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Sun, 02.18.1872

William H. Davis, Government Administrator born.

William H. Davis

*William H. Davis was born on this date in 1872. He was a Black educator, pharmacist, and American government official.

William Henry Davis was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to former slaves Jerry and Susan Davis. He graduated from Louisville Colored High School in June 1888 at the age of 16, second in his class of eighteen students. Davis delivered the graduation address he titled "The Dignity of Labor." Davis taught himself shorthand and typing and became a legal clerk at the law firm of Cary & Spindle. Later he served as secretary to Mayor Todd of Louisville. Davis also owned a shoe store, which sold manufactured goods and made custom shoes and boots. He also taught typing and shorthand to black students, excluded from white-segregated classes.

Davis moved to Washington, DC, for its opportunities. He studied at Howard University, earning a Doctor of Pharmacology in 1902. Davis also founded the Mott Night Business High School during his study period. The school district heard about the success of Davis' school and asked him to become principal of Armstrong High School. He established connections among educated African Americans in the capital. He married Julia B. Hubbard, and they had children, including John P. Davis, who became an attorney, journalist, and civil rights activist.

In October 1917, Emmett J. Scott was President Woodrow Wilson's administration special assistant to the Secretary of War Newton D. Baker for Negro affairs during the Great War. Scott appointed William H. Davis as his own special assistant and manager of his five-person staff in the War Department. At the War Department, Davis handled black soldiers' complaints, ensuring they and their families received the government benefits to which they were entitled. Davis' new Selective Service regulations were applied equally to all people.

Davis later served as secretary to the Presidential Commission investigating the economic conditions in the Virgin Islands. William Davis died on January 7, 1951. 

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