William Marshall Bullitt bigraphy, stories - American lawyer

William Marshall Bullitt : biography

March 4, 1873 - October 3, 1957

William Marshall Bullitt (March 4, 1873 – October 3, 1957) was an influential lawyer and author who served as Solicitor General of the United States (1912-1913). He was victim of one of the largest cash burglaries in history.


The following publications appear in two listings in the Library of Congress online catalog:

  • Civil and Criminal Codes of Practice of Kentucky and Amendments Enacted Prior to 1899 (1899)
  • Civil and Criminal Codes of Practice of Kentucky (1902)
  • Louisville Election Contest Cases (1907)
  • The Relation of the Individual Policyholder to the Resources of a Mutual Life Insurance Company (1914)
  • The Supreme Court of the United States and Unconstitutional Legislation (1924)
  • Opinion of Wm. Marshall Bullitt Upon the Disputed Claims between Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Ltd., and United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation (1923)
  • Accidental Means (1927)
  • Some Unsolved Problems: Address Before the Cincinnati Bar Association, April 26, 1945 (1946)
  • Factual Review of the Whittaker Chambers-Alger Hiss Controversy (New York: Lawyers Press, 1949)

Another publication is:

  • Distribution of Divisible Surplus in the Light of Present Economic Conditions

Bullitt also edited his own law codes book in 1889 and 1902, called Bullitt's Civil and Criminal Codes of Kentucky.


Bullitt argued more than fifty cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, some of which were argued while serving as Solicitor General of the United States.



Bullitt was born to Thomas Walker Bullitt and Annie P. Logan in Louisville, Kentucky on March 4, 1873. His ancestors arrived in Kentucky in the 1700s: the Bullitts, the Walkers, the Christians (relatives of Patrick Henry) and the Logans (descended from United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall). His father studied law in Philadelphia.

He began his collegiate career at Princeton University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1894. He received a law degree from the University of Louisville in 1895.

Early career

That same year (1895), Bullitt entered law practice in his hometown of Louisville, where he established himself as a senior member of his firm Bullitt, Dawson & Tarrant. He practiced law there until his death in 1957.


Bullitt served as a delegate-at-large at the 1908 Republican National Convention in Chicago. He made speeches on behalf of practically all Louisville Republicans during election time. If he did not think the election officers were performing up to his standards, he proceeded to have them arrested.

Bulliit provide his dedication to President William Howard Taft and the Republican Party by leading Taft’s election forces in Kentucky throughout his run for president in 1909.

Solicitor General (1912-1913)

Taft appointed Bullitt Solicitor General on June 28, 1912.

During his service (1912-1913), Bullitt argued cases involving enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act on cotton corners, and publicity laws and mail rates regarding newspapers and their circulation.

Other cases he argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court involved income taxation of federal judicial salaries, taxation of state bonds and municipal securities, the Federal Farm Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of California.

After government

Bullitt was Kentucky’s Republican nominee for Senate in 1914, but was defeated.

For the remainder of his life, he was active not only as a lawyer but also as a banker, academic, and author.

He taught at Harvard University and served as a member of the committee on mathematics there. He became a Fellow of Pierpont Morgan Library and was a member of the Louisville Bar Association, American Math Association, Amateur Astronomy Association, and the American Law Institute.

Carnegie Endowment and Alger Hiss

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