|John (Jehu) Davis|
|no known portrait exists|
|President of Delaware|
March 29, 1789 – June 2, 1789
|Preceded by||Thomas Collins|
|Succeeded by||Joshua Clayton|
Worcester County, Maryland
|Died||May 11, 1802
Kent County, Delaware
|Residence||Kent County, Delaware|
John (Jehu) Davis (1738 – May 11, 1802) was an American planter and politician from Mispillion Hundred, in Kent County, Delaware, west of Milford. He served in the Delaware General Assembly and as President of Delaware.
Early life and family
Davis was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, son of Thomas Davis. His paternal grandfather was born in Wales. Jehu Davis came to Laurel, Delaware where he married Rhoda Laws. After their marriage they bought McSparren, a farm in Mispillion Hundred, 3 miles west of Milford, where they settled permanently. There they had eight children, Isaac, John, Henry, Sarah, Rhoda, Nancy, Joshua, and William. After Rhoda's death, Davis married Sarah Douglas. They were members of Christ Episcopal Church in Milford. That portion of Mispillion Hundred became Milford Hundred in 1830.
Professional and political career
Davis was a member of the local militia during the American Revolution and a Justice of the Peace for 14 years beginning in 1777. He was elected to the 1st State House, or House of Assembly, and served ten terms from the 1776/77 session through the 1779/80 session, again in the 1782/83 and 1783/84 sessions, and finally from the 1786/87 session through the 1789/90 session. He was the Speaker in the 1788/89 session and when President Thomas Collins died in office on March 29, 1789, the Speaker's office in the State Senate or Legislative Council, was vacant. Consequently, Davis became President. He served until June 2, 1789, when the Delaware General Assembly held a special vote to choose Collins' replacement.
During Davis' short term George Washington was inaugurated the first President of the United States. The event of his passing through Wilmington on the way to New York for this ceremony caused a great deal of excitement, as described by Elizabeth Montgomery in her Reminiscences of Wilmington:
- "and it must have been soon after his elevation to that office, for I well remember the crowds of people rushing onto the Baltimore Road (now Maryland Avenue) to catch a glimpse as he passed...It was a day of great enjoyment, all was on tiptoe of expectation when his chariot appeared, driving slowly through the crowd, he bowing, hat in hand, and white handkerchief waving, and every face flushed, and sparkling with joy."
Afterwards, Davis served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1789 until 1792 and as a Justice of the Peace from 1793 until his death.
|Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while President)
|Year||Assembly||Senate Majority||Speaker||House Majority||Speaker|
Death and legacy
Davis died at McSparren, in Mispillion Hundred and is buried in the Christ (Savannah) Episcopal Church Cemetery. The cemetery is now paved over by Delaware Route 14.
No known portrait of Jehu Davis exists.
Elections were held October 1 and members of the General Assembly took office on October 20 or the following weekday. State Assemblymen had a one-year term. The whole General Assembly chose the State President for a three-year term. However, Davis served as State President only temporarily, filling the vacancy created by the death of Thomas Collins and awaiting the selection of a successor by the General Assembly. Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas were also selected by the General Assembly for the life of the person appointed.
|Office||Type||Location||Began office||Ended office||notes|
|Judge||Judiciary||Dover||1777||1789||Justice of the Peace|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||New Castle||October 28, 1776||October 20, 1777|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1777||October 20, 1778|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1778||October 20, 1779|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1779||October 20, 1780|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 21, 1782||October 20, 1783|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1783||October 21, 1784|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1786||October 21, 1787|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1787||October 26, 1788|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1788||October 20, 1789|
|State President||Executive||Dover||March 29, 1789||June 2, 1789||acting|
|Assemblyman||Legislature||Dover||October 20, 1789||October 20, 1790|
|Judge||Judiciary||Dover||1789||1792||Court of Common Pleas|
|Judge||Judiciary||Dover||1793||1802||Justice of the Peace|
|Delaware General Assembly service|
|1776/77||1st||State House||non-partisan||John McKinly||Kent at-large|
|1777/78||2nd||State House||non-partisan||George Read||Kent at-large|
|1778/79||3rd||State House||non-partisan||Caesar Rodney||Kent at-large|
|1779/80||4th||State House||non-partisan||Caesar Rodney||Kent at-large|
|1782/83||7th||State House||non-partisan||John Cook||Kent at-large|
|1783/84||8th||State House||non-partisan||Nicholas Van Dyke||Kent at-large|
|1786/87||11th||State House||non-partisan||Thomas Collins||Kent at-large|
|1787/88||12th||State House||non-partisan||Thomas Collins||Kent at-large|
|1788/89||13th||State House||non-partisan||Thomas Collins||Speaker||Kent at-large|
|1789/90||14th||State House||non-partisan||Joshua Clayton||Speaker||Kent at-large|
- Conrad, Henry C. (1908). History of the State of Delaware. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wickersham Company.
- Martin, Roger A. (1984). History of Delaware Through its Governors. Wilmington, Delaware: McClafferty Press.
- Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin.
- Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University.
- Racino, John W. (1980). Biographical Directory of American and Revolutionary Governors 1607-1789. Westport, CT: Meckler Books. ISBN 0-930466-00-4.
- Rodney, Richard S. (1975). Collected Essays on Early Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Delaware.
- Scharf, John Thomas (1888). History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols. Philadelphia: L. J. Richards & Co.
Places with more information
- Delaware Historical Society; website; 505 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801; (302) 655-7161
- University of Delaware; Library website; 181 South College Avenue, Newark, Delaware 19717; (302) 831-2965