John W. Davis

Brochure For Candidacy of
John W. Davis For Presidency

B D29 Pam

Biographical Sketch

JOHN W. DAVIS, Democratic candidate for the Presidency, has deserved the honor which his party has bestowed upon him and the confidence with which the people regard him. He has a record of long, honorable and efficient public service which began with his election to the House of Delegates (Legislature) of his native State and continued for more than 20 years thereafter. His great abilities, his fine sense of duty, and his achievements in the public interest have at last won for him the nomination to the highest office in the world.

Born and reared in Clarksburg, W. Va., where his ancestors settled in the early part of the last century, Mr. Davis early acquired and has always retained a true sympathy with the people. His parents were John J. Davis and Anna Kennedy Davis. His paternal ancestors came from Virginia. His mother was of Celtic descent. His first formal education was received in Richard Craig's school in Clarksburg. Subsequently he attended Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia, and was graduated with honors at the age of 20, receiving the degree Bachelor of Arts. Two years later he completed his course in law at the same University, and was admitted to the bar of West Virginia. He returned to his Alma Mater to be assistant professor of law but after a year of teaching began the practice of his profession in partnership with his father.

When but 26 years old he was elected to the House of Delegates of West Virginia. His conspicuous ability as a lawyer was recognized by his associates and he was chosen chairman of the Judiciary Committee. In 1900 he was Democratic candidate for elector-at-large. Four years later he was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in St. Louis. In 1911 the Democrats of the First Congressional District of West Virginia nominated him for Congress. The district was heavily Republican, but he received a substantial majority.

Shortly after Mr. Davis entered the national House of Representatives the celebrated Archbald impeachment proceedings were instituted. He was a member of the Judiciary Committee. He became the "prosecutor" of the impeachment, which resulted in the conviction and removal of Judge Archbald on charges of having received favors from corporations.

Mr. Davis was the author or supporter of some of the most progressive legislation enacted by Congress. This included the Clayton anti-trust Act of 1912, which he helped to draft and advocated. This law regulated the issuance of injunctions in industrial disputes. He also assisted in framing and passing through the House the other Clayton Act of 1912 - that providing for trial by jury in contempt cases arising from labor disputes. He gave his support also to the resolution proposing an amendment to the Federal Constitution providing for the popular election of Senators; the establishment of the Children's Bureau; the eight-hour day for Federal laborers and mechanics; the parcel post; the creation of the Department of Labor, the Bureau of Mines bill, and many others. He served in Congress from April, 1911, until August 30, 1913, when he resigned to become Solicitor General of the United States.

While Solicitor General Mr. Davis represented the Government in some of the most important litigation ever decided by American courts. He argued and won the Midwest Oil case, involving about 3,000,000 acres of public lands (including some afterwards covered by the Sinclair leases); he argued and won the Oregon land case, which resulted in the return of 2,300,000 acres (valued at $50,000,000) to the public domain; the "Sunken land cases" which brought about the restoration to the Government of 100,000 acres of timber lands (valued at $4,600,000); the Adamson eight-hour law (for railroad employes); the suit to dissolve the International Harvester Company, and the anti-trust action against the U. S. Steel Corporation.

In September, 1918, Mr. Davis was appointed by President Wilson to membership in the Commission to negotiate with Germany regarding the treatment and exchange of prisoners of war. While engaged in that mission he was appointed Ambassador to Great Britain. He remained at that post until March, 1921, that is, during the negotiation of peace between the Western Allies and the Teutonic powers and during a part of the reconstruction period in Europe. Since leaving the public service Mr. Davis has been practising law in New York.

Address of John H. Holt

Delivered at Madison Square Garden, New York City, on June 27, 1924, presenting John W. Davis, of West Virginia, for the nomination for President of the United States.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of The Convention: -

WE are not met simply to nominate a candidate, but to name a President, and it behooves us to consider well the character of the man we name.

During the election the American people will not vote their personal or party prejudices, but their citizenship, and in the hope of safeguarding and perpetuating institutions that means so much to them, and will mean more to their children and the world. Klans and creeds will be forgotten, and a triumphant democracy take up its march to victory.

Four years ago the American people anticipated that the party presently in power would give them some little relief from the burden of taxation incident to a world war, but to their disappointment and dismay they have discovered that the present administration requires practically as much money in a time of profound peace as Woodrow Wilson required to wage a world war. No relief has come except as a fighting minority has forced it, with a reluctant President following in the wake.

The greatest department of the government in time of peace - the Department of Justice - has been prostituted to the petty politics of little men, a disgrace to the department, and an outrage upon the profession that is supposed to administer it.

The public domain appears to have been managed upon the basis of bribery, and the people again despoiled, insulted and humiliated before the world.

Destined by nature to become the greatest maritime power in history, the present administration, early in its efforts at self-exploitation, convened the nations at Washington, and proceeded in the name of religion and peace to destroy or weaken the American Navy, our only hope of security and their best hope of peace.

In this country, of all others, and at this time, most of all, the people will demand, and the Democratic Party must find, a candidate who stands for America and understands her institutions, who, along the lines of true progressiveness, will strike the chains from industry, and lift the leaden mace from off the breast of individual enterprise, to the end that the young men and the young women of this country may go forth and forward with untrammeled hands in the development of this great country and the betterment of its people, with the just expectation of a proper reward for their personal initiative, and restrained only by the channels and barriers of honest trade, commerce and endeavor.

If you could but for a moment catch the sound of those voices coming from the far-distant firesides of this country, where now not only the fathers, but the mothers, not only the sons, but the daughters, have begun to participate in the affairs of this Nation, you would soon understand that the American people will never mistake license for liberty, or bureaucratic government for progress.

Our candidate must stand flat-footed on the Constitution and all its amendments, as well as for the enforcement of such laws as may be enacted in pursuance thereof; and he must further recognize, as every honest man now does, that the day of decent politics has come, when the owls and bats of political graft must hunt their holes, and in whose administration there would be no room or hiding place for crooks.

Give us a man who will stand for a navy that will uphold the Monroe Doctrine and command the peace of the world, with the consequent protection at home and resultant respect abroad our flag would soon become the emblem and the hope of liberty and peace in every ocean, on every shore. Nor would this exclude you from any arrangement with other nations that might be deemed desirable, but would only amplify the American voice to such an extent that, when it should speak in any such conclave or league of nations, it would be heard and heeded round the world.

Give us a man who will rescue the Department of Justice from the scorn of an indignant people, protect the public domain with the sword of common honesty, relieve the people from unnecessary taxation, and, in Heaven's name, simplify the machinery by which these taxes are levied and collected. If the rules and regulations now in effect emanate from the so-called "best minds" of the present administration, let us in the future have a little less genius and a little more common sense.

Our candidate must strike the shackles from business, and hold the scales at equipoise between Capital and Labor.

I present to you a man who represents these principles, and who comes from a country upon whose people Washington relied in the darkest hours of the American Revolution, when a Continental Congress had all but given up the fight; a man who has the calm courage of a Cleveland and the progressiveness of a Wilson; a man whose public career in the halls of his own State Legislature, as well as in the halls of the Congress of the Nation, and as attested by the open public records of both, has been spent in the people's cause; neither has his voice been heard or his vote cast in any other cause; and, as Solicitor General of the United States, became the trusted and victorious lawyer of the people in many of their Controversies before the courts of last resort in the Nation, and was finally selected as the representative of his country to the greatest court of Europe, where he illustrated the power and dignity of democratic simplicity and was consulted and admired by all.

His private life and professional career are likewise before you, and I am here to say to you, as his neighbor, and one who knows, that both will stand the test of the violet ray of pitiless publicity without the disclosure of a single unhealthy spot. Thirty-six per cent of the delegates before me belong to a profession that knows that what I say in this behalf is a verity.

Nominate this man, and, during the campaign, he will become a platform in himself, and, after the election, a chief magistrate of whom every American would be proud.

I nominate John W. Davis, of WEST VIRGINIA!

Address of Mrs. lzetta Jewell Brown

Delivered at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, on June 27, 1924, seconding the presentation of John W. Davis, of West Virginia, for the nomination for the President of the United States.

THE HONORABLE THOMAS J. WALSH, at Montana, the Permanent Chairman of the convention, in recognizing and introducing Mrs. lzetta Jewell Brown, said:

THE PERMANENT CHAIRMAN: Those who were present at the San Francisco Convention will remember with pleasure, I am sure, Mrs. lzetta Jewell Brown (applause) and the interesting story she told there, which perhaps she might be induced to repeat. I have the honor to recognize Mrs. Izetta Jewell Brown, of West Virginia. (Applause.)


Mr. Chairman, Delegates, Men and Women of the Convention:

SINCE I have been asked to repeat the little story that I told in California, I do so first. You will remember that at that time we were asking for Suffrage, and that is the reason the little story was told.

It seems that on Johnny's return from Sunday School his mother asked him what he had learned in Sunday School, and Johnny said: ''Oh, mother, I learned all about the creation." "Did you, Johnny? Well, what did you learn?" "Oh, teacher said that God created the earth and the heavens, and He created the animals, and then He made man; and He put him in a garden, and the man went right to sleep, and then God came down into the garden, took out his brains and made woman." (Laughter and applause.)

You must remember that those were the days when we were asking for Suffrage. Perhaps you will forgive me if I take just this little moment to say that Suffrage has come to us since, and we want to express to our great Democratic men, our great Democratic Party, our appreciation of the courtesy and the generosity that have been extended to us on every side, and we thank you from our hearts. (Applause.)

Scientists tell us that men and women take on the characteristics of the topography of the country in which they are born and raised. West Virginia is a state of mountains. Sometimes they are rolling and gentle, with fertile valleys between; sometimes they are rugged and strong, cut into deep gorges by sparkling, dashing rivers; sometimes they are stately and magnificent; but always, of whatever type, they are full of beauty and the spirit of fearlessness.

John W. Davis was born in these mountains and raised in them, and his family before him. He has the strength of the mountains and the virility of the mountains in his body, in his brain and in his character. His early days were spent in a small town of the Blue Grass district, with all the connections of the small town. You know, they do say that West Virginia has even more blue grass than Old Kentucky. (Laughter.) He had this contact in his early life, when he was a small town lawyer. His clients in those days were farmers and small trades people. He practiced before the Justice of the Peace. And yet in a few short years we find him making his mark before the Supreme Court of our Nation.

This great convention has paid high tribute to the policies of Woodrow Wilson. There are those who claim to have helped to form those policies; yet when those same policies were attacked before the Supreme Court who was called upon to defend them, to save them, in other words, to make them stick? It was our Mr. Davis.

You know any man that does things is always criticized, fairly or unfairly. There are many splendid men before the Democrats to-day, many splendid men to choose from; and yet we feel that our candidate is perhaps a little more free from deserved criticism than many others - not in any way that criticism can come because it is deserved, but we know how those things are worked out.

I am not going to go into a lengthy discussion of his political life, or of his legal life, except to tell you that he was the President of the American Bar Association. (Applause.)

When we hear of the criticisms that are given, these are the only two that we hear of John Davis: Four years ago in San Francisco they said that he was not known. Now the same people say that he is too well known. (Laughter.) A rather remarkable growth for even a great man in four short years. They say he is a lawyer of Wall Street. Those are the two criticisms.

I love what Mrs. Barrett said about Wall Street and Main Street. They are streets of our country. Wall Street cannot take John W. Davis. (Loud Applause.) Remember, he comes of the mountaineer and that Blue Grass stock of which I was telling you.

You have perhaps heard the story about Bobby. You know, Bobby took his dog to school one day, and his teacher asked him where he kept it. Bobby said, "Why, I keep him in my room, teacher."

"Oh, Bobby, you should not do that," said the teacher. "It is not healthy to keep a dog in your room." "Well, maybe, teacher; but I have kept him there six months and he is all right yet." (Laughter.)

Our nation is great on every hand, whether it is Wall Street or Main Street, as you have heard. And so if a man is to be criticised for being successful, then I submit that we do condemn John W. Davis. He is guilty of being a success. In the two short years that he has been here in New York he has made himself an intellectual power in this, the greatest city of our Nation. His clients have come from all classes because he has been recognized as a lawyer of ability and integrity. (Applause.)

He has been a success outside of politics, and that is one of the reasons he has been a success in public life. We hear a good deal of what sort of man Labor wants, and what sort of man Capital wants. I submit to you we also may hear what sort of man the women want to see in the White House. (Applause.)

Men - God bless them - laughingly say very often: "Women want to see a good looking man there." Well, I submit to you Mr. Davis is good looking. He looks every inch the President. (Applause.)

But I also say that there are two great principles that women want to see emphasized by the man who is in the White House: honesty and world peace. (Applause.)

The skeptics say that honesty in politics is impossible. We want to say that we want a man who is fearlessly and uncompromisingly honest. Place honesty on our party banners this Fall. Nominate a man who is a doer as well as a thinker; a leader, fearless, honest, courageous; a leader among leaders, who will make a definite fight for clean politics, and watch the result.

Four years ago, men and women delegates, I called your attention to the fact that you cannot go far wrong if you vote for a man who is a man's man, a man among men, and a woman's ideal of what a man should be. We think that John W. Davis is an ideal candidate. He is broad enough between the shoulders to have a heart, and he is a wide enough between the eyes to have a brain. (Loud applause.) He is clean cut, courageous, brilliant and successful. His record shows that he is free of the danger of being stamped as a radical. He is also free of the danger of being dominated by big business, or any other interest except his conscience. He is free from campaign promises, free from entangling alliances with the overly political politician, free from all contact with corruption in his past political life. We think that Davis stands before you to-day, not as a candidate of himself, but because his friends are forcing him to appear before you.

You must remember that he holds rather a unique position in that although he served in public life for many years he has never asked for a public office. And neither does he to-day. Three times our great President, Woodrow Wilson, drafted him to service. His friends to-day are asking you to draft him again to public service.

He is just fifty-one, just old enough to have been a man of yesterday and a man of to-day, and young enough to be a man of to-morrow. (Applause.)

I know, my good friends, that you have been sitting here listening to speeches for three days, and I have been sitting up here waiting to speak to you for three days. (Laughter.) I do not know which was the more difficult, but anyway I do understand that I am the last speaker to speak to you to-day, perhaps, and if so, there is a great consolation in it.

I am hoping that my message to you will reach down into your hearts, and in a few days, when the smoke of this intense battle has perhaps cleared a little, you will remember this message, and your thoughts and your votes will turn to our John W. Davis - our great, our lovable, our brilliant John W. Davis. (Applause.)

Address of John W. Davis

Delivered at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, at midnight, July 9, 1924, upon unanimous invitation of the Convention, after his nomination for the Presidency of the United States.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Convention: -

THE most solemn announcement which can be made to any American is the information that he has been elected President of the United States. And second only to that message in weight and dignity is the information that he has been chosen by one of the great parties of the United States to lead their forces in the National campaign. You will not be surprised, then, if I say to you at this moment, grateful as I am for this great honor, I think even more of the burdens and the duties you have given me to bear and to perform. But I take heart of grace and I realize that whatever may be said of the wisdom of your selection, no one, I think, in all this land will contend that this convention has acted in haste and without deliberation. And I take comfort again when I look at the banners that are erected throughout this hall, and reflect that the signs of all these States and Territories are not the emblems of a phantom army, but that they represent millions of Democrats all over this broad land ready as they have been for 100 years, to do battle for the cause of liberty and freedom. We are a national party, and in every State and Territory whose banner rests upon this floor we do battle and we win our party victory. And if we are a national party, it must be, as I think, because we profess a truly national creed.

The great principles of the Democratic Party: Honesty in Government; All Public Office is a Public Trust; Equal Rights to All Men, and Special Privilege to None; Fair and Equal Taxation; An Open Door of Opportunity to the Humblest Citizen in all the Land; Loyalty at Home, Courage and Honor and Helpfulness Abroad - these principles are as dear to the American of the East as they are to the American of the West, as highly revered by the American of the North as they are^ by the American of the South. And in the name of this truly national creed, this truly National Party is ready again to do battle, with all those who challenge this creed or any part of it. On this platform all progressives in this Country can stand; to this banner all liberals can rally; and in this cause all Democrats can - aye more - all Democrats will unite.

As a more or less interested bystander, I cannot be ignorant of the fact that this convention lias had its debates and its differences, and in the truly Democratic fashion has fought out its conflicts of opinion; and all these things, disturbing as they may have seemed at the moment, were but the thunder storm that has cleared the clouds away and left shining on us the sun of coming victory and success.

It may be, and I think when I am duly advised of your mandate it will be, my duty to speak further on these and kindred themes. I shall. therefore, add no more at this moment than to express my appreciation of the great honor you have done me, and my confident belief that I shall lead in this campaign a united and militant and a victorious party.

The West Virginia Delegation
at the
Democratic National Convention, 1924.

Delegates at Large
MRS. FRANK N. MANN Huntington

District Delegates
SCOTT C. LOWE Fairmont
WM. A. McCORKLE Charleston
FRANK G. BLAND Clarksburg

Government and Politics

West Virginia Archives and History