Robert J. Walker
Politician, territorial governor. Democrat. Born: July 23, 1801, Northumberland, Pennsylvania. Died: November 11, 1869, Washington, D.C. Served as 4th territorial governor of Kansas: May 27, 1857, to November 16, 1857.
Robert J. Walker was born July 23, 1801, in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. His father was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a district court judge. Walker graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1821 and began to practice law in Pittsburgh, where he also became involved in politics. In 1825 he married Mary Bache and the couple moved to Natchez, Mississippi. He served as a U.S. senator from Mississippi from 1835 to 1845. There he introduced the first homestead bill. He supported gradual emancipation and set his own slaves free in 1838. President James Buchanan appointed Walker governor of Kansas Territory on March 26, 1857. Walker arrived May 27, 1857, in Lecompton to deliver his inaugural address. He urged freestaters to take part in the election of delegates to the Lecompton Constitutional Convention, with the assurance that it would be conducted fairly. With all proslavery delegates elected in Lecompton, free-state supporters vowed to hold their own convention in Topeka. Walker continued to encourage freestaters to participate in the election process even though his push for justice angered the proslavery supporters. He was finally forced to resign his position as territorial governor on December 15, 1857. He supported the Union cause during the Civil War. Walker died November 11, 1869, in Washington, D. C.
Entry: Robert J. Walker
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: May 2012
Date Modified: February 2017
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