north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      George Davis, Confederate senator and attorney general, was born on March 1, 1820 in Pender County, the son of Thomas F. and Sara Eagles Davis. As a young boy, Davis was sent to Pittsboro where he entered W. H. Harden’s boarding school. An extremely intelligent young man, Davis entered the University of North Carolina at the age of fourteen, and graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 1838. After graduation he studied law with his brother, and opened his first law office in Wilmington in 1839.

      Throughout the 1840s Davis served a variety of positions in Wilmington, first as the director of the Bank of Wilmington and then as general counsel for the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. A former Whig turned Constitutional Unionist, Davis was an ardent opponent of secession. After Lincoln’s election, Davis gave numerous public lectures against seceding from the United States. In January 1861 he was appointed to the Washington Peace Conference as a North Carolina representative. The mission completely changed his opinion after having seen Constitutional amendments opposing slavery discussed. He returned a secessionist.

      Davis was elected to the Confederate Senate on behalf of North Carolina later that year; however, upon the conclusion of his two-year term in 1863, he was defeated by William A. Graham. Nevertheless, Davis had developed a strong relationship with Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In December 1863, Davis appointed him Attorney General of the Confederacy. He held the position until the fall of the Confederacy. Davis attempted to flee Union forces with Jefferson Davis’s cabinet. He accompanied the refugee train as far as Charlotte, but then attempted to reach England by way of Florida. Captured in Key West, he was taken to New York, where he was held until January 2, 1866.

      Davis was a leading Democrat after the war in North Carolina, although he never again held elected office. In 1878 Governor Zebulon Vance offered Davis the chief justiceship of the state supreme court, but he turned it down on the grounds that he could not live on the salary. He remained a practicing attorney and businessman until his death on February 23, 1896 in Wilmington, D-36.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 32-33—sketch by Buck Yearns
Henry Groves Connor, George Davis (1911)
Fletcher M. Green, “George Davis, North Carolina Whig and Confederate Statesman,” North Carolina Historical Review (October 1946): 449-470
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources