Obituaries

Eliakim P. Walton

Eliakim Persons WaltonWalton, Eliakim P[ersons]. Representative in Congress from 1857 to 1863, one of the great editors of the state, and a valuable contributor to its history, was born at Montpelier, Feb. 17, 1812, the son of Gen. E. P. and Prussia (Parsons) Walton. The family was of Quaker origin, and the father, who rose to be major-general of the state militia, was also for years one of the chief editorial powers of the state, who probably did more than any other one man towards building up the old Whig party and its successor to secure ascendancy, and who was nominated for Governor by the first Republican convention in 1854, but withdrew in favor of Judge Royce for the purpose of consolidating the various elements into one organization.

Eliakim, the eldest of his children, was educated in the common schools and at the Washington county grammar school, but, better than all, had a double advantage in instruction by a cultured and discriminating mother and of training at the printer's case in his father's office. He studied law in the office of Samuel & S. B. Prentiss, where he also obtained an instructive insight into national politics, as the former was then United States senator. But instead of giving his life to law he was, when twenty-one, in 1833, taken into partnership with his father in the publication of the Vermont Watchman and State Journal and in the general printing and publishing, book-binding and paper-making business. Soon the main editorial duties fell upon him, while General Walton's attention was chiefly absorbed in the other departments of the business, and for thirty-five years, except while in Congress and engaged in other public duties, he was constantly in the editorial harness. He established the first exclusively legislative newspaper, which soon expanded into a daily. Early in the war he started a daily, maintained a live correspondent in every Vermont regiment at the front and gathered and preserved in this way an immense quantity of historical data that is of priceless value.

Like his father he was not a seeker for office for himself, but in 1853 represented Montpelier in the Legislature, and three years later, at the solicitation of Judge Collamer and other party leaders, reluctantly consented to stand for Congress in order to solve a political situation that was full of complications. He was easily elected by a majority of over three to one, and twice reelected, in 1858 and 1860. His most notable speeches during this service were on the admission of Kansas to the Union in March, 1858; on the tariff question, in February, 1859; on the state of the Union, in February, 1861, and on the confiscation of rebel property, in May, 1862. He demonstrated by an exhaustive table of figures the injustice to Vermont and seven other states of the apportionment act of 1862, based on the census of 1860, and calling Senator Collamer's attention to it, the latter procured the passage of a supplementary act by which Vermont's representation in the House was saved from being cut down from three to two. He performed a similar service for the state under the act after the census of 1870, and Edmunds and Thurman, producing his facts and figures, carried an amendment which again saved the threatened states from a cut-down.

Mr. Walton, returning to private life, continued in charge of the Watchman until 1868, when he sold it to J. and J. M. Poland, but continued to write much as long as he lived. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1870 and a senator from Washington county for two terms, 1874 to '78. He was three times a delegate to national conventions, in 1840 to the young men's convention at Baltimore, in 1864 to the Republican convention at Philadelphia, and in 1866 the Philadelphia convention to meet and consult with southern men. He was president of the Vermont Historical Society from the retirement of Rev. Dr. Lord in 1876 until his death, and of the Vermont Editors' and Publishers' Association from its organization until 1881. He edited Vol. II of the collections of the Vermont Historical Society, including the Haldimand Papers and the eight volumes of the "Records of the Governor and Council, " and his notes?biographical, historical and explanatory?exhibit a painstaking and exhaustive research, while the illumination of the Haldimand business, under his careful analysis, was a service to the state and to the truth of history which cannot be too highly appreciated. The "Vermont Capitol, " 1857, consisted mainly of his reports, and Walton's Vermont Register, up to within ten or a dozen years, was under his editorial charge. Printed addresses of his include those on Gov. Charles Paine, on the Battle of Hubbardton, and on Nathaniel Chipman.

Mr. Walton was twice married, first to Sarah Sophia, daughter of Joseph Howes, of Montpelier. She died Sept. 3, 1880, and Oct. 19, 1882, he wedded Mrs. Clara P. Field, nee Snell, of Columbus, Ohio.

Mr. Walton died Dec. 19, 1890. [He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, Montpelier].


Source: Jacob G. Ullery, compiler, Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, (Transcript Publishing Company, Brattleboro, VT, 1894), Part I, pp. 154-155.

Links: Congressional Biography; Burial information contributed by The Political Graveyard. See also findagrave.com.

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