Cyrus Vance was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on March 27, 1917 to John Carl Vance and Amy Roberts Vance. Vance, his mother and father, and an older brother moved to New York City, where his father died suddenly from pneumonia when Vance was five years old. After a year in which the bereaved family resided in Europe, the Vances returned to New York City. One of the major influences in Cyrus Vance's years of youth following his father's death was an uncle, John W. Davis, the unsuccessful Democratic Party candidate for president in 1924. Davis was a highly successful attorney (he argued 141 cases before the Supreme Court-more than any other lawyer of his time) and spent time discussing issues and ideas with young Cyrus. During this time Vance was introduced to an attorney's approach to problem solving and instilled with an interest in the law.