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Edward Jeffries

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Edward J. Jeffries Jr.
Edward Jeffries.JPG
60th Mayor of Detroit
In office
January 2, 1940 – January 5, 1948
Preceded byRichard Reading
Succeeded byEugene Van Antwerp
Personal details
BornApril 3, 1900
Detroit, Michigan
DiedApril 2, 1950
Miami Beach, Florida
Spouse(s)Florence O. Bell
Alma materUniversity of Michigan

Edward J. Jeffries Jr. (April 3, 1900 – April 2, 1950) was an American politician, councilman, and mayor of Detroit.

Early life

Edward Jeffries was born in Detroit, Michigan, on April 3, 1900, the son of Judge Edward J. Jeffries and Minnie Stott Jeffries.[1][2] The elder Jeffries was an alderman, a police justice, and a long-serving judge on the Recorder's Court.[3] He had run unsuccessfully for mayor multiple times, seeing himself as a representative of the underclass, and instilled in the younger Jeffries a sense of civic responsibility.[3]

The younger Jeffries attended the Detroit Public Schools and the University of Michigan, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1920 and a law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1923.[1][3] He then continued his education at Lincoln's Inn in London in 1923 and 1924, studying Roman and British common law. After his tour in Europe, Jeffries returned to Detroit to take up law practice.[1][3] In 1929, he became general counsel for the Maccabees, a position he held until his death in 1950. In 1930, Jeffries married Florence O. Bell.[3]


Jeffries ran for Detroit City Council in 1932, and served on that body for four terms, from 1932 until 1940, serving the last two as City Council president.[4] While serving on the Council, Jeffries came under the influence of long-time councilman John C. Lodge. Jeffries was already more moderate in stance than his radical father, eager to work within the existing power structure, and Lodge, who shared a similar outlook, was a natural ally.[3]

In 1939, Jeffries ran for mayor of Detroit against Richard Reading as an economically conservative, socially responsible reformer. Reading, enmeshed in an enormous corruption scandal that eventually sent him to jail, lost the election by more than two-to-one.[3] He ran for election as mayor four more times, winning the next three to serve as mayor from 1940 to 1948.[5] Jeffries bid for a fifth term was unsuccessful because of his unpopularity in the wake of the 1943 race riot, and he lost to councilman Eugene Van Antwerp.[3] Jeffries was elected once more to serve on the City Council, beginning in 1950, but died in office.[4]

Edward Jeffries suffered a heart attack on March 18, 1950, while on vacation in Miami Beach, Florida.[2][3] He died shortly thereafter on April 2, 1950.[2]


  1. ^ a b c Who's Who in Detroit, 1935-36. Detroit: Walter Romig & Co. 1935. p. 174. OCLC 18313089.
  2. ^ a b c "Ex-Mayor Jeffries of Detroit, 49, Dies: Councilman Served as Chief Executive During the City's Troublesome War Years". The New York Times. April 3, 1950. p. 20. ISSN 0362-4331.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jeffries, Edward; Capeci, Dominic J. (1996). Detroit and the "Good War": the World War II letters of Mayor Edward Jeffries and friends. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 1–42. ISBN 0-8131-1974-X.
  4. ^ a b "Detroit City Council, 1919 to present". Detroit Public Library. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
  5. ^ "Mayors of the City of Detroit". Detroit Public Library. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Reading
Mayor of Detroit
January 2, 1940 – January 5, 1948
Succeeded by
Eugene Van Antwerp