Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DAVIS, John, jurist, born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 25 January 1761; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 14 January 1847. He was graduated at Harvard in 1781, and for a time was a tutor in the family of General Joseph Otis at Barnstable, studied law, and began practice at Plymouth in 1786. At the convention of 1789, which adopted the Federal constitution, he was the youngest delegate, and he survived all the others. He was for several years a member of the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1795 was elected to the state senate. On 26 June of the same year he entered on the office of comptroller of the U. S. treasury, and served till 1 July 1796. He was then appointed district attornev for Massachusetts, and in 1801 U. S. district judge in the same state, in which office he remained to the end of his life. He was a scholar in various departments of knowledge, and especially eminent for his acquaintance with the history and antiquities of New England. In 1813 he delivered an address on the "Landing of the Pilgrims" before the Massachusetts historical society, of which he was president from 1818 till 1843. He published an edition of Morton's "New England Memorial," with copious and valuable notes (Boston, 1826); a "Eulogy on George Washington" ; and "An Attempt to Explain the Inscription on Dighton Rock." See a memoir by Thomas Kinnicutt in "Archmologia Americana."
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