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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesWest Virginia

Henry Gassaway DAVIS

(1823-1916)
Senate Years of Service:
1871-1883
Party:
Democrat

DAVIS, Henry Gassaway, (brother of Thomas Beall Davis and grandfather of Davis Elkins), a Senator from West Virginia; born near Woodstock, Howard County, Md., November 16, 1823; attended the country schools; worked on a farm until 1843; employed by the Baltimore Ohio Railroad Co. for fourteen years as brakeman and conductor, and later had charge of the Piedmont terminal and shops; commenced the banking business and the mining of coal at Piedmont, W.Va., in 1858; engaged in railroad building and in the lumber business; elected to the house of delegates of West Virginia in 1865; member, State senate 1868, 1870; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1871; reelected in 1877 and served from March 4, 1871, to March 3, 1883; declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1882; chairman, Committee on Appropriations (Forty-sixth Congress); settled in Elkins, Randolph County, W.Va., where he resumed his banking and coal mining interests; represented the United States at the Pan American conferences of 1889 and 1901; unsuccessful candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Democratic ticket in 1904; chairman of the permanent Pan American Railway Committee 1901-1916; died in Washington, D.C., on March 11, 1916; interment in Maplewood Cemetery, Elkins, W.Va.

Bibliography

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Ross, Thomas Richard. Henry Gassaway Davis: An Old-Fashioned Biography. Parsons, WV: McClain, 1994; Williams, John Alexander. “Davis and Elkins of West Virginia: Businessmen in Politics.” Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1967.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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