Richard Harding Davis: The Gibson Man

RH Davis in 1903

While the Gibson girl was the produce of Charles Dana Gibson’s imagination, the jut-jawed Gibson man, who set the standard for masculinity in America, was the famous war correspondent, Richard Harding Davis. A brilliant author, journalist, magazine editor, and war reporter, Davis was one of the more glamorous figures of the era, particularly among writers. He traveled extensively and wrote prodigiously. No one thought him a dilettante. In fact, he died of a heart attack just before he turned 52, probably brought on by overwork. Of all of his work, I have only read Gallegher: And Other Stories. It’s been many years but I certainly give it three stars and it remains a classic.

Perhaps Richard Harding Davis is best known for his war reporting from Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Much of the mystique and outright myth about Theodore Roosevelt and the “Rough Riders” is traced to Davis. This embellishment of Roosevelt’s war record was most helpful in bringing him the national exposure he needed to both be elected Governor of New York and later to be selected as Vice-President on the Republican ticket in 1901. Teddy Roosevelt, for whom the “Teddy bear” is named, became President which he did when William McKinley was assassinated in 1901. Theodore Roosevelt, was only 42 years old when he became President of the United States, the youngest man ever to hold the office.

War Correspondents from the Spanish-Cuban-American War in Tampa: Stephen Crane (seated, white suit), Richard Harding Davis (second from left, standing).

[Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Latin American Studies.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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