Francis Gordon Caffey

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Francis Gordon Caffey (October 28, 1868 – September 20, 1951) was a United States federal judge.


Born in Gordonville, Alabama, Caffey received an M.A. from Howard College (now Samford University, an A.B. from Harvard University in 1891, and another M.A. from Harvard University in 1892. He was an attorney in private practice in Montgomery, Alabama from 1894 to 1902, and served as a Lieutenant Colonel, Third Alabama Infantry, in the Spanish American War.

He was a Judge advocate general in the Office of the Governor of Alabama from 1900 to 1902. He returned to private practice in New York City from 1902 to 1913.

Caffey served as the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1913 to 1917. He was a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1917 to 1921. He briefly gained notoriety when his name was associated with possible political advocacy on the part of the Department of Justice. Just two weeks before the 1920 election, John R. Rathom, publisher of the Providence Journal, charged that the Democratic candidate for Vice President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had acted improperly while Assistant Secretary of the Navy in releasing sailors convicted on morals charges from Portsmouth Naval Prison. Caffey, once the Attorney General had telegraphed his authorization, released a lengthy document from Justice Department files that discredited Rathom. A report in the New York Times suggested that he may have acted with undue enthusiasm: "Some surprise was shown at the [D]epartment [of Justice]...that District Attorney Caffey had given the entire Rathom letter to the newspapers. He had been authorized, it was said, to make public 'excerpts'".[1]

He returned once more to private practice in New York City from 1921 to 1929.

Caffey was nominated by President Herbert Hoover on April 18, 1929, to a new federal judgeship created by 45 Stat. 1317 and confirmed by the United States Senate on April 29, 1929, receiving his commission on April 30, 1929. He assumed senior status on October 31, 1947.

He served in that capacity until his death in Verbena, Alabama on September 20, 1951.


  1. ^ New York Times: "Admissions Made to Escape Testifying," Oct. 28, 1920, accessed Dec. 10, 2009
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
Succeeded by
Sylvester J. Ryan