Daniel Webster Davis

1862–1913
Daniel Webster Davis

The son of slaves, Daniel Webster Davis was born in Virginia’s Caroline County. A teacher, minister, historian, and poet, Davis moved to Richmond after the Civil War and began teaching in 1880. Three schools in Virginia have been named after him, commemorating his influential three-decade-long teaching career that spanned Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas.

In 1893 Davis married Elizabeth Eloise Smith, and together they had three children. Davis was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1896 and soon became pastor of the Second Baptist Church of South Richmond, a role he held until his death.

Davis published two collections of poetry, Idle Moments (1895) and ‘Weh Down Souf (1897). Both his poetry and his sermons typically engage racial justice, illustrating the history and achievements of African Americans while sharing the Gospel. Davis’s poetry often uses dialect and a sly wit to carry its argument and addresses racial inequality by focusing on family, religion, and education.

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Poems By DANIEL WEBSTER DAVIS

Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

LIFE SPAN 1862–1913

Daniel Webster Davis

Biography

The son of slaves, Daniel Webster Davis was born in Virginia’s Caroline County. A teacher, minister, historian, and poet, Davis moved to Richmond after the Civil War and began teaching in 1880. Three schools in Virginia have been named after him, commemorating his influential three-decade-long teaching career that spanned Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas. In 1893 Davis married Elizabeth Eloise Smith, and together they . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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