Member Biography

Elisha W. Davis 


Portrait: Senate of Pennsylvania

Sessions Office Position District Party
1873       5 Republican
1874       5 Republican
1875     Speaker 5 Republican
1876     Speaker 5 Republican

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


09/08/1828 - 02/13/1887

Lieutenant Colonel Elisha W. Davis (R5) Philadelphia County, 1872-1876

Early Career:

Elisha W. Davis, born September 8, 1828, Slippery Rock, Butler County, Pennsylvania; son of Lemuel and Margaret Elliot Davis; Lieutenant colonel, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Civil War, 1862-1863; teacher; lawyer; engaged, iron manufacturing; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1860-1861; elected, Speaker, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1861; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, elected, Speaker Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1868; 1869, 1870 and elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 1879-1880; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1872-1876; elected, President Pro Tempore, 1875-1876; elected, Colorado House of Representatives, 1883-1884; elected, Speaker of the Colorado House, 1883-1884; appointed, Uintah agent, United States Department of the Interior, 1883-1885; died, February 13, 1887, city of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Early Career:

Civil War Union Army Officer. Commissioned, Lieutenant Colonel, 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, September 1, 1862, medical discharged by Special Order, April 20, 1863. (i) Engaged, South Mountain, Antietam Campaign; Shenandoah Valley; Battle of Fredericksburg, Mud March.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Mercer and Venango Counties, 1860-1861, Philadelphia County, 1866-1870, Philadelphia County, 1879-1880.

Elected, 81st Speaker, Pennsylvania House, January 7, 1861.  First time as Speaker, President Abraham Lincoln addressed a Joint Session of the Pennsylvania Legislature, February 22, 1861, less than 2 months before the beginning of the Civil War. His second time as Speaker, Davis oversaw the passage of Joint Resolution 12 of 1868, which praised the actions of Congress in passing a resolution for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. 

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 5th district, Philadelphia County, 1872-1876; elected, President Pro Tempore, 1875-1876; member, Finance, Railroad and New Counties and County Seats Committees.

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Elected, Colorado House of Representatives, 7th Precinct, Saguache County, 1883-1884; elected, Speaker, Colorado House, 1883-1884

Appointed, Uintah agent, United States Department Interior, 1883-1885; returned Philadelphia, poor health. 

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Biography:


Only member, Pennsylvania General Assembly, serve as a legislative Speaker in two states, Pennsylvania and Colorado.


Smull, J. A. (Ed.). (1875). Pennsylvania Legislative Handbook, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, p. 601-608.