World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

William W. Belknap

Article Id: WHEBN0000664032
Reproduction Date:

Title: William W. Belknap  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, Alphonso Taft, Zachariah Chandler, George Henry Williams, United States Secretary of War
Collection: 1829 Births, 1890 Deaths, Artworks Surveyed by Save Outdoor Sculpture!, Burials at Arlington National Cemetery, Deaths from Myocardial Infarction, Georgetown University Law Center Alumni, Grant Administration Cabinet Members, Impeached United States Officials, Iowa Democrats, Iowa Lawyers, Iowa Republicans, Members of the Iowa House of Representatives, Pennsylvania Republicans, People from Keokuk, Iowa, People from Newburgh, New York, People of Iowa in the American Civil War, Princeton University Alumni, Union Army Generals, United States Army Generals, United States Secretaries of War, Washington, D.C. Lawyers, Washington, D.C. Republicans
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William W. Belknap

William Worth Belknap
30th United States Secretary of War
In office
October 25, 1869 – March 2, 1876
President Ulysses S. Grant
Preceded by John Aaron Rawlins
Succeeded by Alphonso Taft
Personal details
Born (1829-09-22)September 22, 1829
Newburgh, New York, U.S.
Died October 12, 1890(1890-10-12) (aged 61)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Cora LeRoy
Carrie Tomlinson
Mrs. John Bower
Alma mater Princeton University
Georgetown University
Profession General; Lawyer
Politician; Author
Military service
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1865
Rank Brigadier General
Brevet Major General
Commands 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War

William Worth Belknap (September 22, 1829 – October 12, 1890) was a United States Army Major General, government administrator in Iowa, and United States Secretary of War. Although Belknap served with distinction in the Civil War, his tenure as President Grant's Secretary of War was controversial, for having indirectly sold weapons to France and for accepting illicit kickbacks in exchange for making a tradership appointment. The latter led to his resignation, impeachment by the House, and trial in the Senate during the summer of 1876.

Belknap, a native of New York, graduated from Princeton college in 1848, studied law at Atlanta Campaign earlier in 1864. In hand-to-hand combat at Atlanta, Belknap crossed an entrenchment, captured the Confederate commander, and physically dragged him over to the Union side. Belknap was appointed Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue by President Andrew Johnson and served four years. In 1869, President Grant appointed Belknap Secretary of War. As secretary, Belknap requisitioned portrait paintings by various artists for previous Secretaries of War to be displayed in honor of the United States Centennial. He also aided Chicago Fire victims in 1871 and pardoned James Webster Smith, America's first African American cadet at West Point. During the Reconstruction Era, Belknap's War Department and the U.S. military worked under supervision of President Ulysses S. Grant and the U.S. Attorney General's office to vigorously enforce the mandates of this policy upon the defeated South. In 1875, Belknap and President Grant secretly agreed to remove troops from the Black Hills after gold was discovered, in order to start an Indian War after Sioux Indians refused to sell their lands.

Belknap was the only former Cabinet secretary ever to have been impeached by the House of Representatives. A Congressional investigation in 1876 revealed that Belknap had received kickback payments in return for a lucrative contract. Starting in 1870, having authority by Congress to appoint trader ships, Belknap took graft money to support his wives and live a lavish lifestyle in Washington D.C. Belknap resigned his position as Secretary of War shortly before being impeached by the House. President Grant had accepted his resignation before the House voted on Belknap's impeachment, later that same day. Belknap was tried in the Senate, but was acquitted when the vote for conviction failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority. A significant number of Senators believed that the Senate did not have jurisdiction to put a private citizen on trial. Belknap, with his reputation damaged, returned to his law practice until his death in 1890.

Historically Belknap is noted for being a man of virtues and flaws. He was noted for his bravery during the Civil War, but while Secretary of War he undermined the military careers of William T. Sherman and Oliver Otis Howard. Belknap and his wives were supported by graft to live a lavish lifestyle in Washington D.C. at the expense of soldiers and Indians. However, Belknap was noted for his preservation of Mathew Brady's photographic history of the American Civil War and for starting the weather bureau.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Marriage and family 2
  • American Civil War 3
    • Shiloh, Corinth, and Vicksburg 3.1
    • Battle of Atlanta and March to the Sea 3.2
  • Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue 4
  • Secretary of War 5
    • War Department portrait gallery (1869) 5.1
    • Trader post monopolies (1870) 5.2
      • Fort Sill contract 5.2.1
    • French arms sales (1870) 5.3
    • Pardoned Cadet Smith (1871) 5.4
    • Aided Chicago fire victims (1871) 5.5
    • New Orleans riot (1872) 5.6
    • Eads steel bridge commission (1873) 5.7
    • Yellowstone expedition (1875) 5.8
    • Great Sioux War (1876) 5.9
    • House investigation and resignation (1876) 5.10
  • Senate trial and acquittal 6
  • Washington D.C. indictment 7
  • Later career 8
  • Death, burial, and memorial 9
  • Historical reputation 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • Sources 13
  • External links 14

Early life and career

Belknap's home in Keokuk

Belknap was born on September 22, 1829 in

Political offices
Preceded by
John Aaron Rawlins
U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: Ulysses S. Grant

Succeeded by
Alphonso Taft
  • Belknap biography,
  • "William W. Belknap". .  

External links

  • Dictionary of American Biography William Worth Belknap.  


  • "Belknap's Sudden Death" (PDF).  


  • Koster, John (June 2010). "The Belknap Scandal Fulcrum to Disaster". Wild West: 58–64. 


  • Belknap, William W.; Tyler, Loren S. (1887). William W. Belknap, ed. History of the Fifteenth Regiment, Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry.  
  • Cooper, Edward S. (2003). William Worth Belknap: an American disgrace.  
  • Coakley, Robert W. (1988). Davis S. Trask, ed. The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders, 1789-1878. Army Historical Series.  
  • Dawson III, Joseph G. (1982). Army Generals and Reconstruction: Louisiana, 1862-1877.  
  • Hofling, Charles K. (1981). Custer and the Little Big Horn: A Psychobiographical Inquiry.  
  • McFeely, William S. (1981). Grant: A Biography.  
  • Smith, Jean Edward (2001). Grant.  
  • Donovan, James (2008). A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn.  



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v New York Times (October 14, 1890), Belknap's Sudden Death
  2. ^ a b c Dictionary of American Biography (1936), William Worth Belknap
  3. ^ Iowa General Assembly-William Worth Belknap
  4. ^ a b c d e Koster (2010), pp. 59-60.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Form: An Illustrated Weekly Pub. Every Sat. in the Interests of American Society at Home and Abroad
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c d Arlington National Cemetery
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ingersoll (1880), pp. 566-577
  15. ^ a b c d e f Belknap-Tyler (1887), p. 609
  16. ^ Belknap-Tyler (1887), p. 24
  17. ^ a b c Koster (2010), p. 59
  18. ^ a b c Smith (2001), pp. 542-543
  19. ^ Bell (1981), p. 78
  20. ^ a b Donovan (2008), pp. 104-105
  21. ^ Simon ( 2003), The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol. 5, 1874
  22. ^ Smith (2001), p. 543
  23. ^ a b c d e f g Bell (1981), p. 8
  24. ^ a b Forty First Congress, Statutes At Large, pp. 319-320
  25. ^ Koster, p. 59-60
  26. ^ Koster pp. 58-59
  27. ^ a b c Koster, p. 58
  28. ^ Hofling (1981), p. 30
  29. ^ a b c d e f McFeely (1981), p. 58
  30. ^ a b c d e McFeely (1981), pp. 150-151
  31. ^ Doukas (2003), p. 80
  32. ^ McFeely (1981), p. 375
  33. ^ McFeely (1981), pp. 375-376.
  34. ^ McFeely (1981), p. 377
  35. ^ McFeely (1981), pp. 377-378
  36. ^ a b c d McFeely (1981), p. 378
  37. ^ a b c McFeely (1981), p. 379
  38. ^ New York Times (August 23, 1873), The Military Academy Report of the Board of West Point Visitors
  39. ^ Cowan's (June 24, 2009), West Point Superintendent Thomas H. Ruger Archive
  40. ^ Belknap (Nov. 17, 1871), Frohne's Historic Military
  41. ^ Art of the Possible Online (July 3, 2009), James Webster Smith and Henry O. Flipper
  42. ^ Reading Eagle, Armies First Black Cadet Gets Bars 123 Years Later, p. A13
  43. ^ a b c d New York Times (October 11, 1871), The Ruined City
  44. ^ Coakley (1988), pp. 316-317
  45. ^ Coakley (1988), pp. 317-318
  46. ^ a b Dawson (1982), pp. 117-118
  47. ^ a b Coakley (1988), pp. 318-319
  48. ^ a b Coakley (1988), p. 319
  49. ^ a b Coakley (1988), pp. 319-320
  50. ^ a b Coakley (1988), p. 320
  51. ^ a b Coakley (1988), pp. 321-322
  52. ^ a b c Stevens (2008), pp. 99-100
  53. ^ a b c Stevens (2008), pp. 100-101
  54. ^ a b Stevens (2008), pp. 101-102
  55. ^ Eads Bridge infosite,; accessed June 19, 2015.
  56. ^ a b c Scott (2007), p. 105
  57. ^ Cambell (1909) , p. 72
  58. ^ a b Scott (2007), pp. 105-106
  59. ^ a b Bonney, Orrin H. (1970). Battle Drums and Geysers-The Life And Journals Of Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, Soldier And Explorer Of The Yellowstone And Snake River Regions. Chicago: Swallow Press. pp. 47–50. 
  60. ^ Scott (2007), p. 106
  61. ^ Scott (2007), pp. 106-107
  62. ^ a b c d e Jeffrey Ostler (2004) The Plains Sioux and U.S. Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee, pp 60-62
  63. ^ Secretary of the Interior to the Secretary of War, February 1, 1876, National Archives
  64. ^ Colonel Drum to Gen. Terry and Gen. Crook, February 8, 1876, National Archives
  65. ^ Collins, Jr., Charles D. Atlas of the Sioux Wars, Second edition, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute Press, 2006, Map 14, 15
  66. ^ a b c d e f g h McFeely (1981), pp. 151-152
  67. ^ Hinds (1907), section 2444, pp. 903-904.
  68. ^ Hinds (1907), section 2454, p. 922.
  69. ^ Woldow (Feb. 2004), Vermont Law Library Newsletter
  70. ^ Hinds (1907), section 2459, p. 934.
  71. ^ a b c d McFeely (1974), p. 152
  72. ^ a b New York Times (August 02, 2012), Acquittal of Belknap
  73. ^ a b New York Times, The Suit Against Gen. Belknap
  74. ^ a b c d The Milwaukee Journal, Dying A Solitary Death
  75. ^ Spokane Falls Review, Death Of General Belknap
  76. ^ M.R. Patterson (2003). "William Worth Belknap". Arlington National Cemetery Website. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  77. ^ a b Smithsonian (1995). "William Worth Belknap Monument, (sculpture).". Save Outdoor Sculpture. Smithsonian. Retrieved 31 December 2010. 
  78. ^ a b Cooper (2003) William Worth Belknap: An American Disgrace, p 13
  79. ^ Cooper (2003) William Worth Belknap: An American Disgrace, pp 12-13


See also

In 2003 biographer Edward S. Cooper described Belknap as a man of virtues and flaws.[78] According to Cooper, Belknap "willing turned to graft to support the social ambitions of his wives" while living a lavish lifestyle in Washington D.C. at the expense of soldiers and Indians during the Gilded Age.[79] Belknap is positively credited by Cooper for creating and expanding the weather bureau, reforming the military justice system, and for preserving Mathew Brady's photographic record of the Civil War.[78]

Historical reputation

BORN 1829 - DIED 1890

A plaque on the front of the granite base is inscribed:

Belknap was buried in Section 1 at Arlington National Cemetery on October 16, 1890. The ceremony was conducted by St. John's Episcopal Church.[76] The site features a granite gravestone with a bronze relief memorial designed by sculptor Carl Rohl-Smith. The bronze relief (2 ft. x 2 ft.) bust shows Belknap wearing a dress uniform with his hair parted on the proper right side as well as a long, full beard. The relief is placed on the front of a granite base (6 ft. x 5 ft. x 5 ft.). This piece was surveyed by the Smithsonian's Save Outdoor Sculpture! survey in 1995 and its condition was described as treatment being needed. The relief is signed by the artist: C.R. 1897.[77]

Belknap died suddenly from a massive heart attack in Washington, D.C. on Sunday October 12, 1890.[1] The New York Times stated his death occurred on Sunday between 1:00 A.M and 9:00 A.M., having died alone, at his residence in the Evans building on New York Avenue.[1][74] Prior to his death, Belknap had played cards with his friends on Saturday night, then retired upstairs for the evening.[1][74] Belknap's wife, Amanda, was in New York City at the time.[74] At 8:30 A.M. on Monday morning, Belknap's business associate, John W. Cameron, picked up Belknap's mail on the first floor of Belknap's home and business residence and proceeded to the second floor where Belknap lived.[1] Cameron and a maid found that all the rooms had been locked.[1] A janitor was summoned to open the doors, and a step ladder was used to peer into Belknap's bedroom.[1] Belknap had placed his hat and coat on a chair and his lifeless body was found on his bed.[1] Belknap's left arm had been raised toward his head with his left hand tightly clenched.[1] Belknap's bed clothes were disheveled and he appeared to have struggled for breath.[1] The physician who initially examined Belknap's body stated Belknap had died of apoplexy, however, an autopsy by the coroner revealed that Belknap had suffered heart disease.[1][75] The War Department was notified and received with "genuine sorrow" Belknap's death, since Belknap had been a popular Secretary of War.[74]

Belknap Gravestone and Memorial

Death, burial, and memorial

Belknap moved to Philadelphia, after resigning as Secretary of War, then returned to Washington to resume the practice of law. Belknap, his reputation damaged by the Senate trial, never returned to hold political office. Durning the 1880 presidential race Belknap was lampooned in a political cartoon against the candicacy of Ulysess S. Grant's third term presidential bid for office. Belknap was portrayed as a corrupt associate to Grant. In 1887, Belknap coauthored the book History of the Fifteenth Regiment, Iowa Veteran Volunteer Infantry.

Later career

After his Senate acquittal, Belknap was indicted by a grand jury on August 1, 1876, and set for trial in the Washington D.C. District Court.[72] However, the district courts were unlikely to convict for any crimes that involved less than $47,000.[72] Washington D.C. District Attorney H.H. Wells, who was in charge of the Belknap case, was advised by Attorney General Alphonso Taft, upon President Ulysses S. Grant's instructions, that the evidence against Belknap would not sustain a conviction in court and that Belknap had suffered enough during the Senate trial.[73] On February 8, 1877, Belknap's case, indictment No. 11,262, was dismissed by Justice McArthur.[73]

Washington D.C. indictment

President Grant's Attorney General Alphonso Taft requested charges against Belknap be dropped

Belknap was tried by the Senate, which ruled by a vote of 37-29 that it had jurisdiction despite the resignation.[70] However, Belknap was subsequently acquitted of the charges when the vote for conviction fell short of the required two-thirds majority.[71] Twenty-three of the senators who voted for Belknap's acquittal believed that the Senate did not have jurisdiction.[71] Grant's speedy acceptance of Belknap's resignation undoutedly saved Belknap from conviction.[71] Grant replaced Belknap with Alphonso Taft as Secretary of War.[71]

Senate trial and acquittal

On February 29, 1876, during the Great Sioux War, upon rumors that Belknap was receiving profits from traderships, Representative Hiester Clymer launched an investigation into the War Department.[66] Although Clymer and Belknap were friends, Clymer was an extreme partisan Democrat who strongly opposed Republican Reconstruction. Caleb P. Marsh testified that Belknap had personally taken Fort Sill tradership profit payments in exchange for a tradership partnership agreement between Marsh and Fort Sill sutler John S. Evans.[66] On March 1, Belknap and his counsel went before Clymer's committee, however, Belknap declined to testify.[66] In a White House meeting on March 2, Belknap appeared before President Grant, who asked for Belknap's resignation.[66] Earlier that morning, Treasury Secretary Benjamin Bristow had told President Grant of Belknap's impending impeachment.[66] President Grant accepted Belknap's resignation at 10:20 A.M.[66] Clymer's committee was informed of Belknap's resignation at 11:00 A.M.[66] Although Belknap's resignation caused great commotion among House members, it did not forestall action by the Clymer committee. The committee unanimously passed resolutions to impeach Belknap and drew up five articles of impeachment to be sent to the Senate.[66] Belknap, by then a private citizen, was impeached by a unanimous vote of the House of Representatives.[67] Speaker of the House Michael C. Kerr wrote to the Senate that Belknap resigned "with intent to evade the proceedings of impeachment against him."[68] Belknap's case was constitutionally unprecedented and would serve as reference for nine other civilian officials resignations before trial, including President Richard Nixon.[69]

U.S. Rep Hiester Clymer investigated Belknap's War Department

House investigation and resignation (1876)

In late July 1874 a U.S. Army expedition under Col. Alphonso Taft was appointed by Grant Secretary of War. The Great Sioux War ended in April 1877 under President Rutherford B. Hayes.

President Grant's Secretary of Interior Zachariah Chandler handed over hostile Indians to Belknap's War Department in February 1876

Great Sioux War (1876)

During the summer of 1875, Sec. Belknap decided to explore Yellowstone the nation's first national park, signed into law by President Grant on March 2, 1872.[56] Accompanying Sec. Belknap were Col. Randolph B. Marcy, Lt. Col. James W. Forsyth, and Chicago businessman William E. Strong.[56] Leading the expedition was Lt. Gustavus C. Doane, who had led the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition in 1870, the first extensive federal survey of the Yellowstone territory, that was responsible in part for the formation of Yosemite National Park.[56][57] Lt. Doane left Fort Ellis, where he was stationed, and made preparations for Sec. Belknap's party arrival at Mammoth Hot Springs.[58] On July 26, Sec. Belknap's party reached Fort Ellis and proceeded to meet Lt. Doane at Mammoth Hot Springs.[58] Led by Lt. Doane, Belknap's party attempted to retrace the original 1870 Expedition in addition to hunting for any big game found on the journey.[59] Sec. Belknap's party included 24 soldiers and two ambulances.[60] The two-week expedition proved to be troublesome as Lt. Doane was unable to find big game to hunt and after briefly viewing the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Sec. Belknap's party had to wait several hours before Lt. Doane finally found the trail.[59][61]

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Yellowstone expedition (1875)

President Grant reminded Belknap that Congress had authorized the construction of the bridge.[53] President Grant was convinced that Congress would not authorize money to tear the bridge down, overruled Belknap's decision, and told Belknap in person "You certainly cannot destroy this structure on your own authority...General, you had better drop this case." [54] Belknap was embarrassed, stood up blushing, bowed to President Grant, and left the meeting.[54] The Eads Bridge was completed in 1874 and is still in active use today.[55]

In 1873, the construction of the America's first steel arched bridge, named after James B. Eads, was nearing completion in St. Louis.[52] Belknap, under influence from the Keokuk Packet steamliner company, was opposed to its completion. He desired the bridge torn down, so steamers would not have to lower their smoke stacks to go under the bridge.[52] Sec. Belknap created a commission to either destroy the bridge, or to build a canal around the bridge for steamers to pass.[52] Eads, who was friends with Grant, visited Washington D.C. in November 1873 before Belknap submitted the report to Congress, and asked that Grant rescue the bridge from destruction.[53] Belknap stated he had the authority to keep the rivers from being obstructed according to federal law.[53]

Poster of the construction of Eads Bridge in four phases. 1874

Eads steel bridge commission (1873)

[50] On January 22, as both Gov. Warmoth and Carter formed rival militias and the two were ready for war, President Grant issued orders through the War Department for Emory to use troops if necessary.[51] When Emory communicated Grant's message to both Gov. Warmoth and Carter, the two rival factions dispersed and a 10-month peace was kept.[51]

New Orleans riot (1872)

From October 8, 1871 to October 10 a devastating fire burned and destroyed much of Chicago. The fire killed hundreds of people and caused $200,000,000 in damages. Over 100,000 citizens were left destitute and homeless.[43] Sec. Belknap, concerned for the victims, promptly took action on October 9 and sent food rations from St. Louis, tents from Jeffersonville for the many homeless persons, and two company troops from the Omaha infantry to keep peace and order.[43] On October 10, Sec. Belknap in writing a dispatch to Lt. General Philip Sheridan stated that the fire was "...a national calamity. The sufferers have the sincere sympathy of the nation."[43] Sec. Belknap ordered military officers around the nation to send supplies to Chicago "liberally and promptly".[43]

The 1871 Chicago Fire caused massive destruction and human casualties.

Aided Chicago fire victims (1871)

During the Reconstruction Era, in 1870, former slave James Webster Smith, through private sponsorship, became the first African American cadet to enroll at West Point.[32] Smith, however, was immediately and severely hazed by white cadets. It is believed that the Academy's military establishment was determined to force Smith out.[33] One of Sec. Belknap's nephews, a cadet at the Academy, had been reprimanded (but not otherwise punished) for hazing Smith.[34] In one instance, Smith was arrested and taken to a military court for fighting a white cadet. However, Major General Oliver O. Howard, an advocate for African American civil rights and in charge of the trial, acquitted Smith of all charges and gave him a light punishment for unruly conduct.[35] This outraged the Academy's Bureau of Military Justice, who made a formal protest to Belknap on November 20, 1870.[36] In a second instance in January 1871, Smith was arrested again for not holding his head up when marching, after being severely harassed by white cadets.[36] This time Smith was convicted and his case was appealed to Belknap.[36] Smith was pardoned by Belknap and allowed to return to West Point as a plebe.[36] In 1874, Smith continued at West Point, until, Prof. Peter S. Michie, a white supremacist, gave Smith a private test, in defiance of traditional West Point practice.[37] Smith was forced out of West Point after having failed the test and was denied a retest by Michie.[37] Ironically, Belknap believed Smith had been shown more favor than white cadets at West Point.[37] Major General Thomas H. Ruger, appointed Superintendent of West Point in 1871, reduced the amount of hazing of cadets by 1873 and made strong efforts to eradicate the "discreditable" practice.[38] Belknap admired Ruger's performance as West Point Superintendent and stated, "I am pretty satisfied with the success of your management, and private conversations with officers of all grades, & with civilians too, who have been there since your accession..."[39][40] Other African Americans followed Smith's entrance into West Point and Henry O. Flipper became the first to graduate from the Academy in 1877.[41] Smith was finally commissioned an officer by West Point in 1997, one hundred and twenty three years later.[42]

Major General Oliver O. Howard acquitted Cadet Smith

Pardoned Cadet Smith (1871)

During the Franco-Prussian War that lasted from 1870 to 1871, the United States declared neutrality.[30] Sec. Belknap had been criticized and accused by Grant Administration critics, Charles Sumner and Carl Schurz, for violating neutrality and selling arms to French agents.[30] Sec. Belknap sold obsolete U.S. War Department firearms to a neighbor of the Remington family. Samuel Remington, as arms-selling agent to the French Government, subsequently arranged the sale of those firearms to France.[30][31] Sec. Belknap subsequently sold 54,000,000 cartridges to the French Army that would specifically fit the firearms he had previously sold to the Remington neighbor.[30] A Congressional investigation which took place in 1872 exonerated Sec. Belknap, and no criminal charges for impeachment were initiated.[30]

French arms sales (1870)

In 1870, Sec. Belknap's second wife, Carita, successfully lobbied her husband to appoint a New York contractor (Caleb P. Marsh) to a trader post at Fort Sill located in the Indian Territory.[29] John S. Evans, however, had already been appointed to that position.[29] To settle the question of ownership, regarding the tradership, an illicit partnership contract, authorized by Sec. Belknap, was drawn. The contract allowed Evans to keep the tradership at Fort Sill, provided that he pay $12,000 of the annual profits to Marsh. Evans would be allowed to keep the remaining profits.[29] Marsh, in turn, was required to split half of his receipts from the contract, $6,000 per year, with Carita. However, Carita only received one payment before her death (tuberculosis after childbirth) in 1870. After Carita's death, Marsh continued to pay Sec. Belknap Carita's share of the profits, for the benefit of her child.[29] Although the child died in 1871, Sec. Belknap continued to accept quarterly kickback payments from Marsh.[29] When Sec. Belknap remarried, to Carita's sister, Amanda, both Sec. Belknap and Amanda continued to accept the quarterly payments from Marsh.[29]

Fort Sill contract

In 1870, Sec. Belknap lobbied Congress, and on July 15 was granted the sole power to appoint and license sutlers with ownership rights to highly lucrative "traderships" at U.S. military forts in the Western frontier.[17][24] The power to appoint traderships by the Commanding General of the Army, at that time being William T. Sherman, was repealed.[24] Having been granted the sole power to appoint traderships, Sec. Belknap further empowered those traderships with a virtual monopoly. Soldiers stationed at forts with Belknap appointed sutlers could only buy supplies through the authorized tradership.[17] These monopoly traderships were considered good investments during the Gilded Age.[25] Soldiers on the Western frontier, who were thus forced to buy supplies at higher than market prices, were left destitute as a result.[26] Hostile American Indians bought supplies at these traderships, including high-quality breech-loaders and repeating rifles.[27] Soldiers, however, were requisitioned by Sec. Belknap's War Department inferior breech-loaders that jammed on the third round.[27] The policy affected the firepower of the U.S. troops and may have contributed to the defeat of Col. Custer and the 7th Cavalry at Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.[27] Custer, however, had refused for unclear reasons to bring Gatling guns with the ability to shoot 150 rounds per minute, that would have strongly increased his regimental fire power.[28]

Belknap took authority away from General Sherman to grant traderships. Healy 1866

Trader post monopolies (1870)

Upon assuming office in 1869, Sec. Belknap conceived an idea to make a series of portraits of previous civilian heads of the War Department in honor of the then upcoming 1876 U.S. Centennial.[23] Sec. Belknap hired renowned artists Daniel Huntington, Robert Weir, and Henry Ulke and had them paint portraits of the long list of his predecessors in the War Department.[23] Sec. Belknap's own portrait was painted by Daniel Huntington in 1874.[23] The Secretary of War portraits were then assembled into a distinct collection to be viewed by the public.[23] The portrait painting of the Secretary of War was continued by Sec. Belknap's successors.[23] In addition to secretaries, portraits were made of other persons notable for their war conduct distinction.[23] Sec. Belknap has been given "unqualified credit" for his creation of the War Department gallery in Washington D.C.[23]

War Department portrait gallery (1869)

On the advice of General of the Army William T. Sherman, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Belknap to Secretary of War on October 25, 1869, to take the place of Sec. John A. Rawlins who had died in office earlier of tuberculosis.[18] Belknap at that time was a protégé of Sherman's, having fought in the Atlanta Campaign and accompanied him on Sherman's March to the Sea.[18] President Grant believed Belknap had served capably during the American Civil War and deserved to head the War Department.[18] After his appointment, Sec. Belknap imposed or recommended several positive initiatives. He recommended that Congress act to fix the date of May 1 as the start of the fiscal year. He inaugurated the preparation of historical reports by post commanders, and proposed actions to preserve Yellowstone National Park.[19] Not all of Sec. Belknap's actions were well received, however. He initiated a protocol that bypassed and weakened the authority of General of the Army Sherman. Subsequently, in 1874, Sherman left Washington D.C. and moved his headquarters to St. Louis.[20] Major General Oliver O. Howard was also ostracized by Sec. Belknap. While stationed in Oregon, in 1874, Major General Howard candidly expressed his opinion of Sec. Belknap. Howard stated that Belknap was deceptive to "General Grant", that Belknap was not a true Republican, and that he associated nightly with "foul-mouthed" Democratic Kentucky associates. Howard also opined that Belknap was "not in favor" of the President's Indian Peace policy.[21] That statement is likely related to a conflict, during Sec. Belknap's tenure, between the U.S. War Department and the U.S. Department of Interior as to which Department would control the destiny of American Indians.[20] In the context of this era, Belknap's actions may not be seen as overtly aggressive or overreaching. In terms of Reconstruction, historian Jean Edward Smith, notes that Grant, former General of the Army, supervised the use of the U.S. military and that Belknap "had less freedom of action then other cabinet members."[22]

William W. Belknap
30th U.S. Secretary of War
Huntington 1874

Secretary of War

In 1865, after the American Civil War had ended, President Andrew Johnson appointed Belknap, now retired from military service, to the post of Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue. In that position, Belknap was responsible for collecting millions of dollars in federal taxes.[17] Belknap served in that position for four years, until he was appointed Secretary of War by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1869.[4] During his term as Collector, Belknap associated himself with the Republican Party in the period of Reconstruction.[13]

Iowa Collector of Internal Revenue

[1] On August 24, 1865, Brevet Maj. Gen Belknap was mustered out of the U.S. Army.[1] Belknap was promoted Brevet Major General on March 13, 1865 as a reward for his bravery in the Atlanta Campaign.[1].March to the Sea After Atlanta was taken by the Union Army, Belknap accompanied Maj. Gen. Sherman on his [15][1] On June 8, 1864 Col. Belknap and the veteran

Battle of Atlanta

Battle of Atlanta and March to the Sea

In March 1862, Maj. Belknap and the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry were finally mustered into military action.[14] Traveling by steamer from St. Louis, Belknap was sent to the front at the Battle of Shiloh; arriving at Pittsburgh Landing on April 6 serving under the Army of the Tennessee.[14] Belknap and his men were ordered to the front to serve under Maj. Gen Benjamin M. Prentiss at the Hornet's Nest.[14] Belknap and his raw 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry troops were forced to fight like regular army veterans on Prentiss depleted line.[14] Belknap fought bravely, was slightly wounded, and his horse was shot and killed from under him.[14] After Shiloh, Belknap served as acting commander of the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Corinth.[14] Col. Hugh T. Reid, commander of the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, had been severely injured in the neck at Shiloh and removed from active duty.[15] Col. Reid stated that at Shiloh Belknap, "was always in the right place at the right time, directing and encouraging officers and men as coolly as a veteran"[2] At Corinth, Belknap was noted for his "conspicuous gallantry".[2] After Corinth, Belknap and the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry for a time served on guard duty.[14][15] Belknap was formerly promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel on August 20, 1862.[13] Belknap was promoted from Lieutenant Colonel to Colonel of the Iowa 15th Volunteer Infantry on June 3, 1863.[13][14] Belknap's primary military operation took place at the Siege of Vicksburg until July 4, 1863.[1][14] On December 24, 1863 Belknap was in command of the 11th Iowa Volunteer Infantry and the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry reinforcing Redbone, Mississippi, south of Vicksburg.[15] On February 26, 1864 Belknap served as Provost Marshall of Post in Canton, Mississippi.[15]

Shiloh, Corinth, and Vicksburg

When the American Civil War started, Belknap, a loyal Democrat, joined the Union Army in the Autumn of 1861 and was commissioned Major in charge recruiting the 15th Iowa Volunteer Infantry on December 7.[1][13] Belknap, a tall and handsome man, was naturally suited to the rigors of being a soldier and he taught new enlistment companies coming into Iowa.[14]

Maj. Gen. William W. Belknap

American Civil War

Belknap was married three times. The first was in 1854 to Cora LeRoy who died in 1862.[4] Belknap remarried to Carita S. Tomlinson from Kentucky in January, 1869.[4] Carita, however, died of tuberculosis shortly after childbirth in December, 1870.[4] Belknap remarried a third and final time on December 11, 1873 to Amanda Tomlinson Bower, widow of John Bower and Carita's sister.[4] Belknap was the father of Hugh R. Belknap, U.S. Representative from Illinois. With his third wife he had one daughter, Alice Belknap, born November 28, 1874. [5][6][7] She was considered one of Washington society's most sought after belles. [8] In 1897 she reportedly converted to Judaism for her engagement with Paul May, an attache of the Belgian legation in Washington,[9] [10] however, the much gossiped engagement was broken the following year, and Belknap eventually married one William Barklie Henry of Philadelphia in June 1898. [11] [12]

Marriage and family

[3][1] as a Democrat for a single term from 1857 to 1858.Iowa House of Representatives He served in the [1], and entered into a law partnership with Ralph B. Low.Keokuk, Iowa In 1851, he was admitted to the bar, moved to [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from iCloud eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.