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Boston and Maine Railroad, he became an outstanding citizen of
Boston and won for himself an international reputation as a
lawyer and business man through his thorough knowledge of
corporate reorganization and financial problems. His major
contributions were the result of his exceptional qualities of
fairmindedness and impartiality. He was the United States citizen
member of the Reparations Commission from 1924 to 1926 and
president of the Arbitration Tribunal of Interpretation at The
Hague from 1926 to 1930. In 1929 he served as alternate to
Owen D. Young when Mr. Young was chairman of the
Committee of Experts which formed the Young Plan for the
settlement of the World War reparations' questions. During the
World War he was a member of the Priority Committee and of
the American Commission to the Inter-Allied War Conference in
Paris. He prepared for college at Hopkinson's School in Boston
and graduated from Harvard in 1891.
He was a varsity oarsman throughout his university course and captained the Harvard crew in his senior year, 1891, winning decisively from Yale at New London and breaking a long series of defeats. He was for many years a member of the Harvard Athletic Committee and of the Harvard Rowing Committee. He was a member of the law firm of Ropes, Gray & Loring, subsequently Ropes, Gray, Boyden & Perkins, from 1897 to the time of his death. His son, James Handasyd Perkins, is a member of the same firm, now Ropes, Gray, Best, Coolidge & Rugg.
At the age of thirty-five he was elected a Fellow of Harvard College. He was the youngest person to serve up to that time in that capacity. In 1926 he was president of the Harvard Alumni Association. In 1926 also Harvard gave him the degree of Doctor of Laws with the following citation: "Modest and wise in helping to shape the destiny of the University for twenty years and since then in lessening the obstacles to European peace. Dartmouth four years later gave him a similar degree with the following citation: "Independent in judgment, wise in counsel and distinguished in accomplishment."
In 1936 he was acting president of the University and Senior Fellow. He was the first substitute president in the history of the College to welcome a freshman class.
He was attorney for many corporations. Among his more outstanding accomplishments as a business man and financier was his work in straightening out the tangled affairs of the Boston and Maine Railroad shortly after his election as president of the board in 1924. He was director of many leading United States