Córdova Dávila, Félix, 1878-1938

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Félix Lope María Córdova Dávila (November 20, 1878 – December 3, 1938) was a political leader and judge from Puerto Rico who served as Puerto Rico's fourth Resident Commissioner in Congress and later as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico.

Born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, he attended the public schools in Manati. After the United States acquired Puerto Rico in 1898, Córdova Dávila, knowing very little English, decided to invest the earnings of a book of poetry that he produced to attend law school in Washington, DC. He first enrolled at Howard University Law School, completing his first year there as the only white student, before transferring to National University Law School in Washington, D.C., now known as George Washington University Law School, where he obtained his Master of Law. Before returning to Puerto Rico, he was denied a license to practice law in the District of Columbia because Puerto Ricans were not yet United States citizens. He successfully protested before the District Bar and was admitted to practice in the nation's capital. He was admitted to practice law in Puerto Rico in 1903.

Córdova Dávila then took on a succession of local offices in Puerto Rico. He was appointed by Governor William Hunt as judge of the municipal court of Caguas in 1904 and then served as judge of the municipal court of Manati from 1904 to 1908. He served as district attorney for Aguadilla in 1908, as judge of the district court of Guayama from 1908 to 1910; judge of the district court of Arecibo from 1910 to 1911; and judge of the district court of San Juan, Puerto Rico from 1911 to 1917. On July 16, 1917, Córdova Dávila was elected as the Union Party candidate to serve as Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico to the United States, succeeding Luis Muñoz Rivera, who had died the preceding November and had recommended him as his successor. The duties of the Resident Commissioner included representing Puerto Rico as a non-voting delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Córdova Dávila was re-elected to four-year terms as Resident Commissioner in 1920, 1924, and 1928. Like his predecessor, Luis Muñoz Rivera, Córdova Dávila spent the bulk of his time pursuing the Partido de Unión’s primary goal of liberalizing Puerto Rico’s system of self-government.

On April 4, 1932, Córdova Dávila submitted a letter of resignation to the Speaker to accept an appointment as associate justice of the supreme court of Puerto Rico. He formally resigned his seat on April 11 and departed for Puerto Rico. A month after Córdova Dávila left office, the House approved the Senate version of a measure he had authored, changing the island’s official name from “Porto Rico” to “Puerto Rico”. He served on the court for about five years and was the voice of caution and compromise in May 1936 when the island was rattled by a wave of school strikes and shutdowns. Poor health forced Córdova Dávila to resign his post. He died December 3, 1938, in Condado, Puerto Rico, and was interred in Fournier Cemetery in San Juan.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Yager, Arthur, 1858-1941. Arthur Yager Papers, 1913-1921. The Filson Historical Society
Relation Name
alumnusOrAlumnaOf George Washington University. Law School. corporateBody
almaMaterOf Howard University. School of law corporateBody
memberOf Puerto Rico. Tribunal Supremo. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Congress. House person
associatedWith Yager, Arthur, 1858-1941. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
District of Columbia DC US
Jayuya 073 PR
San Juan 127 PR
Manatí 091 PR
Vega Baja 145 PR
Representatives, U.S. Congress
State Supreme Court Judge


Birth 1878-11-20

Death 1938-12-03



Puerto Ricans


Spanish; Castilian


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