Richard Smith Whaley was Chief Justice of the Untied States Court of Claims from 1939 until 1947. He was born and raised in Charleston; attended Episcopal High School, the University of Virginia and the University of South Carolina Law School. He was a football star at the University of Virginia and the first coach at the University of South Carolina. His team won the first Carolina-Clemson football game.
He entered the practice of law at Charleston in 1900 and was a member of the law firm of Trenholm, Rhett, Miller and Whaley. He served in the South Carolina State Legislature from 1900 until 1912 and served as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was elected to the United States Congress and served from 1913 until 1921. He was a Commissioner of the United States Court of Claims from 1925 through 1930, and a Judge thereof from 1930 until 1939. He was appointed its Chief Justice by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, long a personal friend.
In 1910, he was President of the South Carolina State Democratic Party Convention and a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1912 and 1920. A member of the Charleston Country Club, the Elks, the St. Cecilia Society, and Grace Episcopal Church, he was a bachelor until retirement when he married Rosa McWane Barksdale in 1947.
Always forceful, resourceful and diligent, he kept the work of his Court current.