J. Harry Covington

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J. Harry Covington
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
In office
June 15, 1914 – May 31, 1918
Appointed by Woodrow Wilson
Preceded by Harry M. Clabaugh
Succeeded by Walter I. McCoy
Personal details
Born James Harry Covington II
(1870-05-03)May 3, 1870
Easton, Maryland
Died February 4, 1942(1942-02-04) (aged 71)
Washington, D.C.
Resting place Spring Hill Cemetery of Easton
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania
Maryland Military Academy
Occupation Lawyer
Known for founder of Covington & Burling
Railway Wage Commission with seated James Harry Covington, Franklin Knight Lane, Charles Caldwell McChord, William Russell Willcox. Standing are William A. Ryan and Frederick William Lehmann.

James Harry Covington II (May 3, 1870 – February 4, 1942) was an American jurist and politician. He represented the Maryland's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1909 to 1914, and served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia from 1914 to 1918. Covington is best remembered as the founder of the Washington, DC law firm Covington & Burling, which as of 2012 maintained offices in five countries and employed over 800 attorneys.


Early years[edit]

J. Harry Covington was born May 3, 1870 in Easton, Maryland. He attended the Maryland Military Academy at Oxford. He entered the law department of the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1891, attending at the same time special lectures in history, literature, and economics, and graduated in 1894.


Soon thereafter, Covington began to practice law in Easton. He was an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the Maryland State Senate in 1901, and served as State’s attorney for Talbot County, Maryland, from 1903 to 1908. He was elected as a Democrat to Congress in 1908 and served the 1st Congressional district of Maryland from March 4, 1909 until his resignation on September 30, 1914, to accept the position of chief justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia.

Covington served as chief justice of that court from October 1, 1914, to June 1, 1918, when he resigned to practice law in Washington, D.C.. He was also a professor of law at Georgetown University from 1914 to 1919.

Covington was well regarded by President Woodrow Wilson, who in 1917 gave him charge of an investigation of the radical trade union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).[1] The investigation lasted several weeks and preceded coordinated mass raids by the United States Department of Justice against the IWW on September 5, 1917.[1]

In January 1918, President Wilson appointed Covington a member of the Railway Wage Commission.

He and Edward B. Burling established the law firm of Covington & Burling on January 1, 1919.[2] Nine decades later Covington Burling remained the oldest law firm in Washington, D.C., maintaining a staff of more than 800 attorneys and operating regional offices in New York, San Diego, and San Francisco as well as international offices in the United Kingdom, China, Belgium, and South Korea.[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

Covington died February 4, 1942 in Washington, D.C., and is interred in Spring Hill Cemetery of Easton.

Covington served as Worthy Grand Master on the Supreme Executive Committee of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity from 1892–1894.


  1. ^ a b "Government Suppresses 'Reds' in Many Cities: Headquarters of Socialists and Other Organizations Preaching Sedition Raided Simultaneously," Los Angeles Times, Sept. 6, 1917, pg. 1.
  2. ^ a b Fletcher Hall, "Eastern Shore Footnote: The Seeds of Law Firm Giant Covington Burling," Chestertown Spy, Dec. 19, 2012.


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Humphreys Jackson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Maryland's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Jesse Price
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Chief Justice of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Succeeded by
Edward Franklin Bingham