Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809 - 1887) MP

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Robert M. T. Hunter, U.S. Senator, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Confederate States Senator and 2nd Confederate States Secretary of State's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Essex County, VA, U.S.A.
Death: Died in Lloyds, Essex County, VA, U.S.A
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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Immediate Family

About Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter

Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (April 21, 1809 – July 18, 1887) was an American statesman born in Essex County, Virginia.


He entered the University of Virginia in his seventeenth year and was one of its first graduates. While he was a student, he became a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society. He then studied law at the Winchester (Va.) Law School, and in 1830 was admitted to the bar. From 1835 to 1837 he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

From 1837 to 1843, and again from 1845 to 1847, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as Speaker of the House from 1839 to 1841, and is the youngest person to have ever held that position. From 1847 to 1861 he was in the Senate, where he was chairman of the Committee on Finance (1850–1861). He is credited with having brought about a reduction of the quantity of silver in the smaller coins. He was the author of the Tariff of 1857 and of the bonded-warehouse system, and was one of the first to advocate civil service reform. In 1853 he declined President Millard Fillmore's offer to make him Secretary of State.

At the National Democratic Convention at Charleston, South Carolina in 1860, he was the Virginia delegation's choice as candidate for the presidency of the United States, but was defeated for the nomination by Stephen A. Douglas. Hunter did not regard Lincoln's election as being of itself a sufficient cause for secession, and on January 11, 1861 he proposed an elaborate but impracticable scheme for the adjustment of differences between the North and the South, but when this and several other efforts to the same end had failed he quietly urged his own state to pass the ordinance of secession. He was expelled from the Senate for supporting secession.

From 1861 to 1862 he was the Confederate States Secretary of State; and from 1862 to 1865 was a member of the Confederate Senate, in which he was, at times, a caustic critic of the Davis administration. He was one of the commissioners to treat at the Hampton Roads Conference in 1865, and after the surrender of General Lee was summoned by President Lincoln to Richmond to confer regarding the restoration of Virginia in the Union. From 1874 to 1880 he was the treasurer of Virginia, and from 1885 until his death near Lloyds, Virginia, was collector of the Port of Tappahannock, Virginia.


Among his works was Origin of the Late War, about the causes of the Civil War.

In 1942, a United States Liberty ship named the SS Robert M. T. Hunter was launched. She was scrapped in 1971.

Hunter was pictured on the Confederate $10 bill.

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Robert M. T. Hunter, U.S. Senator, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Confederate States Senator and 2nd Confederate States Secretary of State's Timeline

April 21, 1809
Essex County, VA, U.S.A.
October 4, 1836
Age 27
July 18, 1887
Age 78
Lloyds, Essex County, VA, U.S.A