EDMUND JACKSON DAVIS was born in St. Augustine, Florida, and moved with his widowed mother to Galveston, Texas at the age of eleven. He studied law and practiced in Laredo, Corpus Christi, and Brownsville. He served as Deputy Collector of Customs from 1850 to 1852, following which he was elected District Attorney and then Judge for the Rio Grande Valley District. After being defeated for election to the Texas Secession Convention, he became alienated from the southern cause and organized a regiment for service in the U.S. Army, made up of Unionists who had fled to Mexico. Ultimately achieving the rank of Brigadier-General, he was captured by Confederate forces and narrowly escaped hanging. Following the war, he served as a delegate to the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1866 and as President of the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1868. He was elected governor in a special election held under the direction of the federal military commander of the state. During his administration, the state legislature empowered the governor to appoint more than 9,000 state, county, and local officials, leaving only a small percentage of the state’s employees to be elected directly by the voters. Also enacted was a homestead law by which every married settler received a grant of 160 acres and legislation organizing a state police force. In addition, Texas was readmitted to the Union while Davis was governor. After being defeated in the 1873 election, he declared the election law unconstitutional and refused to leave office, appealing to President Ulysses Grant for troops to help keep him in power. Grant declined to intervene, however, and Davis left office, renewing his law practice. He mounted two more unsuccessful campaigns for governor in 1880 and 1882. He died in Austin and was buried in the State Cemetery.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 9. New York: James T. White & Company.