Félix Córdova Dávila

Félix Córdova Dávila

Lawyer, jurist and the second Resident Commissioner in the House of Representatives in Washington.

Félix Córdova Dávila was born in Vega Baja on November 20, 1878, the son of Lope Córdova Y Thibault and María Concepción Dávila Dávila. After he was left an orphan, he went to Jayuya, where he was raised by a cousin, the physician Gonzalo Dávila. He completed his secondary education in Manatí.

Córdova Dávila began his law studies at Howard University Law School in the United States, because only law degrees from United States universities were considered valid. To his surprise, Howard had been the first university for blacks in the United States.

In his second year, he transferred to the National University Law School in Washington, D.C. After he completed his law degree, the Bar Association in Washington denied him a license to practice law because Puerto Ricans did not have United States citizenship. Córdova Dávila did not accept this decision and fought until he was granted a license to practice law in the federal capital.

In 1903, he returned to Puerto Rico and, after obtaining his license to practice his profession, he worked as a jurist for many years. From 1904 to 1908, he served as municipal judge in the Manatí court and, in 1908, worked as the district attorney for Aguadilla. Later, he became a district judge in Guayama (1908-1910), Arecibo (1910-1911) and San Juan (1911-1917).

Córdova Dávila was interested in creating a law school in Puerto Rico. In 1912, along with Emilio del Toro, Rafael López Landrón, Jorge Domínguez, Jesús M. Rossy, Luis Muñoz Morales, José Benedicto y Géigel, Antonio Sarmiento, Cayetano Coll y Cuchi, Luis Llorens Torres, Jacinto Texidor y Alcalá del Olmo and Miguel Guerra Mondragón, he founded the Puerto Rican Athenaeum School of Law, which offered free classes. This school later became the University of Puerto Rico Law School.

The jurist was a member of the Union Party of Puerto Rico, which split off from the Federal Party and included some dissidents from the Republican Party. He lobbied for the two parties to come together to reach a solution to the political status issue and for the creation of a civil government in which the public elected the governor, among other points. As a member of the party, Córdova Dávila was elected resident commissioner for Puerto Rico in the House of Representatives in Washington, replacing Luis Muñoz Marín.

He was re-elected to the post in 1920, 1924 and 1928. During his terms as resident commissioner, he lobbied for amendments to the Puerto Rico Organic Law that would extend certain rights to Puerto Ricans, for infrastructure improvements and for the imposition of a tariff on coffee imported into Puerto Rico.

In 1926, he resigned from the Union Party of Puerto Rico because he was not in agreement with its alliance with the Republican Party. In 1932, he resigned as Resident Commissioner to assume a post as associate justice on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

He died in San Juan on December 3, 1938.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 11, 2014.

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