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Homer Davenport

Homer Davenport
Homer C. Davenport - 1898
Born 8, 1867(1867-Template:MONTHNUMBER-08)
Waldo Hills, Oregon, U.S.
Died 2, 1912 (aged 45)
New York/New Jersey
Occupation Political cartoonist
Known for Political cartoons, Arabian horse breeder
Spouse(s) Daisey
Children Homer Jr., Mildred and Gloria
Relatives Ralph Carey Geer

Homer Calvin Davenport (March 8, 1867 – May 2, 1912) was a political cartoonist from the United States. He was known for his satirical drawings and support of Progressive Era politics. A native Oregonian, he would work for several West Coast newspapers before going to work for William Randolph Hearst and the New York Evening Journal. He also was one of the first American breeders of Arabian horses.


Early years

Davenport was born in the Waldo Hills several miles south of Silverton, Oregon, in 1864 to Timothy W. and Florinda Davenport. His father was one of the founders of the Republican Party in Oregon and served as an Oregon state representative, senator, and Indian agent, and ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 1874.[1] His mother died of smallpox when he was only three years old, but had encouraged his talent for drawing.[2] She was a subscriber to Harpers Weekly, an illustrated news magazine, and particularly admired the political cartoons of the German immigrant, Thomas Nast, who made his name in part by exposing the corruption of New York City government by way of biting satire.[3] Before she died, Florinda had made it clear that her dream was to have her son become a great cartoonist and that his talent for art was to be encouraged. While he was perceived as idle and aimless by his neighbors during his teen years, and had no formal art training, Davenport ended up becoming one of the highest paid political cartoonists in the world at the time.[2]


"No Honest Man Need Fear Cartoons." Behind the figure of Senator Platt is the visage of Boss Tweed, one of the principals from an earlier generation of political corruption, who was in part brought down by Davenport's inspiration, Thomas Nast, who had attacked the Tammany Hall political machine that controlled New York City’s municipal government.

Davenport's career was not immediately successful. His first job was drawing for the Portland, Oregon, newspaper, The Oregonian, where he was fired, it was said, for doing a poor job of drawing a stove for an advertisement.[3] He later worked for the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle. Ultimately, he came to the attention of William Randolph Hearst who recognized Davenport's talent for political cartooning and his tendency to attack corrupt political bosses. Hearst brought him to the east coast to work for the New York Evening Journal in 1895. He later also worked for the New York Evening Mail, producing a continuing stream of highly detailed pen & ink caricatures of many of the leading figures of the day. His drawings left few public figures unscathed, he even caricatured himself and his boss, Hearst.

Ultimately, Davenport’s work became so well recognized for skewering political figures he considered corrupt, such as U.S. Senator Mark Hanna and others, that his opponents attempted to pass a law banning political cartoons. The bill, introduced in the New York State Legislature with the prodding of U.S. Senator Thomas C. Platt, (R-NY), did not pass, but the effort inspired Davenport to create one of his most famous works: “No Honest Man Need Fear Cartoons."

He covered the elections of 1896 and 1900, satirizing William McKinley as corrupt and William Jennings Bryan as an anarchist. However, his 1904 cartoon "He's good enough for me," portraying Uncle Sam as appearing to endorse Theodore Roosevelt, represented both Davenport's support of Trust-busting and his admiration of Roosevelt himself. He also traveled worldwide, covering the Dreyfus affair, and caricaturing many of the leading political figures of Great Britain.[2]

Davenport went on to author several autobiographical books and went on the lecture circuit, traveling the world speaking on cartoons, satire and Silverton. His books included The Diary of a Country Boy, The Bell of Silverton and Other Stories of Oregon, and The Dollar or the Man.[3] He also published a large-format book containing many of his cartoons.

His last assignment was to illustrate the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. He caught pneumonia while waiting on the docks of New York City for the arrival of the survivors, and died shortly after.[3] Hearst paid for an elaborate funeral and had Davenport’s body returned to his native Silverton for burial.

Personal life

During his time in San Francisco, Davenport met and married his wife, Daisey Moore. Homer and Daisey had three children: Homer Jr., Mildred and Gloria. The family settled in northern New Jersey, first in East Orange, then on a 27-acre (110,000 m2) estate in Morris Plains. They hosted large parties attended by both celebrities and many influential people of the day, including Ambrose Bierce, Lillian Russell, Thomas Edison, William Jennings Bryan and even Buffalo Bill Cody.[2] Davenport was also a lifelong lover of animals and of country living; the family raised horses, fancy poultry and other animals.[3]

Silverton, Oregon gives tribute to Davenport during its annual Homer Davenport Days festival, held in August. The festival hosts the annual Homer Davenport International Cartoon Contest that attracts amateur and professional cartoonists. All entries are displayed during the festival in the Silverton Art Association’s Borland Gallery.

Arabian horse breeder

Haleb, the "Pride of the Desert," imported to America by Davenport in 1906.

In addition to his cartooning, Davenport is remembered for personally playing a key role in bringing some of the earliest desertbred or "asil" Arabian horses to America. A longtime horseman, he had been captivated by the beauty of the Arabians brought to the Chicago World Fair of 1893.[4] Upon learning that these horses had remained in America and had been sold at auction, he sought them out, finding most of them in the hands of Peter Bradley, a millionaire and horseman who lived in Hingham, Massachusetts. Davenport initially bought some of these horses outright, but then went into a partnership with Bradley.[5]

In 1906, Davenport obtained financial backing from Peter Bradley and used his political connections, particularly with President Theodore Roosevelt, in order to obtain the diplomatic permissions required to obtain the right to travel into the Middle East. He gained support from key officials in the Ottoman Empire, notably the Sultan himself. Combining his memory and cartooning ability with his international travels, in the process he produced one of the few images of the sultan, a man who was generally unwilling to be photographed or have his image drawn.[4] With several associates, he traveled throughout what today is Syria and Lebanon, and successfully brought 27 horses to America.[6]. Most were registered under the name of Bradley's Hingham Stock Farm.

Of note was that Davenport not only was able to purchase stallions, which were often available for sale to outsiders, but also mares, treasured by the Bedouin and often not for sale at any price.[4] One reason was due to his (possibly accidental) decision to breach protocol and visit Akmet Haffez, a Bedouin who served as a liaison between Ottoman government and the tribal people of the Anazeh, before calling upon the Governor of Syria, Nazim Pasha. Haffez considered the timing of Davenport's visit to constitute a great honor, gave Davenport his finest mare, a war mare named Wadduda. Not to be outdone, Pasha also gave Davenport the stallion Haleb, who was a well-respected sire throughout the region.[5] Known as the "Pride of the Desert," Haleb had been given to Nazim Pasha as a gift in recognition of his liberal camel tax.[2] Haffez then personally escorted Davenport into the desert, and at one point in the journey, Haffez and Davenport became blood brothers.[4] Haffez helped arrange for the best-quality horses to be presented, negotiated appropriate prices, and verified that their pedigrees were asil.[5]

The impact of these 17 stallions and 10 mares was of tremendous importance to the Arabian horse breed in America, and Davenport himself was one of the founding members of the Arabian Horse Registry of America, in 1908.[7] The organization is now the Arabian Horse Association.[8] While what are now called "Davenport" bloodlines can be found in thousands of Arabian horse pedigrees, there are also some preservation breeders whose horses have bloodlines remain exclusively descended from the horses he imported.[9]

See also

  • Theodore Thurston Geer#Family history and legacy

Further reading

  • Huot, L.; P. Powers (1973). Homer Davenport of Silverton. Bingen, Washington: West Shore Press. 
  • Hickman, Mickey (1986). Homer The Country Boy. Salem, Oregon: Capitol City Graphics. 


  1. "Guide to the Davenport Family Papers 1848-1966". Northwest Digital Archive. http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ark:/80444/xv88243. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Sass, Eileen Brorwy. "THE DAVENPORT ARABIAN-- how they came to be." Arabian Horse Express, June and July, 1992. Accessed online October 14, 2007
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "HOMER DAVENPORT CARTOONIST". The American Review of Reviews, 1912. Accessed online October 14, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Davenport, Homer. My Quest of the Arab Horse. Republished by The Arabian Horse Club of America, 1949 ASIN: B0007EYORE
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Craver, Charles C. "HOMER DAVENPORT And His Wonderful Arabian Horses." Arabian Horse News, August, 1972. Accessed online October 14, 2007
  6. "Introduction of Arabian Horses to North America" Arabian Horse Association web site, accessed June 25, 2007 at http://www.arabianhorses.org/education/education_history_north.asp
  7. Edwards, Gladys Brown. The Arabian: War Horse to Show Horse. Arabian Horse Association of Southern California, Rich Publishing, Revised Collector's edition (1973).
  8. ArabianHorse Association Website.
  9. Davenport Arabian Horse Conservancy. Web site accessed June 25, 2007 at http://davenporthorses.org/history/


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