FitzGerald, David E. Hon.


Without question David E. FitzGerald is one of the best known public men of New Haven and is recognized as a leader in democratic circles from coast to coast. His opinions and services have again and again been sought where expert knowledge or ability are needed in directing party affairs and, moreover, he is one of the most New Haven, while his personal characteristics make for popularity among his friends. Born in New Haven, September 21, 1874, he is a son of Edward and Ann (Conway) FitzGerald, who were natives of Ireland but in early life came to the United States and were married in New Haven, where they continued to reside until called to the home beyond, the mother passing away in 1880, while the father reached the age of sixty-two years, departing this life in 1909. In their family were two sons and a daughter: John, deceased; David E.; and Mrs. Morris Slattery, whose husband is a prominent physician of New Haven.

After mastering the common branches of learning in St. John's parochial school, David E. FitzGerald attended the Hillhouse high school, from which he was graduated and was historian of his class of 1893. Having determined upon the practice of law as his life work, he then entered Yale University and received his LL. B. degree in 1895. After-ward he took post-graduate work in law and received the degree of master of laws, in 1896. He was admitted to the bar upon becoming of age and in 1897 entered into partnership with Walter J. Walsh and they have since been associated in the conduct of a most extensive and important law practice. Such is the ability of Mr. FitzGerald that public opinion ranks him with the leading attorneys of Connecticut. His course indicates careful analysis, a thorough knowledge of the law and keen insight combined with well balanced intellect. Along with those qualities indispensable to the lawyer—a keen, rapid, logical mind, plus the business sense and a ready capacity for hard work, he brought to the starting point of his legal career certain rare gifts—eloquence of language and a strong personality.

Mr. FitzGerald has long been a most active worker in democratic circles and was chairman of the democratic town committee for several years. He was elected chairman of the democratic state central committee in 1914, when Governor Simeon D. Baldwin was nominated for the United States senate, and conducted the state campaign that year, and during the presidential campaign of 1916. Mr. FitzGerald was made a delegate at large to the democratic national convention at Baltimore in 1912 and was chosen one of the four delegates-at-large to the St. Louis convention in 1916. He has always been a prominent figure in the democratic conventions of state and nation for many years and he is a close personal friend of many of the political leaders of the country in both parties. He has been tendered many public offices but until he accepted the mayoralty nomination he steadfastly declined to become a candidate, preferring to concentrate his attention upon his professional duties In the October election of 1917, Mr. FitzGerald was elected mayor of New Haven by almost a record vote. He has done much valuable public work outside of political office, however, his labors at all times being an element of progress and of justice. He was a member of the arbitration committee during the street railway troubles of 1909 and of 1913, representing the men on both occasions, with Clarence Deming representing the railway company. The troubles were satisfactorily adjusted. He was appointed on the committee of free scholarships to Yale University by the late Mayor Rice and there is no feature of public life that he regards as of vital concern in which he is not deeply interested. His most important activity lately has been in the interest of the state and the nation in national defense and war work. He is a member of the law committee of the State Council of National Defense. He is also a member of the committee of ten chosen by Governor Holcomb when the registration for the original draft first took place. Later Mr. FitzGerald was appointed chairman of the local division No. 3, exemption board, and at the joint meeting of the six boards appointed from New Haven by the president he was chosen chairman, and since the placing of the serial numbers on the registration cards he has been constantly in the service of the government, practically giving up his lucrative practice.

On the 12th of November, 1900, Mr. FitzGerald was married to Miss Alice J. Clark, of Milford, Connecticut, a daughter of Josiah Fowler and Sarah Clark. The Clark family is one of the oldest of Milford and the old homestead stands on the farm which has been in the family for seven generations. Mr. and Mrs. FitzGerald have two children, David E., born in New Haven in 1901 and now a high school pupil; and John, born in 1906, attending the Truman grammar school. His religious faith is that of the Roman Catholic church and Mr. FitzGerald is a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He is a man of most kindly spirit and generous impulses—one in whom the poor and needy have found a faithful friend. He is continually extending a helping hand where aid is needed. He cannot listen to a tale of sorrow or distress unmoved and yet his benevolences are known in the great majority of cases only to himself and the recipient. So countless have these been, however, that it is said that his recent election brought to him the support of hundreds who knew him as a benefactor, and yet the public had never been enlightened as to his generosity in those regards. Ho also has membership with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, also the Woodmen of the World, the New England Order of Protection, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Taft Peace Settlement Society and the American Historical Society, associations which indicate the nature and breadth of his interests. He is a charter member of the New Haven County Bar Association and he also has membership in the Connecticut State and American Bar Associations. He has been a very close student of the signs of the times and of those questions affecting national policy, and his analytical mind has contributed to the solution of various complex questions, while his oratory has enabled him to present his views with a clearness and cogency that carry conviction to the minds of his hearers.

Modern History of New Haven
Eastern New Haven County


Volume II

New York – Chicago
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 

pgs 216 - 219

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pages / text are copyrighted by
Elaine Kidd O'Leary & 
Anne Taylor-Czaplewski
May 2002