Bancroft Davis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bancroft Davis
J. C. Bancroft Davis.jpg
9th Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
1883–1902
Preceded byWilliam Tod Otto
Succeeded byCharles Henry Butler
Judge of the Court of Claims
In office
December 20, 1882 – November 5, 1883
Appointed byChester A. Arthur
Preceded byhimself
Succeeded byLawrence Weldon
In office
December 14, 1877 – December 9, 1881
Appointed byRutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byEdward G. Loring
Succeeded byhimself
7th, 9th & 14th United States Assistant Secretary of State
In office
December 19, 1881 – July 7, 1882
Preceded byRobert R. Hitt
Succeeded byJohn Davis
In office
January 24, 1873 – January 30, 1874
Preceded byCharles Hale
Succeeded byJohn Cadwalader
In office
March 25, 1869 – November 13, 1871
Preceded byFrederick W. Seward
Succeeded byCharles Hale
13th Envoy from the United States to the German Empire
In office
August 28, 1874 – September 26, 1877
PresidentUlysses S. Grant
Rutherford B. Hayes
Preceded byGeorge Bancroft
Succeeded byBayard Taylor
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the Orange County, 1st district
In office
January 1, 1869 – March 26, 1869
Preceded byWilliam C. H. Sherman
Succeeded byOdell S. Hathaway
Personal details
Born
John Chandler Bancroft Davis

(1822-12-29)December 29, 1822
Worcester, Massachusetts
DiedDecember 27, 1907(1907-12-27) (aged 84)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyRepublican
FatherJohn Davis
RelativesHorace Davis
EducationHarvard University (A.B.)
read law

John Chandler Bancroft Davis, commonly known as Bancroft Davis, (December 29, 1822 – December 27, 1907) was an attorney, diplomat, Judge of the Court of Claims and Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Education and career[edit]

Born on December 29, 1822, in Worcester, Massachusetts,[1] Davis read law in 1844 and received an Artium Baccalaureus degree in 1847 from Harvard University.[1] He originally entered Harvard with the class of 1840 but was suspended in his senior year and did not graduate with his original class.[2] He was Secretary and charge d'affaires for the London legation with the United States Department of State from 1849 to 1852.[1] He entered private practice in New York City, New York from 1853 to 1862.[1] He was an American corespondent for the London Times from 1854 to 1861.[1] Because of ill health, Davis retired from his law work in 1862, and settled on a farm in rural New York until he regained his health.[2] He was a member of the New York State Assembly (Orange County, 1st District) in 1869, but vacated his seat on March 26, 1869, to accept a federal post.[3] He was a United States Assistant Secretary of State from 1869 to 1871, and from 1873 to 1874, under President Ulysses S. Grant.[4] He was Secretary and United States Agent for the Joint High Commission in Geneva, Switzerland from 1871 to 1873.[1] In 1874, he was appointed as the United States Envoy to the German Empire, serving in that position until 1877.[3]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Davis was nominated by President Rutherford B. Hayes on December 12, 1877, to a seat on the Court of Claims (later the United States Court of Claims) vacated by Judge Edward G. Loring.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1877, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on December 9, 1881, due to his resignation to again accept the post of United States Assistant Secretary of State from 1881 to 1882.[1]

Davis was nominated by President Chester A. Arthur on December 13, 1882, to the seat on the Court of Claims vacated by himself.[1] He was confirmed by the Senate on December 20, 1882, and received his commission the same day.[1] His service terminated on November 5, 1883, due to his resignation.[1]

Reporter of decisions[edit]

Bancroft Davis later in life.

Davis served as Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1883 to 1902.[1]

Role in corporate personhood controversy[edit]

Acting as court reporter in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad – 118 U.S. 394 (1886), dealing with taxation of railroad properties, Davis plays a historical role in the corporate personhood debate.[5] The position of court reporter entailed that he write "a summary-of-the-case commentary." Why Bancroft Davis's role in the controversy is worth mentioning is that he noted in the headnote to the court's opinion that the Chief Justice Morrison Waite began oral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."[6]

In a published account of Bancroft's collected Supreme Court reports and notes from 1885-1886,[7] he wrote of the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case that, "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."[8] Journalists and authors, such as Thom Hartman, have since cited Davis's prior position as president of Newburgh and New York Railway as evidence of a conflict of interest in the corporate personhood interpretation of a Supreme Court ruling dealing with a railroad.[9] The controversy regarding Bancroft Davis's summary remains unsolved.[10]

Death[edit]

Davis died on December 27, 1907, at his residence, Number 1621 H Street. N.W., in Washington, D.C.[11][3]

Family[edit]

Davis was the son of John Davis, a Whig Governor of Massachusetts, and was the older brother of United States Representative Horace Davis.[12]

Personal[edit]

On November 19, 1857, Davis married Frederica Gore King (1829–1916).[citation needed] Frederica was the daughter of James G. King (1791–1853), an American businessman and Whig Party politician and the granddaughter of both Archibald Gracie and Rufus King, who was the Federalist candidate for both Vice President (1804 and 1808) and President of the United States (1816).[citation needed] They did not have any children.[citation needed]

Honors[edit]

Davis was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1851.[13]

Works[edit]

  • (1847) The Massachusetts Justice LCCN 05-17539
  • (1871) The Case of the United States Laid before the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva LCCN 10-16624
  • (1873) Treaties and Conventions Concluded between the United States of America and Other Powers, Since July 4, 1776 (Revised edition) LCCN 11-33794
  • (1893) Mr. Fish and the Alabama Claims: A Chapter in Diplomatic History LCCN 11-24903, LCCN 71-95065
  • (1897) Origin of the Book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Davis, John Chandler Bancroft - Federal Judicial Center". www.fjc.gov.
  2. ^ a b "John Chandler Bancroft Davis". American Law Encyclopedia Vol 3. Retrieved September 17, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c "JOHN C. B. DAVIS DIES. | He Had Been Reporter for the Supreme Court Twenty-four Years". The New York Times. December 28, 1907. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  4. ^ "Assistant Secretary of State". The New York Times. March 25, 1869. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  5. ^ "The murky history of J. C. Bancroft Davis and corporate personhood". Thoughts and Observations. January 22, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ 118 U.S. 394 (1886) - Official court Syllabus in the United States Reports
  7. ^ Davis, J.C. Bancroft (1886). Vol. 118 of United States Reports: Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term 1885 and October Term 1886. New York City: Banks & Brothers Publishers.
  8. ^ Hartman, Thom (2002). Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights. New York, NY: Rodale. p. 107. ISBN 1-57954-627-7.
  9. ^ Hartmann, Thom (December 31, 2001). "To Restore Democracy: First Abolish Corporate Personhood". Thom Hartmann - News & info from the #1 progressive radio show. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  10. ^ Winkler, Adam (March 5, 2018). "'Corporations Are People' Is Built on an Incredible 19th-Century Lie". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  11. ^ "Obituary 1 -- No Title". The New York Times. December 30, 1907. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  12. ^ "Davis, John Chandler Bancroft (1822–1907)". Political Graveyard. Retrieved September 17, 2008.
  13. ^ "MemberListD". American Antiquarian Society.

Sources[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
William C. H. Sherman
New York State Assembly Orange County, 1st District
1869
Succeeded by
Odell S. Hathaway
Legal offices
Preceded by
Edward G. Loring
Judge of the Court of Claims
1877–1881
Succeeded by
himself
Preceded by
himself
Judge of the Court of Claims
1882–1883
Succeeded by
Lawrence Weldon
Preceded by
William Tod Otto
Reporter of Decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States
1883–1902
Succeeded by
Charles Henry Butler