John Davis Long

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Buckfield, Maine
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Buckfield, Maine

During the Spanish-American War, John Davis Long was an American politician, lawyer, and writer who served as Secretary of the Navy. During his stint in politics, Long implemented numerous reforms. He was born in Buckfield and went to Harvard Law School to study law. Long entered politics after a brief career in law, first in Buckfield and then in Boston. He began his political career by participating in local politics, and he quickly rose through the ranks of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He was also the speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and served as the state’s lieutenant governor. He was a member of the United States Congress for around six years before taking a break from politics to practice law in Massachusetts. Long later served as Secretary of the Navy of the United States from 1897 to 1901, during which time the Spanish-American War erupted and he was in charge of critical Navy decisions. In 1901, he resigned from his position and returned to practicing law, which he did until his death in 1915.

Childhood and Adolescence

Zadoc Long and Julia Temple Long raised John D. Long in Buckfield, Maine. He received his initial education at Hebron Academy and then graduated from Harvard in 1857 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

He used to write for a Harvard student publication. He also started and kept a private journal for the rest of his life. He was such an accomplished writer that he was requested to compose an ode for his graduation ceremony.

He spent two years as the headmaster of the Westford Academy in Westford, Massachusetts, after graduating. He went on to Harvard Law School after that. He tried unsuccessfully to practice law in Buckfield before moving to Boston.

A Career of John Davis Long

Long got increasingly interested in politics during his term as a lawyer in Boston, and he became involved at the local level in Hingham in 1870. He was nominated for a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by the Democratic Party on the spur of the moment, but he lost.

was nominated for a position in the Massachusetts House of Representatives by both Democrats and reformist Republicans, but he lost the election in 1872, prompting him to become more Republican.

Long was elected to the state legislative after preside over the state Republican conference in 1874. He backed winning governor candidate Alexander H. Rice.

In 1876, he was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, and in an effort to broaden his reform beliefs, he endorsed Benjamin Bristow for the Republican presidential candidacy. Long was elected lieutenant governor shortly after.

During his time as governor, he strove to bring about social improvements in his own unique style. He composed a poetry translation of Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’ during this time.

Long was elected to the United States Congress when his tenure as governor expired in 1882. His term in Congress was also quite uneventful. He was a six-year member of Congress who oversaw pensions, Navy finances, and other matters.

Long decided not to continue with the Congress when his term expired in 1889, and spent the following eight years of his life practicing private practice. His main clientele was business-related, and he was still involved in Republican Party circles.

Long was on the committee that oversaw the expansion of the Massachusetts State House from 1889 to 1897. However, he was appointed Secretary of the Navy by the United States Senate shortly after his time on the committee concluded.

Tensions between Spain and America began to rise during Long’s tenure as Secretary of the Navy, but Long believed there would be no conflict. After the explosion of the ‘Maine’ in Havana in 1898, he was forced to make war preparations.

After the Spanish-American War broke out, Long was in charge of the Navy’s operations for the duration of the conflict. He was the one who ordered the neutralization of the Spanish fleet in the Philippines, as well as the seizure of Spanish Guam, among other things.

Because the navy was under a lot of pressure throughout the war, Long formed a permanent advising staff after the war ended in 1900. The assigned team was tasked with bringing the Office of Naval Intelligence’s activities together and developing war plans and preparations.

was considered a prospective vice presidential candidate at the same period, but he did not win the ticket because Henry Cabot Lodge did not want him to win.
Long resigned as Secretary of the Navy in 1901 and returned to Massachusetts, where he resumed his private law practice and served as president of the Puritan Trust Company. This was his way of life until he died.

In 1903, he released ‘The New American Navy,’ a chronicle of the Spanish-American War and the American Navy’s participation and progress during it. He also contributed to the establishment of the ‘Zadoc Long Free Library’ in Buckfield.

Personal History and Legacy

In 1870, he married Mary Woodford Glover, and the two of them settled in Hingham, Massachusetts. Margaret Long and Helen Long were their two daughters. Mary passed away in 1882.

In 1886, Long married Agnes Pierce for the second time. She was a Universalist minister’s daughter and a teacher. Pierce Long, their son, was born to them both. He died in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1915.

Estimated Net Worth

Estimated net worth of John Davis Long is unknown.


Long had a nervous breakdown while practicing private law in Massachusetts after his long term in Congress, forcing him to take a vacation from his legal business.

Long was disliked by Henry Cabot Lodge, who opposed his appointment as Secretary of the Navy, and he assisted Theodore Roosevelt in securing the position of Assistant Secretary in order to ensure that Long’s tenure was not peaceful, as Roosevelt’s views on the development of the Navy were diametrically opposed to Long’s.