John W. Davis (governor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named John W. Davis, see John W. Davis (disambiguation).
For other people named John Davis, see John Davis (disambiguation).
John W. Davis
RI Governor John W Davis.jpg
Member of the Rhode Island Senate
from the district
38th & 41st Governor of Rhode Island
In office
May 29, 1887 – May 29, 1888
May 27, 1890 – May 26, 1891
Lieutenant Samuel R. Honey
William T. C. Wardwell
Preceded by George P. Wetmore
Herbert W. Ladd
Succeeded by Royal C. Taft
Herbert W. Ladd
Personal details
Born John William Davis
(1826-03-07)March 7, 1826
Rehoboth, Massachusetts, USA
Died January 25, 1907(1907-01-25) (aged 80)
Resting place Riverside Cemetery, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA[1]
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lydia W. Kenyon, Emily P. Goffe
Residence Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA
Occupation Mason, teacher
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch National Guard
Years of service 1861–1865
Unit Rhode Island National Guard
Battles/wars American Civil War

John William Davis (March 7, 1826 – January 25, 1907) was a United States Democratic politician, who served as the 38th and 41st Governor of Rhode Island (1887–1888 and 1890–1891).

Early life[edit]

Born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Davis attended public schools in Rehoboth and a private school in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Before entering politics, he was engaged in various occupations, including mechanical masonry, teaching, and grain dealing. Davis started a grain business with his brother in 1850, and remained a partner in the business until his retirement in 1890. During the American Civil War, he served in the Rhode Island Militia.

Political career[edit]

Davis moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1877, and in 1882 was elected President of the Town Council. He was reelected to the position in 1885. Davis was also elected to the Rhode Island Senate in 1885. For a number of years he was a Rhode Island State Senator, before he was appointed by fellow Democratic President Grover Cleveland as an Appraiser of Foreign Merchandise for the Providence U.S. Customs District.

Davis became Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 1887 and defeated incumbent Republican George P. Wetmore. In his bid Davis was supported by many Republicans, who were dissatisfied.

During his first term as governor, the Women’s Suffrage Amendment to the state constitution was approved, the boundary line between Rhode Island and Connecticut was established, and election laws were reformed to eliminate fraud. Davis was defeated for re-election in 1888 by Republican candidate Royal C. Taft, but ran again in 1889 against Herbert W. Ladd.

Plurality is not enough to win[edit]

Prior to 1893, Rhode Island's constitution had a majority election requirement; that is, if no candidate for state races received an outright majority, the result would be decided by the General Assembly.[2] This became an issue during a period of four years, 1889-1893, during which the rise of the Prohibition Party caused several state races to be sent to the Assembly for decision.[2] Three times, in 1889, 1890, and 1891, Democrat Davis received more votes than Republican Ladd in the Governor's race, yet did not receive a majority. [2] The Assembly decided in favor of Ladd twice (1889 and 1891) and for Davis in 1890.[2] This situation was eventually remedied in November 1893 by the adoption of Amendment X to the Rhode Island Constitution, which allowed for a winner by plurality vote.[2]

Second term[edit]

During Davis's second administration the governor was given authorization to appoint a commission to revise and codify general statutes, and funds were appropriated for completion of a Soldiers’ Home. He undertok the construction of College Hall at the University of Rhode Island, then the largest building on campus. When it burned down in 1895 and was rebuilt, it was renamed Davis Hall in his honor.[3]

Davis was defeated for re-election once again in 1891, but did not retire from active politics; he was elected to the state Senate in 1892, and Mayor of Pawtucket in 1897.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Davis was married three times: to Lydia W. Kenyon (died 1859); Emily P. Goffe, two children; and Marietta P. Pearse. Davis was raised Methodist and later became Episcopalian.

Davis died on January 25, 1907, and is interred at Riverside Cemetery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Davis, John William (1826–1907)". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved September 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Conley, Patrick T. (2011). The Rhode Island State Constitution. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 154. Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "URI History and Timeline". University of Rhode Island. Retrieved Jul 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Rhode Island Governor John William Davis". National Governors Association. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  5. ^ "John William Davis". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Mohr, Ralph S. Governors for Three Hundred Years (1638–1954): Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. State of Rhode Island, Graves Registration Committee, August 1954.
  • The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.
  • Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
George P. Wetmore
Governor of Rhode Island
1887–1888
Succeeded by
Royal C. Taft
Preceded by
Herbert W. Ladd
Governor of Rhode Island
1890–1891
Succeeded by
Herbert W. Ladd