Born in Wake County (now a part of Raleigh), North Carolina, Harris attended the public schools and St. Mary's College (now Belmont Abbey College), Belmont, North Carolina. He served in various editorial positions on newspapers in North Carolina and Virginia 1908-1918. He served as member of the staff of Universal Service in Washington, D.C. from 1918 to 1925. He served as assistant secretary to the American delegation to the International Narcotics Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1924 and 1925. Managing editor of the Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia from 1925 to 1941.
Harris was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-seventh Congress, April 8, 1941, in a special election, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Colgate W. Darden, Jr.. He was reelected to the Seventy-eighth Congress and served from April 8, 1941, until his resignation on September 15, 1944. He engaged as vice president, Shipbuilders' Council of America, in Washington, D.C., until his retirement December 31, 1958. He served as vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority from September 1955 until his resignation in November 1961. He was editor of the Alexandria Journal, the Arlington Journal, and the Fairfax County Journal-Standard until his retirement in March 1966. Resided in Alexandria, Virginia, until his death there February 24, 1973. He was interred in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, North Carolina.