Norman Davis (diplomat)

Norman Hezekiah Davis (August 9, 1878 – July 2, 1944) was a U.S. diplomat. He joined the Treasury Department in 1917, serving as President Wilson's chief financial advisor at the Paris Peace Conference. In 1919 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and the following year became Under Secretary of State. (Arnold A. Offner, American Appeasement (1976), 21) (August Heckscher, Woodrow Wilson (1991), 564, provides an example of Wilson issuing a directive to the financial counselor, Norman Davis.)

Norman Davis
Norman H. Davis.jpg
2nd Under Secretary of State
In office
June 15, 1920 – March 7, 1921
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Warren G. Harding
Preceded byFrank Polk
Succeeded byHenry P. Fletcher
Personal details
Norman Hezekiah Davis

(1878-08-09)August 9, 1878
Normandy, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJuly 2, 1944(1944-07-02) (aged 65)
Hot Springs, Virginia, U.S.
Mackie Paschall
(m. 1898; died 1942)
EducationVanderbilt University
Stanford University

He was born in Normandy, Bedford County, Tennessee[1] to successful businessman and distiller McClin H. Davis, who is credited with perfecting the recipe for Cascade Whisky, which is now known as George Dickel. Norman Davis was prepared at the prestigious Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN, and studied at both Stanford and Vanderbilt. Davis briefly ran the Cascade Distillery following his father's death in 1898, but was forced to sell his share of the distillery to the operation's majority owners.[2][3] Norman made millions of dollars from his financial dealings in Cuba from 1902 to 1917, where he was the President of the Trust Company of Cuba. While working in the financial industry, he built close friendships with Henry Pomeroy Davison, an influential partner with J.P. Morgan & Co. and Chairman of the American Red Cross, and Richard M. Bissell, president of Hartford Fire Insurance and a member of the National Defense Commission. Through these connections, he was able to get appointed as a financial adviser to the Secretary of Treasury on foreign loans during World War I.[4]

Davis headed a commission of the League of Nations that negotiated the Klaipėda Convention in 1924. He was a delegate to the first General Conference for the Limitation and Reduction of Armaments at Geneva that opened in February, 1932. Shortly after the Disarmament Conference resumed in the Spring of 1933, he arrived in Geneva, and began serving as Chairman of the American delegation with the rank of Ambassador, having been appointed to that position by the incoming Roosevelt administration.(Hugh Wilson, Diplomat Between Wars (1941), 263,270, 284-285)(Arnold A. Offner, American Appeasement (1976), 21) (Department of State, Peace and War United States Foreign Policy 1931 -1941, (2003 by University Press of the Pacific, Reprinted from the 1942 edition), 9-12) In a May 22, 1933 address to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva Davis said, "We feel the ultimate objective should be to reduce armaments... through successive stages down to the level of a domestic police force." (New York Times, May 23, 1933, "Peace and Arms Pledges of the United States Given to World Disarmament Parley By Davis." (For details regarding the Disarmament Conference at Geneva See: Foreign Relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1933, general, The conference for the reduction and limitation of armaments, Geneva, 1933, 1–355, note that U.S. diplomatic papers often cited as FRUS, are available through the University of Wisconsin digital collections.) He was chairman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 1938 to 1944 and president of the Council on Foreign Relations 1936–1944. He was a member of the Peabody Awards Board of Jurors from 1940 to 1942.[5]

In 1939, following the outbreak of war in Europe, Davis chaired the steering committee of the Council on Foreign Relations' War and Peace Studies project, created to advise the U.S. Government on wartime policy. He would also join the State Department's committee on overseas war measures, the fifteen-member Advisory Committee on Problems of Foreign Relations.


  1. ^ The Public Life of Norman H. Davis - jstor Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  2. ^ Kay Baker Gaston, "George Dickel Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey: The Story Behind the Label," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2 (Fall 1998), pp. 51-64.
  3. ^ Hale, Will Thomas & Merritt, Dixon Lanier (1913). A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, Volume 6. Lewis Publishing Company. p. 1603.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Domhoff, G. William (1990). The Power Elite and the State: How Policy Is Made in America. Transaction Publishers. pp. 115–116. ISBN 9780202369877.
  5. ^ "George Foster Peabody Awards Board Members". Retrieved 2019-06-11.

External linksEdit

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Cary T. Grayson
Chairman of the
International League of
Red Cross Societies

Succeeded by
Jean de Muralt