Walker, Gilbert C.


Virginia’s 36th Governor 1869-74, helped engineer her readmission into the Union in 1870


Autograph ID: 7028
Condition: Very Good
Description: “(1833-1885) Pennsylvania-born 36th Governor of Virginia, first as Republican provisional governor 1869-70 and again as a Democrat elected governor 1870-74, last Va. GOP governor until 1970 (Linwood Holton). Admitted to the NY bar in 1855, practiced in Owego, NY 1855-59 and in Chicago 1859-64. He moved to Norfolk, Va. in 1864 and practiced law and banking. Walker served as Governor of Virginia 1869-74 and as a Democrat US Rep 1875-79, chairman of the Committee on Education and Labor 1875-77. Gov. Walker paved the way for Virginia’s readmission into the Union. He moved to Binghamton, NY 1879 and resumed his private legal practice. He moved to New York City in 1881 and served as president of the New York Underground Railroad Company. The Committee of Nine was a group of Virginia conservative political leaders led by Alexander H. H. Stuart. After the Civil War, Virginia was required to adopt a new constitution (the “Underwood Constitution”) acknowledging the abolition of slavery before readmission into the Union. The Committee of Nine engineered the federal and state political machinery so that separate votes would be taken on the new state constitution (overwhelmingly ratified) and provisions restricting voting and office-holding rights of former Confederates (narrowly defeated). Walker helped the Committee get support in Washington and got sympathy in the north. Horace Greeley’s Republican newspaper, the New York Tribune, joined the campaign. The Committee of Nine spent 2 weeks in Washington, met with congressmen, and appeared before House and Senate committees. Congress approved the separation of the disabling clauses but required Virginia to ratify the 15th Amendment as well. During meetings with members of the Committee of Nine in Washington, President-elect Grant showed sympathy towards their objects and plans. The Committee thus achieved its goal of authorizing a separate vote for the provisions restricting former Confederates and sympathizers. Radical Republicans feared separate votes would lead to failure of the anti-Confederate provisions and thus restore conservative dominance in the state. Moderate Republicans, including Walker, failed to gain control of the Republican Party, but nominated Walker, a former northern businessman, as a moderate candidate. The alliance between moderate Republicans and Conservatives led to Walker winning the 1869 election. Though Radicals still dominated Congress, because the provisions of the new constitution, other than the anti-Confederate provisions, passed overwhelmingly, Virginia was readmitted into the Union Jan. 26, 1870 and new Governor Gilbert C. Walker signed the letter announcing the readmission.

Signed 3 ¼ x 5 ½ fragment of an autograph album page likely while Virginia US Rep, adds “Richmond VA” under signature; undated but ca. 1878.”

Type: Signature

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