Walker, James, 1794-1874

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James Walker (1794-1874) was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard College in 1814 and Harvard Divinity School in 1817. He was President of Harvard University from February 10, 1853, to January 26, 1860. He served as a Fellow of Harvard University from 1834 to 1853 and as a member of the Board of Overseers from 1825 to 1836 and again from 1864 to 1874. From 1838 to 1853, he served the University as the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy and Civil Polity while also acting as Preacher of the College. Walker was also a leader of the Unitarian movement and one of the founders of the American Unitarian Association. He was an editor of The Christian Examiner from 1831 to 1859, and he served as a Unitarian minister for the Harvard Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts, for 20 years. His most important work was The Philosophy of Man's Spiritual Nature in Regard to the Foundation of Faith (1834). Following his death in 1874, his library and the bulk of his estate was bequeathed to the Harvard College Library.

From the guide to the Correspondence, 1815-1859., (Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School)

Professor and President of Harvard.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Sparks Street [Cambridge, Mass.], to Rev. Dr. [Andrew Preston] Peabody, 1865 Nov. 30. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 751998826

James Walker, Unitarian minister, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity at Harvard, and president of Harvard, 1853-1860.

From the description of Letters, 1858. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122403268

James Walker (1794-1874) was President of Harvard University from February 10, 1853 to January 26, 1860. He was appointed the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in 1838, serving until 1853. Walker also acted as the college preacher, was a Unitarian minister, and religious philosopher.

From the description of Papers of James Walker, 1826-1872. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77072436

President of Harvard College.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, 1858 Apr. 21. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270586323

Clergyman and educator.

From the description of James Walker correspondence, 1829 November 29. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70981294

James Walker served as President of Harvard University, 1853-1860.

The Woodbury addressed in the note is possibly Augustus Woodbury, an 1849 Harvard Divinity School graduate, who was given an honorary AM in 1866.

From the description of Note from James Walker to Rev. Mr. Woodbury declining a meeting, Nov. 7, 1860. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067927

James Walker served as President of Harvard University, 1853-1860.

John Hoag Dillingham earned his Harvard AB in 1862.

From the description of Letter of recommendation from James Walker "to the Board of Education" in reference to a scholarship for John Hoag Dillingham, March 22, 1859. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77067925

James Walker (1794-1874) was President of Harvard University from February 10, 1853 to January 26, 1860. Walker was also a Unitarian minister and religious philosopher.

James Walker was born to John Walker and Lucy (Johnson) Walker on August 16, 1794 in what was then Woburn, Massachusetts (later to become a part of Burlington ). Walker attended the Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts (1807-1810) and graduated from Harvard University in 1814. After graduation, Walker taught for one year at the Phillips Exeter Academy and then returned to Harvard University to study at the Divinity School (A.M. 1817).

Walker spent the next twenty years as a Unitarian minister for the Harvard Church in Charlestown, Massachusetts. A well respected preacher, Walker became a leader in the Unitarian movement. He helped organize the American Unitarian Association (1825), contributed to American Unitarian Tracts, and edited the Unitarian movement's journal, the Christian Examiner, from 1831 to 1839. In his writings, Walker discussed various philosophical questions involving ethical theory, natural religion, and phrenology. His most important work was The Philosophy of Man's Spiritual Nature in Regard to the Foundation of Faith (1834), a combination of several philosophical arguments supporting the existence of God.

Walker married in 1829 to Catherine Bartlett (1798-1868). They had no children.

Walker was a Fellow of Harvard University (1834-1853) and a member of the Board of Overseers (1825-1836, 1864-1874). He was appointed the Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity in 1838, serving until 1853. He also acted as the college preacher, speaking in the college chapel.

In 1853, Walker was elected President of Harvard University. His administration of the school was uneventful and no great reforms were instituted by him. The only new subject added to the course curriculum was music. Evening prayers were discontinued in 1855, the Appleton Chapel was completed in 1858, and Boylston Hall was built in 1857. Suffering from various infirmities, Walker resigned in 1860.

After retiring from Harvard University, Walker spent his time writing, lecturing, and preaching. He devoted his studies to philosophy and literature. When the American Civil War started, Walker gave speeches in support of the Union cause.

Walker died on December 23, 1874. At his death, he left his books and the bulk of his estate, $15,000, to the Harvard College Library and a personal reputation of modesty and good humor.

References: Frothingham, Octavius Brooks. Memoir of Rev. James Walker, D.D., LL.D. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Second Series, Vol. VI, 1891. Boston: The Society, 1891. 443-468 Morison, S. E. James Walker. In Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. XIX, New York:Charles Scribner's Sons,1933. Morison, Samuel Eliot.Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936.Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard University Press,1936. Walker, James.Sermons Preached Chiefly in the College Chapel. Edited by William Orne White. Vol 1., Reason, Faith, and Duty; Vol. 2, Sermons.Boston: American Unitarian Association,1884.

From the guide to the Papers of James Walker, 1826-1872., (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. James Walker correspondence, 1829 November 29. Library of Congress
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Shattuck, Lemuel, 1793-1859. Papers of Lemuel Shattuck, 1637-1850, (1825-1850) Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Autograph letter signed : Cambridge, 1858 Apr. 21. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Letters to Charles Eliot Norton and other papers, 1702-1952. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Charlestown Lyceum (Charlestown, Boston, Mass.). Records, 1829-1844. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Kappa Delta Society (Cambridge, Mass.). Records, 1804-1819. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Letter of recommendation from James Walker "to the Board of Education" in reference to a scholarship for John Hoag Dillingham, March 22, 1859. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1864. Photographs, [1864]. Maine Historical Society Library
referencedIn Letters from various correspondents, 1820-1894. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Everett, Edward, 1794-1865. Autograph letter signed : place not specified, to Dr. [James?] Walker, [1847 Nov.] Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Correspondence, 1815-1859. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School
referencedIn Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (inclusive) 1820-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Huntington, F. D. (Frederic Dan), 1819-1904. [F.D. Huntington : sermons, etc.]. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
referencedIn Ralph Waldo Emerson letters from various correspondents, ca. 1814-1882. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Francis Bowen correspondence, 1724-1909 (inclusive) 1836-1892 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn North American Review, papers, 1831-1843. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Wendell Phillips papers, 1555-1882 (inclusive) 1833-1881 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Harvard University. Certificate, 1847 November 6, appointing Joel Parker to the post of Royall Professor at the Harvard Law School. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional correspondence, 1787-1886. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Documents relating to Charles Sumner, 1828-1912. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Letters, 1858. Radcliffe College, Archives
creatorOf Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888. Perry-Clarke Collection, 1761-1923. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Turner, Edward, 1776-1853. Papers, 1711-1873 (inclusive), 1803-1848 (bulk). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Papers of James Walker, 1826-1872. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Harvard University. Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Faculty records: proposed revision of the statutes and laws of the University of Cambridge, prepared by President Edward Everett, 1847. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Allen, Joseph Henry, 1820-1898. Correspondence, 1842-1897 (inclusive). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn James Russell Lowell papers, 1835-1919. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1768-1866. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Autograph letter signed : Sparks Street [Cambridge, Mass.], to Rev. Dr. [Andrew Preston] Peabody, 1865 Nov. 30. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. James Walker. Correspondence, 1815-1859. Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. Note from James Walker to Rev. Mr. Woodbury declining a meeting, Nov. 7, 1860. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Papers of James Walker, 1826-1872. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Society for Promoting Theological Education. Records, 1815-1977 (inclusive). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn Charles Eliot Norton papers, ca.1845-1908. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. Topical pamphlet collection, <1741>-<1996>. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
creatorOf Walker, James, 1794-1874. [Letter, 1869]. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Emerson, George B. (George Barrell), 1797-1881. Letters to George Barrell Emerson, 1845-1865. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Rebecca Howe Fisk Merriam. person
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associatedWith Society for Promoting Theological Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Society for the Promotion of Theological Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Sprague, William Buell, 1795-1876 person
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correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
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associatedWith Turner, Edward. person
associatedWith Turner, Edward, 1776-1853. person
associatedWith Upham, Charles Wentworth, 1802-1875 person
associatedWith Vaughan, J. C. person
associatedWith Walker, Henry A. person
associatedWith Walker, James. person
associatedWith Ware, Henry, 1794-1843 person
associatedWith Whitman, Bernard, 1796-1834 person
associatedWith Whitman, Jason. person
associatedWith Woodbury, Augustus, 1825-1895. person
associatedWith Worcester, Noah, 1758-1837 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Charlestown
Subject
Clergy
Women--Education
Oral interpretation
Unitarian churches--Clergy
Occupation
Clergy
Educators
Function

Person

Birth 1794-08-16

Death 1874-12-23

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