Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955

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John William Davis (April 13, 1873 – March 24, 1955) was an American politician, diplomat and lawyer. He served under President Woodrow Wilson as the Solicitor General of the United States and the United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He was the Democratic nominee for president in 1924 and lost to Republican incumbent Calvin Coolidge.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Davis briefly worked as a teacher before beginning his long legal career. Davis's father, John J. Davis, had been a delegate to the Wheeling Convention and served in the United States House of Representatives in the 1870s. Davis joined his father's legal practice and adopted many of his father's political views, including opposition to anti-lynching legislation and support for states' rights. Davis served in the United States House of Representatives from 1911 to 1913, helping to write the Clayton Antitrust Act. He held the position of solicitor general from 1913 to 1918, during which time he successfully argued for the illegality of Oklahoma's "grandfather law" in Guinn v. United States.

While serving as the ambassador to Britain from 1918 to 1921, Davis was a dark horse candidate for the 1920 Democratic presidential nomination. After he left office, Davis helped establish the Council on Foreign Relations and advocated for the repeal of Prohibition. The 1924 Democratic National Convention nominated Davis for president after 103 ballots. His nomination made him the second nominee (Wilson, the first, had been nominated in 1912) from a former slave state, Virginia since the Civil War, and Davis remains the only major party presidential candidate from West Virginia. Running on a ticket with Charles W. Bryan, Davis lost in a landslide to Coolidge.

Davis did not seek public office again after 1924 but remained a prominent attorney, representing many of the country's largest businesses. Over a 60-year legal career, he argued 140 cases before the United States Supreme Court. He famously argued the winning side in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, in which the Supreme Court ruled against President Harry Truman's seizure of the nation's steel plants. Davis also unsuccessfully defended the "separate but equal" doctrine in Briggs v. Elliott, one of the companion cases to Brown v. Board of Education.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Bingham family papers, 1811-1974 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn McNutt, Paul V. (Paul Vories), 1891-1955. Mss., 1899-1955 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. John W. Davis collection : 1888-1953. The Library at Washington and Lee University School of Law, Law Library
creatorOf Murphy, George, 1897-1961. George Murphy papers, 1911-1961. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Autograph letter signed : to Mrs. Juliet Morgan Hamilton, [1943] Mar. 14. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Huston Thompson Papers, 1908-1965, (bulk 1936-1965) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Sanders, Jared Young, 1839-1881. Jared Young Sanders family papers, 1816-1950 (bulk 1860-1930). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Beal, Boylston Adams, 1865-1944,. Letters from various correspondents, 1871-1940. Houghton Library
referencedIn Holt, Hamilton, 1872-1951. Letters from Hamilton Holt [manuscript] 1916-47. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Gardiner & Reed. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1930-1931. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Arthur Bliss Lane papers, 1904-1957 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Gary, Hampson, 1873-1952. Papers of Hampson Gary, 1893-1943. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Thomas Watt Gregory papers, 1896-1933, (bulk 1919-1933) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Vol. XXV (ff. 199). 1920-July 1923.includes:ff. 1, 11, 122, 125 Walter George Frank Phillimore, 1st Baron Phillimore: Correspondence between Lord Cecil and Lord Phillimore: 1920-1922: Signed.ff. 5, 39-42, 61, 68-72v, 133, 139 Colonel Edward Mande... British Library
referencedIn Elman, Philip. Philip Elman papers. 1925-1979. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf WRENCH PAPERS. Vol. III. 1912-1928. ff. iii+148. 272 x 200mm.includes:ff. 1-3 Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, Viscount Northcliffe: Letters to Sir Evelyn Wrench from Alfred Charles William Harmsworth: 1912-1913: Signed.f. 4 General Sir Robert ..., 1912-1928 British Library
referencedIn Riggs Family Papers, 1763-1945 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Abbott, Horatio J. (Horatio Johnson), 1876-1936. Horatio J. Abbott papers, 1906-1948. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Typewritten letter signed, dated : New York, 2 April 1928, to Harry Harkness Flagler, 1928 Apr. 2. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Stokes, Harold Phelps, 1887-1970. Harold Phelps Stokes papers, 1908-1969 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Vol. IX (ff. 245). 1934-1941; followed (f. 229 sqq.) by memorial notices of Spender, 1942, and (f. 245) by a letter, 15 May 1944, from Stewart Nicholson, Secretary of the Institute of Journalists, to Henry Archibald Taylor, formerly President of the ..., 1934-1944 British Library
referencedIn Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947. Irving Fisher papers, 1861-1976 (inclusive), 1894-1947 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Democratic Party (Ky.). Democratic Party papers, 1896-1952, 1920-1930 (bulk dates). University of Kentucky Libraries
creatorOf Kellogg, Frank B. (Frank Billings), 1856-1937. Frank B. Kellogg papers, 1890-1942 [microform]. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. John William Davis papers, 1846-1959 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf CHARNWOOD AUTOGRAPHS. Vol. III. Foreign historical, literary and musical autographs, etc.; circa 16th-20th cent. Included are Charles V of Spain, Madame de Maintenon, Lafayette, Garibaldi, Kropotkin, Mussolini and Roosevelt; Heinrich Heine, Alessandr..., approximately 16th century-20th century British Library
referencedIn Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924. Samuel Gompers microfilm collection, 1907-1932 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Mary Klachko Papers, 1852-1995 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Riggs, Elisha, 1779-1853. Riggs family papers, 1763-1945. Library of Congress
referencedIn Warren, Charles, 1868-1954. Papers of Charles Warren, 1874-1954. Library of Congress
referencedIn McCormick, Vance Criswell, 1872-1946. Vance Criswell McCormick papers, 1907-1946 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files. 1/19/1898 - 4/13/1945. Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
referencedIn Auchincloss, Gordon, 1886-1943. Gordon Auchincloss papers, 1914-1951 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. John William Davis letter to Paul McCoy [manuscript], 1928 May 17. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. Papers of Thomas Nelson Page [manuscript], 1865-1920. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Klachko, Mary. Mary Klachko papers, 1852-1995. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn House, Edward Mandell, 1858-1938. Edward Mandell House papers, 1885-1938 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Diary of John William Davis [manuscript], 1919-1921. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Thompson, Huston. Papers of Huston Thompson, 1908-1965. Library of Congress
referencedIn Harold Phelps Stokes papers, 1908-1969 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. The reminiscences of John William Davis, 1953-1954 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Link, Carl, 1887-. Carl Link papers, 1887-1977. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
referencedIn Atkins, Katharine Watson 1902-1993. Oral history interview, 9 January 1978. Indiana Historical Society Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Papers, 1895-1930. Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
creatorOf Meredith, Edwin Thomas, 1876-1928. Papers of Edwin T. Meredith, 1898-1949. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, 1871-1940. Houghton Library
referencedIn Records of the National Park Service, 1785 - 2006. National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records, 2013 - 2017 National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration
referencedIn Jouett Shouse papers, 1911-1967, 1915-1967 (bulk dates) University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Walworth, Arthur, 1903-. Arthur Clarence Walworth papers, 1868-2003 (inclusive), 1868-1994 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Harry Weinberger papers, 1915-1944 Yale University Library
creatorOf Elman, Philip, 1918-. Papers, 1925-1979. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Stokes, Harold Phelps, 1887-1970. Harold Phelps Stokes papers, 1908-1969 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Hull, Cordell, 1871-1955. Cordell Hull papers, 1901-1932, bulk 1921-1932. Tennessee State Library & Archives, TSLA
referencedIn Arthur Clarence Walworth papers, 1868-2003, 1868-1994 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Bingham family. Bingham family papers, 1811-1974 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn George Murphy papers, 1911-1961 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Stimson, Henry L. (Henry Lewis), 1867-1950. Henry Lewis Stimson papers, 1846-1966. Yale University Library
creatorOf Page, Thomas Walker, 1866-1937. Papers of Thomas Walker Page [manuscript], 1906-1937. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Hires, Harrison Streeter, 1887-1962,. Letters. : Additions. Haverford College Library
referencedIn Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928. Robert Lansing papers, 1831-1935 (bulk 1914-1920). Library of Congress
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library
referencedIn House, Edward Mandell, 1858-1938. Edward Mandell House papers, 1885-2007 (inclusive), 1885-1938 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf Meredith, Edwin Thomas, 1876-1928. Papers of Edwin T. Meredith, 1898-1949 [microform]. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Frank Lyon Polk papers, 1883-1942 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Charles Warren Papers, 1874-1954, (bulk 1914-1945) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn McGowan, Carl, 1911-1987. Letter, 1977 July 29, Washington, D.C., to Richard Morin, Hanover, N.H. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Vol. xxix. (ff. 209). Nov. 1930-1933.includes:ff. 1, 6, 9, 21 George E. Roberts, Vice-President, National City Bank of New York (France): Correspondence with H. Wickham Steed of George E. Roberts: 1930: Partly signed and copy.ff. 2, 18, 172, 177 ... British Library
referencedIn Rebecca Shelley Papers, 1890-1984 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Robert Lansing Papers, 1831-1935, (bulk 1914-1920) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Hodges, LeRoy, 1888-1944. Papers, 1908-1942. Washington & Lee University, James G. Leyburn Library
referencedIn Letters sent to Walter Hines Page from various correspondents, English period, 1876-1937. Houghton Library
referencedIn Lane, Arthur Bliss, 1894-1956. Arthur Bliss Lane papers, 1904-1957 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Gregory, Thomas Watt, 1861-1933. Thomas Watt Gregory papers, 1896-1933 (bulk 1919-1933). Library of Congress
creatorOf Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966. Papers of Louis Arthur Johnson [manuscript] 1930-64. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Typed letter signed John W. Davis to: "My dear Doctor Palmer" January 31, 1923. Wellesley College
creatorOf John William Davis papers, 1846-1959 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn John and Lugenia Hope papers, 1888-1947. Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library
referencedIn Irving Fisher papers, 1861-1976, 1894-1947 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Delano, Frederic Adrian, 1863-1953. Miscellaneous papers [manuscript], 1798-1923 (bulk 1903-1923). University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Reminiscences of John William Davis : oral history, 1954. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Edward Mandell House papers, 1885-2007, 1885-1938 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. John William Davis papers, 1846-1959 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Byrd, Daniel Ellis., 1910-1984. Papers. 1947-1981. Tulane University, Amistad Research Center
creatorOf Rider, Sidney S. (Sidney Smith), 1833-1917. Papers, 1900-1912. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Robert Lansing Papers, 1882-1929, 1905-1928 Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections.Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Public Policy Papers.
referencedIn McCormick, Vance Criswell, 1872-1946. Vance Criswell McCormick papers, 1907-1946 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960. William Adams Delano papers, 1902-1960 (inclusive), 1939-1960 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Raskob, John J. (John Jakob), 1879-1950. Democratic National Committee papers, 1928-1938. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn Gilchrist, Huntington, 1891-1975. Papers of Huntington Gilchrist, 1913-1973 (bulk 1919-1955). Library of Congress
referencedIn Bingham family. Bingham family papers, 1811-1974 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Gordon Auchincloss papers, 1914-1951 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn President's Secretary's Files (Truman Administration), 1945 - 1960. General Files, 1945 - 1953 Harry S. Truman Library
referencedIn Vance Criswell McCormick papers, 1907-1946 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Frank Lyon Polk papers, 1883-1942 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Warburg, Paul M. (Paul Moritz), 1868-1932. Paul Moritz Warburg papers, 1904-1932 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Trueblood, Thomas C. (Thomas Clarkson), 1856-1951. Correspondence, 1916-1928. University of Michigan
referencedIn Robert Lansing Papers, 1882-1929, 1905-1928 Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections.Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Public Policy Papers.
creatorOf Davis, John W. (John William), 1873-1955. Reminiscences of John William Davis : oral history, 1954. Nolan, Norton & Company, Incorporated
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, Horatio J. (Horatio Johnson), 1876-1936. person
associatedWith American Bar Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Andrews, Matthew Page, 1879-1947. person
associatedWith Asquith, H. H. (Herbert Henry), 1852-1928. person
associatedWith Astor, Nancy Witcher Langhorne Astor, Viscountess, 1879-1964. person
associatedWith Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Atkins, Katharine Watson 1902-1993. person
associatedWith Auchincloss, Gordon, 1886-1943. person
associatedWith Balfour, Arthur James Balfour, Earl of, 1848-1930. person
associatedWith Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965. person
associatedWith Battle, George Gordon, b. 1868. person
associatedWith Beal, Boylston Adams, 1865-1944, person
associatedWith Beck, James M. (James Montgomery), 1861-1936. person
associatedWith Bedford, Alfred Cotton, 1864-1925. person
associatedWith Bingham family. family
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associatedWith Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930. person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Bullitt, William Marshall, 1873- person
associatedWith Bullitt, Wm. Marshall (William Marshall), b. 1873. person
associatedWith Byrd, Daniel Ellis., 1910-1984. person
associatedWith Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. corporateBody
associatedWith Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965. person
associatedWith Clemenceau, Georges, 1841-1929. person
associatedWith Cornwell, John J., b. 1867. person
associatedWith Coudert, Frederic R. (Frederic René), 1832-1903. person
associatedWith Council on Foreign Relations. corporateBody
associatedWith Cox, James M. (James Middleton), 1870-1957. person
associatedWith Curzon of Kedleston, George Nathaniel Curzon, Marquess, 1859-1925. person
associatedWith Davis, Emma Kennedy. person
associatedWith Davis, Emma Kennedy. person
childOf Davis, John J. (John James), 1835-1916 person
associatedWith Davis, Julia. person
associatedWith Davis, Julia. person
associatedWith Davis, Polk & Wardwell. corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Polk, Wardwell, Gardiner & Reed. corporateBody
associatedWith Delano, William Adams, 1874-1960. person
associatedWith Democratic Party (Ky.) corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Edwards, Agustín, 1878- person
associatedWith Elman, Philip, 1918- person
associatedWith English-Speaking Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Ewing, Thomas, 1862-1942. person
associatedWith Faysal I, King of Iraq, 1885-1933. person
associatedWith Fisher, Irving, 1867-1947. person
associatedWith Fisher, Irving Norton, 1900- person
associatedWith Flagler, Harry Harkness, person
associatedWith Gary, Hampson, 1873-1952. person
associatedWith George V, King of Great Britain, 1865-1936. person
associatedWith Gilchrist, Huntington, 1891-1975. person
associatedWith Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924. person
correspondedWith Gregory, Thomas Watt, 1861-1933. person
associatedWith Guthrie, William D. (William Dameron), 1859-1935. person
associatedWith Haig, Douglas, Sir, 1861-1928. person
associatedWith Hamilton, Juliet Pierpont, 1870-1952, person
associatedWith Hires, Harrison Streeter, 1887-1962, person
associatedWith Hodges, LeRoy, 1888-1944. person
associatedWith Holt, Hamilton, 1872-1951. person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith House, Edward Mandell, 1858-1938. person
associatedWith Hull, Cordell, 1871-1955. person
associatedWith Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Frank B. (Frank Billings), 1856-1937. person
associatedWith Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936. person
associatedWith Klachko, Mary. person
associatedWith Lane, Arthur Bliss, 1894-1956. person
correspondedWith Lansing, Robert, 1864-1928. person
associatedWith Law, Andrew Bonar, 1858-1923. person
associatedWith League of Nations. corporateBody
associatedWith Link, Carl, 1887- person
associatedWith Lloyd George, David, 1863-1945. person
associatedWith Mary Flagler Cary Music Collection (Pierpont Morgan Library) corporateBody
associatedWith McCormick, Vance Criswell, 1872-1946. person
associatedWith McCoy, Paul, person
associatedWith McGowan, Carl, 1911-1987. person
associatedWith McNutt, Paul V. (Paul Vories), 1891-1955 person
associatedWith Meredith, Edwin Thomas, 1876-1928. person
associatedWith Murphy, George, 1897-1961. person
associatedWith Nesbitt, Wallace, 1858- person
associatedWith Nitti, Francesco Saverio, 1868-1953. person
associatedWith Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922. person
associatedWith Page, Thomas Walker, 1866-1937. person
associatedWith Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918 person
associatedWith Palmer, George Herbert, 1842-1933. person
associatedWith Phillips, Harlan B., person
associatedWith Polk, Frank Lyon, 1871-1943. person
associatedWith Preston, Walter Creigh, 1895- person
associatedWith Raskob, John J. (John Jakob), 1879-1950. person
associatedWith Rider, Sidney S. (Sidney Smith), 1833-1917. person
correspondedWith Riggs family family
associatedWith Sanders, Jared Young, 1839-1881. person
associatedWith Shaw, Thomas, Baron, 1850-1937. person
associatedWith Shelley, Rebecca, 1887-1984 person
associatedWith Shelton, Thomas W. (Thomas Wall), 1870- person
associatedWith Shouse, Jouett, 1879-1968. person
associatedWith Sinn Fein. corporateBody
associatedWith Standard Oil Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Stimson, Henry L. (Henry Lewis), 1867-1950. person
associatedWith Stokes, Harold Phelps, 1887-1970. person
associatedWith Taylor, C. Burgess. person
associatedWith Taylor, C. Burgess. person
associatedWith Templeton, E. Bryan. person
associatedWith Templeton, E. Bryan. person
correspondedWith Thompson, Huston. person
associatedWith Trueblood, Thomas C. (Thomas Clarkson), 1856-1951. person
memberOf United States. Congress. House of Representatives corporateBody
employeeOf United States. Department of State corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Dept. of Justice. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Navy. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Solicitor General. corporateBody
relativeOf Vance, Cyrus R. (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002 person
associatedWith Vance, William Reynolds, 1870-1940. person
associatedWith Walworth, Arthur, 1903- person
associatedWith Warburg, Paul M. (Paul Moritz), 1868-1932. person
associatedWith Warren, Charles, 1868-1954. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Washington and Lee University. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Washington and Lee University. School of Law. corporateBody
associatedWith Weinberger, Harry, 1888- person
associatedWith White, Edward Douglass, 1845-1921. person
associatedWith Wickersham, George W. (George Woodward), 1858-1936. person
associatedWith Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Charleston SC US
Clarksburg WV US
New York City NY US
London ENG GB
Nassau County NY US
District of Columbia DC US
Subject
Campaign literature, 1920--Democratic
Diplomacy
World War, 1914-1918--Peace
Home rule
Ambassadors
Politicians--Correspondence
Peace treaties
Law
Ambassadors--Interviews
Presidents--Election--1924
International relations
World War, 1914-1918--Prisoners and prisons
Lawyers--Licenses--20th century
Practice of law
Segregation in education--Law and legislation
Shipping
Lawyers--Correspondence--20th century
Law--Study and teaching
Legislators
Lawyers--Interviews
Occupation
Ambassadors
Representatives, U.S. Congress
Lawyers
Diplomats
Teachers
Function

Person

Birth 1873-04-13

Death 1955-03-24

Male

Americans

Latin,

English

Information

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