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Frederic R. Coudert


Centurion, 1902–1955

Full Name Frederic René Coudert

Born 11 February 1871 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 1 April 1955 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Memorial Cemetery of Saint John’s Church, Laurel Hollow, New York

Proposed by Joseph H. Choate and Edward Patterson

Elected 7 June 1902 at age thirty-one

Archivist’s Note: Son of Frederic R. Coudert; nephew of Paul Fuller; father of Ferdinand W. Coudert and Frederic R. Coudert Jr.; cousin of Paul Fuller

Century Memorial

Frederic R. Coudert was born in New York, the son of the founder of the law firm of Coudert Brothers [also named Frederic R. Coudert]. He graduated from Columbia in 1890 and from the Columbia Law School the following year, and took up law practice in his father’s office. They had a branch in Paris and important French clients, and there was an international atmosphere about the firm that lent it distinction. Frederic was for a time, during the First World War, legal adviser to the British Embassy, and he represented the British Crown in the famous Public Trustee Cases. He also acted as Special Assistant to the Attorney General and argued important appeals before the Supreme Court.

In 1916, just before the war, Coudert toured this country with Henry L. Stimson to speak for preparedness. After the peace he championed the idea of American membership in the League of Nations, and urged it earnestly. He also advocated the repeal of prohibition. In 1940 he was one of the original members of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. He was always a good partisan and made no secret of where his sympathies lay.

This frankness was a very engaging quality of Coudert’s. He got around fast and knew everybody interesting or important in Paris, Washington, and New York. He belonged to an astonishing number of clubs in all three cities, and perhaps these served to keep him in touch with the huge circle of his acquaintances. He was not a learned jurist or a particularly effective advocate, but he was exceedingly resourceful in getting things done, and he was full of ideas, suggestions, and provocative questions that made him a stimulating companion and a useful adviser.

As old age came on, he took to spending the winters in Florida, and he would reappear in the City burnt by the sun like a blackamoor. He would come to meetings at the Club and sit down in front with his hearing aid, his bright eyes gleaming, nodding his wise, bald head, and looking about him with eager, bird-like movements. Thus he grew old as he had lived, walking uprightly and speaking the truth from his heart.

George W. Martin
1956 Century Association Yearbook