JAMES H. DAVIS was born in Beech Springs, Louisiana on September 11, 1899. His education was attained at Louisiana College, where he graduated in 1924, and at Louisiana State University, where he earned a masters degree in 1927. Davis had a successful music career and co-wrote and recorded the hit song You Are My Sunshine. He entered public service in 1938, serving as a member of the Shreveport Public Safety Commission. Four years later he served as a commissioner for the North Louisiana District Public Service Commission. Davis won the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected governor by popular vote on April 18, 1944. He was sworn into office on May 9, 1944. During his first term, a state retirement system was initiated, a highway development program was authorized, the state’s industry profited during World War II, public improvement funding was increased, and a substantial surplus was left in the state treasury. After completing his term, Davis left office on May 11, 1948, and returned to his music career. In 1959, he won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was reelected to a second term on April 19, 1960. During his second administration, a new governor’s mansion was built, as were the Sunshine Bridge and the Toledo Bend Reservoir. Also, teachers salaries were raised, highway construction was advanced, and the state’s mental health program was modernized. Davis’s second term ended on May 12, 1964. After running unsuccessfully for reelection in 1971, Davis retired from politics. Governor James H. Davis died at the age of 101, on November 5, 2000. He was buried at the Davis Cemetery in Jackson Parish, Louisiana.
Dawson III, Joseph G. The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Baton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1990.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.