John Wesley Davis

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John W. Davis
John Wesley Davis.jpg
Davis as painted by W.D. Murphy, 1911.
4th Governor of Oregon Territory
In office
May 14, 1853 – August 1, 1854
Appointed by Franklin Pierce
Preceded by George Law Curry (acting)
Succeeded byGeorge Law Curry
3rd United States Commissioner to the Great Qing Empire
In office
January 3, 1848 – May 25, 1850
Appointed by Zachary Taylor
Preceded by Alexander Hill Everett
Succeeded by Humphrey Marshall
17th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 1, 1845 – March 4, 1847
Preceded by John W. Jones
Succeeded by Robert C. Winthrop
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1835 – March 3, 1837
March 4, 1839 – March 3, 1841
March 4, 1843 – March 3, 1847
Preceded by John Ewing (2nd)
John Ewing (2nd)
David Wallace (6th)
Succeeded by John Ewing (2nd)
Richard W. Thompson (2nd)
George Grundy Dunn (6th)
Constituency 2nd district (1835–37)
2nd district (1839–41)
6th district (1843–47)
Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives
In office
December 1, 1851 – March 7, 1852
Preceded by Ebenezer Dumont
Succeeded by William Hayden English
In office
December 6, 1841 – January 31, 1842
Preceded by Samuel Judah
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson Henley
In office
December 3, 1832 – February 4, 1833
Preceded byHarbin H. Moore
Succeeded byNathan B. Palmer
Member of the Indiana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
John Wesley Davis

(1799-04-16)April 16, 1799
New Holland, Pennsylvania, US
DiedAugust 22, 1859(1859-08-22) (aged 60)
Carlisle, Indiana, US
Resting placeCity Cemetery
Political party Democratic
Other political
Alma mater UMB
Profession Physician
CommitteesCommittee on Public Lands

John Wesley Davis (April 16, 1799 – August 22, 1859) was an American physician and Democratic politician, active in the mid-1800s. He is best known for serving as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Governor of the Oregon Territory, and as a four-time member of the Indiana state legislature.

Early life and education

Davis was born in New Holland, Pennsylvania, on April 16, 1799, and later moved to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, with his parents. [1] [2] Davis graduated from Baltimore Medical College in 1821, then moved to Carlisle, Indiana, in 1823 and practiced medicine there. [2] He married Ann Hoover on November 19, 1820.

Political career

State politics

Davis started his political career as an unsuccessful candidate for the Indiana Senate in 1828. He instead became a state court judge in Indiana from 1829 to 1831. He was elected a member of the Indiana House of Representatives four times, serving terms beginning in 1831, 1841, 1851, and 1857. [1] He was Speaker of the Indiana House from 1832 to 1833 and again from 1841 to 1842 and 1851 to 1852. [1]

National politics

He served as a U.S. Representative from Indiana in the 24th, 26th, 28th and 29th Congresses and was Speaker of the U.S. House in the 29th Congress. [1] From 1848 to 1850 he was U.S. Diplomatic Commissioner to China. [1] In 1852 he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Indiana. [1]


Davis was appointed to the office of Governor of the Oregon Territory in 1853 by President Franklin Pierce. His appointment was not welcomed by Oregonians, however, and he left office just over a year later, with the position returning to his predecessor, Secretary of the Territory George Law Curry.


Davis died in Carlisle, Indiana on August 22, 1859. [1] He was buried at City Cemetery in Carlisle. [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Davis, J." The Political Graveyard. Retrieved October 31, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: DAVIS, John Wesley

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Ewing
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
John Ewing
Preceded by
John Ewing
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Richard W. Thompson
Preceded by
David Wallace
Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
George G. Dunn