Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Walker, Amasa

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WALKER, Amasa, political economist, b. in Woodstock, Conn., 4 May, 1799; d. in Brookfield, Mass., 29 Oct., 1875. He received a district-school education in North Brookfield, where among his fellow-students was William C. Bryant. In 1814 he entered commercial life, and in 1820 formed a partnership with Allen Newell in North Brookfield, but three years later withdrew to become the agent of the Methuen manufacturing company. In 1825 he formed with Charles G. Carleton the firm of Carleton and Walker, of Boston, Mass., but in 1827 he went into business independently. In 1840 he withdrew permanently from commercial affairs, and in 1842 he went to Oberlin, Ohio, on account of his great interest in the college there, and gave lectures on political economy at that institution until 1848. After serving in the legislature, he became the Free-soil and Democratic candidate for speaker, and in 1849 was chosen to the Massachusetts senate, where he introduced a plan for a sealed-ballot law, which was enacted in 1851, and carried a bill providing that Webster's Dictionary should be introduced into the common schools of Massachusetts. He was elected secretary of state in 1851, re-elected in 1852, and in 1853 was chosen a member of the convention for revising the state constitution, becoming the chairman of the committee on suffrage. He was appointed in 1853 one of the examiners in political economy in Harvard, and held that office until 1860, and in 1859 he began an annual course of lectures on that subject in Amherst, which he continued until 1869. Meanwhile, in 1859, he was again elected to the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1860 he was chosen a member of the electoral college of that state, casting his ballot for Abraham Lincoln. He was also elected as a Republican to congress, and served from 1 Dec., 1862, till 3 March, 1863. Mr. Walker is best known for his work in advocating new and reformatory measures. In 1839 he urged a continuous all-rail route of communication between Boston and Mississippi river, and during the same year he became president of the Boston temperance society, the first total abstinence association in that city. He was active in the anti-slavery movement, though not to the extent of recommending unconstitutional methods for its abolition, and in 1848 he was one of the founders of the Free-soil party. Mr. Walker was a member of the first International peace congress in London in 1843, and was one of its vice-presidents, and in 1849 he held the same office in the congress in Paris. The degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by Amherst in 1867. In 1857 he began the publication of a series of articles on political economy in “Hunt's Merchant's Magazine,” and he was accepted as an authority on questions of finance. Besides other contributions to magazines, he published “Nature and Uses of Money and Mixed Currency” (Boston, 1857), and “Science of Wealth, a Manual of Political Economy” (1866), of which eight editions have been sold, and it has been translated into Italian. With William B. Calhoun and Charles L. Flint he issued “Transactions of the Agricultural Societies of Massachusetts” (7 vols., 1848-'54). — His son, Francis Amasa, statistician, b. in Boston, Mass., 2 July, 1840, was graduated at Amherst in 1860, and began the study of law under Charles Devens, and George F. Hoar in Worcester. He joined the 15th Massachusetts volunteers, commanded by Col. Devens, on 1 Aug., 1861, as sergeant-major, and became assistant adjutant-general of the brigade under Gen. Darius N. Couch on 14 Sept., 1861, with the rank of captain. On 11 Aug., 1862, he was made adjutant-general of Gen. Couch's division, with the rank of major, and he was promoted colonel on the staff of the 2d army corps, 23 Dec., 1862. Thereafter he continued with that corps as adjutant-general, serving successively on the staffs of Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren and Gen. Winfield S. Hancock, and was severely wounded at Chancellorsville, 1 May, 1863, and captured at Ream's Station, 25 Aug., 1864. He was confined in Libby prison, in consequence of which his health was impaired, so that he resigned on 12 Jan., 1865. The brevet of brigadier-general of volunteers was conferred on him on 13 March, 1865. He taught Latin and Greek at Williston seminary during 1865-'7, and then was assistant editor of the “Springfield Republican.” In 1869 he became chief of the bureau of statistics in the treasury department at Washington, and in 1870-'2 he held the office of superintendent of the 9th census. During 1871-'2 he was also commissioner of Indian affairs. He was called to the professorship of political economy and history in the Sheffield scientific school of Yale in 1873, and held that chair till 1881, when he was elected to the presidency of the Massachusetts institute of technology. Meanwhile, from May till November, 1876, he was chief of the bureau of awards at the World's fair in Philadelphia, and during 1879-'81 he was superintendent of the 10th census while on leave of absence from Yale. He held the lectureship on tenure of land at Harvard in 1883. While residing in New Haven he was a member of the city and state boards of education, and on his removal to Boston, Mass., he was called on to serve similarly in that state. The degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Amherst in 1863 and by Yale in 1873, that of Ph. D. by Amherst in 1875, and that of LL. D. by Amherst and Yale in 1881, by Harvard in 1883, by Columbia in 1887, and by St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1888. He was U. S. commissioner to the International monetary conference in Paris in 1878, and was elected in 1878 to the National academy of sciences. He is president of the American statistical society and of the American economic association, and is an honorary fellow of the Royal statistical society of London. His writings include annual reports as superintendent of the 9th census (3 vols., Washington, 1870-'2), as commissioner of Indian affairs (1872), as superintendent of the 10th census (3 vols., 1879-'81), and as president of the Massachusetts institute of technology (5 vols., Boston, 1883-'8); and he has compiled “Commerce and Navigation of the United States” (2 vols., Washington, 1868-'9); “Ninth Census” (4 vols., 1872-'3); “Statistical Atlas of the United States” (1874); “Judges' Reports on Awards” (8 vols., Philadelphia, 1878); and “Tenth Census” (24 vols., Washington, 1883 et seq.). President Walker is the author of “The Indian Question” (Boston, 1874); “The Wages Question” (1876); “Money” (1878); “Money, Trade, and Industry” (1879); “Land and its Rent” (1883); “Political Economy” (New York, 1883); and “History of the Second Army Corps” (1886).