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Thomas Davis

Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Death: July 26, 1895 (88)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Thomas Davis

Thomas Davis was born in Dublin, Ireland on December 18, 1806, attended private schools in Ireland, and migrated to America in 1817, settling in Providence. Davis became a pioneer in Rhode Island's jewelry industry and amassed sufficient wealth to enable him to finance a variety of political, civic, and reform endeavors.

Davis became a state senator from Providence serving from 1845 to 1853 when he was elected to Congress as a Democrat. Locally he was associated with the reform wing of the Democratic party led by Thomas Wilson Dorr. Davis was an avowed abolitionist and supported the removal of the real estate requirement for voting imposed by the state constitution upon naturalized citizens. A victim of the political upheaval and nativism of the 1850s, he was defeated in his bid for reelection to Congress in 1854 and failed in three subsequent attempts to regain his congressional seat. Despite his lack of success on the federal level, Davis served again in the state senate (1877-78), then became a state representative (1887-1890), and also a member of the Providence School Committee.

Congressman Davis's principal legacy, however, was as a reformer, a patron of the arts, and a philanthropist. In concert with his wife Paulina, he hosted cultural gatherings at each of his two Providence residences--a Greek revival house at 503-507 Chalkstone Avenue, dating from 1850, and a stately Gothic mansion built in 1869 on a hilltop near the junction of Chalkstone Avenue and Raymond Street in a thirty-four acre park-like setting. At the salons hosted by Thomas and Paulina, intellectuals, artists, and reformers from around the region came to discuss the vital issues of the day. In 1891, the City of Providence purchased the Davis estate at a bargain price for recreational use, enlarged the tract and created Davis Park. In 1945, the federal government condemned the land, demolished the mansion, and built the Veterans' Administration Hospital. Then the flat low-lying area to the east of the facility was returned to the city for playground use. Congressman Davis died on July 26, 1895 at the age of eighty-eight and was laid to rest in Swan Point Cemetery beside his equally illustrious wife.


Thomas Davis (December 18, 1806 – July 26, 1895) was a U.S. Representative from Rhode Island.

Early life and education

Thomas Davis was born in Dublin, Ireland, where he attended private schools. His family emigrated to the United States and located in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1817. His first jobs saw him engaged in jewelry manufacturing.

Political career

Davis served as member of the State senate 1845-1853.

He was elected as a Democrat to the 33rd Congress, March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1855, but was not re-elected in the election of 1854. He resumed his former manufacturing pursuits.

He did not give up Politics however was an unsuccessful candidate for election to the 36th, 42nd, 43rd and 46th Congresses.

He again served in the State senate in 1877 and 1878, also serving as member of the State house of representatives 1887-1890.

He served as member of the Providence school committee.

Personal life and death

Davis married Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis in 1849 and the couple remained together until Paulina's death in 1876. The couple adopted two daughters together. Davis himself died in Providence, Rhode Island, July 26, 1895 and was interred in Swan Point Cemetery.

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Thomas Davis's Timeline

December 18, 1806
Dublin, Ireland
July 26, 1895
Age 88
Providence, Rhode Island, United States