DAVID SHELBY WALKER was born near Russellville, Kentucky, on May 2, 1815. Before moving to Florida in 1837, Walker studied law and established a private practice in Leon County. He entered politics in 1845 as a member of the Florida State Senate. He also served in the Florida House of Representatives in 1848 and 1849, and he was the registrar of public lands from 1849 to 1854. He served as superintendent of public schools from 1851 to 1859. Walker was very influential in promoting a public school system throughout the state and establishing the first free school in Tallahassee. He served as mayor of Tallahassee, justice of the Florida State Supreme Court from 1858 to 1865, and he ran unsuccessfully for the governor’s office in 1856. Walker ran again for governor in 1865 and was elected Florida’s eighth governor. During his tenure, he had the difficult task of trying to reestablish civil government to the state after the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson and Congress disputed over the Reconstruction policy, hampering Walker’s influence as governor. One accomplishment he achieved was the initiation of Florida’s public education system. After leaving office in 1868, Walker returned to his law practice. He was appointed to the bench of the Circuit Court, serving from 1878 until his death. Governor David S. Walker died on July 20, 1891, and is buried at the St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery in Tallahassee.
Florida State Archives holds official incoming correspondence for Governor Walker
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.