Jan. 9, 1897: Former Republican Gov. Daniel F. Davis dies in the Penobscot County town of Corinth. He became governor in 1880 at the age of 36 at the end of a weekslong armed standoff between competing political factions, featuring threats of kidnapping and assassination.

Gov. Daniel F. Davis Courtesy of the Maine State Museum (catalogue number 72.19.57)

Davis ran for governor in the election of September 1879. In that election, no gubernatorial candidate received a majority of votes, so in accordance with state law at the time, the Legislature was directed to determine the winner. However, because of a controversial ballot certification process, the composition of the Legislature also was in doubt. When reports began to circulate that Democrats had tampered with the election results, a mob of armed Republicans surrounded the State House in Augusta. With mass meetings of indignation being held all over the state, wide-scale violence seemed imminent.

Outgoing Gov. Alonzo Garcelon of Lewiston summoned Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain, then a major general in the state militia and the state’s military commander, to Augusta. Chamberlain decided not to call out the militia, relying instead on help from Augusta Mayor Charles E. Nash and the city’s police force to keep order.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the Republicans’ favor on Jan. 16, 1880, whereupon the newly Republican-controlled Legislature elected Davis governor the next day.

Davis was the last governor elected before the length of Maine’s gubernatorial terms was increased from one year to two. In the fall of 1880, Davis narrowly lost a re-election bid to Harris Plaisted, the Greenback-Democrat Fusion candidate, who served the first two-year term as governor.

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