James M. Landis

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James M. Landis
James McCauley Landis cph.3b30465.jpg
2nd Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded by Joseph P. Kennedy
Succeeded by William O. Douglas
Personal details
Born (1899-09-25)September 25, 1899
Tokyo, Japan
Died July 30, 1964(1964-07-30) (aged 64)
Harrison, New York, United States
Alma mater Princeton University
Harvard Law School
Occupation lawyer

James McCauley Landis (September 25, 1899 – July 30, 1964) was an American academic, government official and legal adviser. He served as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1934 to 1937.


Landis was born in Tokyo, Japan, where his parents were teachers at a missionary school. He graduated from Princeton University and in 1924 received a LL.B from the Harvard Law School, where he was a student of Felix Frankfurter. In 1925, Landis was a law clerk to Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court. He then became a professor at the Harvard Law School, until called into government service during the New Deal.

Landis served as a member of the Federal Trade Commission (1933–1934), as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1934–1937), and as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1935–1937). While dean of the Harvard Law School from 1938 to 1946, Landis served as regional director of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense (1941–1942) and then as its national director (1942–1943). President Franklin D. Roosevelt then sent him to Egypt as American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East (1943–1945). In 1946, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, later appointed him chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, a position he served until the next year. A friend of the Kennedy family for years, he served as a legal advisor to Joseph P. Kennedy and as Special Counsel to President John F. Kennedy. In 1960 he drafted the Landis Report to President-elect Kennedy, reexamining the federal regulatory commissions and recommending such reforms as strengthening the commissions' chairmen and streamlining their procedures, which the Kennedy administration adopted.

Landis failed to pay his income taxes from 1956 to 1960. After this came to light in 1963, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month in jail. Because of illness, he spent the month in hospital facilities. Less than a year after he returned home, he suffered a heart attack and drowned in his swimming pool.


Further reading

  • McCraw, Thomas (1984). Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Louis D. Brandeis, James M. Landis, and Alfred Kahn. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674716078.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • O'Brien, Justin (2014). The Triumph, Tragedy and Lost Legacy of James M. Landis: A Life on Fire. Portland, OR: Hart Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84946-617-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ritchie, Donald A. (1980). James M. Landis: Dean of the Regulators. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674471717.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Roscoe Pound
Dean of Harvard Law School
Succeeded by
Erwin Griswold
Government offices
Preceded by
Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
Securities and Exchange Commission Chair
Succeeded by
William O. Douglas
Government offices
Preceded by
L. Welch Pogue
Civil Aeronautics Board Chair
Succeeded by
Laurence S. Kuter