Henry Winter Davis

Henry Winter Davis

Henry Winter Davis

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Henry Winter Davis (August 16, 1817 – 30 December 1865) was a United States Representative from the 4th and 3rd congressional districts of Maryland, well known as one of the Radical Republicans during the Civil War.

Early life and career

Born in Annapolis, Maryland, his father, the Reverend Henry Lyon Davis (1775-1836), was a prominent Maryland Episcopal clergyman and was for some years president of St John's College at Annapolis. The son graduated at Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio in 1837, and from the law department of the University of Virginia in 1841, and began the practice of law in Alexandria, Virginia, but in 1850 removed to Baltimore, Maryland, where he won a high position at the bar.

Davis was a man of scholarly tastes, an orator of unusual ability and great eloquence, tireless and fearless in fighting political battles, but impulsive to the verge of rashness, impractical, tactless and autocratic. He wrote an elaborate political work entitled The War of Ormuzd and Ahriman in the Nineteenth Century (1853), in which he described the American Republic and the Russian Empire as the ultimate opponents in the struggles of humanity; it also dismissed the Southern contention that slavery was a divine institution.

Career in Congress

Early becoming imbued with strong anti-slavery views, though by inheritance he was himself a slave holder, he began political life as a Whig. After the Whig Party disintegrated, he became a Know Nothing, and served as a member of...
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