Cox, Archibald 1912-2004

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COX, Archibald 1912-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born May 17, 1912, in Plainfield, NJ; died May 29, 2004, in Brooksville, ME. Attorney, educator, and author. Though the majority of his career was spent as a professor at Harvard University, Cox's brief stints in government brought him national attention, especially when his work as solicitor general investigating the Watergate scandal led to his dismissal by President Nixon. His bachelor's and law degrees both came from Harvard, in 1934 and 1937 respectively, after which he worked as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York and then as a law firm associate in Boston. Cox's first government experiences came in the 1940s, first as a staff member for the National Defense Mediation Board in 1941, then as an attorney for the Solicitor General and as associate solicitor for the Department of Labor. He returned to his alma mater in 1945, the start of a long association during which he would serve in various professorial posts until his 1984 retirement. His time teaching was intermixed with federal appointments, including a post as head of the Wage Stabilization Board under Harry S. Truman in 1952. When Truman overruled a decision made by the board, however, Cox resigned in protest and returned to Harvard. Next, Cox, who had been gaining a reputation as a labor negotiator, served as solicitor general for the U.S. Department of Justice from 1961 to 1965. His skills as a negotiator were employed again in 1968, when he was the head of a committee to help settle student unrest at Columbia University. Finally, in 1972, Cox was named a special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation. Having learned that President Nixon had secretly recorded conversations regarding the break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters office, Cox sought a court order to have the White House turn over the tapes. Nixon repeatedly refused these demands, eventually forcing Cox to step down; later, however, the tapes came to light anyway and led to Nixon's resignation. Returning to Harvard, Cox spent the rest of his career in academia. He was the author of several books, including Law and the National Labor Policy (1960), The Warren Court: Constitutional Decision As an Instrument of Reform (1968), and Freedom of Expression (1981), among others.



Chicago Tribune, May 31, 2004, section 4, p. 11.

Independent (London, England), June 1, 2004, p. 34.

Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2004, pp. A1, A32.

New York Times, May 31, 2004, p. A19.

Times (London, England), June 1, 2004, p. 26.


Washington Post, (May 30, 2004).