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Benjamin Walker (New York soldier)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Benjamin Walker
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1801 – March 3, 1803
Preceded byJonas Platt
Succeeded byKillian Van Rensselaer
Personal details
Born1753 (1753)
London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain
DiedJanuary 13, 1818(1818-01-13) (aged 64–65)
Utica, New York, U.S.
Resting placeForest Hill Cemetery (Utica, New York)[1]
Political partyFederalist Party
ResidenceUtica, New York

Captain Benjamin Walker (1753 – January 13, 1818) was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War and later served as a U.S. Representative from New York.

General George Washington Resigning His Commission, by John Trumbull, shows Walker standing directly behind Washington and to the left of Col. David Humphreys[2]
General George Washington Resigning His Commission, by John Trumbull, shows Walker standing directly behind Washington and to the left of Col. David Humphreys[2]

Early life

He was born in London, England, where he attended a Blue-Coat School.

After his schooling, Walker spent some time in France where he gained fluency in French.[3]

At a young age, he entered into a respectable merchant house in London which eventually brought him to the United States. After immigrating, he settled in New York City and resided with an eminent merchant until joining the Revolutionary War.[4]


Military career

Walker was first appointed Captain of the Second New York Regiment in the Revolutionary War.

On the 25th of April, 1778, he was appointed as an aide-de-camp to General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.

Walker's fluency in French is what brought him to the attention of the Baron[5] and subsequently the reason Walker superintended his correspondence. Steuben would dictate in French and Walker would write it out in English. Virtually all of the drafts for Steuben's reforms and plans for the Continental Army are in Walker's handwriting. Additionally, Walker acted as translator when necessary during inspections and reviews the Baron conducted.[6] He, along with others, assisted Steuben with his 'Blue Book'.

Between 1781 and 1782, Walker acted as a member of the staff of General George Washington. On December 23, 1783, he was with Washington when he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief.[2] Washington included Walker "among the most intelligent and active Officers of the late American Army" in a letter suggesting men for military appointment.[7]

Civic and Political Career

From March 21, 1791 until February 20, 1798, Walker served as a captain and as naval officer of customs at the port of New York.

Walker later worked as the First Secretary to the Governor of New York and as a broker.

He was moved to Fort Schuyler, now Utica, in New York State, in 1797 where he worked as an agent of the great landed estate of the Earl of Bath.

Walker was elected as a Federalist to the Seventh Congress (March 4, 1801 - March 3, 1803). After his tenure, he declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1802.

Personal life

Together with a fellow aide-de-camp, William North, he was formally adopted by Steuben, and made his heir.[8] Some historians believe that these 'extraordinary intense emotional relationships'[9] were romantic,[10] and given Steuben's reported earlier behaviour, it has been suggested it would have been out-of-character for him if they were not.[11] It has also been posited that while Walker held the Baron in high esteem, and had no scruples about exploiting his attraction for him, he had no intention of reciprocating.[12] However, without more substantive evidence turning up, the exact nature of the relationships is impossible to define conclusively.[13]

Walker maintained a close relationship with the Baron after the war. Steuben lived with Walker for a period when Walker was a broker in New York City. Walker visited Steuben almost every year at his property and helped manage his business.[14]

It has also been suggested that North and Benjamin Walker held a romantic relationship, but like with the Baron, this is difficult to be certain of. Nevertheless, Walker remained North's closest friend until their deaths.[10] Walker was named as a sponsor of North's daughter Adelia at her baptism.[15]

Walker married a Quaker woman named Mary Robinson on August 30, 1784. Together they raised Walker's only natural daughter, Eliza (1789–1850), and Mary's niece. Eliza may have been illegitimate.[16] She married the Marquis de Villehaut before divorcing him and marrying Michel Combe, a French officer who had fled to Utica. When Louis Philip ascended the French Throne he and Eliza moved to France, where she lived for the rest of her life. Walker bequeathed a "considerable" portion of his property to her upon his death.[17]

He built a mansion for his family on Broad Street which was torn down in 1932.[18] It was built upon 15 acres of land with a large farm attached.

Walker owned two slaves in 1800 and none in 1790 according to the US Census.[19]

Walker died in Utica, New York, on January 13, 1818. He was first interred in the Old Village Burying Ground on Water Street but was exhumed and reinterred in Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica on June 17, 1875.

Walker Street in Manhattan was named in his honor.[20]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

  • United States Congress. "Benjamin Walker (id: W000046)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2009-03-04
  1. ^ Forest Hill Cemetery. History.
  2. ^ a b "General George Washington Resigning His Commission". Architect of the Capitol.
  3. ^ Bagg, M. M. (1892). Memorial History of Utica, N.Y.: From Its Settlement to the Present Time. Utica (N.Y.): D. Mason.
  4. ^ Bagg (1892) p. 42
  5. ^ William Benemann, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships, Haworth Press 2006 ISBN 1-56023-345-1
  6. ^ Kapp, Friedrich (1859). Life of Frederick William Von Steuben: Major General in the Revolutionary Army. Mason Brothers.
  7. ^ "Suggestions for Military Appointments, 14 July 1798". Founders Online.
  8. ^ Kapp (1859) p. 707.
  9. ^ American National Biography - Volume 16 - Page 513. n.b. Contrary to many online articles, this phrase does not appear in Steuben's final Will:
  10. ^ a b Benemann, William Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships Haworth Press, 2006, ISBN 1-56023-345-1
  11. ^ Quinn, Michael D. Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans, University of Illinois Press, 2001, pp179-180
  12. ^ Benemman, pp. 102-03
  13. ^ Benemann, p. 102
  14. ^ Kapp (1859), p. 620
  15. ^ "P. 4-5 (second pagination), baptisms in Christ's Church, August 27, 1797: Anstis O'Brien, Dorrides Reightor, and Adelia North. Baptized August 1 (?), 1798: Matthew Reghtor". New York Historical Society Digital Collection. New York Historical Society.
  16. ^ Todd, Charles Lafayette; Sonkin, Robert (1977). Alexander Bryan Johnson: Philosophical Banker. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.
  17. ^ Jones, Pomroy (1851). Annals and Recollections of Oneida County. Oneida County, New York: Pomroy Jones.
  18. ^ Observer-Dispatch. "This Week in History: President Grant replaces secretary of state". Observer-Dispatch.
  19. ^ Alexander, Arthur J. (1943). "Federal Officeholders in New York State as Slaveholders 1789-1805". The Journal of Negro History. 28 (3): 326–349. doi:10.2307/2714912. JSTOR 2714912. S2CID 150137122.
  20. ^ Henry Moscow, The Street Book: An Encyclopedia of Manhattan’s Street Names and Their Origins, Fordham University Press, New York (1990).

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jonas Platt
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district

March 4, 1801 – March 3, 1803
Succeeded by
Killian Van Rensselaer
This page was last edited on 1 March 2021, at 15:14
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