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William J. Harris Papers

William J. Harris Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: William J. Harris Papers
Creator: Harris, William Julius, 1868-1932.
Inclusive Dates: 1905-1913, 1916
Language(s): English
Extent: 9 box(es) (4.25 linear feet)
Collection Number: RBRL208WJH
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The William J. Harris Papers consist of correspondence and materials from Harris's time as private secretary to Senator Alexander S. Clay (1904-1909), his term in the State Senate (1911-1912), his tenure as State Democratic Committee Chairman (1913), and his personal records related to business and private matters (1905-1913). The papers do not contain records from his term in the U.S. Senate.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

William Julius Harris was born in Cedartown, Georgia (Polk County) on February 3, 1868. The great-grandson of North Carolina Congressman Charles Hooks, Harris attended common schools and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1890. He returned to Cedartown and engaged in general insurance business and banking, marrying Julia Wheeler Knox in 1905. Harris organized and became president of both the Georgia Fire Insurance Company and the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Cedartown in 1907.

Harris served as the private secretary to Georgia Senator Alexander Stephens Clay from 1904 to 1909; Clay died in office in 1910, and the Georgia Legislature voted Hoke Smith to fill the vacancy. Harris successfully campaigned for the Georgia State Senate (38th district) and served one term, 1911-1912. When his term expired in 1913, Harris served as State Democratic Committee Chairman and campaigned in Georgia for Woodrow Wilson's presidential campaign. Although Georgia delegates voted for Wilson's southern opponent Oscar Underwood, as president, Wilson did not forget Harris's support and appointed Harris Director of the United States Census Bureau. On March 15, 1915, Harris resigned to become a member of the Federal Trade Commission where he was Acting Secretary of the Department of Commerce (1913-1915).

In 1918, Harris resigned from the Federal Trade Commission to campaign for the U.S. Senate. He successfully defeated incumbent Thomas Hardwick, and was re-elected in 1924 (again defeating Hardwick) and in 1930. He was also a member of the National Forest Reservation Commission from 1929 to 1932. Harris died in office on April 18, 1932. Then Georgia Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. announced that he would seek election to Harris's unexpired term and appointed John S. Cohen, publisher of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, to serve until the election of Harris's successor. Despite predications that his opponent, U.S. House of Representatives member Charles R. Crisp, would win, 33-year-old Russell won the election to the Senate and was sworn in the next January as the youngest member of the U.S. Senate.

Scope and Content

The William Julius Harris Papers consist of correspondence and materials from Harris's time as private secretary to Senator Alexander S. Clay (1904-1909), his term in the State Senate (1911-1912), and his tenure as State Democratic Committee Chairman (1913). The papers do not contain records from his term in the U.S. Senate (except two speech drafts); however, the papers do include personal records related to business and private matters (1905-1913).

Organization and Arrangement

The Papers are divided into three series: I. Political, II. Personal, and III. Books. The arrangement is chronological within each series. The original order of the papers is not known; the collection was part of the conveyance of Harris's successor, Richard B. Russell, Jr., and it is not known how he obtained the papers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William J. Harris Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

Processing Notes

Clippings and acidic letter copies have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content. This collection was originally housed in the Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscript Library where it was processed and organized. In 2001, alterations were made to the arrangement including the renaming of some series to provide a more clear description and the division and renaming of items at the folder level.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2000.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Bacon, Augustus Octavius, 1839-1914.
Clay, Alexander Stephens, 1853-1910.
Georgia -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950.
Hurley, Edward N., 1864-1933.
Labor market -- United States.
Legislators -- United States.
McAdoo, William Gibbs, 1863-1941.
Political campaigns -- Georgia.
Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1912.
Smith, Hoke, 1855-1931.
Vinson, Carl, 1883-1981.
Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924.
Women -- Suffrage -- United States.

Related Collections in this Repository

Marcus Wayland Beck Diaries

Lamartine G. Hardman Collection

Thomas W. Hardwick Papers

Dudley M. Hughes Collection

Richard B. Russell, Sr. Papers

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection

Hoke Smith Papers

Joseph M. Terrell Papers

Related Collections in Other Repositories

Charles R. Crisp Papers, Georgia Southwestern State University, Americus, Georgia

Alexander Stephens Clay Papers, Atlanta History Center

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


I. Political

6 box(es)
(2.75 linear feet)
The Political Series begins in 1908, when Harris served as personal secretary to Georgia's U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens Clay, and follows Harris through his 1910 state senate campaign and his term as State Democratic Committee Chairman in 1913.

A. Correspondence

Correspondence materials from 1908 through 1909 reflect Harris's time as personal secretary to Senator Clay and offers a portion of Clay's political (for example, his Chairmanship of the Committee on Women's Suffrage) and personal life as well as some Georgia matters such as political patronage. A few clippings, receipts, and handbills are included.
Records from 1910 deal with the U.S. Senate Campaign to fill the seat vacated at the death of Senator Clay (William G. Brantley vs. Joseph Terrell vs. Hoke Smith) as well as Harris's own successful campaign for the State Senate (38th district). While in office for one term, Harris corresponded with Georgia Legislators John Holder and Charles Northen, Congressmen William G. Brantley, Gordon Lee, William C. Anderson, Charles G. Edwards, Samuel Tribble, and Charles Barlett, and with Senator Augustus O. Bacon about issues of legislation (including the Labor Bureau Bill).Correspondence from Harris's one year term as State Democratic Committee Chairman reflects his involvement with Woodrow Wilson's presidential campaign in Georgia and subsequent inauguration as well as Georgia political patronage and legislation. Correspondence with Carl Vinson, Charles R. Crisp, Hoke Smith, Thomas Hardwick, Josephus Daniels, William A, McAdoo, among others, is represented.A name list at the end of this finding aid indexes correspondence within this subseries with key political figures.
11February 1909
12March-December 1909
13January-September 1910
14October-December 1910
15January 1911
16February 1911
17March 1911
18April 1911
19May 1911
110June 1911
111July 1-13, 1911
112July 14-21, 1911
113July 22-27, 1911
114July 28-31, 1911
115August 1-3, 1911
116August 4-8, 1911
117August 9-14, 1911
118August 16-30, 1911
119September 1911
120October 1911
121November-December 1911
21January-February 1912
22March-May 1912
23June 1912
24July 1-19, 1912
25July 20-31, 1912
26August 2- 24, 1912
27August 25-29, 1912
28August 30-31, 1912
29September 1-3, 1912
210September 4-6, 1912
211September 7-9, 1912
212September 10-12, 1912
213September 13-14, 1912
214September 15-17, 1912
215September 18-20, 1912
216(folder 1), September 21, 1912
217(folder 2), September 21, 1912
31September 22-23, 1912
32September 24-26, 1912
33September 27-29, 1912
34September 30, 1912
35September 1912
36October 1-3, 1912
37October 4-5, 1912
38October 6-8, 1912
39October 9-10, 1912
310October 11-15, 1912
311October 16-20, 1912
312October 21-23, 1912
313October 24, 1912
314October 25, 1912
315October 26-27, 1912
316(#1), October 28, 1912
317(#2), October 28, 1912
318October 29, 1912
319October 30, 1912
320October 31, 1912
321October 1912
41November 1, 1912
42(#1), November 2, 1912
43(#2), November 2, 1912
44November 3-4, 1912
45November 5, 1912
46November 6-7, 1912
47November 8-9, 1912
48November 11-12, 1912
49November 13-18, 1912
410November 19-26, 1912
411November 27-30, 1912
412December 2-6, 1912
413December 7-14, 1912
414December 16-21, 1912
415December 23-25, 1912
416December 26-31, 1912
51January 1-10, 1913
52January 11-16, 1913, January 11-16, 1913
53January 17, 1913
54February 1-15, 1913
55February 17-28, 1913
56March 1-13, 1913
57March 17-27, 1913
58March 28-31, 1913
59April 1-13, 1913
510April 14-19, 1913
511April 20-25, 1913
512May 1-13, 1913
513May 15-31, 1913
514June-December 1913

B. Speeches

Contains notes and various drafts of two speeches by Harris from his tenure as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (1915-1918) and one speech by his successor, Edward N. Hurley.
61"The Work of the Federal Trade Commission", April 4, 1916
62"College Men and the Federal Trade Commission", April 7, 1916
63"First Principles in Foreign Trade", January 27, 1917

II. Personal

3 box(es)
(1.5 linear feet)
Contains mortgages, receipts, bills, indentures, and correspondence on private and business matters, particularly with regards to Harris's Georgia Fire Insurance Company and his land purchases which range from Cedartown, Georgia to Texas. There is very little family correspondence.
II.11October 1905-November 1908
II.12December 1908
II.13January 1909
II.14February-March 1909
II.15April-June 1909
II.16July-December 1909
II.17January-June 8, 1910
II.18June 15-September 31, 1910
II.19October 3-November 1910
II.110December 1910-December 1911
II.111January 1-20, 1911
II.112January 21-31, 1911
II.113February 1911
II.21March 1911
II.22April 1-11, 1911
II.23April 12-20, 1911
II.24April 21, 1911
II.25May 1-9, 1911
II.26May 10-15, 1911
II.27May 16, 1911
II.28June 1-14, 1911
II.29June 15-30, 1911
II.210July 1-13, 1911
II.211July 14-21, 1911
II.212July 28-31, 1911
II.213August 1-3, 1911
II.214August 4-September 1911
II.215October-November 1911
II.216December 1911
II.31January-February 1912
II.32March 1912
II.33April 1912
II.34May 1912
II.35June 1912
II.36July 1-17, 1912
II.37July 19-31, 1912
II.38August 1912
II.39September 1912
II.310October 1912
II.311November 1912
II.312December 1912
II.313January-February 1913
II.314March-April 1913
II.315May-August 1913