Many of our readers are well acquainted with the legacy of the late Joseph E. Davies. The Watertown native was valedictorian of his class at Watertown High School, went on to University of Wisconsin-Madison where he graduated with a law degree and then went on to become an international lawyer, confidant to presidents and served as ambassador to several countries.

Well, Joe Davies is back in the news again, nearly 60 years after his death. One of our regular readers spotted an interesting story in the New York Times which bears a mention here.

Back in 1939 Joe Davies applied for and was granted a coat of arms by the English heraldic authority and he also trademarked the coat of arms in the United States.

The coat of arms and its associated emblem captured the eye of President Donald Trump some years ago and he’s now using a strikingly close rendition of it in connection with his many golf courses and at his cherished home Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The coat of arms shows three lions, and two chevrons on a shield, below a gloved hand gripping an arrow.

The only major change was the word “Integritas, which is the Latin word for “integrity.” That word was on the Davies coat of arms but in the new version changes the word to “Trump.”

In Scotland, President Trump was forced by law to change the coat of arms you’ll see at his golf courses there because the one he planned to use was infringing on the Davies emblem. The Lions were replaced by a two-headed Eagle.

The Trump emblem is also displayed “everywhere” at Mar-a Lago, the stunning resort the president loves and often visits.

That makes it even more interesting because that estate that’s constantly in the news these days was actually constructed by Marjorie Merriweather Post, wife of Joe Davies, and also heiress to the Post Toasties fortune.

The New York Times article, written by Danny Hakim, says the use of the Trump emblem does not sit well with descendents of Davies.

The article says, “Joseph D. Tydings, a Democrat and former U.S. Senator from Maryland who is the grandson of Mr. Davies, learned that Donald Trump was using the emblem, at least at Mar-a-Lago, when he visited the property. Trump had never asked permission.

“There are members of the family who wanted to sue him,” said Joe Tydings, a lawyer who wears his family’s coat of arms on a ring.

The article goes on to say Joe Tydings, 89, was close to Ms. Post, his step-grandmother, whom he referred to as “mommy-da.” He spent much of his youth at Mar-a-Lago.

Joe Tydings still practices law and said several years ago he talked some of his cousins out of suing the now president, because he knew from past experiences that this would be a costly and futile attempt.

He said, “I just told the other members of my family that you can’t win on this. You’ll borrow for two generations to sue him.”

Then he added, “I know Trump very well.” He pointed out that he was a senior partner at Finley, Kumble, a giant law firm in its day that represented Donald Trump and other owners of the fledgling United States Football League in an unsuccessful suit against the NFL.

He added, “I knew him and the way he operates. And, the way he operates, you don’t sue Donald Trump, because you’ll be in court for years and years and years.”

The article pointed out there is a “historical parallel” between President Trump and Joe Davies — both were controversially pro-Russian. Back in the days when Joe Davies was a go-between for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Soviets and he was severely criticized by the media and general public for being “taken in” by Stalin’s propaganda machine. To be sure, his positions were controversial when it came to the Soviets.

The reporter asked Joe Tydings what Ms. Post and Joe Davies would make of President Trump and the response was he was sure Ms. Post “would be pleased that everything is the same except the Trump name and portraits,” at Mar-a-Lago. But he said he was sure his grandfather would be “rolling over in his grave to think he (Trump) was using his crest!”

We met Joe Tydings several times when he was in Watertown to attend the annual meetings of the Joseph E. Davies Scholarship Foundation. He served several terms as president of that foundation.

So, there you have it. The president of the United States is living in a home formerly owned by the wife of a Watertown native and political figure, and the president is using the Joe Davies emblems, which may or may not be legal.

There’s always connections to Watertown, or so it seems.


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