Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Dwight F. Davis (1925–1929): Secretary of War

Dwight Filley Davis was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 5, 1879. He attended Harvard University and graduated in 1900. An accomplished tennis player, Davis played on the national team that won the international tennis competition in 1900 and 1901. His gift of the trophy that bears his name (the "Davis Cup") established the significance of international tennis competition. He won the U.S. and Wimbledon doubles titles in 1901.

Davis graduated from Washington University Law School in 1903. He returned to St. Louis, where he served as delegate to the city commission (1907-1909), parks commissioner (1911-1915), and on the executive committee of the National Municipal League (1908-1912). At the start of World War I, Davis joined the Missouri National Guard and saw action in France, earning the French Legion of Honor and the Distinguished Service Commission, then the United States' highest honor for bravery in action.

An unsuccessful candidate for the US Senate in 1920, Davis was appointed to the War Finance Corporation (1921), and became assistant secretary of war (1923-24), and later, on President Coolidge's succession to office, secretary of war (1925-1929). He was appointed Governor General of the Philippines (1929-1932). Davis died on November 11, 1945, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.