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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Daniel Davis

DAVIS, Daniel, lawyer, born in Barnstable, Massachusetts, 8 May 1762; died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 27 October 1835. He settled in Portland (then called Falmouth) in 1782, and held offices in Massachusetts, of which Maine was then a part. In 1804 he removed to Boston, and in 1832 to Cambridge. He was U. S. attorney for Maine in 1796 - 1801, and solicitor general of Massachusetts in 1800'32. He was author of several legal works, the principal ones being "Criminal Justice" (Boston, 2d ed., 1828) and "Precedents of Indictments" (Boston, 1831). His son, Charles Henry, naval officer, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 16 January 1807; died in Washington, D. C., 18 February 1877. He entered the U. S. navy as a midshipman in 1823, and was attached to the frigate "United States," of the Pacific squadron, in 1827'8. In March 1829, he became passed midshipman, and was ordered to the "Ontario," of the Mediterranean squadron. He received his commission as lieutenant in March 1834, and, after serving in 1837'8 on the "Vincennes," of the Pacific squadron, and in 1840'1 on the "Independence," of the Brazil squadron, was on special duty from 1842 till 1856, being engaged first on ordnance duty and then as assistant in the coast survey. During 1846'9 he was occupied in a survey of the waters about Nantucket, in the course of which he discovered the "new south shoal" and several smaller shoals directly in the track of vessels sailing between New York and Europe, and of coasting vessels from Boston. These discoveries were thought to account for several wrecks and accidents before unexplained, and called forth the special acknowledgments of insurance companies and merchants. He became commander in June 1854, and was given the "St. Mary's," in the Pacific squadron, during 1857'9, after which he was appointed superintendent of the "American Nautical Almanac." He had filled this place in 1849'56, and the existence of the "Almanac" was largely due to his efforts.

In November 1861, he became captain, and during that year was a member of the board of officers convened for the purpose of making a thorough investigation of the southern coast and harbors, their access and defenses. The information thus acquired led to the organization of the expedition against Port Royal, South Carolina, in which Captain Davis was chief of staff and fleet officer. In May 1862, he was appointed flag officer of the Mississippi flotilla, succeeding Andrew H. Foote in that capacity. Soon after his arrival, the Confederate fleet lying below Fort Pillow, consisting of eight ironclad steamers, four of which were fitted up as rams, steamed up for an engagement. The flotilla was quickly put in motion to receive them, and, after an action lasting about an hour, three of the Confederate gunboats were disabled, and the fleet retreated under the guns of Fort Pillow. Subsequently (5 June) the fort was abandoned. Three days later the flotilla moved down the River near Memphis, and again engaged the Confederate fleet. A running fight ensued, in which all the Confederate vessels were either captured or destroyed, except the "Van Horn." After the engagement Captain Davis received the surrender of Memphis, then joined Admiral Farragut, and was engaged in operations around Vicksburg, and in expeditions up the Yazoo River.

He was commissioned commodore in July 1862, and became chief of the bureau of navigation in Washington, and was made rear admiral, to date from February 1863o In 1865 he was appointed superintendent of the naval observatory in Washington, and in 1867 commanded the South Atlantic squadron. He returned to Washington in 1869, and, after being made a member of the lighthouse board, became commander of the Norfolk navy yard, but later resumed his old place of superintendent of the naval observatory. He was a member of numerous scientific societies, and in February 1877, was elected a member of the National academy of sciences. Admiral Davis, during his connection with the coast survey, was led to investigate the laws of tidal action, and published a "Memoir upon the Geological Action of the Tidal and other Currents of the Ocean," in the "Memoirs of the American Academy" (Boston, 1849),. and "The Law of Deposit of the Flood Tide; its Dynamical Action and Office," being vol. iii. of the "Smithsonian Contributions" (Washington, 1852). He contributed various translations and articles on mathematical astronomy and geodesy to periodicals, and was the author of an English translation of Gauss's " Theria Motus Corporum Coelestium" (Boston, 1858).His son, Charles Henry, naval officer, born in Can> bridge, Massachusetts, 28 August 1845, was graduated at the U. S. naval academy in 1864, and served in the Mediterranean squadron till 1867, meanwhile becoming ensign and master in 1866.

From 1867 till 1870 he was on the " Guerriere" in the South Atlantic squadron, and from 1872 till 1874 on the Pacific. He received his commission as lieutenant in March 1868, and became a lieutenant commander in December of the same year. From 18'75 till 1885 he was engaged principally in astronomical work, at first in the naval observatory in Washington, and then in expeditions for the determination of longitude by means of the submarine cables from Europe to the Atlantic islands and the eastern coast of South America during 1877'9; in India, China, and Japan during 1881'2, and on the western coasts of South and Central America during 1883'4. In 1885 he was made commander and given the training ship "Saratoga." His investigations have been published by the government, and are entitled "Chronometer Rates as affected by Temperature and other Causes" (1.877); with Lieutenant Commmander Francis M. Green," Telegraphic Deterruination of Longitudes, embracing the Meridians of Lisbon, Madeira, Porto Grande, Para, Pernambueo, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Buenos Ayres, with the Latitudes of the Several Stations" (1880); "Telegraphic Determination of Longitudes in India, China, and Japan" (1883); and with Lieutenant John A. Norris, "Telegraphic Determination of Longitudes, in Mexico and on the West Coasts of Central and South America" (1885).

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