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John William Davis papers

Identifier: GTM-741001a

Scope and Contents

John William Davis' correspondence encompasses the years in which he served as solicitor general. The major portion of that correspondence deals with letters of endorsement regarding a Supreme Court vacancy; inquiries from citizens seeking positions with the federal government; petitions for military commissions during the war years; and Davis' carbon responses as well. These papers were found among the William J. Hughes, Jr. Papers and in consideration of Davis' position, it warranted a separate collection.


  • 1888-1918

Conditions Governing Access

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are solely responsible for determining the copyright status of the materials being used, establishing who the copyright owner is, locating the copyright owner, and obtaining permission for intended use.

Biographical / Historical

John William Davis, lawyer and diplomat, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia on April 13, 1873. he was graduated B.A. in 1892 and LL.B. in 1895 at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia. He was admitted to the West Virginia Bar in 1895 and began his law practice in Clarksburg with his father in that same year. From 1896-1897 he returned to Washington and Lee University as assistant professor of law. He resumed his law practice with his father in 1897. In 1899 he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates. In 1900 he was the democratic candidate for presidential elector-at-large. In 1910 he won election in the First Congressional District of West Virginia being re-elected in 1912. On August 20, 1913 he was appointed solicitor general of the United States by Woodrow Wilson. He served in that capacity until 1918 when he was appointed a member of a U.S. commission to negotiate with a similar German commission a convention to govern the treatment of prisoners of war and provide regulations for exchange of such prisoners. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Great Britain in 1918. He resigned in 1921 and returned to the U.S. to set up private practice in New York. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nominee in the campaign of 1924. He returned again to private practice. He died on March 24, 1955.


4.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. William J. Hughes, Jr., 1974.

John William Davis papers
Anna T. Zacharija, Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057