Robert John Walker: A Politician from Jackson to Lincoln

Robert John Walker: A Politician from Jackson to Lincoln

Robert John Walker: A Politician from Jackson to Lincoln

Robert John Walker: A Politician from Jackson to Lincoln

Excerpt

"A Mre Whiffet of a Man" was the description of one contemporary. Others characterized him as "land-mad," besmirched with "corruption," preoccupied with "self-seeking advantage" ; some, however, thought it appropriate to designate him as "one of the truly great statesmen of the Republic."

For "a mere whiffet of a man," Walker provoked a surprising amount of exaggerated characterization. Much of it was deserved, for in his tempestuous political career, extending from Jackson to Lincoln, he made decisions which profoundly shaped the direction of American politics, and he conceived visions of American economic growth which, though premature, proved prophetic. In his young America, his penchant for the grandiose scheme proved congenial.

Yet, despite the prominence of his role, he has remained an elusive subject for the biographer. Ever since William Dodd in 1914 reminded the world of his existence and suggested the need for a biography, occasional essays have scrutinized moments in his career or reiterated Dodd's conclusion that he was an imperialist of gargantuan appetite. As recently as 1953, Pravda revived words of his to prove the antiquity of America's aggressive aims in the Pacific. No political history of the 1840's and the 1850's fails to mention him, but only in a subordinate way. Nearly a century after his death, he seems destined to remain a footnote to history.

Time and again, other biographers have started to do research on his life, only to despair of finding the evidence with which to complete the task. In the eleven years that I have searched for . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.