Jeff Davis (Arkansas governor)

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Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis.jpg
United States Senator
from Arkansas
In office
March 4, 1907 – January 3, 1913
Preceded by James H. Berry
Succeeded by John N. Heiskell
20th Governor of Arkansas
In office
January 8, 1901 – January 8, 1907
Preceded by Daniel Webster Jones
Succeeded by John Sebastian Little
Personal details
Born Jefferson Davis
May 6, 1862
Little River County, Arkansas
Died January 3, 1913(1913-01-03) (aged 50)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Political party Democratic
Historical marker of the birthplace of Governor Jeff Davis

Jefferson Davis (May 6, 1862 – January 3, 1913), commonly known as Jeff Davis, was a Democratic United States Senator from Arkansas and the 20th Governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas. He was noted for his populist appeal, projecting an image of the little guy defying the moneyed interests, and he was openly pro-lynching.


Davis was born near the Richmond community in Little River County in southwestern Arkansas. His parents named him after Jefferson Davis, then-President of the Confederate States of America.

Davis attended school in Russellville, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas, and studied law at Cumberland University and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated in 1884 from Vanderbilt University.

Davis was admitted to the bar in Pope County, Arkansas and commenced private practice of law in Russellville.


Davis served as prosecuting attorney of the Fifth Judicial District of Arkansas from 1892 to 1896. He was elected as Attorney General of Arkansas and served from 1898 to 1901. He served as Governor of Arkansas from 1901 to 1907.[1]

Davis was elected to the United States Senate and served from 4 March 1907 until his death in Little Rock, Arkansas on 3 January 1913. He was chairman of the Committee on the Mississippi and its Tributaries.

Davis was well known for his outrageous rhetoric and oratorial skills. He made a career of skewering the business interests, newspapers, and urban dwellers in order to appeal to the poor rural citizens of the state. He portrayed himself as just another poor country boy against the moneyed interests that held back the common man. Davis was equally able to wield humor, the "bloody shirt", and racial differences. It was also said that many of his supporters incorrectly believed he was of familial relation to the Jefferson Davis who was the President of the Confederacy, a belief that Davis did nothing to discourage, and which he may have covertly encouraged.[2]

Davis was an avowed racist and segregationist. In 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt visited Arkansas, Davis greeted him with a speech in defense of the practice of lynching. Roosevelt responded with a calmer speech in defense of the rule of law.[2]


Davis served in the United States Senate until his death. He is buried at historic Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock, Arkansas.[3]


Selected Quote:

  • "The Helena World says that I'm a carrot haired, red-faced, load-mouthed, strong limbed, ox-driving mountaineer lawyer. That I'm a friend to the fellow that brews 40 rod bug juice back in the mountains. Now, I have a little boy, God bless him, and if I find that boy is a smart boy I will go and make a preacher out of him. If I find that he's not so smart, I'm going to make a lawyer out of him but if I find he has not a bit of sense on this earth, I'm going to make an editor out of him and send him to Little Rock to edit the Arkansas Democrat."


  1. ^ "Arkansas Governor Jefferson Davis". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "The Arkansas News: Jeff Davis Funeral Attracts Crowd of Thousands". Archived from the original on 2007-10-06. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  3. ^ "Jeff Davis". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Daniel Webster Jones
Governor of Arkansas
Succeeded by
John Sebastian Little
United States Senate
Preceded by
James Henderson Berry
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Arkansas
Succeeded by
John Netherland Heiskell