James Wheeler Davidson (June 14, 1872 - July 18, 1933) was an explorer, writer, United States diplomat, businessman, and philanthropist. Davidson was a member of the Peary expedition to Greenland in 1893, with the stated goal of finding a route to the North Pole. He travelled to Taiwan in 1895 as a war correspondent to cover the transition from Qing rule to Japanese rule, where he witnessed the resistance to the Japanese takeover and the short-lived Republic of Formosa. For services rendered to the Japanese army in aiding the capture of the capital of Formosa, Davidson was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 1895. After the Japanese gained control of the island, Davidson took a job as a trader in the town of Tamsui.

President Grover Cleveland appointed him consular agent for Formosa in June 1897, a post he retained for nine years. During this time he wrote several books on Formosan affairs. Following eight exhaustive years of research, Davidson released his masterwork, The Island of Formosa, Past and Present. It remains one of the central works on the history of Taiwan and has been reprinted several times. One commentator stated that it is, ‘the major English language survey of Taiwan for its day and still the most frequently consulted English language source.’

In 1903 Davidson left Formosa, with the mission to complete a careful survey of the territory adjacent to the Asian section of the Trans-Siberian Railway. In 1904, he was appointed to a position in the consulate in Dalny, Manchuria. He later became consul at Andong, Manchuria. In 1905 Davidson was appointed consul general at Shanghai by President Theodore Roosevelt. He left the foreign service in 1905, and after a short convalescence in the United States, moved to Canada where he became a successful businessman. He was also a member of the Rotary club in Calgary, and went on to found international branches all over the world. He was a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the Explorers Club. Davidson died in Vancouver on June 18, 1933

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