Coke-Davis Controversy

By: Curtis Bishop

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: January 12, 2017

In the election of December 1873 Richard Coke received 100,415 votes for governor against 52,141 for Edmund J. Davis. The election had been characterized by fraud and intimidation on both sides. Davis, the incumbent, proclaimed that he had a right to finish out his four-year term, and the "Semicolon Court," in the case Ex parte Rodriguez, held that the election was illegal. Disregarding the court ruling, the Democrats secured the keys to the second floor of the Capitol and took possession. Davis was reported to have state troops stationed on the lower floor. The Travis Rifles (see TRAVIS GUARDS AND RIFLES), summoned to protect Davis, were converted into a sheriff's posse and protected Coke. On January 15, 1874, Coke was inaugurated as governor. On January 16 Davis arranged for a truce, but he made one final appeal for federal intervention. A telegram from President Ulysses S. Grant said that he did not feel warranted in sending federal troops to keep Davis in office. Davis resigned his office on January 19. Coke's inauguration restored Democrat control in Texas.

Robert A. Calvert and Arnoldo De León, The History of Texas (Arlington Heights, Illinois: Harlan Davidson, 1990). Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in Reconstruction Texas (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980). Otis Singletary, "The Texas Militia during Reconstruction," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 60 (July 1956).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Court Cases and Controversies
Time Periods:
  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Curtis Bishop, “Coke-Davis Controversy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 12, 2017