Joseph E. Davies
1876 Nov. 29 Born, Watertown, Wis.
Joseph E. Davies as a young man
c1888, with mother Rachel
1898 A.B. DEGREE, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
12 21 Joseph E. Davies, of this city, a junior in the law school of the state university, has been elected a member of the Wisconsin debating team to take the place of Theodore Brazeau, resigned. WR
12 28 J. E. Davies, of the state university, was home over Sunday, returning to Madison Monday evening in order to prepare himself for the debate with Illinois next. WR
01 29 DEBATOR
Joseph E. Davies, of this city, is one of the three orators selected from among the State University students to debate the question "Resolved, That the best interests of this country would be promoted by the adoption of the bill known as the McCleary bill." The contest will be held in Madison on or before April 15th next. The Milwaukee Sentinel in a write-up in its issue of last Sunday on Wisconsin's participants in the contest says, "Joseph E. Davies was born in Watertown about twenty-two years ago and was graduated from the High School in '94 as valedictorian of the class. He entered the university in the fall of the same year and soon became one of the most popular men in the university. Mr. Davies has to his credit a string of honors that is bewildering. His particular talent lies in the direction of oratory. WG
05 22 A Watertown young man, Joseph Davies, carried off the honors in the second annual dramatic contest of the State University at Madison. Mr. Davies assumed the title role of the comedy, “Monsieur,” which was decided as the prize play by the judges. The State Journal says: “‘Monsieur’ was a delightful little comedy in two acts. Mr. Davies in the title role did by far the best work of the evening. The part was by no means an easy one, but Mr. Davies handled it with a naturalness and finish that was charming.” WR
06 05 MEMORIAL DAY 1900
The weather conditions of last Wednesday were all that could be desired for a proper observation of Memorial Day, and the exercises as arranged by the O. D. Pease Post, No. 94, G. A. R., and the Woman’s Relief Corps were generally participated in by our citizens. The principal ceremonies were held in the afternoon and were of an order to invoke reverence and honors for the noble soldier dead. At 1:30 o’clock the procession formed at Grand Army hall and marched to Oak cemetery . . . . At the cemetery memorial services according to the Grand Army ritual were held over the grave of Lafayette Damp, a member of the post who died last fall, the customary salute being fired at the conclusion of the services. Thereupon the line of march was resumed to Turner Opera house, where the exercises were opened with an address of welcome by A. E. Needham, commander of the post . . . . The Opera house was filled to overflowing and Mr. Davies’ oration was listened to with the greatest interest. His effort was a masterly one and delivered with the eloquence and feeling that stamped him as a public speaker of rare genius and wonderful resources. Not in many a day has Watertown had the pleasure of hearing a more able address or a more cultured orator. WR
1901 LL.B degree, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
Graduated in law at UW in 1901, president of senior law class, commencement orator at graduation
11 08 Opens Law Office. Joseph E. Davies has opened a law office in a suite of rooms especially fitted out for him over the post office, where he will do a general law, loan and insurance business, and will make a specialty of collections. Mr. Davies is a young man who is well equipped in every way to successfully conduct a business of this kind — he completed a regular course in the University of Wisconsin, and then spent four years more in fitting himself for the legal profession, graduating from the law course of the university with the highest honors. He is an able orator; in fact one of the best in the state, which combined with his knowledge of law, will make him an able advocate in the courtroom. Aside from this, he is an upright, energetic genial young man, and fully deserves a share of the patronage of the people of this city and vicinity. Any business entrusted to his care will be properly and faithfully looked after. WG
01 10 The Milwaukee Journal of a recent date contained the following dispatch from Racine: "J. E. Davies, of Watertown, who soon will deliver an address on “Wales and Her Future” at the Eisdetefod held in this city, is one of the best known orators among the younger lawyers of the state. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and also of the university law school. During the last two years spent at the university Mr. Davies was assistant gymnasium instructor and before entering on those duties he was granted a six months' leave of absence to visit the gymnasiums of the east. At present he is practicing law in Watertown. Mr. Davies is an ardent admirer of his native country and has spent considerable time in Wales." WG
1902 Married Emlen Knight
1902-1906 State's attorney, Wisconsin
09 22 Mayor Arthur Mulberger disposed of his law business to District Attorney Robert Lueck of Waterloo, and J. E. Davies, his present partner.
03 05 Joseph E. Davies, en route Chicago-Portland; what a wonderful country WG
1910 Joseph E. Davies Elected Chairman
04 22 Joseph E. Davies of Madison was elected chairman of the democratic state central committee to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of former Chairman H. H. Manson of Wausau, which was tendered at a meeting of the committee held in the Plankington clubroom in Milwaukee last Wednesday night. But two candidates were placed in nomination for chairman, Mr. Davies and Frank E. Walsh of West Allis. There were no nominating speeches and but one ballot was taken, Mr. Davies received seventeen out of twenty-one votes cast, and Mr. Walsh received four.
The selection of Mr. Davies is a most excellent one, for he is one of the ablest democrats in the state, a good organizer, and a man of the best character. Watertown democrats are particularly well pleased with his election, this being his old home. The Gazette wishes him success in the office of state chairman. WG
07 06 Leaves for England
Joseph E. Davies of Madison will sail from Montreal, Canada, on the White Star line steamer on Saturday next for London, England, where he will transact business for about two months for a number of his Pacific coast clients. While abroad he will pay a short visit to Wales and possibly to the continent of Europe. WG
07 27 Joseph E. Davies for National Committeeman
That Joseph E. Davies, chairman of the democratic state central committee, now in Europe on a business mission, will be a candidate to succeed the late Timothy E. Ryan of Waukesha as a member of the national committee, is not doubted by his friends here. Throughout the state, too, account has been taken in the councils of the faithful of the probability that Mr. Davies would seek the honor. He will return soon and no doubt will at once make known his attitude upon the question. As chairman of the state committee Mr. Davies has taken a progressive stand and in the councils of the party has proven a leader of commanding and exceptional ability. Several prominent democrats in the state have proposed that it would be wise for the state central committee to call a conference of democrats to be held soon, to forget personalities that have entered into contests of the past and select a man for the national committee who has stood for the things that fully 90 per cent of the democrats of Wisconsin stand for, and one of large acquaintance. –Madison Democrat. WG
08 17 Writes from London
Joseph E. Davies writes the editor from London, England: “It has been my good fortune to be here in the midst of the constitutional crises, that means a revolution in the constitutional history of England. It is wonderfully interesting and instructive.” WG
08 24 Met English Statesmen
Chairman J. E. Davies of the Democratic State Central Committee declares he enjoyed his European trip this summer very much indeed. While in London Mr. Davies met Lloyd George, John Burns and others of the coalition statesmen and had several talks with them. An uncle of Mr. Davies was formerly a member of parliament. Mr. Davies was greatly impressed with John Burns. The confusion in parliament, Mr. Davies says, is greater than any other legislative body in this country. At times, he says, there is not even a semblance of order. WG
08 24 Joseph E. Davies is Elected National Democratic Committeeman
J. E. Davies, Madison, was elected member of the Democratic National Committee from Wisconsin at the meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee held at the Plankinton, Milwaukee, Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Davies immediately tendered his resignation as chairman of the State Central Committee . . . Mr. Davies was elected by a vote of 20 to 2 on the first formal ballot . . . As an evidence of their feeling toward the retiring chairman, the members of the State Central Committee presented Mr. Davies with a gold-headed cane . . . Mr. Davies, after expressing his thanks for the gift and paying a tribute to others who had been spoken of in connection with the office to which he had been elected, said there was no factionalism in the party as was proven by the vote on state chairman. “I want to say to you,” said Mr. Davies, “that one year ago you turned over into my keeping the honor of the democratic party of the state. I turn the honor of the Democratic party back to you as pure and unsullied as when I received it.”
The selection of Joseph E. Davies as Democratic National Committeeman is a compliment most worthily bestowed, and we feel confident that our Joe will compare most favorably with the representatives on that committee from the other states of the union, in ability, affability, honesty and fair mindedness in everything political. The people of Watertown, Joe’s old home and birthplace, are particularly delighted over the selection, and The Gazette joins his hosts of friends here in extending hearty congratulations. WG
09 14 Mrs. Joseph E. Davies, 418 North Livingston Street, will be hostess at luncheon Friday. Among the guests will be Mrs. Davies’ mother and sister, Mrs. J. H. Knight and daughter, Miss Pauline, who leave soon to spend the winter in Chicago. Miss Knight has just returned from an extended visit in Oshkosh, and Mrs. Knight from Elkhart, Ind., where she was a guest of her daughter, Mrs. Percy Cochran. WDT, reproduction of article from Madison Democrat
1912 Chairman, western headquarters, Democratic Party campaign
04 11 Joseph E. Davies will Organize West for New Jersey Governor. Madison, Wis., April 10. — Joseph E. Davies, democratic national committee-man of Wisconsin, has taken charge of the western headquarters of the Woodrow Wilson campaign at Chicago at the request of William F. McCooms of New York and Senator Gore, in general direction of the Wilson supporters.
Davies will organize the Wilson forces of the entire west and will launch the fight in Nebraska, where primaries are to be held soon, in a few days.
Commenting on the result of the Illinois election, Mr. Davies declared that the anticipated victory in Pennsylvania will more than offset the Illinois defeat. The Illinois campaign, he stated, had been restricted entirely to publicity effort, and no Wilson workers were [went] to the polls. WG
07 18 Joseph E. Davies in Cabinet, the Latest Gossip
Madison, Wis., July 8 – Joseph E. Davies of this city, democratic national committee man for Wisconsin, is currently reported to be a prospective beneficiary of a choice political reward if Woodrow Wilson is elected president. Some of his friends go so far as to suggest that he will be selected as a member of the cabinet, and some less enthusiastic believe he will be Wilson’s adviser and disperser of political offices in the western states.
The Wilson boom had scarcely started a year ago when the University of Wisconsin extension division invited Gov. Wilson here to address a national social center conference. Davies and his friends used this opportunity to start an organized campaign for Wilson presidential delegates in Wisconsin. Wilson was impressed with Davies' ability and selected him for his western campaign manager. Since last February Davies has devoted his time entirely to the western campaign. After the primaries in Wisconsin Davies helped in the organization of the campaign for Wilson delegates in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan.
As soon as the Clark boom became formidable in the east, Woodrow Wilson sent for Mr. Davies to take charge of the campaign in Massachusetts. At its close Davies remained in charge of the Chicago office directing the Wilson campaign. From good authority it is estimated that Davies has spent upwards of $4,000 of his own money in Wilson's cause.
Davies’ law partner, John A. Aylward, is president of the Woodrow Wilson League of Wisconsin. Another partner is Michael B. Olbrich, a strong LaFollette partisan, who placed the senator's name in nomination at the Chicago convention. WG
08 01 Joseph Davies chairman of the national campaign committee
Waterloo Democrat – In making Joseph E. Davies of Madison the chairman of the national campaign committee Governor Wilson displayed excellent judgment. Mr. Davies is well fitted in every way to perform the very important duties of the position.
A young man of naturally fine ability, Mr. Davies has from his university days made an excellent record. From the day when, a week or two after his graduation from the university, he officiated as temporary chairman of the democratic state convention, he has grown steadily in the estimation of the members of his party.
His splendid training, his well balanced judgment, and his fine moral character give assurance that he will perform worthily the duties of national secretary – and of whatever position that may come to him. Even now he is talked of as a cabinet possibility in the event of the election of Wilson. WG
08 08 Joseph E. Davies Head of Chicago Headquarters
Following a conference in New York between Governor Woodrow Wilson and Wm. F. McCoomb of the national democratic committee, it was announced Sunday that National Committeeman Joseph E. Davies of Madison would be in charge of the western democratic headquarters in Chicago. Mr. Davies will soon take charge of the democratic campaign in the west. WG
08 08 Joseph E. Davies Head of Chicago Headquarters
Following a conference in New York between Governor Woodrow Wilson and Wm. F. McCoomb of the national democratic committee, it was announced Sunday that National Committeeman Joseph E. Davies of Madison would be in charge of the western democratic headquarters in Chicago. Mr. Davies will soon take charge of the democratic campaign in the west.
08 29 Correspondent tells of Davies; Calls it Young Man's Fight
Oliver P. Newman who wrote "The Fortunes of the Sun" is now a correspondent "covering" the democratic end of the presidential campaign, on Joseph E. Davies of Madison. — Editors
By Oliver P. Newman.
Once upon a time there was a young man named Davies who lived at a boarding club at the University of Wisconsin with another young man named Pitchard. Neither had any more money than he needed. One day Pitchard looked out of the window of the room occupied by both and said:
"There comes Burton, to collect my share of the last month's board, and I haven't got the money. What'll I do?
"Crawl under the bed," suggested the wily Joe.
Pitchard crawled. Burton entered.
"Is Pitchard in?" asked Burton.
"Sure," replies Davies.
"Where is he?" asked Burton, looking about the room.
“Under the bed," said Davies, nonchalantly.
Which is about as good an example as you could find of the malicious, good natured sense of humor of the Honorable Joseph E. Davies, national democratic committeeman from Wisconsin and lately elected secretary of the donkey organization that's taken over the job of shunting Woodrow Wilson into the White House.
He has just taken charge of the democratic headquarters in Chicago, and will run the campaign in the west and Middle West.
Davies is another of those inexperienced youths possessed of nothing but brains and energy, to whom the conduct of the Wilson campaign has been turned over — much to the surprise of the old war horses, who are used to think that a man can't be a regular politician until he's bald or has gray hair.
As a matter of fact Davies has most of the ancient captains defeated 48 ways for the Sabbath when it comes to politics, for he's been neck-deep in that little game since he toddled out from under the parental roof at Watertown, Wis., in pursuit of education and honor in 1894. He's been playing college politics — which, as every college man will admit, is about 99 and 44/100 per cent of the real thing.
Having impressed upon the university world that he could orate better than old Mr. Orator himself, Davies decided four years were not enough to give him what he was entitled to, so he took a three years' law course, winding that up in 1901 as commencement spieler and president of the senior class.
Joe Davies father was a Welsh blacksmith who came to America a few years before Joe was born to find room enough to swing his sledge, so Joe just naturally had to be "agin the government," which of course meant he must be a democrat. Now being a democrat in Wisconsin during the last 10 years has been an all fired hard job. Most of the boys gave it up long ago and became La Follette republicans, but not Joe. He stuck it out, and orated, and tried law cases in Madison — where he hung up his shingle — and organized campaign clubs, and made speeches, and held democratic conventions, and wrote pieces for the papers — and now look at him!
In spite of devoting eleven-tenths of his life to law and politics, Davies has managed to save about half of his time for making one of the most ideal homes in America . At Madison his young wife and two children wait patiently for their broad-shouldered, black-haired smiling, happy-natured daddy to get through with those horrid politicians, knowing that when he's home again, a team of Missouri mules couldn't drag him off his front porch — Madison Journal. / WG
 The house mentioned is 428 North Livingston Street, Madison. Mary Emlen Knight Davies (whose whole family is buried in the Forest HIll Cemetery in Madison; Grandmother of Mia Grosjean) never wanted to leave the city. However after Wilson was elected they never again returned to live there staying for the rest of their lives in Washington, D.C. Mary Emlen Knight Davies however did keep a lodge on the Brule River until after her death in 1971.
09 26 Joseph E. Davies of Madison, Wilson's Aide, and Youngest Committee Member, Because He "Delivers the Goods."
Joseph E. Davies, 36 years old, is the youngest member and secretary of the Democratic National Committee, because he is ''delivering the goods."
If Gov. Wilson is elected president Davies may become a conspicuous figure in the affairs of the nation. If Wilson is not elected, Davis will be found where he has always been found —standing by his guns and making the fight for the things he believes right.
He has always been a good democrat.
In the days when he was a student at the university and John A. Aylward was a candidate for congress against Herman B. Dahle, Mt. Horeb, he was up bright and early on election day to do a little missionary work among students going to and from breakfast.
He spied a fellow on State Street who looked as though he might be taking the agricultural course.
"Going to vote?"
"You're going to vote for Aylward for congress, aren't you?"
"Why, you, as a Wisconsin man, can't vote against him."
"Yes, I can."
"Well, you can't. You're a Wisconsin man and so is he. He is educated and qualified to fill the place. Aylward is just the kind of a man we want to send to congress. You can't vote against him."
"To ____ I can't. I'm going to vote for my father — he's the man running against Aylward.”
Davies caught the eye of Gov. Wilson because he showed courage and executive ability when he was sent to Chicago to tackle a badly muddled situation in the Wilson headquarters.
He reaches the heart of things in his characteristic clear-headed style. Friends of the New Jersey governor had raised several thousand dollars, and spent it the way they thought would bring the best results. Illinois and neighboring states were poorly organized. The young national committee man outlined a campaign that took the democratic workers off their feet. Men called him aside and told him the democrats were facing a deficit. They told him to go slow.
"Where are we going to get the money?" they asked.
"Don't know," replied Davies. “That's up to you fellows. I'm here to direct the campaign, and we must have money."
And they got it.
He has the faculty of making men do things.
Although comparatively young in politics, gray-haired men, old and seasoned in the ranks of democracy were quick to see him a leader, and were glad to be followers.
Under his direction the Wilson headquarters showed a keen appreciation of conditions in middle-western states. Results were accomplished. That is why Gov. Wilson said that Davies was the man to be made secretary of the national committee.
His work at Baltimore justified the early admiration Wilson expressed for him. He was a man of action, full of ideas, fearless, decisive. Party leaders from all over the country flocked to him. He was one of the heroic figures in the fight for Bryan and Wilson.
Davies is as clean as a "hound's tooth "--personally, morally, politically. He fights in politics like he lives — clean and fair. Men who have worked with him say he is tactful, diplomatic, sympathetic, lovable. In the rush of a political campaign, dealing with varying conditions in several states, surrounded by men , full of suggestions and advice, it requires a balance wheel to keep going straight ahead, directing an army of workers, having something for everyone to do, and seeing to it that each man does his part. Davies is one of that kind of men.
As a young attorney he stands high, intense, clear, forceful, red-blooded and simple in his language. If he thinks a man is a "trimmer" he says so. If he thinks a man is sailing under false colors he says so. There is never doubt as to where he stands—that is why his enemies respect him.
Davies showed the right stuff when he attended the university.
"There never was a more likeable or democratic man at Wisconsin," said Harry Sauthoff, who took gymnastics under the present national committeeman. "Brilliant as a student, favored in a manner that would have turned the head of men lacking the sterling qualities possessed by himself, he preferred to be 'one of the boys.'
“When he had charge of gymnastics and was brought into contact with a large number of men, he spoke to everybody. If he didn't happen to know their names — and it was impossible to remember the names of so many — he always had a pleasant 'hello' for all of the students as he passed along State Street. We all knew him as 'Joe,' and swore by him.''
They tried to "get" Davies in this state early in the campaign, and the way he met the situation shows how he plays the game.
Under the caption "Let the Masses Rule," an upstate paper printed:
"If they want the endorsement of the democracy of Wisconsin let them first come with clean garments. Why not give a correct account of that $10,000, received from the national committee? Why doesn't Joseph Davies answer the question often asked "What has he done for the democrats of Wisconsin?" The press stands for good, clean politics and anything that borders like graft or upsetting the will of the people don't go.
The language, in effect, at least, was believed to charge the Madison man with graft. He engaged attorneys, and the person who inspired the attack received a letter containing the following paragraphs:
"We are advised by Mr. Davies, and are satisfied of the fact, that neither as national committeeman, state chairman, nor in any other capacity, personal or otherwise, did he ever receive $10,000 or any sum whatever from the national committee, either directly or indirectly, and moreover, that, in accordance with law, he duly made and filed a correct account of all money received or expended by him as state chairman.
"We have advised Mr. Davies that under the foregoing facts the article in question is libelous. Before proceeding further to enforce the rights of Mr. Dayies, we thought it proper to afford an opportunity to retract the charge thus made against him. It is unnecessary to add that if a retraction is made it should be given equal prominence and scope with the article itself, not only as to size of type and place of publication, but as to extent of circulation."
The retraction was complete. Davies was completely exonerated, and the incident was closed before it got a good start.
Davies was blessed early in life — he was born of common folk.
His father's people were blacksmiths in Wales. His father thought well of the trade, but Wales with its splendid roads drove him to Indiana, where blacksmithing offered greater inducements. He reached there in 1840, and later joined the Welsh colonies then settling in eastern and southern Wisconsin, locating in Watertown. A man of his qualities was not destined to long remain a blacksmith, and he soon became a wagon maker, then a manufacturer and successful businessman, retiring at the age of 40 with a comfortable fortune.
His mother was a woman of unusual talent. She was of Welsh and Norman French extraction. Her father was a barrister, which probably accounts for some of the grandson's legal acumen. At the age of 22 his mother was an ordained minister, and while still a young woman she came to America on a lecture tour at the request of the combined Welsh religious societies in America. This lecture tour came to an abrupt ending, when she came to Wisconsin for it was here she was met, wooed and won by the father of Davies.
In 1901 Davies graduated from the law school at the University of Wisconsin, was a commencement orator and during the same year was president of the senior law class. The following year the democratic state convention made him its temporary chairman. More important to him than political and other honors in his career was his marriage the same year to Miss Emlen Knight, daughter of Colonel J. H. Knight of Ashland. Mr. and Mrs. Davies have two daughters, Eleanor 8 years old, and Rachel 2 years old.
As a practicing attorney at Watertown for nearly six years, four years of which were given to the duties of district attorney of Jefferson County, he made a creditable record. Later he came to Madison to practice law and has been in constant practice ever since. He is a member of the law firm of Aylward, Davies, Olbrich and Hill, the senior member being John A. Aylward, ‘84.
In May, 1910, he was made permanent state chairman of the Democratic Party, which later re-elected him, and after the death of T. E. Ryan, late national democratic committeeman from Wisconsin, elected Mr. Davies as his successor. His election to the secretaryship of the national committee is a great tribute to one so young in years. WG
11 14 Stands Close to President
Position Declared to Control Scores of Federal Appointments and Hundreds of Post Offices.
Joseph E. Davies of Madison, member of the Democratic National Committee from Wisconsin, will be the "referee" in all matters connected with federal patronage in the state after the fourth of March next when Woodrow Wilson becomes president. This is the information which drifted in from the east. It is said to be the policy of Gov. Wilson to turn over matters of patronage in states which have no democratic senators to the national committeeman from that state. This of itself would place Mr. Davies right in line for the "refereeship," but in addition to this few men in the country have been closer to Gov. Wilson in the last few months, and it is only natural that he should have great influence in deciding who is to have the plums which are to be dropped from the democratic tree in Wisconsin.
It will bring about a curious condition within the Democratic Party in the state. While the Anti-Aylward democrats have control of the state central committee, they are not likely to have much to say when it comes to distributing patronage. Nor are they likely to keep much of a hold on the rank and file when Mr. Davies on the other side holds in his hands not only scores of federal appointments throughout the state, but hundreds of post office appointments as well.
In the three districts represented by democratic congressmen they will have the power of recommending postmasters, but outside of these districts, with no democratic United States senator from this state, the matter of who shall get the places will be referred, according to present advices, to Mr. Davies.
Outside of a post office here and there, which will fall in now and then, it will be rather a weary wait for those who aspire to hold down jobs in Uncle Sam's service. In the eastern and western districts of the state, where the best places from a monetary point of view are located, most of the present incumbents have from one and one-half to three years still to serve.
Nor is this likely that they will be disturbed until their time expires. In the last ten or twelve years it has become an unwritten law that the appointee to any of the big federal offices shall be permitted to serve out his term, and it is not at all probable that this law, unwritten though it is, will be broken at this time.
For this reason any conjecture as to who will be appointed is not only premature but liable to go widely wrong when the time really comes for the making of the appointment. That they will go to the winning faction in the democracy of the State there can be no doubt. Nor will this be conducive to future harmony within the party ranks — but that is another question. — [Milwaukee Sentinel] WG
1913-15 United States Commissioner of Corporations
03 12 Mr. and Mrs. Davies in Executive Gallery.
Washington, March 5 — Commissioner and Mrs. Joseph Davies, upon invitation of President Wilson, occupied seats in the executive gallery today during the reading of the president’s message on canal tolls in the house today. With them were the Misses Wilson, Mrs. Wilson not having recovered sufficiently from her recent fall to be out. After a joint meeting Commissioner Davies conferred with Democratic members of the Senate committee on interstate commerce, concerning the trade commission bill.
06 04 Baccalaureate Address by Joseph L Davies.
Hon. Joseph E. Davies, U.S. Commissioner of Corporations, delivered the Baccalaureate address on June 1, 1914, before the University of Louisiana. Among other things he said:
The individual and his well-being has been one of the great motive forces in the history of the social movement of the world. Napoleon, the arch-exponent of individualism and selfishness, all but changed the world’s history — then failed dismally. The Carpenter of Galilee preached the salvation of the individual through altruism, and died; but He succeeded gloriously, and his benign spirit and influence lives in untold multitudes of good deeds, and in the aspirations of men, to whom He ministered in life and whose salvation He secured in death. Thus, whether manifested through selfishness or through altruism, the force of the individual has moved the world. Government, indeed, came into being for the protection and development of the individual. Institutions were created by men for men — men were not created for things. That is the fundamental principle upon which our perspective as to the social values and purposes of life should be grounded.
The force back of the birth of our nation was the conviction of our fore-fathers that the great purpose of government was the well-being and happiness of the largest number of men going to make up that government. It is this conception of society and government in its relation to the individual that is responsible for the change in the attitude of men as to the true function of government in the changing conditions of modern industrial life.
09 17 Joseph E. Davies to Resign From Democratic Body
Watertown native Joseph E. Davies arrived in Madison from Washington late last night and expects to return to the national capitol this evening where he will soon take up his enlarged labors as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Davies announced his intention of resigning as secretary of the Democratic National Committee, and as national committeeman from Wisconsin. His reasons for so doing are that his work on the lines of party organization and direction would in some measure be inconsistent with his official duties in Washington. Mr. Davies spent the day conferring with prominent progressive Democrats as to the political situation in Wisconsin. He reported the President to be in unusually good health, considering his great bereavement and the heavy burdens that fall upon his office at this time.—[Madison Journal, Sept. 12] WG
03 04 MR. DAVIES’ APPOINTMENT
Wisconsin is proud of the distinction that Mr. Davies has received at the hands of President Wilson in his appointment as head of the Trade Commission. This is one of the highest offices in the administration of the national government. As a new position it is especially important. That it should be given to a Wisconsin man, a young man who is peculiarly a native of Wisconsin, should make every Wisconsin man, regardless of his politics, rejoice.
Mr. Davies has displayed unusual ability. When he went into the campaign of 1912, he was sneered at as a mere boy. But he won the confidence of Mr. Wilson, he held his own against the old hands and came out triumphantly. Since he has been Commissioner of Corporations, Mr. Davies has grown wonderfully; he has proved his ability in that position, and is everywhere looked on with great favor. In his new position, Mr. Davies has a wonderful opportunity to which those who knew him best do not doubt he will be equal. He has the great responsibility of inaugurating and making a success of the work of the new Federal Trade Commission. Briefly stated, the commission’s task is to make effective the federal laws against unfair methods of competition. Its first duty is the collection of information about business.
It is empowered to require reports from business organizations at regular periods and special reports at any time. It is empowered also to advise with business organizations and with the department of justice to assure compliance with federal laws. It is also given authority to collect trade information about foreign manufacture.
A very important power given the commission is that of issuing orders to prevent unfair competition. This especially is a new departure in business regulations; the process hitherto has been to bring matters into court for redress only after the acts alleged to be in restraint of trade had been committed.
As a new instrument of administration, with a highly important work entrusted to it, the Federal Trade Commission must very largely blaze the way for itself. It has been impossible to lay down specific rules. On the carefulness, the judgment and the good sense of the members, the success of the new trade laws must largely depend. It is this that makes the personnel of the commission particularly important and Mr. Davies’ appointment as its head a particular honor.
The only way to judge a man’s ability in a new office is by his faithfulness and success in the positions he has held. Those who know Mr. Davies and know of his work have every confidence that he will succeed.—Milwaukee Journal. WG
1915-16 Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
1918 Economic adviser to President Woodrow Wilson, Versailles Peace Conference, Versailles, France
1935 Married Marjorie Post
1936 Vice chairman, Democratic National Committee
1936-38 Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Sag Harbor, NY resident Mia Grosjean has researched and expertly restored images from family photo albums back to 1937, when her grandfather, Joseph E. Davies, served as the U.S. ambassador and special envoy to the Soviet Union. The mostly black-and-white images depict a bygone era, when Mr. Davies and Ms. Grosjean’s mother, Emlen Knight Davies, stayed at Spaso House, the Moscow residence of American ambassadors to Russia.
03 15 Time Magazine March 15, 1937, cover story: “RUSSIA: Babbitt Bolsheviks.”
The new U. S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. and Mrs. Joseph Edward Davies had definitely hit their stride in Moscow.
"To My Old Friend - Edward Brenneman - with his admiration and affectionate regard. Joseph E. Davies, Moscow 1937"
1938-39 Ambassador to Belgium and minister to Luxembourg
1939-41 Special assistant to Cordell Hull in charge of war emergency problems and policies
1941 Chairman, Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural committee
Published Mission to Moscow. New York: Simon and Schuster
Re: Octagon House: "The Board of Directors was often plagued with the question of what constituted good repairs. Were the porches a part of that pressing need? As early as June 1940, Architect George Fred Keck offered to draw plans for the porch restoration project. A year later a five hundred dollar donation accompanied blueprints for the restoration of the verandas. These funds were made available from the Honorable Joe. E. Davies, Ambassador to Belgium and Russia." - John Richards: The Hill and The Mill, page 99.
1942-46 Chairman, War Relief and Control Board
1943 Special envoy with rank of ambassador to confer with Joseph Stalin
1945 Chairman, Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural committee
Special envoy with rank of ambassador to confer with Sir Winston Churchill
Special adviser with rank of ambassador, Potsdam Conference, Potsdam, Germany
07 10&14 Davies Presents First Congregational Church with a painting
1946-47 Vice chairman, President's Committee to Study Universal Military Training
06 01 One of the happiest and big moments of his life was experienced by the Hon. Joseph E. Davies of Washington, D.C., here on Thursday afternoon when he personally presented the first Joe Davies scholarship during the Honor Day program in the gym of the Watertown High School. The first scholarship was presented to Jane Weaver, 17, daughter of Mrs. Lois Weaver, 317 1/2 North Washington Street. Mr. Davies, at the close of his remarks, called her to the platform and presented her with the certificate for the four year scholarship, and extended hearty congratulations to her.
06 25 Joseph E. Davies, the 78-year-old Watertown-born diplomat and international lawyer, has made his will and has set aside his palatial estate in Washington, D.C., for the federal government to be used either as a future official residence for United States Vice Presidents or as a graduate school for students of international affairs. Davies disclosed these facts at his home in Washington Saturday night and the news was carried in press dispatches in Sunday's newspapers. He recently visited in Watertown, meeting many of his old friends and classmates. The estate includes a 20-room mansion in which he has entertained some of the world's most noted personages during his residence in Washington. He has occupied the home for the past 20 years.
07 13 There is a “New Look” in Russia, although Soviet goals haven’t changed but Russia’s methods of achieving that goal have changed. That is the view of Joseph E. Davies, Watertown-born former ambassador to Moscow, and he expresses it in an article which he has prepared for the current issue of Newsweek magazine, which will be on the nation’s newsstands tomorrow. Mr. Davies, who recently visited in Watertown, is one of a group of distinguished men whose views on the present trends and policies on the part of Russia were sought by Newsweek. The series appears in the current issue. Mr. Davies was ambassador to Russia in 1936 to 1938. He was also there in 1943 on a diplomatic mission.
05 18 1956
09 27 1956
Joseph E. Davies, Watertown-born former U.S. ambassador to Russia, has sent a check to the sisters who operate St. Joseph's Home for the Aged in Watertown. Mrs. Bertha Voss, a resident at the home, said she read an article in the Times some months ago about Mr. Davies' plans to turn over his Washington estate to the Federal government as an official residence for vice presidents and that this inspired her to write to Mr. Davies. She suggested that if he wished he could do some good by helping the “good sisters who operate this home in Watertown.” He wrote back asking to whom he has to make out the check and Mrs. Voss replied to his inquiry and today the check was received.
1957 Watertown High School Orbit dedicated to Joseph Davies
05 09 Death of Joseph E. Davies, May 9, Washington, D.C.
Joseph E. Davies, 81, Watertown-born former ambassador to Russia and international conference maker for three Presidents, died at his home in Washington, 3029 Klingle Road, early this morning. He passed away in his sleep, having been gravely ill for some months. He suffered from low blood pressure and recently had been confined to bed with around the clock nursing care. In addition to serving as United States ambassador to Russia from 1936 to 1938, he served as ambassador to Belgium and minister to Luxembourg from 1938 to 1939.
08 08 Scholarship securities transferred to Merchants National Bank WDT
02 03 Marjorie Post, second wife of the late Joseph E. Davies, married former Watertown resident, Herbert May WDT
05 14 Tregaron, Washington estate, sold; proceeds to Joe Davies Scholarship Foundation WDT
Wisconsin – Its Story and Biography, 1848-1912,
by Ellis Baker Usher, Vol VIII, 1914.
HON. JOSEPH E. DAVIES.
In the wonderful success gained by the Democratic party in the presidential election of 1912, there flashed suddenly into public notice the name of Joseph E. Davies, of Madison, Wisconsin, a young attorney, a member of the law firm of Aylward, Davies, Olbrich and Hill. In 1913 President Wilson appointed Mr. Davies to the responsible position of commissioner of corporations. Prior to the Democratic Convention at Baltimore, Mr. Davies was but little known outside of his native state, but his activities in the securing of the nomination of Woodrow Wilson in that body, and his subsequent invaluable services in behalf of his party, brought his name into nation-wide prominence, and as western manager of the Democratic campaign he was given a large share of the credit for the great landslide of 1912 which swept all before it. Mr. Davies has had a remarkable career. In little over ten years of time he has risen from the ranks of unknown lawyers to the head of his profession and to an undisputed position as a force in national politics, and this through the force of his own personality, his indomitable perseverance and inherent qualities of character which have come down from a long line of sturdy forebears.
Mr. Davies' father was a blacksmith in Wales and came to the United States in 1840, when still a young man, taking up his trade in Indiana. Later he joined the Welsh colony in southern Wisconsin, settling at Watertown, and when he was forty years of age he was a retired wagon manufacturer of that place. The mother of Mr. Davies was of Welsh and Norman French extraction, the daughter of a barrister, and at the age of twenty-two was an ordained minister. She is probably more widely known under her nom de plume, Rahel o Fon, among the Welsh people, than any other woman of her nationality in this country. She came to America on a lecture tour at the request of the combined Welsh religious societies in America, but her tour stopped at Watertown, for it was there that she met and married Mr. Davies.
Joseph E. Davies received his early education from his mother at home, and subsequently attended the public schools of Watertown, graduating from the high school as valedictorian of his class in 1894. The same year he entered the University of Wisconsin and was elected president of the freshman class, and four years later finished the letters and science course and at his graduation was both class-day and commencement orator and was awarded special honors on his thesis. While still a student at the University of Wisconsin, he was made athletic instructor. In the following year, while a student in the law school, he was one of the winning team in the Illinois Wisconsin Intercollegiate debate. He graduated in law in 1901, having been president of the senior law class, and was commencement orator at graduation, and the year following was made temporary chairman of the Democratic State Convention. It may be said that he entered law and politics at the same time, his ability as an orator helping him in both. He commenced the practice of his profession at Watertown, where he remained for five and one-half years, and during four years of this time acted in the capacity of district attorney of Jefferson county. Since settling in Madison, he has been a member of the firm of Aylward, Davies, Olbrich and Hill.
In May, 1910, Mr. Davies was made permanent state chairman of the Democratic party in Wisconsin, and after the death of the Hon. T. E. Ryan, he was elected to the Democratic National Committee, being the youngest member of the national committee of either of the big parties. He subsequently became secretary of that body, and its treasurer pro-tem. It was in consideration of his long time friendship for former Governor Wilson and William H. McCoombs that Mr. Davies took charge of the Democratic campaign in the middle and far west. The following excerpt from the New York Herald of July 3, 1912, is a fair expression of the impression made by Mr. Davies in the convention at Baltimore.
"When the break came this afternoon and the National Convention joined in a wild rush to nominate Governor Wilson, two young men on the speakers' platform observed the development without any special display of interest, although it meant that they were just budding into national prominence as politicians. They were William H. McCoombs of New York, and Joseph H. Davies of Wisconsin, who managed the entire Wilson campaign and piloted their candidate to victory."
In 1902 Mr. Davies was married to Miss Mary Emlen Knight, daughter of Colonel J. H. Knight, of Ashland, Wisconsin, and they have two children.
Mr. Davies is still in the fullness of his strength with the best years of his career before him, and it will be interesting to note just how far this young son of Wisconsin will go. If the accomplishments and successes of the past may be taken as a criterion of the future, high honors await him.
12 083 Tregaron, the former Washington home of the late Joseph E. Davies, Watertown-born internationally famous attorney and one-time ambassador to Russia, may become the official residence for the vice presidents of the United States. Rumored for some time, the estate is now being made available for such purpose. If the plan is completed, Hubert H. Humphrey, who takes office as vice president next Jan. 20, would be the first vice president to occupy the residence. WDT
Death of Emlen Knight Davies, 01/09/2014, last surviving daughter of Joseph E. Davies. WDTimes article
Davies, Joseph E, Attorney, Davies and Mulberger, 1906, cartoonist drawing, WDT, WHS_005_443
Joseph Edward Davies Papers: A Finding Aid to the Collection in the Library of Congress
Russia Beyond the Headlines:
An American in Moscow, 1937-1938
LINK TO LIFE MAG ARTICLE [ article begins on page 87