To succeed outgoing Senator Waitman T. Willey, Democrats chose Henry Gassaway Davis, a large, astute businessman who had made a fortune during the war selling supplies to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The son of a bankrupt Baltimore developer, Davis started out as a brakeman with the B&O, opened his own general store and used his profits from the war to form a bank and a land company.
John Hankey: When he was on the railroad as a brakeman, he spent many, many cold hours riding on the top of a coal pile on a coal car. He probably escaped death just by a whisker many times over, that was life out on the railroad.
Who better to represent a state like West Virginia than someone who has come from the bottom, made his fortunes, knows what West Virginia is all about.