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William Henry King letters to Claude T. Barnes

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 4122

Scope and Contents note

Two letters from William H. King (Utah Chairman) to Claude T. Barnes (Attorney at Law).

1) February 19, 1937, from the District of Colombia. King disapproves of President Roosevelt’s proposed plan to weaken the judiciary and thanks Barnes for agreeing with him.

2) April 3, 1938, from the District of Colombia. Now Barnes is called Honorable Claude T. Barnes. King expresses fear that many Americans want to give duties and responsibilities of the states to the Federal Government.

3 leaves in all.


  • 1937-1938


Conditions Governing Access note

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use note

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the William Henry King letters to Claude T. Barnes must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

William Henry King (1863-1949) was very active in the government.

William Henry King was born in Fillmore, Utah, on June 3, 1863, to William and Josephine Henry King. He attended the Brigham Young Academy and the University of Deseret. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Britain from 1880-1882. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a law degree in 1887. He married Annie Lyman on April 17, 1889. She passed away around 1907. In 1913, he married Vera Sjodahl.

The online Utah History Encyclopedia gives the following information about King’s governmental service. The entry was written by John Sillitoe:

In 1894 President Grover Cleveland appointed King as an associate justice of the Utah Supreme Court. King was one of the earliest supporters of Sagebrush Democracy, and played a leading role in organizing the Democratic party in Utah. He was elected to Congress in 1896 and served one term. He was then elected to fill a vacancy in 1900 and was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1902. In 1905 and 1909, prior to the direct election of United State senators, King was the unsuccessful choice of the Utah Democratic legislative caucus for senator. In 1916, however, King was elected to the U.S. Senate and served four terms until his defeat in 1940. He was also an active Democrat on the national level, serving as a delegate to the party's national conventions on a number of occasions from 1908 to 1932.

During his service in the Senate, King was a strong advocate of a ‘hands off’ policy on the part of the United States toward Latin America, and was recognized by the government of Haiti in 1936 for his role in terminating U.S. intervention in the affairs of that nation. King, who labeled himself a Constitutional Democrat, was an outspoken opponent of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, specifically challenging the President's attempt to ‘pack’ the Supreme Court in 1937, and opposing other aspects of FDR's domestic program as well.

In 1934 he was challenged in the party convention by liberal state senator Herbert B. Maw and attorney Hugh B. Brown. While King emerged victorious, and went on to defeat Republican Don B. Colton in the general election, it was clear that he would continue to be opposed by party liberals. In 1936 King was defeated in his bid to be elected a delegate to the national Democratic party convention, and was targeted for defeat for the Senate when party liberals passed a direct primary law in the 1937 legislature. In 1940 King, who by then had become even more vocal in his opposition to the national Democratic party, was defeated in the Democratic party primary by liberal congressman Abe Murdock. King served briefly as president pro tem. of the Senate after his defeat in 1940 and before a new Congress was seated in January 1941. After leaving the Senate, King continued to practice law in Washington until his retirement and return to Utah in 1947.

William H King passed away on November 27, 1949, in Salt Lake City.

Information for this biography came from,WILLIAM.html.


1 folder (0.1 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Letters about the American President and government from Wiliam Henry King to Claude T. Barnes, 1937-1938.

Custodial History note

Purchased from the Autograph Alcove in 1990.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Purchased; Autograph Alcove; 1990.

Appraisal note

Utah and the American West (Collection development policy for 20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts, August 2007).

Processing Information note

Processed; H. Christine Swindler; 12 July 2007.

Register of William Henry King letters to Claude T. Barnes
H. Christine Broomhead and Karen Glenn, student processors; John Murphy, curator
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States