F. Dickinson Letts

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Fred Dickinson Letts (April 26, 1875 – January 19, 1965) was a three-term Republican U.S. Representative from eastern Iowa, and a thirty-year federal trial court judge in the District of Columbia.

Life and work[edit]

Born near Ainsworth in Washington County, Iowa, Letts attended the common schools of Washington County. He was graduated from Parsons College, Fairfield, Iowa, in 1897 and from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1899. He was admitted to the bar in 1899 and commenced practice in Davenport, Iowa. He was appointed judge of the seventh judicial district of Iowa on March 25, 1911, and served until December 31, 1912, when he returned to private practice.

Letts was elected to the same position as a judge in 1914, and served until his resignation on February 28, 1925.

In 1924, Letts was elected as a Republican to represent Iowa's 2nd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was re-elected twice (in 1926 and 1928), but failed to win re-election in 1930, when he was defeated by Democrat Bernhard M. Jacobsen. Letts' defeat was particularly embarrassing for President Hoover, as the district included the President's home in West Branch, Cedar County. In all, Letts served in the Sixty-ninth, Seventieth, and Seventy-first Congresses, from March 4, 1925 to March 3, 1931.

On May 5, 1931, he was appointed by President Herbert Hoover an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (now United States District Court for the District of Columbia). Letts initially received a recess appointment to a seat vacated by Wendell Philips Stafford. Hoover then nominated Letts on December 15, 1931 for a permanent appointment. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 17, 1932, and received his commission on February 20, 1932.

Letts served as chief judge of the court from 1958 to 1959. He assumed senior status on May 31, 1961. His service as a senior judge ended with his death in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 1965. He was interred in Ainsworth Cemetery in Ainsworth, Iowa.

Letts was a cousin of former Iowa U.S. senator and representative L. J. Dickinson of Algona, who was also serving in the House during Lett's two terms.


External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Harry E. Hull
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 2nd congressional district

March 4, 1925 - March 3, 1931
Succeeded by
Bernhard M. Jacobsen
Legal offices
Preceded by
Wendell Phillips Stafford
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
William Blakely Jones