J. Harry Covington – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroAmerican politician
Was Politician 
From United States of America 
Type Academia 
Birth 3 May 1870, Easton
Death 4 February 1942
(aged 71 years)

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

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). The investigation lasted several weeks and preceded coordinated mass raids by the United States Department of Justice against the IWW on September 5, 1917.

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. 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.

Death and legacy

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.

Additional source

  • United States Congress. “J. Harry Covington (id: C000816)”. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.