Martin L. Davey
Portrait of Governor Martin L. Davey who served two, two year terms as Governor from 1935-1939.
Martin L. Davey was Ohio's governor from 1935 to 1939.
Davey was born on July 25, 1884, in Kent, Ohio. His father, John Davey, was an English immigrant, who created the Davey School of Practical Forestry in 1906. John Davey was one of the world's leading experts on trees and tree surgery.
Martin Davey worked for his father and eventually became president of the company. He attended public schools and enrolled in Oberlin College for three years, but he did not graduate. Davey, a Democrat, sought political office in 1914, winning election as Kent's mayor. He held this position until 1918, when he was appointed to the United States House of Representatives. He won reelection in 1920, and Davey remained in the House until 1929. In 1928, the Democratic Party selected Davey as its candidate for Ohio governor. Myers Y. Cooper defeated Davey in this election. Undaunted, Davey won the Ohio governor's seat in 1934, and he served two terms.
As governor, Davey had to help Ohioans cope with the Great Depression. Although a fellow Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was currently president, Davey opposed many of Roosevelt's New Deal programs because they assumed control over many programs previously operated by the states. As a result of Davey's opposition to Roosevelt's policies, the governor was charged with corruption by federal officials. Davey was cleared of all charges, but federal government aid ceased flowing into Ohio during a time when many Ohioans were in need. Davey did help Ohioans, however, implementing the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Law, the first state-government-financed unemployment insurance package in the United States. He also improved school funding for Ohio's schools with implementation of the School Foundation Program Law. Davey also had to cope with labor unrest, including the "Little Steel" Strike of 1937. In this instance, Davey sent in Ohio National Guard troops to disperse striking workers.
Davey lost reelection in 1938 and again in 1940. Following this second defeat, he retired to his tree business. Davey died on March 31, 1946.
- The Governors of Ohio. Columbus: The Ohio Historical Society, 1954