Simmons, David Andrew (1897–1951)

By: William B. Carssow

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 2, 2019

David Andrew Simmons, president of the Texas and American Bar associations, was born in Galveston on May 31, 1897, the son of David Edward and Virginia (Finlay) Simmons. His father was an assistant attorney general of Texas, and his maternal grandfather helped organize the Texas Bar Association (see STATE BAR OF TEXAS) in Galveston in 1882. Simmons entered the University of Texas in 1914, was interrupted in 1917 by a stint in the Air Force during World War I, and graduated with highest honors in 1920. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1919 and later received honorary LL.D.s from the University of Montreal and Loyola University. He married Elizabeth Daggett of Fort Worth in 1921. After graduation from the University of Texas he served as assistant United States attorney and practiced law in Houston, except for a term as first assistant attorney general of Texas. During that tenure he was one of the youngest attorneys to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court when he successfully argued a Texas-Oklahoma boundary dispute involving an oilfield. He served as counsel for many years to the Port of Houston and master in chancery for the U.S. District Court.

Simmons served as president of the Houston-Galveston Bar Association (1931) and was responsible for founding both the Houston Bar Journal and the District Bar Journal. He became president of the Texas Bar Association in 1937–38, during which time he founded and published the Texas Bar Journal, in spite of protests that it would conflict with the Texas Law Review. The state bar office was founded in 1938 in Simmons's law offices in Houston and was later moved to Austin. Simmons became the youngest president of the American Bar Association in 1944. He also served as president of the American Judicature Society, vice president of the Inter-American Bar Association, honorary member of the Canadian Bar Association (1945), and member of the Selden Society of England. He served as a member of the Board of Governors and House of Delegates of the American Bar Association and on the committee of the Texas Supreme Court to draft the first Rules for Criminal Procedure (1941). He was a member of the American Law Institute and was awarded the Freedom Foundation Award (1950). He was credited with starting the first effort to draft Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower for the nomination for the presidency of the United States. Simmons in his later life was legal consultant to the U.S. delegation at the United Nations' formative conference at San Francisco and helped draft the charter in 1945. He later bought and partly restored old Fort Davis in West Texas as a hobby and in furtherance of his devotion to Texas history. He was a deacon in the Second Baptist Church at Houston. Simmons died of a heart attack on March 24, 1951, and was survived by his wife and two daughters. The American Bar Journal on his death said: "He was a man of matchless courage, unimpeachable integrity, and unshakable loyalty-His ability as a lawyer was outstanding." He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

American Bar Association Journal, May 1951. Ellis A. Davis and Edwin H. Grobe, comps., The New Encyclopedia of Texas (4 vols., 1929?). Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Southwestern Collection, July 1951. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • General Law
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

William B. Carssow, “Simmons, David Andrew,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 30, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 2, 2019

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