L. Irving Handy

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L. Irving Handy
L. Irving Handy (Delaware Congressman).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's At-large district
In office
March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1899
Preceded by Jonathan S. Willis
Succeeded by John H. Hoffecker
Personal details
Born (1861-12-24)December 24, 1861
Berlin, Maryland
Died February 3, 1922(1922-02-03) (aged 60)
Wilmington, Delaware
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Bell
Residence Wilmington, Delaware
Profession educator, lawyer

Levin Irving Handy (December 24, 1861 – February 3, 1922) was an American educator, lawyer and politician, from Wilmington in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a member of the Democratic Party, who served as U. S. Representative from Delaware. He was known by his middle name.

Early life and family[edit]

Handy was born in Berlin, Maryland, son of the Rev. William C. Handy, a Presbyterian minister. His grandfathers were William W. Handy, a prominent Somerset County, Maryland lawyer, and the Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge of Kentucky. As the son of a frequently moving minister, he grew up living in multiple places, namely New York, Kentucky and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He married Mary Bell in 1887 and they had two children, L. Irving Jr., and Margaret. He was also the nephew of William C.P. Breckenridge, a prominent Confederate Army officer and U.S. Representative from Kentucky.

Professional and political career[edit]

Handy taught school at Damos Quarter, in Somerset County, Maryland, and in 1881, at the age of 19, was selected to be principal of the high school at Smyrna, Delaware. By 1887 he was superintendent of all the public schools in Kent County, Delaware, and by 1890 he had been hired as principal of Old Newark Academy, in Newark, Delaware. Meanwhile, he was studying the law with John R. Nicholson of Dover, Delaware and frequently speaking at teacher’s training schools in the region.

Retiring from teaching in 1892, he became an editorial writer for the Wilmington Every Evening newspaper. He also studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1899, and began the practice of law in Delaware.

With his retirement from teaching he took a more active role in politics, becoming chairman of the Democratic State Committee from 1892 until 1896. He sought the 1894 Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative, but lost to Samuel Bancroft, who himself lost in the election.

Handy was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1896, defeating incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Jonathan S. Willis. During this term, he served in the Democratic minority in the 55th Congress. Seeking reelection in 1898, he lost to Republican John H. Hoffecker, a Smyrna businessman and relative of his wife. In all he served from March 4, 1897 until March 3, 1899, during the administration of U.S. President William McKinley. Subsequently, Handy remained active in politics, attending the Democratic National Conventions of 1900, 1904, and 1908, and losing an election for state Attorney General in 1904. He ran for U.S. Representative one more time, in 1908, but lost to Republican William H. Heald.

Death and legacy[edit]

Handy died at Wilmington and is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery at Smyrna, Delaware. His daughter, Margaret, became a prominent physician in Wilmington. She practiced for fifty-five years, and was a leader in establishing milk banks for premature babies. Andrew Wyeth painted her portrait and named it ‘’Children’s Doctor.’’


Elections are held the first Tuesday after November 1st. U.S. Representatives took office March 4th and have a two-year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1897 March 3, 1899
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1897–1899 55th U.S. House Republican William McKinley at-large
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1896 U.S. Representative L. Irving Handy Democratic 16,512 45% Jonathan S. Willis
Robert G. Houston
Union Republican
Regular Republican
1898 U.S. Representative L. Irving Handy Democratic 15,053 46% John H. Hoffecker Republican 17,566 54%
1908 U.S. Representative L. Irving Handy Democratic 22,515 47% William H. Heald Republican 24,314 51%


  • Martin, Roger A.. (2003). Delawareans in Congress, the House of Representatives 1789-1900. ISBN 0-924117-26-5. 

External links[edit]

Places with more information[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jonathan S. Willis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Delaware's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
John H. Hoffecker