John Walker Helps Ease Native American Fears
John Walker was an important member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses during the Revolutionary War.
Walker served in several notable position during the Founding Period, including a stint as a United States Senator. However, he was most known for his negotiations with Native Americans.
John Walker was born to Dr. Thomas Walker, a physician and frontiersman in Albemarle County Virginia.
Dr. Walker was a friend and frequent co-surveyor of his neighbor Peter Jefferson. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Peter was the father of Thomas Jefferson.
Due to this circumstance, John Walker and Thomas Jefferson grew up together. They attended the same preparatory school and even went to the College of William and Mary simultaneously.
When John Walker was still in his mid-20’s he went as secretary to a delegation who negotiated with the Iroquois Nation in Upstate New York.
This trip gave him valuable experience engaging with Native Americans which would make him an important resource to the Continental Army in years to come.
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix, which was the result of these discussions, helped establish peace between the Iroquois and the colonies of New York and Pennsylvania. Although Virginia avoided hostilities for five more years, eventually Dunmore’s War would break out just as the American Revolution was beginning.
Soon after his return, both Walker and Jefferson were elected as the two Representatives from Albemarle County to the House of Burgesses.
In the Colonial Government, Walker and Jefferson joined a wave of young, radical politicians who spoke loudly regarding Great Britain’s unfair policies. The two men traveled the county and attended meetings in churches and town halls to rally support for the resistance movement.
Additionally, Walker, as a member of the House of Burgesses, signed most of the notable documents leading to independence in the State of Virginia.
After the Revolutionary War began, all the colonies sent Delegates to the Continental Congress. Virginia was one of the States which also sent a representative to the Continental Army.
John Walker was chosen as their man. In this position, Walker was a type of pseudo aide de camp to General Washington, keeping him abreast of their shared home State’s needs and feelings.
Walker left this position to serve for a year as a Continental Congressman.
Furthermore, he acted as an Indian Agent on several occasions for the Americans. Walker’s influence helped keep Native Americans from joining the British War effort.
After the Revolution ended, John studied law and set up a practice.
By 1784, John’s relationship with his best friend Thomas Jefferson had ended (check out tomorrow’s article about Betsy Moore to find out why). The two men would remain estranged for the rest of their lives. This was further exacerbated when Walker became a Federalist and Jefferson the leader of the Democratic-Republican Party.
In 1790 Virginia’s William Grayson was the first member of the United States Senate to pass away while in office. John Walker was chosen as his temporary replacement, making him the first interim Senator in United States history.
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Want to read more about John Walker and is troubled relationship with Thomas Jefferson?
Much of the info in this article come from the great book ‘Mr. Jefferson’s Women.’
Although it focuses on the women in Jefferson’s life, there is plenty in there about his one time good friend Walker. Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).