Justice David Davis

On this date in 1877, Justice David Davis resigned his seat as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Born on March 9, 1815 in Cecil County, Maryland, David attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and graduated law school from Yale University in 1835.  Davis moved to Bloomington, Illiois where he practiced law.  From 1844-45, David also served as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  In 1848, Davis was elected a Judge on the Illinois 3rd Circuit Court where he became acquianted with an attorney named Abraham Lincoln.  In 1860, Davis served as Lincoln’s campaign manager during his presidential run.  David left his Illinois state court judgeship when, by recess appointment on October 17, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln named David Davis an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court for the seat left vacant by the resignation of Justice John Archibald Campbell.  Davis later received a full appointment to the Court.  While on the Court, Davis was most noted for authoring the majority opinion in Ex Parte Milligan, which found that the military trials of civilians during the Civil War were unconstitutional since civilian courts where operative.  Davis resigned his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after 15 years on the Court when the Illinois legislature appointed him to the United States Senate.  He served in the United States Senate for one term from 1877 to 1883.  While in the United States Senate, David served as President pro tempore from October, 1881 to March, 1883, which made him second in line to become President because the position of Vice-President was vacant after President Chester A. Arthur succeeded President Garfield.  After leaving the U.S. Senate, Davis retired to Bloomington, Illinois where he died on June 26, 1886 at the age of 71