David Shelby Walker
Florida Governor David S. Walker.jpg
8th Governor of Florida
In office
December 20, 1865 – July 4, 1868
LieutenantWilliam W. J. Kelly
Preceded byWilliam Marvin
Succeeded byHarrison Reed
Mayor of Tallahassee, Florida
In office
Preceded byD. P. Hogue
Succeeded byRichard Hayward
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
In office
Member of the Florida Senate
In office
Personal details
BornMay 2, 1815
DiedJuly 20, 1891 (aged 76)
Tallahassee, Florida
Political partyConservative [Democratic] Party
Constitutional Unionist
Know Nothing
Spouse(s)Philoclea Alston
Elizabeth Duncan
Parent(s)David Walker

David Shelby Walker (May 2, 1815 – July 20, 1891) was the eighth Governor of Florida, serving from 1866 to 1868.

Early life and career

Walker was born near Russelville in Logan County, Kentucky. He attended private schools in Kentucky and Tennessee and studied law. He moved to Florida in 1837, settling in Leon County. His father was David Walker, a prominent early Kentucky politician who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. David S. Walker was a cousin and close business and political confidante of Florida territorial governor Richard K. Call. He was also related to Florida Senator Wilkinson Call, who was Walker's law partner for several years in the 1850s and 1860s in Tallahassee.

Walker entered politics as a Whig, and was elected to the first session of the Florida State Legislature in 1845, serving Wakulla and Leon Counties as senator. In 1848, he was elected by Leon County to the Florida House of Representatives. In 1849 he was appointed Register of Public Lands and was ex officio State Superintendent of Public Instruction, positions he held until 1854. He advocated and promoted interest in public schools. His efforts resulted in the creation of public schools in Tallahassee. He served as Mayor of Tallahassee. He was the Know Nothing gubernatorial candidate in 1856 but lost to Democrat Madison S. Perry by 2.6 points.[1] In 1859, he became a Florida Supreme Court Justice.[2] Walker is also known for establishing Tallahassee's first library in the mid-1800s through his private funds in a time where money was not allocated to libraries outside of urban areas, especially in a "rural" state.[3][4]


Prior to the Civil War, Walker was a Constitutional Unionist and so had opposed secession. However, when Florida seceded from the Union in 1861, he supported his state. Following the war, on November 29, 1865, Walker was elected governor unopposed, in an election in which newly freed slaves were not allowed to participate.[5] He was inaugurated on December 20 and took office January 18, 1866.[6]

During his governorship, Florida transitioned from the federal oversight and military occupation of Reconstruction to readmission into the Union, but Walker was a conservative who attempted to minimize changes to the antebellum social, political, and economic system. He protested the election of the 1868 Constitutional Convention, which was convened to adopt a new government that the Republican U.S. Congress would approve, but ultimately supported the 1868 Constitution when it turned out to be less protective of blacks than originally anticipated.[5]

He did not run for reelection in the 1868 election, the first in which African American men could vote.[7]

After leaving the governor's office on July 4, 1868, he returned to practicing law. In 1878, he was appointed circuit court judge, a position he held until his death on July 20, 1891.


Tallahassee's first public library is the David S. Walker Library.

See also


  1. ^ Bender, Michael (November 2, 2010). "Best governor's race since Sidney Catts?". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  2. ^ Brown Jr., Canter (1997). Ossian Bingley Hart: Florida's Loyalist Reconstruction Governor. LSU Press. p. 171. ISBN 9780807141717.
  3. ^ Springtime Tallahassee, “About Us,” http://www.springtimetallahassee.com.
  4. ^ Pearia, A. A. (2007). Preserving the past: Library development in Florida and the New Deal, 1933-1942. Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 2058. Florida State University.
  5. ^ a b Dubin, Michael J. (2010). United States Gubernatorial Elections, 1861-1911: The Official Results by State and County. McFarland. pp. 96, 213. ISBN 978-0-7864-4722-0. LCCN 2010010900.
  6. ^ Schroeder-Lein, Glenna R.; Zuczek, Richard (2001). Andrew Johnson: A Biographical Companion. ABC-CLIO. p. 122. ISBN 1-57607-030-1. LCCN 2001001777.
  7. ^ "Florida Election: The Constitution Ratified". Florida Union. May 9, 1868. Retrieved August 8, 2021.


Party political offices First Know Nothing nominee for Governor of Florida 1856 Succeeded byNone Preceded byJohn Milton Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida 1865 Succeeded byGeorge Washington Scott Political offices Preceded byWilliam Marvin Governor of Florida December 20, 1865 – July 4, 1868 Succeeded byHarrison Reed