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Thomas Walker Gilmer (April 6, 1802February 28, 1844) was an Americanmarker statesman.

Personal life

Gilmer was born to George and Eliza Gilmer at their farm, "Gilmerton", in Albemarle County, Virginiamarker. He was taught by private tutors in Charlottesvillemarker and Stauntonmarker, and studied law in Liberty (now Bedfordmarker), Virginia.

Gilmer practiced law in Charlottesville. He was, briefly, editor of the Virginia Advocate, a Charlottesville newspaper.

On May 23, 1826, Gilmer married Anne Elizabeth Baker of Shepherdstownmarker, now in West Virginiamarker. Her late father, John Baker, had been a member of the United States House of Representatives. They had a son, George Hudson Gilmer, a Presbyterian minister.

Political career

Sketch of Thomas W.
Gilmer first served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1829-36, representing Albemarle County. He returned in 1839-40 and was named Speaker.

On February 14, 1840, Gilmer was elected Governor of Virginia. While in office, he had a disagreement with the Virginia General Assemblymarker over the extradition of slave stealers, which played a part in his running for Congress the following winter.

In March 1841 he entered the 27th Congress, and although he had been elected as a Whig, voted to sustain Democratic President John Tyler's vetoes. He was re-elected to the 28th Congress as a Democrat in 1842 by a close vote. His competitor, William L. Goggin, contested the result without success.

As one of President Tyler's close Virginia allies in Washington, Gilmer was involved in the effort by the Tyler Administration to make the annexation of Texas the basis for his failed bid for reelection in 1844. On February 15, 1844, he was appointed by Tyler to be U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and resigned his seat in Congress on February 18 to enter on the duties of the office, but 10 days later was killed by the bursting of a gun on board USS Princeton while on a tour of the Potomac River. His death meant the loss of a valuable ally for Tyler and some historians suggest that it may have delayed the Texas annexation effort.


Gilmer is buried at Mount Air Cemetery in Gilbert, Virginiamarker. A year after his death, Gilmer County, Virginiamarker was named in his honor; it is now part of West Virginia. The city of Gilmer, Texasmarker is also named for him. (Gilmer is the county seat of Upshur County, Texasmarker, named after Abel Parker Upshur, another victim of the USS Princeton explosion.)

Two ships of the United States Navy have been named USS Gilmer in his honor.


  1. Jamerson, p. 61
  2. Lewis, p. 686


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