John Davis Long


John Davis Long : biography

October 27, 1838 – August 28, 1915

Long’s time as governor was relatively uneventful. He proposed a number of modest reforms, including a measured expansion of women’s voting rights (then restricted to voting for school committees), and allowing women to sit on state boards. Most of these reforms were not implemented during his tenure, although some were later enacted into law by his successors.Taylor, pp. 83–84 He kept a busy schedule, attending all manner of civic events across the state.

In one of his last acts as governor, he appointed Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The lame duck appointment was occasioned by the sudden resignation of Otis Lord, a Republican who may resigned in order to deny the appointment opportunity to incoming Governor Benjamin Butler (who had switched to the Democratic Party).White (1996), p. 202 The appoint was made on December 8, 1882, the last day of Long’s term when the Governor’s Council (which had to approve the appointment) was scheduled to meet.White (2000), p. 52

Long was elected to the United States Congress in the 1882 election, and served until 1889, declining to run for reelection in the 1888 election.Taylor, pp. 84–85 In 1886 he was encouraged to stand for the Senate by Henry Cabot Lodge, although Lodge’s support was apparently part of a ruse to test the strength of the state party leadership. Lodge withdrew his support at the last minute, throwing it instead to the incumbent Henry L. Dawes, and the legislature reelected Dawes to the seat. The incident cooled relations between Lodge and Long.Garrett, pp. 293–294 In the wheeling and dealing that preceded the Senate election, Long was offered Democratic support by Butler, but refused, believing that such votes would be seen as tainted by an unsavory political deal.Hess, p. 72

Long’s tenure in Congress was uneventful, since the Congress was under Democratic Party control for the six years he served.Hess, p. 71 In addition to lobbying the administration for patronage appointments, he sat on a joint committee examining interests of shipbuilding and shipowners, as well as on conference committees dealing with pensions and Navy financing.Taylor, pp. 85–86 In 1886 Long married again, to Agnes Pierce, a teacher and daughter of a Universalist minister; they had one son, born in 1887.Taylor, p. 88

Long decided in 1888 not to run for another term in Congress, and spent the next eight years in private practice. His clients were typically corporate interests, and he appeared on their behalf in court as well as in legislative committee hearings. He was sought after as a public speaker, something he engaged in for many years.Taylor, pp. 88–90 He remained somewhat active in Republican Party circles, supporting Roger Wolcott’s Young Men’s Republican Club, which sought to bring new blood into the party. When offered the opportunity to challenge longtime Republican Senator George Frisbie Hoar, he refused.Chase, p. 123 In 1889 he was appointed to the committee overseeing the expansion of the Massachusetts State House, a post he held until 1897.Roe, p. 29