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William F. Harrity

William Francis Harrity (b. 19 October 1850, Wilmington, Delaware – d. 17 April 1912, Overbrook, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American politician and lawyer. Harrity is most well known as chairperson of the Democratic National Committee from 1892 to 1896. He also served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania between 1891 through 1895.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Political career 2
  • Honors 3
  • References 4

Early life and career

William Francis Harrity is the son of Michael and Jane A. Harrity, natives of County Donegal, Ireland. He began his education in public schools—graduating from Clarkson Taylor's academy and St. Mary's College. In 1870, Harrity graduated at the top of his class at La Salle College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania earning a law degree. He completed one year as a tutor of Latin and mathematics at La Salle while gaining his master of arts degree. On 27 December 1873, Harrity completed the bar exam and worked as a lawyer for others and himself until 1884.

Political career

By 1882, Harrity had established himself and his law practice at 608 Chestnut St. in the Philadelphia community.and became the chairman of the City of Philadelphia's Democratic Party executive committee. His leadership attributed to the many Democratic candidates being elected at the local and state level including Robert E. Pattison as Pennsylvania Governor in 1883. His success led to an appointment a Pennsylvania delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1884 and as Postmaster General for Philadelphia between 1885 to 1889 before he retired his post to become chief executive, and President of the Equitable Trust Company, 624 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia." Receives Deposits, Makes Loans, Executes Trusts, Insures Titles, Becomes Surety". Capital $ 1,000,000 in 1890.

In 1891, Robert E. Pattison won a second term as Pennsylvania Governor, a position he lost in 1887. Upon reelection, Pattison appointed Harrity as his Secretary of State (or Secretary of the Commonwealth Capita of Pennsylvania). In 1896, Harrity once again served as a delegate from Pennsylvania to Democratic National Convention.


  • The William F. Harrity School, a public elementary school in Philadelphia, in named in his honor.
  • In 1891, James M. Beck entered the law office and formed a partnership with William F. Harrity; Beck would later become the United States Solicitor General.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Calvin Stewart Brice
Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Succeeded by
James K. Jones


  • O'Grady, Joseph P., "Irish-Americans and Anglo-American Relations, 1880–1888"
  • White, James T., "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Being the History of the United States As Illustrated in the Lives of the Founders, Builders and Defenders of the Republic, and of the Men and Women Who Are Doing the Work and Molding the Thought of the Present Time", 1956
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