Henry Pomeroy Davison
|Henry Pomeroy Davison, Sr.|
June 12, 1867|
|Died||May 6, 1922
Locust Valley, New York
He was born on June 12, 1867 in Troy, Pennsylvania, the oldest of the four children of Henrietta and George B. Davison. Henry's mother died when he was nine years old in 1877. After completing his education he became a bookkeeper in a bank managed by one of his relatives, and at age 21 he gained employment at a bank in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the hometown of his wife Kate Trubee. They had two sons, and two daughters. His oldest son, F. Trubee Davison, was a director of personnel for the Central Intelligence Agency. His other son Henry Pomeroy Davison, Jr. was a director at Time magazine and a Yale University graduate and member of the Skull and Bones society.
Three years later he moved to New York City where he was employed by the Astor Place Bank, and sometime later became president of the Liberty National Bank. Several years later he was involved in the founding and formation of the Bankers Trust Company. In 1909 he became a senior partner at JP Morgan & Company, and in 1910 he was a participant in the secretive meeting on Jekyll Island, Georgia that may have led to the creation of the Federal Reserve and has generated much speculation over the years.
With the entry of the United States in World War I in 1917, Davision was named Chairman of the War Council of the American Red Cross. In this capacity, he led a campaign to win financial support for the Red Cross, quickly earning four million dollars used to fund Red Cross ambulances. In recognition of his service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and was one of the few civilians so honored.
After the end of the war, he pressed for the creation of an international organization to coordinate the work of the different national Red Cross societies. Based on his recommendations, the League of Red Cross Societies was founded on May 15, 1919 by the societies of Great Britain, France, Japan, Italy, and the United States. Davison, wanted the League of Red Cross Societies to supersede the ICRC in controlling the Red Cross action in international affairs . He argued that:
“It should be in reality, and not merely in name an International Committee, a Committee on which there will be representatives from all countries, instead of, as at present, a committee consisting of amiable but somewhat ineffective Geneva gentlemen. That which calls itself ‘international’ has grown rather provincial… New blood, new methods, a new and more comprehensive outlook, these things are necessary”.
The League was established in 1919 with Davison as its chairman. However, “Swiss aloofness or unilateralism was hard to overcome”, with the result that the relationship between the ICRC and the League became, and was to remain, a problem for years to come.
In 1919, he also published a book, The American Red Cross in the Great War, describing the wartime activities of the Red Cross. Davison was chairman of the league until his death in 1922.
He died on May 6, 1922 under an operation for the removal of a tumor of his brain at the family estate, Peacock Point, in Locust Valley, Long island at the age of 54. This after two failed brain operations. He left the bulk of his estate to his wife to be held in trust.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the name of the league since 1991, grants the Henry Davison Award in his memory.
- Henry P. Davison: The American Red Cross in the Great War. The Macmillan Company, New York 1919
- "Henry P. Davison: The Record Of A Useful Life" by Thomas W. Lamont, http://archive.org/stream/henrypdavisonthe017785mbp/henrypdavisonthe017785mbp_djvu.txt
- Moorehead, Caroline, Dunant’s Dream, Carroll & Graf, New York, 1998, p.259
- Forsythe, David P., The Humanitarians, Cambridge University Press, 2005 p.36
- Thomas W. Lamont: Henry P. Davison: The record of a useful life. Arno Press, New York 1975, ISBN 0-405-06969-3; Original edition: Harper & Bros., New York 1933
|Non-profit organization positions|
|Chairman of the
International League of
Red Cross Societies
John Barton Payne