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Francis Amasa Walker

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Francis Amasa Walker

Francis Amasa Walker
Francis Amasa Walker
Born (1840-07-02)July 2, 1840
Boston, Massachusetts
Died January 5, 1897(1897-01-05) (aged 56)
Boston, Massachusetts
Resting place Walnut Grove cemetery, North Brookfield, Massachusetts
Ethnicity British American
Education Bachelor of Laws
Alma mater Amherst College
Occupation Economist
Civil servant
Military officer
University president
Known for President of MIT (1881–1897)
Superintendent of the 1870 and 1880 censuses
Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1871–1872)
Predecessor William Barton Rogers (MIT)
Successor James Crafts (MIT)
Board member of American Statistical Association
American Economic Association
Religion Episcopal
Spouse(s) Exene Evelyn Stoughton
Children Stoughton (1866–), Lucy (1867–), Francis (1870–), Ambrose (1870–), Eveline (1875–), Everett (1876–), Stuart (1878–)
Parent(s) Hanna Ambrose (1803–1875) and Amasa Walker (1799–1879)

Francis Amasa Walker (July 2, 1840 – January 5, 1897) was an American economist, statistician, journalist, educator, academic administrator, and military officer in the Union Army.

Walker was born into a prominent Boston family, the son of the economist and politician Amasa Walker, and he graduated from Amherst College at the age of 20. He received a commission to join the 15th Massachusetts Infantry and quickly rose through the ranks as an assistant adjutant general. Walker fought in the Peninsula Campaign and was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville but subsequently participated in the Bristoe, Overland, and Richmond-Petersburg Campaigns before being captured by Confederate forces and held at the infamous Libby Prison. In July 1866, he was nominated by President Andrew Johnson and confirmed by the United States Senate for the award of the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general United States Volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865, when he was age 24.[1]

Following the war, Walker served on the editorial staff of the Springfield Republican before using his family and military connections to gain appointment as the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics from 1869 to 1870 and Superintendent of the 1870 census where he published an award-winning Statistical Atlas visualizing the data for the first time. He joined Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School as a professor of political economy in 1872 and rose to international prominence serving as a chief member of the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, American representative to the 1878 International Monetary Conference, President of the American Statistical Association in 1882, and inaugural President of the American Economic Association in 1886, and vice president of the National Academy of Sciences in 1890. Walker also led the 1880 census which resulted in a twenty-two volume census, cementing Walker's reputation as the nation's preeminent statistician.

As an economist, Walker debunked the bimetallism and although he was an opponent of the nascent socialist movement, he argued that obligations existed between the employer and the employed. He published his International Bimetallism at the height of the 1896 presidential election campaign in which economic issues were prominent. Walker was a prolific writer, authoring ten books on political economy and military history. In recognition of his contributions to economic theory, beginning in 1947, the American Economic Association recognized the lifetime achievement of an individual economist with a "Francis A. Walker Medal".

Walker accepted the presidency of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1881, a position he held for fifteen years until his death. During his tenure, he placed the institution on more stable financial footing by aggressively fund-raising and securing grants from the Massachusetts government, implemented many curricular reforms, oversaw the launch of new academic programs, and expanded the size of the Boston campus, faculty, and student enrollments. MIT's Walker Memorial Hall, a former students' clubhouse and one of the original buildings on the Charles River campus, was dedicated to him in 1916.


  • Background 1
  • Military service 2
    • 15th Massachusetts Infantry 2.1
    • Second Army Corps 2.2
  • Postbellum activity 3
    • 1870 Census 3.1
    • Indian Bureau 3.2
    • Other engagements 3.3
    • 1880 Census 3.4
  • Academic career 4
    • Wages-fund theory 4.1
    • Henry George debates 4.2
    • Bimetallism 4.3
    • Other interests 4.4
  • MIT presidency 5
    • Aid and expansion 5.1
    • Reforms 5.2
  • Personal life 6
  • Legacy 7
  • Principal works 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Walker was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the youngest son of Hanna (née Ambrose) and Amasa Walker, a prominent economist and state politician. The Walkers had three children, Emma (born 1835), Robert (born 1837), and Francis.[2] Because the Walkers' next-door neighbor was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., the junior Walker and junior Holmes were playmates as young children and renewed their friendship later in life.[3] The family moved from Boston to North Brookfield, Massachusetts in 1843 and remained there. As a boy he had both a noted temper as well as a magnetic personality.[4]

Walker as a young adult

Beginning his schooling at the age of seven, Walker studied Latin at various private and public schools in Brookfield before being sent to the Leicester Academy when he was twelve.[5] He completed his college preparation by the time he was fourteen and spent another year studying Greek and Latin under the future Worcester, Massachusetts.[5]

Military service

15th Massachusetts Infantry

As tensions between the North and South increased over the winter of 1860–1861, Walker equipped himself and began drilling with Major Devens' 3rd Battalion of Rifles in Worcester and New York. Despite his older brother Robert serving in the 34th Massachusetts Infantry,[2] his father objected to his youngest son mobilizing with the first wave of volunteers. Walker returned to Worcester but began to lobby Army of the Potomac.[14]

Second Army Corps

Walker as an Assistant Adjutant General in the Second Army Corps

Walker remained at the Berkeley Plantation until his promotion on August 11 to major and transferral with General Couch to the II Corps of the Army of the Potomac.[15] Although the II Corps later saw action at the battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, the latter being under the new command of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, Walker and the Corps did not join Burnsides's Mud March over the winter.[16] Walker was promoted to lieutenant colonel on January 1, 1863, and remained with the II Corps. He fought the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, where his hand and wrist were shattered and neck lacerated by an exploding shell.[17] A record of the 1880 Census indicated that he had "compound fracture of the metacarpal bones of the left hand resulting in permanent extension of his hand."[2] Later in 1896, as the President of MIT, he would receive one of the first radiographs in the country, which documented the extent of the damage to his hand.[18] He did not return to service until August 1863.[19] Walker participated in the Bristoe Campaign and narrowly escaped encirclement during the Battle of Bristoe Station before withdrawing and encamping near the Berry Hill Plantation for much of the winter and spending some leave in the North.[20]

After extensive reorganization during the winter of 1863–1864, Walker and the Army of the Potomac fought in the

Government offices
Preceded by
Joseph Camp Griffith Kennedy
Superintendent of the United States Census
Succeeded by
Office disbanded after 1870 Census
Preceded by
Office re-established for 1880 Census
Superintendent of the United States Census
1879 – 1881
Succeeded by
Charles W. Seaton
Educational offices
Preceded by
John Daniel Runkle
President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1881 – 1897
Succeeded by
James Crafts
  • Biographical note – MIT Archives
  • Biographical note – New School
  • Works by Francis Amasa Walker at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Francis Amasa Walker at Internet Archive
  •  "Walker, Amasa".  
  •  "Walker, Amasa".  
  •  "Walker, Francis Amasa".  

External links

  • "Statisticians in History: Francis Amasa Walker". American Statistical Association. Retrieved 2009-06-18. 
  • Adelstein, Richard P. (1988). "Mind and Hand: Economics and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology". In William J. Barber. Economists and higher learning in the nineteenth century. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.  
  • Billings, John S. (1902). "Biographical Memoir of Francis Amasa Walker 1840–1897" (PDF). National Academy Press. 
  • Cord, Steven B. (2003). "Walker: the General Leads the Charge".  
  • Dewey, Davis R. (1897). "Francis A. Walker as a Public Man". In Albert Shaw. The Review of Reviews, January–June 1897 XV. New York: The Review of Reviews Co. pp. 166–171. 
  • Dunbar, Charles F. (July 1897). "The Career of Francis Amasa Walker". Quarterly Journal of Economics 11 (4): 436–448.  
  • Eicher, John H.; Eicher, David J. (2001). Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press.  
  • Fitzpatrick, Paul J. (1957). "Leading American Statisticians in the Nineteenth Century". Journal of the American Statistical Association 52 (279): 301–321.  
  • Fonseca, Gonçalo L. "Francis Amasa Walker". History of Economic Thought. Retrieved 2009. 
  • Hadley, Arthur Twining (1897). "Francis A. Walker's Contributions to Economic Theory". Political Science Quarterly (The Academy of Political Science) 12 (2): 295–308.  
  • Harnwell, Susan L. (2008). "Francis Amasa Walker". 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. 
  • Hodgson, Dennis (1992). "Ideological Currents and the Interpretation of Demographic Trends: The Case of Francis Amasa Walker". Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 28 (1): 28–44.  
  • Hunt, Jack R.; Brown (1990). Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue. Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books.  
  • Kinnahan, Thomas P. (2008). "Charting Progress: Francis Amasa Walker's Statistical Atlas of the United States and Narratives of Western Expansion". American Quarterly 60 (2): 399–423.  
  • Munroe, James P. (1923). A Life of Francis Amasa Walker. New York: Henry Holt & Company. 
  • Newton, B. (1968). The Economics of Francis Amasa Walker: American Economics in Transition. New York: A. M. Kelley. 
  • Parrington, Vernon Louis (1927). "Francis A. Walker". Main Currents in American Thought 3. Harcourt, Brace, and Co. pp. 111–117.  
  • Spencer, Joseph Jansen (1897). "General Francis A. Walker: A Character Sketch". In Albert Shaw. The Review of Reviews, January–June 1897 XV. New York: The Review of Reviews Co. pp. 159–166. 
  • Solow, Robert M. (1987). "What do we know that Francis Amasa Walker didn't?". History of Political Economy 19 (2): 183–189.  
  • A.W. Ward, W.P. Trent; et al., eds. (1907–1921). "Francis Amasa Walker". The Cambridge history of English and American literature. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. 
  • Whitaker, John K. (1997). "Enemies or Allies? Henry George and Francis Amasa Walker One Century Later". Journal of Economic Literature 35 (4): 1891–1915. 
  • Wright, Carroll D. (1897). "Francis Amasa Walker". Publications of the American Statistical Association (American Statistical Association) 5 (38): 245–275.  


  1. ^ a b c Eicher & Eicher 2001, p. 760
  2. ^ a b c d Harnwell 2008
  3. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 23
  4. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 25–26
  5. ^ a b c Wright 1897, p. 248
  6. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 27
  7. ^ a b Munroe 1923, p. 29
  8. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 415
  9. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 28
  10. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 30–32
  11. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 32–35
  12. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 36
  13. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 41
  14. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 46–52
  15. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 55
  16. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 57–59
  17. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 63–64
  18. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 65–66
  19. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 66
  20. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 67–68
  21. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 68–70
  22. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 70–73
  23. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 74–75
  24. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 81–87
  25. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 94–100
  26. ^ a b Wright 1897, p. 249
  27. ^ Eicher & Eicher 2001, pp. 549
  28. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 101–102
  29. ^ Hunt & Brown 1990, p. 644
  30. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 104
  31. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 105–108
  32. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 109
  33. ^ Wright 1897, p. 250
  34. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 110–11
  35. ^ "Directors 1865–1893". U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  36. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 111–112
  37. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 113–118
  38. ^ a b Fitzpatrick 1957, p. 309
  39. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 128
  40. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 118–121
  41. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 121
  42. ^ Fitzpatrick 1957, p. 310
  43. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 125–126
  44. ^ Kinnahan 2008
  45. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 130–133
  46. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 131–135
  47. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 139
  48. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 141–149
  49. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 159–160
  50. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 311
  51. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 159–164
  52. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 164–165
  53. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 166–181
  54. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 203
  55. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 200–201
  56. ^ Wright 1897, pp. 268–269
  57. ^ Fitzpatrick 1957, pp. 309–310
  58. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 197
  59. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 198–199
  60. ^ Fitzpatrick 1957, p. 311
  61. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 199–200
  62. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 205–208
  63. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 140,148–149
  64. ^ a b c d Wright 1897, pp. 250–251
  65. ^ a b c d e Munroe 1923, pp. 415–419
  66. ^ Wright 1897, pp. 251–252
  67. ^ Wright 1897, p. 254
  68. ^ Wright 1897, p. 257
  69. ^ Hadley 1897, p. 295
  70. ^ a b Fonseca
  71. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 155–158
  72. ^ Hadley 1897, pp. 296–300
  73. ^ Whitaker 1997, pp. 1895–1898
  74. ^ Ward & Trent 1907–1921
  75. ^ Wright 1897, pp. 258–259
  76. ^ a b Munroe 1923, p. 300
  77. ^ Whitaker 1997, pp. 1891–1892
  78. ^ Parrington 1927
  79. ^ Cord 2003, p. 232
  80. ^ Cord 2003, p. 231,233
  81. ^ Whitaker 1997, pp. 1906–1909
  82. ^ Whitaker 1997, pp. 1901–1904
  83. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 177–181
  84. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 358–364
  85. ^ Hadley 1897, pp. 307–308
  86. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 355–356, 359
  87. ^ "Biographies of Authors". Library of Economics and Liberty. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  88. ^ Solow 1987
  89. ^ Solow 1987, p. 184
  90. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 300–307
  91. ^ Hodgson 1992
  92. ^ Walker, Francis. "Restriction of Immigration". The Atlantic. 
  93. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 262–268
  94. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 269
  95. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 213–215
  96. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 206–207
  97. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 208
  98. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 218
  99. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 225–226
  100. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 228–229
  101. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 229–233
  102. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 309–310
  103. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 233–234, 239
  104. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 220–222
  105. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 221–222
  106. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 222–224
  107. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 233, 382
  108. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 218–219
  109. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 219–220
  110. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 237–238
  111. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 224–225, 240–244
  112. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 283–290, 393–399
  113. ^ Dunbar 1897, p. 353
  114. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 382
  115. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 238
  116. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 276–282, 290–291
  117. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 150–152
  118. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 400–401
  119. ^ Munroe 1923, p. 405
  120. ^ Munroe 1923, pp. 411–412
  121. ^ Adelstein 1988
  122. ^ "History: Department of Economics". Institute Archives & Special Collections, MIT Libraries. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  123. ^ "History of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences". Institute Archives, MIT Libraries. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  124. ^ "Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement". 2008–2009 Course Catalogue, MIT Registrar's Office. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  125. ^ "About the Requirement". Undergraduate Communication Requirement. MIT. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  126. ^ "Faculty and Instructors". Undergraduate Communication Requirement. MIT. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 


See also

  • The Indian Question (1874)
  • The Wages Question: A treatise on Wages and the Wages Class (1876)
  • Money (1878)
  • Money in its Relation to Trade and Industry (1879)
  • Political Economy (first edition, 1883)
  • Land and its Rent (1883)
  • History of the Second Army Corps (1886)
  • Life of General Hancock (1894)
  • The Making of the Nation (1895)
  • International Bimetallism (1896)

Principal works

Beginning in 1947, the American Economic Association recognized the lifetime achievement of an individual economist with a "Francis A. Walker Medal". The quinquennial award was discontinued in 1982 after the creation of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences effectively made it superfluous. The medal was awarded to Wesley Clair Mitchell in 1947, John Maurice Clark in 1952, Frank Knight in 1957, Jacob Viner in 1962, Alvin Hansen in 1967, Theodore Schultz in 1972, and Simon Kuznets in 1977.[70]

Despite his prominence and leadership in the fields of economics, statistics, and political economy, Walker's Course IX on General Studies was dissolved shortly after his death, and a seventy-year debate followed over the appropriate role and scope of humanistic and social studies at MIT.[121][122] Graduation requirements changed over the years, but have always included some number of courses in the humanities. Since 1975, all undergraduate students are required to take eight classes distributed across the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences before receiving their degrees.[123][124] To address continuing concerns about poor communications skills, a Communication Requirement has been added for two of the classes taken in a designated major to be "communication-intensive",[125] including "substantial instruction and practice in oral presentation".[126]

Following Walker's death, alumni and students began to raise funds to construct a monument to him and his fifteen years as leader of the university. Although the funds were easily raised, plans were delayed for over two decades as MIT made plans to move to a new campus on the western bank of the Charles River in Cambridge. The new Beaux-Arts campus opened in 1916, and featured a neo-classical Walker Memorial building housing a gymnasium, students' club and lounge, and a commons room.[120]

Walker Memorial housed a gymnasium, student lounge, and commons room when it opened in 1916.


Following a trip to a dedication in the "wilderness of Northern New York" in December 1896, Walker returned exhausted and ill. He died on January 5, 1897 as a result of apoplexy.[118] His funeral service was conducted at Trinity Church, and Walker was buried at Walnut Grove cemetery in North Brookfield, Massachusetts.[119] His grave can be found in Section 1 Lot 72.

Walker married Exene Evelyn Stoughton on August 16, 1865 (born October 11, 1840). They had five sons and two daughters together: Stoughton (b. June 3, 1866), Lucy (b. September 1, 1867), Francis (b. 1870–1871), Ambrose (b. December 28, 1870), Eveline (b. 1875–1876), Etheredge (b. 1876–1877), and Stuart (b. 1878–1879).[2] Walker was an avid spectator and supporter of college football and baseball, and was a regular Yale enthusiast at the annual Harvard-Yale football game, even during his MIT presidency.[117]

Walker later in life

Personal life

While MIT is a private institution, Walker's extensive civic activities as President set the precedent for future presidents to use the post to fulfill civic and cultural obligations throughout Boston.[115] He served as a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1882–1890), Boston School Committee (1885–1888), Boston Art Commission (1885–1897), Boston Park Commission (1890–1896), Massachusetts Historical Society (1883–1897), and a trustee of the Boston Public Library in 1896.[64][65] Walker was committed to a variety of reforms in public and normal schools such as secular curricula, expanding the emphasis on arithmetic, reducing the emphasis on ineffectual home exercises, and increasing the pay and training of teachers.[116]

Walker also sought to improve the state of student life and alumni relations by supporting the creation of a gymnasium, dormitories, and the Technology Club, which served to foster a stronger identity and loyalty among the largely commuter student body.[111] He also won considerable praise from the student body by reducing the required time spent for recitation and preparation, limiting the faculty to examinations lasting no longer than three hours, expanding entrance examinations to other cities, starting a summer curriculum, and launching masters and doctoral graduate degree programs. These reforms were largely a response to Walker's on-going defense of the Institute and its curriculum from outside accusations of overwork, poor writing, inapplicable skills, and status as a "mere" trade school.[112] Between 1881 and 1897, enrollments quadrupled from 302 to 1,198 students, annual degrees granted increased from 28 to 179, faculty appointments quadrupled from 38 to 156, and the endowment grew thirteenfold from $137,000 to $1,798,000 ($3,046,000 to $46,367,000 in 2009 dollars).[113][114]

Walker as President of MIT

Although Walker continued Census-related activities, he began to lecture on political economy as well as establishing a new general course of study (Course IX) emphasizing economics, history, law, English, and modern languages.[108] Walker also set out to reform and expand the Institute's organization by creating a smaller Executive Committee, apart from the fifty-member Corporation, to handle regular administrative issues.[109] Walker emphasized the importance of faculty governance by regularly attending their meetings and seeking their advice on major decisions.[110]


New programs were also launched under Walker's tenure: Electrical Engineering in 1882, Chemical Engineering in 1888, Sanitary Engineering in 1889, Geology in 1890, Naval Architecture in 1893.[107]

Walker sought to erect a new building to address the increasingly cramped conditions of the original Boylston Street campus located near Copley Square, in the increasingly fashionable and crowded Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.[104] Because the stipulations of the original land grant prevented MIT from covering more than two-ninths of its current lot, Walker announced his intention to build the industrial expansion on a lot directly across from the Trinity Church fully intending that expected opposition would lead to favorable terms for selling the proposed land and funding construction elsewhere.[105] With the financial health of the Institute only beginning to recover, Walker began construction on the partially-funded expansion, fully expecting the immediacy of the project to be a persuasive tool for raising its funds. The strategy was only partially successful, as the 1883 building had laboratory facilities that were second-to-none but also lacked the outward architectural grandeur of its sister building and was generally considered an eyesore on its surroundings.[106] Mechanical shops were moved out of the original Rogers Building in the mid-1880s to accommodate other programs, and in 1892 the Institute began construction on another Copley Square building.

An 1889 photogravure of the 1865 "Rogers" Building in the foreground with the 1883 "Walker" Building in the background

In light of the difficulties in raising capital for these expansions and despite MIT's privately endowed status, Walker and other members of the Corporation lobbied the Massachusetts legislature for a $200,000 grant to aid in the industrial development of the Commonwealth ($4,446,000 in 2009 dollars). After intensive negotiations that called upon Walker's extensive connections and civic experience, in 1887 the legislature made a grant of $300,000 over two years to the Institute, which would lead to a total of $1.6 million in grants from the Commonwealth before the practice was discontinued in 1921.[103]

Aid and expansion

MIT's inability to secure a more stable financial footing during this era can largely be attributed to the existence of the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard. Given the choice between funding technological research at the oldest university in the nation, or at an independent and adolescent institution, potential benefactors were indifferent or even hostile to funding MIT's competing mission.[100] Earlier overtures from Harvard President Charles William Eliot towards consolidation of the two schools were rejected or disrupted by Rogers in 1870 and 1878. Despite his tenure at the analogous Sheffield School of Yale University, Walker remained committed to MIT's independence from a larger institution.[101] Walker also repeatedly received overtures from Leland Stanford to become the first president of his new university in Palo Alto, California, but Walker remained committed to MIT owing to his Boston upbringing.[102]

A 1905 map of MIT's Boston campus

Established in 1861 and opened in 1865, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) saw its financial stability severely undermined following the Panic of 1873 and subsequent Long Depression. Seventy-five-year-old founder William Barton Rogers was elected interim president in 1878 after John Daniel Runkle stepped down.[95] Rogers wrote Walker in June 1880 to offer him the Presidency, and Walker evidently debated the opportunity for some time as Rogers sent follow-up inquiries in January and February 1881 requesting his committed decision.[96] Walker ultimately accepted in early May and was formally elected President by the MIT Corporation on May 25, 1881, resigning his Yale appointment in June and his Census directorship in November.[97] However, the assassination attempt on President Garfield in July 1881 and the ensuing illness before Garfield's death in September upset Walker's transition and delayed his formal introduction to the faculty of MIT until November 5, 1881.[98] On May 30, 1882, during Walker's first Commencement exercises, Rogers died mid-speech where his last words were famously "bituminous coal".[99]

Walker as President of MIT

MIT presidency

Based upon his experiences in the military, Walker published two books describing the history of the Second Army Corps (1886) as well as a biography of General Winfield Scott Hancock (1884).[93] Walker was elected Commander of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in 1883 was also the President of the National Military Historical Association.[94]

"The entrance into our political, social, and industrial life of such vast masses of peasantry, degraded below our utmost conceptions, is a matter which no intelligent patriot can look upon without the gravest apprehension and alarm. These people have no history behind them which is of a nature to give encouragement. They have none of the inherited instincts and tendencies which made it comparatively easy to deal with the immigration of the olden time. They are beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence. Centuries are against them, as centuries were on the side of those who formerly came to us. They have none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains."[92]

Walker also took an interest in demographics later in his career, particularly towards the issues of immigration and birth rates.[76] He published The Growth of the United States in 1882 and Restriction on Immigration in 1896 arguing for increasing restrictions out of concern about the diminished industrial and intellectual capacity of the most recent wave of immigrants.[90] Walker also argued that unrestricted immigration was the major reason behind nineteenth-century native American fertility decline, but while the argument was politically popular and became widely accepted in mobilizing restrictions on immigration, it rested upon a surprisingly facile statistical analysis that was later refuted.[91] Writing on immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia in The Atlantic, Walker claimed,

Political Economy, the first edition published in 1883, was one of the most widely used textbooks of the 19th century as a component of the American Science Series.[87][88] Robert Solow criticized the third edition (1888) for being devoid of facts, figures, and mostly full of off-the-cuff judgments on the practices and capacities of native Americans and immigrants, but generally embodying the state of the art of economics at the time.[89]

Other interests

Walker published International Bimetallism in 1896 roundly critiquing the demonetization of silver out of political pressure and the impact of this change on prices and profits as well as worker employment and wages. Walker's reputation and position on the issue isolated him among public figures and made him a target in the press.[84] The book was published in the midst of the John M. Forbes, and Henry Cabot Lodge.[86]

In August 1878, Walker represented the United States at the third International Monetary Conference in Paris while also attending the 1878 Exposition. Not only were the attempts by the United States to re-establish an international silver standard defeated, but Walker also had to scramble to complete the report on the Exposition in only four days. Although he returned to the U.S. in October disheartened by the failure of the conference and exhausted by his obligations at the Exposition, the trip had secured Walker a commanding national and international reputation.[83]


[82] Beginning in 1879, Walker and the political economist

Henry George debates

Walker's scholarly contributions are widely recognized as having broadened, liberalized, and modernized economic and statistical theory with his contributions to wages, wealth distribution, money, and social economics.[67][68][69] Although his arguments presage both neoclassical economics and institutionalism, he is not readily classified into either.[70] As a Professor of Political Economy, his first major scholarly contribution was on his The Wages Question which set out to debunk the wage-fund doctrine as well as address the then-radical notion of obligations between the employer and the employed.[71][72][73] His theory of wage distribution later came to be known as residual theory and set the stage for contributions by John Bates Clark on the marginal productivity theory.[74] Despite Walker's advocacy of profit sharing and expansion of educational opportunities using trade and industrial schools, he was an avowed opponent of the nascent socialist movement and published critiques of Edward Bellamy's popular novel Looking Backward.[75][76]

Wages-fund theory

Walker was awarded honorary or ad eundem degrees from Amherst (M.A. 1863, Ph.D. 1875, LL.D. 1882), Yale (M.A. 1873, LL.D. 1882), Harvard (LL.D. 1883), Columbia (LL.D. 1887), St. Andrews (LL.D. 1888), Dublin (LL.D. 1892), Halle (Ph.D. 1894), and Edinburgh (LL.D. 1896).[64][65] He was elected as an honorary member of the Royal Statistical Society in 1875 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1878 where he served as the vice president from 1890 until his death. In addition to being elected as the president of the American Statistical Association in 1882, he helped found and launch the International Statistical Institute in 1885 and was named its "President-adjoint" in 1893. Walker also served as the inaugural president of the American Economic Association from 1885 to 1892.[65][66] He took appointments as a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University (its first professor of economics) from 1877 to 1879, lecturer at Harvard University in 1882, 1883, and 1896, and trustee at Amherst College from 1879 to 1889.[64][65]

[65][64] (1878–1881).Connecticut Board of Education While at Yale, Walker served as a member of the School Committee at New Haven (1877–1880) and the [63] As his Census obligations diminished in 1872, Walker reconsidered becoming an editorialist and even briefly entertained the idea of becoming a shoe manufacturer with his brother-in-law back in North Brookfield. However, in October 1872, he was unanimously offered to fill

Walker as a Professor of Political Economy at the Sheffield Scientific School

Academic career

Walker accepted a re-appointment as the superintendent of the 1880 Census because a new law, spearheaded by Congressman James A. Garfield, had been passed to allow him to appoint trained census enumerators free from political influence.[54] Notably, the 1880 Census's results suggested population throughout the Southern states had increased improbably over Walker's 1870 census but an investigation revealed that the latter had been inaccurately enumerated. Walker publicized the discrepancy even as it effectively discredited the accuracy his 1870 work.[55][56] The tenth Census resulted in the publication of twenty-two volumes, was popularly regarded as the best census of any up to that time, and definitively established Walker's reputation as the preeminent statistician in the nation.[57][58] The Census was again delayed as a result of its size and was the subject of praise and criticism on its comprehensiveness and relevance.[59] Walker also used the position as a bully pulpit to advocate for the creation of a permanent Census Bureau to not only ensure that professional statisticians could be trained and retained but that the information could be better popularized and disseminated.[60][61] Following Garfield's 1880 election, there was wide speculation that he would name Walker to be Secretary of the Interior, but Walker had accepted the offer to become President of MIT in the spring of 1881 instead.[62]

1880 Census

Walker's rise to prominence was further accelerated by his appointment by Charles Francis Adams, Jr. as the Chief of the Bureau of Awards at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Previous world expositions in Europe were fraught with national factionalism and a superabundance of awards. Walker imposed a much leaner operation replacing juries with judges and being more selective in awarding prizes. Walker won formal international recognition when he was named a "Knight Commander" by Sweden and Norway and a "Comendador" by Spain. He was also invited to serve as Assistant Commissioner General for the 1878 Paris Exposition. The Centennial Exposition affected Walker's later career by greatly increasing his interest in technical education as well as introducing him to MIT President John D. Runkle and Treasurer John C. Cummings.[53]

1876 was a busy year for Walker. Henry Brooks Adams sought to recruit Walker to be the Editor-in-Chief of his Boston Post after failing to recruit Horace White and Charles Nordhoff for the position.[49] That spring, Walker was nominated to run for the Secretary of the State of Connecticut, running on a platform that would later be embodied by the "Mugwump" movement,[50] but ultimately lost to Marvin H. Sanger by a margin of 7,200 votes out of 99,000 cast.[51] In the summer, the faculty of Amherst attempted to recruit him to become the President, but the position went instead to the Rev. Julius Hawley Seelye to appease the more conservative trustees.[52]

Other engagements

Despite his Census-related efforts, Walker did not neglect his obligations as Indian Affairs Superintendent. In the post-war era, the government redoubled efforts to issue western land grants to settlers, ranchers, miners, and railroads which only served to heighten tensions with the Native American tribes who had already been displaced from their homelands as well as stripped of their ostensible sovereignty following an 1872 act of Congress.[45] The U.S. Army and various Indian tribes engaged in open hostilities throughout the 1860s and 1870s. Walker harbored no benevolence for the Indians, characterizing them as "voluptuary," "garrulous," "lazy," "cowardly in battle," and "beggar-like" even after an expedition along the Platte River to meet various chieftains. Walker echoed Grant's recommendation that the Native Americans be secured on reservations of limited mineral or agricultural value so they could be educated and reformed.[46] In November 1872, an eruption of settler-Indian violence in Oregon known as the Modoc War hastened Walker's disinterest in the position and he resigned as Commissioner on December 26, 1872 to take a faculty position at Yale.[47] However, Walker also criticized his successors' graft, corruption, and abuse of power in subsequent years and published The Indian Question in 1874.[48]

Indian Bureau

Owing to the confluence of these problems, the Census was completed and tabulated several months behind schedule to much popular criticism, and led indirectly to a deterioration in Walker's health during the spring of 1871.[37][38] Walker took leave to travel to England with Bowles that summer to recuperate and upon return that fall, despite an offer from The New York Times to join their editorial board with an annual salary of $8,000 ($143,300 in 2009),[39] accepted Secretary Columbus Delano's offer to become the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs in November 1871.[40] The appointment was simultaneously a go-around to continue to fund Walker's federal responsibilities as Census superintendent despite Congress' cessation of appropriations for the position as well as a political opportunity to replace a scandal-ridden predecessor.[38][41] Walker continued to work on the Census for several years thereafter, culminating in the publication of the Statistical Atlas of the United States that was unprecedented in its use of visual statistics and maps to report the results of the Census.[42] The Atlas won him praise from both the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution as well as a First Class medal from the International Geographical Congress.[43][44]

While his editorial career was moving forward, Walker called upon his own as well as his father's political contacts to secure an appointment under David Ames Wells as the Chief of the U.S. Bureau of Statistics and Deputy Special Commissioner of Internal Revenue in January 1869.[32][33] On January 29, 1869, Major General J.D. Cox, who had also previously served in McClellan's army and was currently the Secretary of the Interior under President Grant's administration, notified the twenty-nine-year-old Walker that he was being nominated to become the Superintendent of the 1870 census.[34][35] After he was confirmed by the Senate, Walker sought to strike a moderate reformist position free from the inefficient and unscientific methods of the 1850 and 1860 censuses; however, the required legislation was not passed and the census proceeded under the rules governing previous collections. Among the problems facing Walker included a lack of authority to determine, enforce, or control the marshals' personnel, methods, or timing all of which were regularly manipulated by local political interests. Additionally, the 1870 census would not only occur five years after Civil War but would also be the first in which emancipated African Americans would be fully counted in the census.[36]

1870 Census

By late spring 1865, Walker regained sufficient strength and began to assist his father by lecturing on political economy at Amherst as well as assisting him in the preparation of The Science of Wealth. He also taught Latin, Greek, and mathematics at the Williston Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts until being offered an editorial position at the Springfield Republican by Samuel Bowles.[30] At the Republican, Walker wrote on Reconstruction era politics, railroad regulation, and representation.[31]

Postbellum activity

After the war, Walker became a companion of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Walker returned to North Brookfield to recuperate and resigned his commission on January 8, 1865, as a result of his injuries and health.[26][27] At the end of the war, Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock recommended that Walker be brevetted as a brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers in recognition of his meritorious services during the war and especially his gallant conduct at Chancellorsville.[28] On July 9, 1866, Walker was nominated by President Andrew Johnson[1] for the award of the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general, U.S. Volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865 (when he was age 24), for gallant conduct at the battle of Chancellorsville and meritorious services during the war.[29] The U.S. Senate confirmed the award on July 23, 1866.[1]

[26][25], where his older brother was also held. In October 1864, Walker was released with thirty other prisoners as a part of an exchange.Richmond in Libby Prison, he was transferred to the infamous Petersburg After being held as a prisoner in [24] and nearly drowning.Appomattox River after trying to swim across the 51st North Carolina Infantry On August 27, Walker was able to escape from a marching prisoner column with another prisoner but was recaptured by the [23]

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