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Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter
Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter

18th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
In office
December 16, 1839 – March 4, 1841
President Martin Van Buren
Preceded by James K. Polk
Succeeded by John White

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th district
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1843
Preceded by John Roane
Succeeded by Samuel Chilton

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 9th district
In office
March 4, 1845 – March 3, 1847
Preceded by Willoughby Newton
Succeeded by Richard L. T. Beale

United States Senator
from Virginia
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 28, 1861
Preceded by William S. Archer
Succeeded by John S. Carlile

In office
July 25, 1861 – February 22, 1862
President Jefferson Davis
Preceded by Robert Toombs
Succeeded by Judah P. Benjamin

In office
February 18, 1862 – May 10, 1865
Preceded by None
Succeeded by None

Born April 21, 1809(1809-04-21)
Essex County, Virginia
Died July 18, 1887 (aged 78)
Essex County, Virginia
Political party Whig
Alma mater University of Virginia
Profession Law

Template:Otherpeople Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (April 21, 1809 – July 18, 1887) American statesman, was born in Essex County, Virginia.


He entered the University of Virginia in his seventeenth year and was one of its first graduates; he then studied law at the Winchester (Va.) Law School, and in 1830 was admitted to the bar. From 1835 to 1837 he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.

From 1837 to 1843, and again from 1845 to 1847, he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as Speaker of the House from 1839 to 1841, and is the youngest person to have ever held that position. From 1847 to 1861 he was in the Senate, where he was chairman of the Committee on Finance (1850-1861). He is credited with having brought about a reduction of the quantity of silver in the smaller coins. He was the author of the Tariff of 1857 and of the bonded-warehouse system, and was one of the first to advocate civil service reform. In 1853 he declined President Millard Fillmore's offer to make him Secretary of State.


Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter

At the National Democratic Convention at Charleston, South Carolina in 1860, he was the Virginia delegation's choice as candidate for the presidency of the United States, but was defeated for the nomination by Stephen A. Douglas. Hunter did not regard Lincoln's election as being of itself a sufficient cause for secession, and on January 11, 1861 he proposed an elaborate but impracticable scheme for the adjustment of differences between the North and the South, but when this and several other efforts to the same end had failed he quietly urged his own state to pass the ordinance of secession. He was among three Representatives who were expelled from Congress for supporting secession.

From 1861 to 1862 he was the Confederate States Secretary of State; and from 1862 to 1865 was a member of the Confederate Senate, in which he was, at times, a caustic critic of the Davis administration. He was one of the commissioners to treat at the Hampton Roads Conference in 1865, and after the surrender of General Lee was summoned by President Lincoln to Richmond to confer regarding the restoration of Virginia in the Union. From 1874 to 1880 he was the treasurer of Virginia, and from 1885 until his death near Lloyds, Virginia, was collector of the Port of Tappahannock, Virginia.

Among his works was Origin of the Late War, about the causes of the Civil War.

See Martha T Hunter, A Memoir of Robert MT Hunter (Washington, 1903) for his private life, and DR Anderson, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, in the John P Branch Historical Papers of Randolph Macon College (vol. ii. No. 2, 1906), for his public career.

In 1942, a United States Liberty ship named the SS Robert M. T. Hunter was launched. She was scrapped in 1971.

He was pictured on the Confederate $10.00 bill.

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox Template:USRepSuccessionBox |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | Confederate States House of Representatives |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
None |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Delegate to the Provisional Confederate Congress from Virginia
April 29, 1861 - February 17, 1862 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
None |- Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
James K. Polk |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Speaker of the House of Representatives
December 16, 1839 - March 4, 1841 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
John White |- Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Robert Toombs |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Confederate States Secretary of State
July 25, 1861 - February 22, 1862 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Judah P. Benjamin |- |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States Senate Template:U.S. Senator box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | Confederate States Senate Template:S-new |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Confederate States Senator from Virginia
February 18, 1862 – May 10, 1865
Served alongside: William B. Preston, Allen T. Caperton Template:S-non |} Template:USSenVA Template:SenFinanceCommitteeChairs Template:SpeakerUSHouse

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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