Charles Evans Hughes


Charles Evans Hughes : biography

April 11, 1862 – August 27, 1948

After leaving the State Department, he again rejoined his old partners at the Hughes firm, which included his son and future United States Solicitor General Charles E. Hughes, Jr., and was one of the nation’s most sought-after advocates. From 1925 to 1930, for example, Hughes argued over 50 times before the U.S. Supreme Court. From 1926 to 1930, Hughes also served as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and as a judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague, Netherlands from 1928 to 1930. He was additionally a delegate to the Pan American Conference on Arbitration and Conciliation from 1928 to 1930. He was one of the co-founders in 1927 of the National Conference on Christians and Jews, now known as the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), along with S. Parkes Cadman and others, to oppose the Ku Klux Klan, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Semitism in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1925–1926, Charles Evans Hughes represented the API (American Petroleum Institute) before the FOCB (Federal Oil Conservation Board).

In 1928 conservative business interests tried to interest Hughes in the GOP presidential nomination of 1928 instead of Herbert Hoover. Hughes, citing his age, turned down the offer.


  • Hughes Hall, located at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is a residence dorm.
  • The Charles Evans Hughes House, now the Burmese ambassador’s residence, in Washington, D.C. was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972. Hughes lived in the home from 1930 until his death in 1948.
  • Most Hughes papers are in the collection of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress. However other items that could be involved in research are at various institutions around the country.
  • Charles Evans Hughes Junior High School (of Woodland Hills, California, now closed) was named in his honor, as was the Hughes Range in Antarctica.
  • Charles Evans Hughes High School (of New York City) was named in his honor. It was later renamed High School for the Humanities.
  • Hughes Hall is a dormitory at the Cornell Law School, where he once taught.
  • Charles Evans Hughes Middle School in Long Beach, California, was named in his honor.
  • A bust length portrait of Hughes by the Swiss-born American portrait painter Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947) is in the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing, Michigan. It was accessioned by them in 1939–1940, but probably acquired earlier.
  • The New York City Bar Association has a room named after Charles Evans Hughes. Two portraits of Mr. Hughes are hung in this room as well as one of his son, Charles Evans Hughes Jr.
  • The Union League Club of New York, of which Hughes was once president, dedicated the Hughes Room in his honor featuring a portrait of Hughes.
  • Hughes Court, an area of the Wriston Quadrangle at Brown University is named for him.

Governor of New York

As the Governor, Hughes produced important reform legislation in three areas: improvement of the machinery and processes of government; extension of the state’s regulatory authority over businesses engaged in public services; and expansion of governmental police and welfare functions. To counter political corruption, he secured campaign laws in 1906 and 1907 that limited political contributions by corporations and forced candidates to account for their receipts and expenses, legislation that was quickly copied in fifteen other states. He pushed the passage of the Moreland Act, which enabled the governor to oversee city and county officials as well as officials in semi-autonomous state bureaucracies. This allowed him to fire many corrupt officials. He also managed to have the powers of the state’s Public Service Commissions increased and fought strenuously, if not completely successfully, to get their decisions exempted from judicial review.

When two bills were passed to reduce railroad fares, Hughes vetoed them on that grounds that the rates should be set by expert commissioners rather than by elected ones. His ideal was not government by the people but for the people. As Hughes put it, "you must have administration by administrative officers."