 1922, Severance served as President of the American Bar Association, nine years after his old law partner Kellogg. In 1923, with Elihu Root and others, he organized and incorporated the American Law Institute.

Severance died of a heart attack in Pasadena, California in 1925.

The Cordenio Severance House, a mansion also known as Cedarhurst, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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