Joined: 01 Sep 2006
|Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 11:37 am Post subject: Sabinas Walker
|[b]"McKean: The Governor's County", Rufus Barrett Stone. Lewis Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1926.[/b]
[b]SABINAS WALKER[/b] was a pioneer of Tuna Valley. He kept the first hotel, on the site now occupied by the Odd Fellows' Building. The first conveyance of land to him was recorded in 1846. His homestead included Walker Place, Chautauqua Place, and all between in the present city of Bradford.
Gilbert Carlton Walker was a son of Sabinas (and Matilda) Walker, and was born at the parental home then at South Gibson, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on the first day of August, 1832.(Note 1) While the father determined to make his future home in the unexplored timber lands on the headwaters of the Allegheny, it was deemed best that the child should go with its mother to Binghamton, where advantages for education were said to be superior, and thenceforward his parental home meant less and less: to him, for from preparatory school he passed on to college, first to Williams, then to Hamilton, and from the bar at Binghamton, thence to Chicago, soon to Norfolk and finally to New York. His was a brilliant, meteoric career. With amazing intellectual acumen and consciousness of an unusual personality, he had a towering ambition that would never brook defeat. Consequently when he discovered what be conceived to be discrimination against him at Williams, he went to Hamilton and there won the first speakership prize. Defeated for district attorney at Binghamton, he soon afterwards removed to Chicago, presently to become the head of the law firm of Walker, Thomas and Hart. Not content with distinction at the Chicago bar, through which he had attained a National reputation, nevertheless, upon the defeat of Senator Douglass, whose cause be had espoused for the Presidency, he was, in 1864, induced to remove to Norfolk. He was made president of the Atlantic Works and Dock Company, and after a residence of less than five years, by a coalition of liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, he became a candidate for Governor of Virginia against the entrenched "Yankee" incumbent, and, after a whirlwind campaign of forty speeches, was triumphantly elected. He was heralded as the "Political Savior of the State," and in the performance of his duties as Governor of the "Old Dominion" from 1871 to 1874, inclusive, he made an unsurpassed record.
The conservative element was satisfied. (Note 2) He had done what they had chosen him to do, and he had given Virginia back to them. It was theirs, not his. He had won preferment, but it was not to be given to him. He was entitled by the rule of promotion to go to the United States Senate, but they did not recognize the rule. No Virginia Senator had ever been born at South Gibson. To the conservative element it was not a congenial birthplace.
So, after decorous delay, Governor Walker removed to the city of New York, to engage in the practice of law, with what visions of the future is unknown, for there in New York on the 24th day of May, 1885, he died, and on the following morning the Bradford "Era" contained this brief dispatch: "Gilbert C. Walker, ex-Governor of Virginia, formerly of Bradford, Pa., died in this city to-day."
There were other statesmen born or bred in the Northern Tier, who were not congenial to the antebellum South, particularly David Wilmot, Galusha A. Grow and Robert J. Walker. The Southern boundary of the Northern Tier is sometimes taken to be the 41St degree of latitude, being the accepted boundary of the claim of the Connecticut-Susquehanna Company, and sometimes the West Branch of the Susquehanna. Robert J. Walker was born at Northumberland about the time (1796) when the imperial county of that name extended northward to the State line, and included the area of McKean. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and entered upon the practice of law in Pittsburgh In 1826 he removed to Mississippi, emancipated the slaves found upon his plantation, advocated the policy of gradual emancipation, was elected to the United States Senate and reelected. He supported Polk for the Presidency, was called to his cabinet as Secretary of the Treasury, became father of the "Walker Tariff" in force from 1846 to 1861, differed with Buchanan on the slavery question, and resigned the Governorship of Kansas, supported the Union and negotiated a European loan Of $250,000,000. He was the outstanding statesman of the old South after the death of Calhoun. If it had accepted his sane guidance instead of that of his antipodal colleague, Jefferson Davis, it would not have suffered the devastation and horrors of civil war, and slavery would have been abolished in the processes of peace.
And yet, to-day, it is Letcher who is remembered in Virginia, the Governor who put the State troops at the disposal of the Confederacy without waiting for the vote of the people, while Gilbert Carlton Walker's name is never spoken, his portrait is on no Virginian's mantel, and the State Historical Society has only cyclopedic knowledge of him; and so, likewise, it has come to pass that Jefferson Davis is hailed as the idol of the South, while Robert J. Walker, the ablest statesman in the annals of Mississippi, once the man of the hour, whom I should be proud to honor, is now never
mentioned in court or hall without a sneer.
(1)"In 1825 the name of Sabinas Walker, the father of Governor G. C. Walker, first appeared on the tax list of Gibson. His brothers, Enos, Keith, Arnold and Marshall were also here. "-"History of Susquehanna County" (Blackman), 203.
(2) "No new name could conceal the fact that the election was a great conservative triumph, the difference between the Walker Republicans and the conservatives was fundamental."-Eckenrode.