Robert J. Walker, US Senator and Sec'y of the Treasury

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Robert John Walker, Governor

Also Known As: "John"
Birthdate: (68)
Birthplace: Northumberland, PA, USA
Death: November 11, 1869 (68)
Immediate Family:

Son of Jonathan Hoge Hogue Walker and Lucretia Walker
Husband of Mary Blechenden Walker
Father of Mary Brewster; Robert John Walker; Brevet Brig. General Duncan Stephen Walker (USA); Sophia Bache Walker and Charlotte Lucy Walker
Brother of Martha Elizabeth Walker; Charlotte Corday Howell; Stephen Decatur Walker; Mary Ann Fox McElroy; Duncan Stephen Walker and 3 others

Occupation: US Secretary of the Treasury under President James Knox Polk
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert J. Walker, US Senator and Sec'y of the Treasury

Robert served two terms as Sentor from Mississippi, was nominated for Vise President of the US in 1844, served as Secetary of the Treasury under President Polk. He was also appointed governor of Kansas in 1857.

Robert John Walker (1801-1869) served 1836-1845 in the US Senate from Mississippi, and as US Secretary of the Treasury in President Polk's administration, March 8, 1845 to March 5, 1849.


Robert John Walker (July 19, 1801 – November 11, 1869) was an American economist and statesman, serving 1836-1845 in the US Senate from the state of Mississippi, and as US Secretary of the Treasury in President Polk's administration, from March 8, 1845 until March 5, 1849.


   * 1 Early life and education
   * 2 Political life
   * 3 Commemoration
   * 4 External links
   * 5 References

Early life and education

Born in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, the son of a judge, he graduated in 1819 at the top of his class at the University of Pennsylvania where he was a member of the Philomathean Society, and was admitted to the bar in Pittsburgh in 1821. He practiced law in Pittsburgh from 1822 until 1826 when he moved to Mississippi. There he joined his brother, Duncan Walker, in a lucrative law practice. Walker became a speculator in cotton, land and slaves. (In 1838 he freed his own slaves due to immense pressure from Congress.)

Political life

He became politically prominent during the nullification crisis, and from 1836 to 1845 he sat in the United States Senate as a Unionist Democrat. Being an ardent expansionist, he voted for the recognition of the Republic of Texas in 1837 and for the joint annexation resolution of 1845, and advocated the nomination and election of James K. Polk in 1844. He favored the award of public lands to new states; endorsed a low tariff; opposed distribution of the federal surplus funds for fear of creating an excuse to raise tariff rates; and, significantly, supported the independent Treasury system idea. He also opposed the Bank of the United States.

As a Mississippi senator, Walker was a passionate defender of slavery, both for economic benefits, and because he believed Negroes would fall into turpitude or insanity without firm masters. He claimed that independent Texas had to be annexed to prevent it from falling into the hands of Great Britain, which would use it to spread subversion throughout the South. He warned northerners that if Britain succeeded in undermining slavery, the freedmen would go north, where "the poor-house and the jail, the asylums of the deaf and dumb, the blind, the idiot and insane, would be filled to overflowing."

He was U.S. Secretary of the Treasury throughout the Polk administration, from March 8, 1845 until March 5, 1849, and was an influential member of the President's Cabinet.

As Treasury Secretary, Walker financed the Mexican-American War and drafted the 1849 bill to establish the United States Department of the Interior. He also supported the independent Treasury system, pushed for a tariff for revenue, and established a warehousing system for handling imports that has had lasting influence.

Walker's was involved in a prominent Treasury report of December 3, 1845. It is regarded as the most powerful attack[by whom?] upon the protection system that has ever been made in an American state paper. The Walker Tariff of 1846 was based upon the principles of this paper and was in fact largely the secretary's own work.

After leaving Treasury in 1849, Walker devoted himself to business and land speculation, as well as mining interests.

Walker at first opposed the Compromise of 1850, but was won over later by the arguments of Stephen A. Douglas. He was appointed governor of Kansas Territory in the spring of 1857 by President James Buchanan, but resigned within the year because of his opposition to the Lecompton Constitution. In a resignation letter to Secretary of State Lewis Cass dated December 15, 1857 , he cited clear voting fraud and improper political pressure from the Administration. He did not, however, break with his party immediately, and favored the so-called English Bill. It was partly due to his influence that a sufficient number of anti-Lecompton Democrats were induced to vote for that measure to secure its passage.

He supported the Union cause during the American Civil War and in 1863 and 1864, as financial agent of the United States, did much to create confidence in Europe in the financial resources of the United States. During this time Walker was instrumental in securing a loan of $250,000,000 from Germany.

He practiced law in Washington, D.C., from 1864 until his death there in 1869. Both during and after the Civil War he was a contributor to the Continental Monthly, which for a short time he also, with James R. Gilmore, conducted.

Walker was the father-in-law of Benjamin H. Brewster, Attorney General under Chester A. Arthur.

Initially, Walker County, Texas, was named in his honor. However, due to his support of the Union during the Civil War, the Texas Legislature withdrew the honor and honored Samuel Walker, a Texas Ranger, instead.


The survey ship Robert J. Walker, which served in the United States Coast Survey from 1848 to 1860, was named for Walker.

External links Wikisource has original works written by or about: Robert John Walker

   * Robert J. Walker at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
   * Robert J. Walker at Find A Grave


  1. ^ Hietala, Thomas (2003). Manifest Design, American Exceptionalism and Empire. Cornell University Press. p. 29.

Source: Downloaded Jan. 1, 2011 from Wikipedia.


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Robert J. Walker, US Senator and Sec'y of the Treasury's Timeline

July 23, 1801
Northumberland, PA, USA
Age 38
Age 40
Age 42
Age 44
Age 47
November 11, 1869
Age 68