David Davis (Supreme Court justice)

Last updated
David Davis
DDavis.jpg
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
October 13, 1881 March 3, 1883
Preceded by Thomas F. Bayard, Sr.
Succeeded by George F. Edmunds
United States Senator
from Illinois
In office
March 4, 1877 March 4, 1883
Preceded by John Logan
Succeeded by Shelby Cullom
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
October 17, 1862 March 4, 1877
Nominated by Abraham Lincoln
Preceded by John Campbell
Succeeded by John Harlan
Personal details
Born(1815-03-09)March 9, 1815
Cecil County, Maryland, U.S.
DiedJune 26, 1886(1886-06-26) (aged 71)
Bloomington, Illinois, U.S.
Political party Whig (Before 1854)
Republican (1854–1870)
Liberal Republican (1870–1872)
Independent (1872–1886)
Spouse(s) Sarah Woodruff Walker (1838–1879)
Relations David Davis IV (great-grandson)
Children2
Education Kenyon College (BA)
Yale University (LLB)
Signature David Davis, Justice of the United States Supreme Court (signature).jpg

David Davis (March 9, 1815 – June 26, 1886) was a United States Senator from Illinois and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He also served as Abraham Lincoln's campaign manager at the 1860 Republican National Convention, engineering Lincoln's nomination alongside Ward Hill Lamon and Leonard Swett.

Illinois State of the United States of America

Illinois is a state in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of the United States. It has the fifth largest gross domestic product (GDP), the sixth largest population, and the 25th largest land area of all U.S. states. Illinois has been noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in northeastern Illinois, small industrial cities and immense agricultural productivity in the north and center of the state, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. Chicagoland, Chicago's metropolitan area, encompasses over 65% of the state's population. The Port of Chicago connects the state to international ports via two main routes: from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway to the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

Abraham Lincoln Sixteenth president of the United States

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman, politician, and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

1860 Republican National Convention

The 1860 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention that met from May 16 to May 18 in Chicago, Illinois. It was held to nominate the Republican Party's candidates for president and vice president in the 1860 election. The convention selected former Congressman Abraham Lincoln of Illinois for president and Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for vice president.

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Educated at Kenyon College and Yale University, Davis settled in Bloomington, Illinois in the 1830s, where he practiced law. He served in the Illinois legislature and as a delegate to the state constitutional convention before becoming a state judge in 1848. After Lincoln won the presidency, he appointed Davis to the United States Supreme Court, where he served until 1877. He wrote the majority opinion in Ex parte Milligan , limiting the government's power to try citizens in military courts. He pursued the Liberal Republican Party's nomination in the 1872 presidential election, but was defeated at the convention by Horace Greeley.

Kenyon College private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio, United States

Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier, Ohio. It was founded in 1824 by Philander Chase. Kenyon College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Bloomington, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Bloomington is a city in and the county seat of McLean County, Illinois, United States. It is adjacent to Normal, and is the more populous of the two principal municipalities of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area.

Davis was a pivotal figure in Congress's establishment of the Electoral Commission, which was charged with resolving the disputed 1876 presidential election. Davis was widely expected to serve as the key member of the Commission, but he resigned from the Supreme Court to accept election to the Senate and thus did not serve on the commission. Known for his independence, he served as President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 1881 to 1883, placing him first in the line of presidential succession due to a vacancy in the office of the Vice President of the United States. He did not seek re-election in 1882 and retired from public life in 1883.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States, and consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election, though vacancies in the Senate may be filled by a gubernatorial appointment. Congress has 535 voting members: 435 representatives and 100 senators. The House of Representatives has six non-voting members representing Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia in addition to its 435 voting members. Although they cannot vote in the full house, these members can address the house, sit and vote in congressional committees, and introduce legislation.

Electoral Commission (United States) 1877 US commission

The Electoral Commission was a temporary body created on January 29, 1877 by the United States Congress to resolve the disputed United States presidential election of 1876. Democrat Samuel J. Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes were the main contenders in the election. Tilden won 184 electoral votes—one vote shy of the 185 needed to win—to Hayes's 165, with 20 electoral votes from four states unresolved. Both Tilden and Hayes electors submitted votes from these states; and each claimed victory over the other.

1876 United States presidential election 1876 election in the US

The United States presidential election of 1876 was the 23rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876. It was one of the most contentious and controversial presidential elections in American history, and is known for being the catalyst for the end of Reconstruction. Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes faced Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. After a controversial post-election process, Hayes was declared the winner.

Early life

He was born to a wealthy family in Cecil County, Maryland, where he attended public school. After graduating from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1832, he went on to study law in Massachusetts [1] and at Yale University. Upon his graduation from Yale in 1835, Davis moved to Bloomington, Illinois, to practice law. He married Sarah Woodruff Walker of Lenox, Massachusetts, in 1838. Two of their children, George and Sallie, survived to adulthood. Davis also served as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1845 and a delegate to the Illinois constitutional convention in McLean County, 1847. From 1848 to 1862, Davis presided over the court of the Illinois Eighth Circuit, the same circuit where his friend, attorney Abraham Lincoln, was practicing.

Cecil County, Maryland County in the United States

Cecil County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 101,108. The county seat is Elkton. The county was named for Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore (1605–1675), the first Proprietary Governor of the Province (colony) of Maryland. It is the only Maryland county that is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area. Cecil County has existed since the late 1600s, though it continued to grow in population and town size.

Gambier, Ohio Village in Ohio, United States

Gambier is a village in Knox County, Ohio, United States. The population was 2,391 at the 2010 census.

Reading law is the method by which persons in common law countries, particularly the United States, entered the legal profession before the advent of law schools. This usage specifically refers to a means of entering the profession. Reading the law consists of an extended internship or apprenticeship under the tutelage or mentoring of an experienced lawyer. A small number of U.S. jurisdictions still permit this practice today.

Davis was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago, serving as Lincoln's campaign manager during the 1860 presidential election. After President Lincoln's assassination, Judge Davis was an administrator of his estate. [1]

A campaign manager or campaign director is a paid or volunteer individual whose role is to coordinate a political campaign's operations such as fundraising, advertising, polling, getting out the vote, and other activities supporting the effort, directly.

1860 United States presidential election election between Abraham Lincoln, John C. Breckinridge, John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas

The 1860 United States presidential election was the nineteenth quadrennial presidential election to select the President and Vice President of the United States. The election was held on Tuesday, November 6, 1860. In a four-way contest, the Republican Party ticket of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin emerged triumphant. The election of Lincoln served as the primary catalyst of the American Civil War.

National stage

The David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois. Bloomington Il David Davis Mansion3.JPG
The David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois.

On October 17, 1862, Davis received a recess appointment from President Lincoln to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by the resignation of John Archibald Campbell, who had resigned in protest of Lincoln's perceived intent to go to war with seceding Southern states. Formally nominated on December 1, 1862, Davis was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 8, 1862, and received his commission the same day.

In the United States, a recess appointment is an appointment by the President of a federal official when the U.S. Senate is in recess. Under the U.S. Constitution's Appointments Clause, the president is empowered to nominate, and with the advice and consent (confirmation) of the United States Senate, make appointments to high-level policy-making positions in federal departments, agencies, boards, and commissions. A recess appointment under Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution is an alternative method of appointing officials that allows the filling of vacancies to maintain the continuity of administrative government through the temporary filling of offices during periods when the Senate is not in session.

John Archibald Campbell American politician and jurist

John Archibald Campbell was an American jurist. He was a successful lawyer in Georgia and Alabama, where he served in the state legislatures. Appointed by Franklin Pierce to the United States Supreme Court in 1853, he served until the outbreak of the American Civil War, when he became an official of the Confederate States of America. After serving six months in a military prison, he resumed a successful law practice in New Orleans, where he opposed Reconstruction.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.

On the Court, Davis became famous for writing one of the most profound decisions in the Supreme Court history, Ex Parte Milligan (1866). In that decision, the court set aside the death sentence imposed during the Civil War by a military commission upon a civilian, Lambdin P. Milligan. Milligan had been found guilty of inciting insurrection. The Supreme Court held that since the civil courts were operative, the trial of a civilian by a military tribunal was unconstitutional. The opinion denounced arbitrary military power, effectively becoming one of the bulwarks of held notions of American civil liberty.

In 1870 he held, with the minority of the Supreme Court, that the acts of Congress making government notes a legal tender in payment of debts were constitutional. [1] He is the only judge of the Supreme Court with no recorded affiliation to any religious sect. [2]

After refusing calls to become Chief Justice, Davis, a registered independent, was nominated for President by the Labor Reform Convention in February 1872 on a platform that declared, among other things, in favor of a national currency "based on the faith and resources of the nation", and interchangeable with 3.65% bonds of the government, and demanded the establishment of an eight-hour law throughout the country, and the payment of the national debt "without mortgaging the property of the people to enrich capitalists." In answer to the letter informing him of the nomination, Judge Davis said: "Be pleased to thank the convention for the unexpected honor which they have conferred upon me. The chief magistracy of the republic should neither be sought nor declined by any American citizen." [1]

He withdrew from the presidential contest when he failed to receive the Liberal Republican Party nomination, which went to editor Horace Greeley. Greeley died after the popular election and before the return of the electoral vote. One of Greeley's electoral votes went to Davis.

Disputed election of 1876

Judge David Davis JudgeDDavis.jpg
Judge David Davis
Hon. David Davis, Ill., and Judge Grier, Supreme Court, Ill. Photo taken by Mathew Brady Hon. David Davis, Ill., and Judge Grier, Supreme Court, Ill.gif
Hon. David Davis, Ill., and Judge Grier, Supreme Court, Ill. Photo taken by Mathew Brady

In 1877, Davis narrowly avoided the opportunity to be the only person to ever single-handedly select the President of the United States. In the disputed Presidential election of 1876 between the Republican Rutherford Hayes and the Democrat Samuel Tilden, Congress created a special Electoral Commission to decide to whom to award a total of 20 electoral votes which were disputed from the states of Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina and Oregon. The Commission was to be composed of 15 members: five drawn from the U.S. House of Representatives, five from the U.S. Senate, and five from the U.S. Supreme Court. The majority party in each legislative chamber would get three seats on the Commission, and the minority party would get two. Both parties agreed to this arrangement because it was understood that the Commission would have seven Republicans, seven Democrats, and Davis, who was arguably the most trusted independent in the nation.

According to one historian, "No one, perhaps not even Davis himself, knew which presidential candidate he preferred." [3] Just as the Electoral Commission Bill was passing Congress, the legislature of Illinois elected Davis to the Senate. Democrats in the Illinois Legislature believed that they had purchased Davis's support by voting for him. However, they had made a miscalculation; instead of staying on the Supreme Court so that he could serve on the Commission, he promptly resigned as a Justice, in order to take his Senate seat. Because of this, Davis was unable to assume the spot, always intended for him, as one of the Supreme Court's members of the Commission. His replacement on the Commission was Joseph Philo Bradley, a Republican, thus the Commission ended up with an 8–7 Republican majority. Each of the 20 disputed electoral votes was eventually awarded to Hayes, the Republican, by that same 8-7 majority; Hayes won the election, 185 electoral votes to 184. Had Davis been on the Commission, his would have been the deciding vote, and Tilden would have been elected president if Davis and the commission had awarded him even one electoral vote.

Senate career

Davis served only a single term as U.S. Senator from Illinois.

In 1881, Davis's renowned independence was again called upon. Upon the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Vice President Chester Arthur succeeded to the office of president. Per the terms of the Presidential Succession Act of 1792, which was still in effect, the President pro tempore of the Senate would be next in line for the presidency, should it again become vacant at any time in the 3½ years remaining in Garfield's term. As the Senate was evenly divided between the parties, this posed the risk of deadlock. However, the presence of Davis provided an answer; despite being only a freshman Senator, the Senate elected Davis as President Pro Tempore. [4] Davis was not a candidate for re-election. At the end of his term in 1883, he retired to his home in Bloomington. [1]

Legacy

Upon his death in 1886, he was interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois. His grave can be found in section G, lot 659.

His home in that city, the David Davis Mansion, is a state historic site. At his death, he was the largest landowner in Illinois, and his estate was worth between four and five million dollars[ citation needed ].

His great-grandson was David Davis IV (19061978), lawyer and Illinois state senator. [5]

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Wikisource-logo.svg  Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Davis, David"  . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton.
  2. Religious Affiliation of the U.S. Supreme Court adherents.com
  3. Morris, Roy, Jr. (2003). Fraud Of The Century. Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden And The Stolen Election Of 1876. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  4. President pro tempore, from the Senate's website; American National Biography, "David Davis"
  5. 'Illinois Blue Book 1965-1966,' Biographical of David Davis, pg. 170-171
General
Legal offices
Preceded by
John Campbell
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
1862–1877
Succeeded by
John Harlan
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
John Logan
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Illinois
1877–1883
Served alongside: Richard Oglesby, John Logan
Succeeded by
Shelby Cullom
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Bayard
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
1881–1883
Succeeded by
George Edmunds