Davidson was born on a farm near Carthage, Illinois. He received his B.S. degree from Chaddock College in 1893, his B.A. from Wesleyan in 1894, and his S.T.B. from Garrett Biblical Institute in 1897. He later returned to Garrett as a professor of religious education for ten years. He served as president of the Board of Trustees for two years and was then executive secretary of the Commission on Life Service of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was also the Chancellor of Nebraska Wesleyan University. He assumed office in September 1922, making him the ninth President of IWU, and the second alumnus President. His term ended in 1932.