Simpson, Kenneth F. (Kenneth Farrand), 1895-1941

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Kenneth F. Simpson was born in New York City on May 4, 1895. He was a member of the Yale College Class of 1917 and received an LL.B. degree from the Harvard Law School in 1922. Simpson was in private legal practice in New York City, but from 1925 to 1927 he served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Simpson played a crucial role in rebuilding the New York Republican Party in the late 1930s. He was chairman of the Republican County Committee in New York, 1935-1940, attended the Republican National Conventions of 1936 and 1940, and was instrumental in securing the Republican nomination for Wendell Wilkie. Simpson was elected to Congress in 1940, but died on January 25, 1941, three weeks after taking office.

From the description of Kenneth Farrand Simpson papers, 1900-1983 (inclusive), 1923-1941 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702165929

From the description of Kenneth Farrand Simpson papers, 1900-1983 (inclusive), 1923-1941 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122549146

Kenneth Farrand Simpson was born in New York City on May 4, 1895 into a socially prominent family. His father was a well-known throat specialist and professor of laryngology at Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons. Simpson attended Hill School and was a member of the Yale College Class of 1917. He served in the military during World War I and was stationed in France from June, 1918 until the summer of 1919. On his return to the United States, he entered the Harvard Law School and completed his LL.B. degree in 1922. He was admitted to the bar in the same year and began his legal practice in New York City.

Simpson initially joined the legal firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, but in 1925, after becoming involved in Republican Party politics, Simpson was offered a position as assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. At the time, the government was attempting to adjudicate a number of cases involving German-owned property which had been confiscated during World War I. Simpson became a specialist in tracing vital witnesses who resided abroad. He made several trips to Europe, during one of which he met Alexander Kerensky, the former premier of Russia, who became a good friend.

Simpson resigned from the United States attorney's office at the end of 1927 to become a partner in the firm of Barnes, McKenna & Halstead (later Barnes, Richardson & Halstead). Severing his connection with this firm in 1934, he joined Hunt, Hill & Betts, where he worked until 1939 when he formed the partnership of Simpson, Brady & Noonan.

As his legal career developed, Simpson became more and more engrossed with politics and rose to positions of leadership within the Republican Party. A liberal who believed his party had to abandon some of its conservative dogma to win and who exhibited a tolerance for the New Deal, Simpson served as president of his district club, 15th Assembly-District leader, and state committeeman. In 1935 Simpson was elected to the powerful position of Republican county chairman and from then on played a crucial role in rebuilding the New York Republican Party.

In 1937, Simpson orchestrated the reelection of Fusion Party candidate Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia with Republican Party endorsement. Simpson's efforts also insured the election of Republican candidates for president of the Board of Alderman and comptroller. Simpson also persuaded Thomas E. Dewey to run for the office of District Attorney and Bruce Barton to seek election to the House of Representatives from the 17th Congressional District. The success of these candidates marked Simpson as a political boss, and in December he was elected to the Republican National Committee to succeed Charles Dewey Hilles. Simpson worked hard in Dewey's unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1938, but by late 1939 Simpson had become disenchanted with him. Simpson saw Dewey as usurping his political authority and declared his opposition to Dewey's presidential bid in 1940. He played a vital role in nominating the liberal Wendell Wilkie and stopping Dewey. Simpson worked hard in Wilkie's unsuccessful campaign, while triumphing in his own bid for election from the 17th Congressional District. Shortly after being sworn-in as a member of the House of Representatives, Simpson died of a heart attack on January 25, 1941.

In 1925 Simpson married Helen-Louise Knickerbocker Porter. They had four children. In addition to his political achievements, Simpson and his wife contributed to the civic organizations and cultural life of New York. He was a member of the Player's Club, the Grand Street Boys' Association, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and was a patron of music and a collector of modern art. He numbered among his friends cultural leaders such as Norman Bel Geddes, Gilbert Seldes, and Gertrude Stein.

From the guide to the Kenneth Farrand Simpson papers, 1900-1983, 1923-1941, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Barton, Bruce, 1886-1967. person
associatedWith Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971. person
associatedWith Dudley, Dorothy, 1884- person
associatedWith Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958. person
associatedWith Hilles, Charles Dewey, 1867-1949. person
associatedWith Isaacs, Stanley M. (Stanley Myer), 1882-1962. person
associatedWith Kerenskii, Aleksandr Fedorovich, 1881-1970. person
associatedWith Kerensky, Aleksandr Fyodorovich, 1881-1970. person
associatedWith La Guardia, Fiorello H. (Fiorello Henry), 1882-1947. person
associatedWith Landon, Alfred Mossman, 1887- person
associatedWith Léon, Maurice, 1880- person
associatedWith Léon, Maurice, 1880- person
associatedWith Matisse, Pierre, 1900-1989. person
associatedWith Pinchot, Amos, 1873-1944. person
associatedWith Republican Party (U.S. :1854- ) corporateBody
associatedWith Toklas, Alice B. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
New York (N.Y.)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)
New York (State)
Subject
Law
Occupation
Politicians
Lawyers
Function

Person

Birth 1895-05-04

Death 1941-01-25

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