Civil War Wiki


Walter Quintin Gresham
Walter Q. Gresham

31st United States Postmaster General
In office
April 3, 1883 – September 4, 1884
Preceded by Timothy O. Howe
Succeeded by Frank Hatton

35th United States Secretary of the Treasury
In office
September 5, 1884 – October 30, 1884
Preceded by Charles J. Folger
Succeeded by Hugh McCulloch

Judge on United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
In office
June 16, 1891 – March 3, 1893
Preceded by seat created
Succeeded by James Graham Jenkins

33rd United States Secretary of State
In office
March 7, 1893 – May 28, 1895
Preceded by John W. Foster
Succeeded by Richard Olney

Born March 17, 1832(1832-03-17)
Crandall, Indiana, U.S.
Died May 28, 1895 (aged 63)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican, Democrat
Spouse(s) Matilda McGrain Gresham
Profession Politician, Lawyer, Judge
Religion Methodist
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/wars American Civil War

Walter Quintin Gresham (March 17, 1832 – May 28, 1895) was an American statesman and jurist. He served as United States Postmaster General, as a judge on the United States Courts of Appeals, was a two-time candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and was Secretary of State, and Secretary of the Treasury. He was also an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War.


He was born near Lanesville, Indiana, to William Gresham (1802–1834) and his wife Sarah Davis. William had been elected a Colonel in the militia of Indiana. He was a member of the Whig Party and was elected Sheriff of Harrison County, Indiana. On January 26, 1834, William was fatally stabbed while assisting in the arrest of Levi Sipes, a so-called "desperado".[1]

His paternal grandparents were George Gresham (born 1776) and Mary Pennington. George was born in Virginia but latter settled in Kentucky. He moved to Indiana in 1809. Mary was the only sister of Dennis Pennington, speaker of the first Indiana Senate.[1]

George was a son of Lawrence Gresham. Lawrence was born in England but moved to the Colony of Virginia in 1759. He initially served as an indentured servant of an uncle. He was released from service upon reaching adulthood. He later served in the Continental Army. He married Sarah O'Neal. Lawrence followed his son to Kentucky and Indiana well into his old age.[1]

Early years[]

He spent two years in an academy at Corydon, Indiana, one year at the Indiana University Bloomington, then studied law under Judge William A. Porter in Corydon. Was admitted to the bar in 1854 and started a practice in Corydon. He was active as a campaign speaker for the Republican ticket in 1856, married Matilda McGrain in 1858, and in 1860 was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives as a Republican from a strong Democratic district. In the House, as chairman of the committee on military affairs, he did much to prepare the Indiana troops for service in the federal army.

Civil War[]

Gresham was comissioned lieutenant colonel of the 38th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on September 18, 1861. In December of that year, he was promoted to colonel and placed in command of the 53rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The 53rd Indiana subsequently took part in Grant's Tennessee campaign of 1862, including the Siege of Corinth and Battle of Vicksburg. During the Siege of Vicksburg, Colonel Gresham commanded a brigade. In August 1863 he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers, and was placed in command of the Federal forces at Natchez, Mississippi. In 1864 he commanded a division of the XVII Corps in Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, and before the Battle of Atlanta, on July 20, he received a gunshot wound to his knee that forced him to retire from active service, and left him lame for life. In 1865 he was appointed a brevet major general of volunteers.

Political career[]


Walter Quintin Gresham

After the war he practiced law at New Albany, Indiana, and in 1869 was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant United States District Judge for Indiana. In April 1883 he succeeded Timothy O. Howe (1816–1883) as Postmaster General in President Chester A. Arthur's cabinet, taking an active part in the suppression of the Louisiana Lottery, supervising the successful September, 1883 introduction of Postal Notes, and in September 1884 succeeded Charles J. Folger as United States Secretary of the Treasury. In the following month he resigned to accept an appointment to the United States circuit court for the Seventh Circuit (which preceded the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit). While serving as Postmaster General, Gresham, Oregon, was named after him.

Gresham was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1884 and 1888, in the latter year leading for some time in the balloting. His 1888 candidacy was supported by several notable agarian unions, including The Agricultural Wheel, Grange and Farmer's Alliance.[2] Gradually, however, he grew out of sympathy with the Republican leaders and policy, and in 1892 advocated the election of the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, for the presidency. From March 7, 1893, until his death at Washington, D.C., on May 28, 1895, he was Secretary of State in President Grover Cleveland's Cabinet. His grave is in Arlington National Cemetery.

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Matilda Gresham, "The Life of Walter Quintin Gresham" (1919)
  2. "The Farmers for Gresham.; Walter Q. Gresham. The Strong And Cunning Hand.". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois): p. 12. 1888-06-20. 
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Template:S-offTemplate:U.S. Secretary boxTemplate:U.S. Secretary box
Preceded by
Timothy O. Howe
United States Postmaster General
April 3, 1883 – September 4, 1884
Succeeded by
Frank Hatton
Legal offices


Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
June 16, 1891 – March 3, 1893
Succeeded by
James Graham Jenkins

Template:USSecState Template:USSecTreas Template:USPostGen Template:Arthur cabinet Template:Cleveland 24 cabinet

da:Walter Q. Gresham de:Walter Q. Gresham it:Walter Quintin Gresham he:וולטר גרשם ja:ウォルター・グレシャム no:Walter Q. Gresham ru:Гришам, Уолтер Квинтин fi:Walter Q. Gresham sv:Walter Q. Gresham zh:沃尔特·Q·格雷沙姆