James B. Whitfield

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James B. Whitfield
17th Attorney General of Florida
In office
Governor William Sherman Jennings
Preceded by William B. Lamar
Succeeded by W.H. Ellis
11th State Treasurer of Florida
In office
June 19, 1897 – March 1, 1903
Preceded by Clarence B. Collins
Succeeded by William V. Knott
Personal details
Born James Bryan Whitfield
(1860-11-08)November 8, 1860
Wayne County, North Carolina
Died August 20, 1948(1948-08-20) (aged 87)
Tallahassee, Florida
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Virginia

James Bryan Whitfield (November 8, 1860 – August 20, 1948) was a Florida lawyer. He served as the 11th State Treasurer of Florida (1897–1903), 17th Attorney General of Florida (1903–1904), and long-time Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida.


Whitfield was born on the family plantation in Wayne County, North Carolina.[1] Whitfield's father Richard A. Whitfield moved the family to Leon County, Florida around 1860[2] to start a cotton plantation and became an elected county judge there.[3]

The family later moved to Tallahassee. Whitfield was educated at the West Florida Seminary in Tallahassee and the University of Virginia (bachelor of law, 1886). After service as a county judge and the clerk of the Florida Supreme Court, Whitfield was appointed state treasurer in 1897, serving until 1903.[4][5] Whitfield served as Florida's Attorney General 1903-4[6] before being appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, where he served until resigning in 1943. One of his most significant decisions was a 1908 opinion that prohibited excluding African-Americans from juries.[7]

Whitfield also wrote a Political and Legal History of Florida, published in 1943.[8]


Whitfield died in Tallahassee, Florida, aged 87. There is a scholarship in Constitutional Law at the University of Florida named in his honor.[9]


Whitfield's grandson Randolph Whitfield, Jr is an ophthalmologist known for his pioneering work tracking blindness in Africa. His granddaughter Clare Whitfield was formerly married to astronaut Rusty Schweickart.[10]


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