Mendel Jackson Davis

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Mendel Jackson Davis
Mendel Jackson Davis.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st district
In office
April 27, 1971 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by L. Mendel Rivers
Succeeded by Thomas F. Hartnett
Personal details
Born October 23, 1942
North Charleston, South Carolina
Died May 13, 2007(2007-05-13) (aged 64)
Charleston, South Carolina
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jane McGee Smith Davis
Religion Methodist

Mendel Jackson Davis (October 23, 1942 – May 13, 2007) was an attorney and a United States Representative from South Carolina.

Early life and career[edit]

Mendel Jackson Davis was born in North Charleston to Felix Charles Davis and Elizabeth Jackson Davis. He was raised in Garco Village and graduated from North Charleston High School in 1960 where he participated in sports and student government.

Three days after graduating from high school, Davis went to work in the office of Congressman L. Mendel Rivers, his godfather and namesake. While serving as an assistant to Rivers, Davis obtained a degree in history from the College of Charleston in 1966 and later graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Political career[edit]

Rivers died in Birmingham during a heart surgery operation in December 1970, almost two months after being elected to a 16th term. Davis ran in the ensuing special election to replace his mentor for the 1st congressional district, which was centered around Charleston and spread along the southern portion of the state's Atlantic coastline from Jasper County to Georgetown County. The close ties between Davis and Rivers enabled Davis to defeat future governor James B. Edwards by 5,100 votes in the first competitive election for the district in memory. He was held to 54 percent of the vote in his bid for a full term in 1972, but was reelected three more times without serious difficulty.

In Congress, Davis worked to create comprehensive health care for the district and to increase the minimum wage. He was the sponsor of a bill that brought the Yorktown aircraft carrier to Patriot's Point. He was also a member of the House Leadership Committee that brought about the resignation of Richard Nixon. Davis' voting record was typical of a Southern Democrat. While he tallied a high rating from the American Conservative Union for his first year in office, his rating steadily deteriorated during his tenure.

Later life and career[edit]

In 1980, Davis declined to seek re-election because of a recurring back problem. He returned to Charleston to practice law, perform consultant work, host a radio talk show, and function as chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party. (Republicans have held the district since his retirement.) He tried to regain his congressional seat in 1985, but lost to Jimmy Stuckey in the Democratic primary election. For his efforts to bring the Yorktown to Patriot's Point, Davis was honored by having a traffic circle near the aircraft carrier named in his honor. Davis died on May 13, 2007 after being disabled for several years by emphysema.


United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
L. Mendel Rivers
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st congressional district

April 27, 1971 – January 3, 1981
Succeeded by
Thomas F. Hartnett