James F. Byrnes

Media Items
Personal Information
Tuesday, May 2, 1882
Sunday, April 9, 1972
Childhood Location 
South Carolina
Childhood Surroundings 
South Carolina
Associate Justice
Nominated By 
Roosevelt, F.
Commissioned on 
Wednesday, June 25, 1941
Sworn In 
Tuesday, July 8, 1941
Left Office 
Saturday, October 3, 1942
Reason For Leaving 
Length of Service 
1 year, 2 months, 26 days
South Carolina
James F. Byrnes
The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Artist: Grace Annette Dupre)

James F. Byrnes was born and raised in South Carolina. He left school at fourteen to work as a law clerk in a Charleston firm for $2 a week. He later worked as an official court reporter and studied law in his spare time. He passed the bar at the same time that he entered the newspaper business in Aiken as publisher and editor. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms and twice won election to the Senate.

Byrnes was a close associate of Franklin D. Roosevelt who twice decided against Byrnes as his running mate in 1940 and 1944. Roosevelt turned to Byrnes when the conservative McReynolds announced his retirement. But Byrnes wanted the action of a nation at war, not the "storm center" of the nation's highest court. He recognized that he really was not cut out for the intellectual demands and resigned after only 16 months on the bench. He took an active role in the war effort, heading important agencies in the Roosevelt administration.

Byrnes was appointed Secretary of State under President Harry Truman and was elected governor of South Carolina in 1951 on a campaign of states' rights and separate-but-equal education for blacks.

Clerk Law School Terms Clerked
James E. Doyle Columbia 1941

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James F. Byrnes. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_f_byrnes>.
James F. Byrnes, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_f_byrnes (last visited August 26, 2015).
"James F. Byrnes," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/justices/james_f_byrnes.