Dwight F. Davis

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Dwight F. Davis
Dwight Davis, Bain bw photo portrait.jpg
Governor-General of the Philippines
In office
July 8, 1929 – January 9, 1932
PresidentHerbert Hoover
Preceded byEugene Allen Gilmore (Acting)
Succeeded byGeorge C. Butte (Acting)
49th United States Secretary of War
In office
October 14, 1925 – March 4, 1929
PresidentCalvin Coolidge
Preceded byJohn W. Weeks
Succeeded byJames Good
United States Assistant Secretary of War
In office
Appointed byCalvin Coolidge
Preceded byMayhew Wainwright
Succeeded byHanford MacNider
Personal details
Dwight Filley Davis

(1879-07-05)July 5, 1879
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedNovember 28, 1945(1945-11-28) (aged 66)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Washington University (LLB)

Tennis career
Turned pro1895 (amateur tour)
PlaysLeft-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF1956 (member page)
Highest rankingNo. 5 (1900)
Grand Slam singles results
US OpenF (1898, 1899)
Other tournaments
Olympic Games2R (1904)
Grand Slam doubles results
WimbledonF (1901)
US OpenW (1899, 1900, 1901)
Other doubles tournaments
Olympic GamesQF (1904)
Team competitions
Davis CupW (1900, 1902)

Dwight Filley Davis Sr. (July 5, 1879 – November 28, 1945) was an American tennis player and politician. He is best remembered as the founder of the Davis Cup international tennis competition. He was the Assistant Secretary of War from 1923 to 1925 and Secretary of War from 1925 to 1929.[1]


Swearing in of Davis as Secretary of War in 1925

Dwight Filley Davis was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 5, 1879. His grandfather, Oliver Dwight Filley, was mayor of St. Louis from 1858 to 1861.[2] A cousin, Chauncey Ives Filley, served as mayor of St. Louis from 1863 to 1864.[3]

He reached the All-Comers final for the Men's Singles title at the US Championships in 1898 and 1899. He then teamed up with Holcombe Ward and won the Men's Doubles title at the championships for three years in a row from 1899 to 1901. Davis and Ward were also Men's Doubles runners-up at Wimbledon in 1901. Davis also won the American intercollegiate singles championship of 1899 as a student at Harvard College.

In 1900 Davis developed the structure for, and donated a silver bowl to go to the winner of, a new international tennis competition designed by him and three others known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, which was later renamed the Davis Cup in his honor. He was a member of the US team that won the first two competitions in 1900 and 1902, and was also the captain of the 1900 team.

He participated in the 1904 Summer Olympics. He was eliminated in the second round of the singles tournament. In the doubles tournament he and his partner Ralph McKittrick lost in the quarter-finals.[4]

He was inducted into the National Tennis Hall of Fame (now known as the International Tennis Hall of Fame) in 1956 in recognition of his contributions to the sport both as a player and an administrator.

Political service[edit]

Time cover, December 15, 1924

Davis was educated at Washington University Law School, though he was never a practicing attorney. He was, however, politically active in his home town of St. Louis and served as the city's public parks commissioner from 1911 to 1915. During his tenure, he expanded athletic facilities and created the first municipal tennis courts in the United States. He served under President Calvin Coolidge as Assistant Secretary of War (1923–1925) and as Secretary of War (1925–1929). He then served as Governor General of the Philippines (1929–1932) under Herbert Hoover.

Army service[edit]

Davis trained at the Preparedness Movement Citizens' Military Training Camp in 1915. From 1916 to 1917 he toured Europe as part of the Rockefeller War Relief Board. With war declared Davis enlisted as a private in the Missouri National Guard and was commissioned in August 1917.[5]

Going to France, Davis was promoted to Major and became adjutant of the 69th Infantry Brigade of the 35th Infantry Division. During this period he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. After the war he was a Colonel in the Army Reserves.

In 1942 Davis was the first and only Director General of the short lived Army Specialist Corps.[6] On the disbandment of the unit became an advisor with the rank of Major General.[5]

Personal life[edit]

His first wife, Helen Brooks, whom he married in 1905, died in 1932.[7] He married Pauline Sabin in 1936. He wintered in Florida from 1933 until his death, living at Meridian Plantation, near Tallahassee.[8]


Davis died at his home in Washington, D.C. on November 28, 1945, after a six-month illness.[7][9] He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[10]


His daughter Alice Brooks Davis was married to the British Ambassador to the United States Sir Roger Makins. Another daughter, Cynthia Davis, was married to banker William McChesney Martin, Jr., the longest-serving Federal Reserve director (1951–1970) who served under five presidents (Truman to Nixon).

Davis was honored with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.[11]


  1. ^ "Dwight F. Davis". Olympedia. Retrieved February 21, 2021.
  2. ^ "Dwight Filley Davis Family Tree".
  3. ^ "Chauncey Ives Filley biography".
  4. ^ "Dwight F. Davis Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
  5. ^ a b Sobel, Robert Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774–1989 Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990, p. 94[ISBN missing]
  6. ^ "Specialist Corps Formed", Popular Science October 1942, p. 96
  7. ^ a b Political Graveyard Genealogies
  8. ^ "Davis Cup has local tie". Tallahassee Democrat, 6 December 2007: 3C
  9. ^ "Dwight Davis Dies. War Ex-Secretary. Member of Coolidge's Cabinet. First Soldier to Hold Post Since '69. New Deal Foe. Donor Of The Tennis Cup. Former Champion Himself, He Created International Trophy. Hero of First World War. Succeeded John W. Weeks. Twice Double Champion. Sold Progress in Philippines". The New York Times. Associated Press. 29 November 1945.
  10. ^ Burial Detail: Davis, Dwight F – ANC Explorer
  11. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". stlouiswalkoffame.org. Archived from the original on 31 October 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Media related to Dwight Filley Davis at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: Calvin Coolidge

October 14, 1925 – March 4, 1929
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Governor-General of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by Cover of Time magazine
15 December 1924
Succeeded by