Labor Secretary John Davis Favored Controlling Human Reproduction

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James John Davis (October 27, 1873 – November 22, 1947) was an American steel worker and Republican Party politician in Pittsburgh, PA. He served as U.S. Secretary of Labor and represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate. He is one of only three Cabinet officers in U.S. history to hold the same post under three consecutive presidents. He served under Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

Davis supported the eugenics movements, which was committed to self- directed human reproduction based on encouraging reproduction of those with desirable characteristics and discouraging reproduction of humans with less desirable characteristics. Historian Hans P. Vought argues that Davis lamented the influx of cheap labor from Southern and Eastern Europe. Vought writes that Davis believed that Americans had, thanks to the eugenics movement, learned to discern between "bad stock and good stock, weak blood and strong blood, sound heredity and sickly human stuff." Today, eugenics is regarded as a brutal movement.

Davis supported the rights of workers to strike, but only to a certain extent; he asked unions to "be slow to use the strike weapon." He was against the 14-hour workday that predominated in the American steel industry during the early 1920s.

During his tenure, he focused on immigration, then a Labor Department responsibility, and established the United States Border Patrol and proposed restrictions in immigration quotas. At the urging of the iron and steel workers union, he successfully urged U.S. Steel to abandon the 12-hour workday.

One page, TLS, Department of Labor, March 7, 1925 to S.W. Edmonds, Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Co. of New York. Excellent condition.

“Just a word to let you know how thoroughly I enjoyed the meeting the other evening. It was a great success and you have started something new by bringing together these people whose interests are mutual, that they may know and understand each other, and there is no question in my mind but it will go far toward creating a better and closer feeling between employer and employee.

“I am sending you a little booklet entitled ‘Humanity in Government,’ which covers briefly the activities of the Department of Labor, and also a pamphlet on the naturalization of the alien, with the thought that you would be interested in these things which mean much to the country at this time.

“If you should come to Washington, I would be delighted to have you call upon me.

“With every good wish, I am

“Cordially yours,

“James J. Davis”

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