David Davis Collection


David Davis Collection


Davis, David, 1815-1886
Supreme Court justices
United States. Congress. Senate
Davis, George P. (George Perrin), 1842-1917
Illinois. General Assembly. House of Representatives
Illinois. Circuit Court (3rd Circuit)
Davis, Sarah Woodruff Walker, 1814-1879
Davis, Sarah W., 1852-1934


David Davis, a lawyer, politician, distinguished jurist and businessman, was born in Maryland, educated at Kenyon College in Ohio, and studied law at Yale University. Davis married Sarah Woodruff Walker in 1838 and they had five children including George Perrin Davis and Sarah "Sally" Davis.

In 1844, Davis won election as a Whig to the Illinois Legislature, and four years later was elected Judge of Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit, where he served on the bench during Lincoln's remaining years as an attorney on the circuit. The two became close friends, and Davis worked diligently as Lincoln's campaign manager at the 1860 Republican nominating convention in Chicago.

In 1862, President Lincoln appointed Davis to the United States Supreme Court, where Davis wrote the majority opinion in Ex parte Milligan, a landmark decision restricting the rights of military courts to try civilians. In 1877, he resigned from the court after being elected to the United States Senate by the Illinois Legislature. Davis served as Senate president pro tempore from 1881 to 1883, and was known unofficially as "Mr. Vice President." He retired from the Senate in 1883.

Davis invested in real estate with De Witt County attorney, Clifton H. Moore, and became a man of considerable wealth. He had the distinction of being the largest landowner in Illinois. At the time of his death, June 26, 1886, his estate was valued between four to five million dollars-a huge fortune in his day.                

The finding aid for the David Davis Family Papers at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum may be found at: http://alplm-cdi.com/chroniclingillinois/items/show/165.

Photographs in this collection include portraits of several members of the David Davis and George P. Davis families. The collection also includes portraits of Judge Davis' law colleagues, images of Bloomington, Illinois, and photographs of miscellaneous buildings throughout the United States.

Collection Items

David Davis
Judge David Davis sits for a portrait wearing a dark coat and light colored vest.

Carrie Allen
Carrie Allen sits for a portrait in a light dress at the age of two.

Benjamin Alvord
Benjamin Alvord, a veteran of the American Civil War, a mathematician, and a botanist, poses for a portrait wearing his Army uniform jacket.

Charles P. Bascom
Charles P. Bascom, of Dover, poses for a portrait next to a column and a chair. Bascom graduated from Beloit College in 1864 and went on to become a merchant.

Marshall S. Bidwell
Marshall S. Bidwell, a lawyer from Massachusetts and son of politician Barnabas Bidwell, sits for a portrait wearing a dark suit.

H. W. Bishop Jr.
A young H. W. Bishop, Jr., poses wearing a light coat and hat.

G. C. Brown
G. C. Brown poses for a portrait wearing a tall top hat.On verso: "Yours truly G. C. Brown; '63 Delta Kappa Epsilon."

R. Hanna
R. Hanna, a veteran of the American Civil War, poses for a portrait wearing his uniform. On verso: "Your cousin, R. Hanna, Fort Hays, Kansas, 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Calvary, January 10, 1874."

Irving Miller
A young Irving Miller wears a clown costume for a portrait.

Andrew Morrison
A young Andrew Morrison poses for a portrait wearing a dark patterned dress.On verso: "Andrew Morrison. Washington, D. C."

Henry B. Nason
Henry B. Nason poses for a portrait wearing a hat and long coat. Nason was a professor of chemistry and natural sciences at Beloit College.

Joseph P. Orme
Joseph P. Orme, of Bloomington, served as Captain of the Ninety-fourth Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company H, during the American Civil War. Orme was mortally wounded on New Year's Day, 1863, when one of his soldier's muskets accidently discharged…

W. W. Scranton
W. W. Scranton sits for a portrait holding a hat in his hand.

M. Uda
M. Uda poses for a portrait wearing long dark tie.

George Walker
George Walker, the son of Hon. William Perrin Walker, a probate judge of Berkshire County, poses for a portrait. George's sister, Sarah Walker, married Judge David Davis on October 30, 1838.

John S. Wirt
John S. Wirt, a lawyer, poses for a portrait wearing a dark suit.

George P. Davis
George P. Davis, the son of David Davis and Sarah Davis, poses for a portrait wearing a dark tie.

People gather in and around a residence located in St. Augustine, Florida.

Fox Lake College
The Fox Lake College building, later known as Main Hall, was located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The school went through several renamings and mergers during the 19th and 20th centuries before finally consolidating with Lawrence University in 1964.

West College, 1794
A view of a college building at an unidentified location.On verso: "West College 1794."

Smithsonian Institution Building
The James Renwick-designed Smithsonian Institution building, located in Washington, D. C., was constructed in 1847.

Frank Davis
A young Frank Davis poses for a portrait holding a hat.

Sally W. Davis
Sarah "Sally" W. Davis, a daughter of Judge David Davis, poses for a portrait in profile.

George Chambers
George Chambers poses for a portrait wearing a dark jacket and cap.

Pat Lamey
Pat Lamey, a private in the 47th Wisconsin Infantry during the American Civil War, poses for a portrait wearing his uniform.
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