Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for Richard F. Walker Letters, 1877-1881
Finding aid created by Meg Hixon, August 2011
Title: Richard F. Walker letters Creator: Denham, Edward Inclusive dates: 1877-1881 Extent: 21 items Abstract:
The Richard F. Walker letters consist of a series of letters written by Walker, Virginia's Superintendant of Public Printing, a member of the Virginia Historical Society, and printer for the Richmond Whig , to Edward Denham in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Walker discussed life and politics in Reconstruction-era Richmond.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
Richard F. Walker Letters, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Richard Frederick Walker was born on August 15, 1833, in Virginia. After an apprenticeship as a printer, Walker moved to Richmond, and in 1851 began a career in printing. Walker served in the Home Guards during the Civil War, during which he attained the rank of major, and served on the Richmond City Council in 1863-1864. In 1871, Walker was elected Superintendant of Public Printing for the state of Virginia, and served in this capacity until 1877. He worked at the Richmond Whig until 1880, when he was re-elected Superintendant of Public Printing. After the expiration of this second term, Walker worked in the Richmond post office.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Richard F. Walker letters consist of a series of letters written by Walker, Virginia's Superintendant of Public Printing, a member of the Virginia Historical Society, and printer for the Richmond Whig, to Edward Denham in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Walker discussed life and politics in Reconstruction-era Richmond. Walker composed the earliest letters just before leaving his first term as Superintendant of Public Printing, and often referred indirectly to his work. Several letters bear the office's letterhead depicting a woman standing over a slain man, with the motto " Sic Semper Tyrannis ." Much of his friendly correspondence with Denham focused on Walker's work with the Virginia Historical Society, of which Denham became a corresponding member (May 18, 1880), and on acquiring materials for Denham such as the Southern Historical Magazine.
Occasionally, Walker shared his views on contemporary Virginia politics, and opined, "This is not the Old Virginia we used to have! By the management of a Carpet-Bag Governor, our finances have been entirely turned over to 2-3rds of our creditors[,] leaving out in the cold 1-3rd, and no money to pay expenses of running the Government" (March 10, 1878). Walker also remembered the Civil War, and soberly stated, "To-day is the anniversary of the fall of Richmond! It brings up sad memories in my mind" (April 3, 1880). Local politics again became a focus after Walker's re-election to his public post, and he lamented the demise of the local Whig influence. "We are badly beaten," he said, "and I hope never to see another contest made for the Democratic Party. We have failed for 25 years, and it is time to stop batting a stone wall. The Northern Democrats encouraged us to go to war, and deserted us as soon as war was declared" (November 5, 1880).
Though Walker wrote the vast majority of the letters, other correspondents wrote to Denham, including Robert Alonzo Brock, secretary of the Virginia Historical Society, who wrote 3 letters, and Powhatan Bouldin, who sent a personal note on a printed postcard advertising his book Home Reminiscences of John Randolph, of Roanoke.