Template:Infobox Governor Edmund Jackson Davis (October 2, 1827 – February 7, 1883) was an American lawyer, soldier, and politician. He was a Southern Unionist and served as a Union general in the American Civil War, besides serving one term as the 14th Governor of Texas.
Davis was born in St. Augustine, Florida, a son of William Godwin Davis and his wife Mary Ann Channer. His father was a lawyer and land developer in St. Augustine. Davis moved with his parents to Galveston, Texas in 1848. The following year, Davis moved to Corpus Christi, where he was admitted to the bar. He was an inspector and deputy collector of customs from 1849 to 1853, when he was appointed district attorney of the 12th Judicial District. He next became a judge in that district.
Civil War years
In early 1861 Davis opposed secession and supported Governor Sam Houston in his stand against it. Davis ran to become a delegate to the Secession Convention, but was defeated. He thereafter refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of America, and was removed from office. He fled from Texas, taking refuge in Union occupied New Orleans, Louisiana. He next sailed to Washington, D.C., where President Abraham Lincoln issued him a colonel's commission, with authority to recruit the 1st Texas Cavalry Regiment (Union).
Davis recruited his regiment from Union men who had fled from Texas to Louisiana. The regiment would see considerable action during the remainder of the war. Davis was promoted to brigadier general on November 4, 1864. He was among those present when General Edmund Kirby Smith surrendered the Confederate forces in Texas on June 2, 1865.
Following the war's end, Davis became a member of the 1866 Texas Constitutional Convention. He supported the rights of the freed slaves and urged the division of Texas into several Republican controlled states.
In 1869 he ran for governor against Andrew Jackson Hamilton and was narrowly elected the 14th Governor of Texas. As a Radical Republican during Reconstruction, his term in office was very controversial. Some of the biggest controversies included institutionalizing his political opponents, suppressing newspapers in violation of the First Amendment, and denying enfranchisement to regular Republicans. On July 22, 1870, the Texas State Police came into being, allegedly to combat crime statewide in Texas. Davis also created the "State Guard of Texas" and the "Reserve Militia", which were forerunners of the Texas National Guard.
Davis' government was marked by extravagant public spending, property tax increases to the point of confiscation, gifts of public funds to private interests, the intimidation of newspaper editors, and the control of voter registration by the occupying Union military.
Davis was overwhelmingly defeated for reelection by Democrat Richard Coke (42,633 votes to 85,549 votes). Nevertheless, Davis contested the results and refused to leave his office on the ground floor of the Capitol. Democratic lawmakers and Governor-elect Coke reportedly had to climb ladders to the Capitol's second story where the legislature convened. When President Grant refused to send troops to the defeated governor' rescue, Davis reluctantly left the capital in January 1874. He locked the door to the governor's office and took the key, forcing Coke's supporters to break in with an axe. John Henninger Reagan helped oust him after he tried to stay in office beyond the end of his term.
Davis would be the last Republican Governor of Texas until Bill Clements took office 105 years later. Davis ran for governor in 1880, but was soundly defeated. He lost an election for the United States House of Representatives in 1882. He was nominated to be collector of customs at Galveston, but refused because he did not like President Rutherford B. Hayes.
Edmund J. Davis died in 1883 and was buried in Austin, Texas. He was survived by his wife, the former Anne Elizabeth Britton, and two sons.
- Handbook of Texas Online
- Brown, Lyle C., Langenegger, Joyce A., Garcia, Sonia R., et al. PRACTICING TEXAS POLITICS, Thirteenth Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
- Brown, Lyle C., Langenegger, Joyce A., Garcia, Sonia R., et al. PRACTICING TEXAS POLITICS, Thirteenth Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. (Page 67-68)
- Edmund J. Davis from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Texas National Guard from the Handbook of Texas Online
|- style="text-align: center;"
|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Elisha M. Pease |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of Texas
1870–1874 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Richard Coke |- |}
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