Leroy Pope Walker was born to John Williams Walker (1789-April 23, 1823) and Matilda Pope in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama on February 7, 1817. He attended University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, studied law at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. Over the next several years he practiced law, became actively involved in politics, and married Eliza Dickson Pickett in Autauga County, Alabama on July 29, 1850.

     He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and served 1843-1844, 1847 to 1851, and from 1847 to 1850 he was Speaker of the House. In 1850, he was elected Judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Alabama, but resigned in 1853 to serve another year in the state legislature. Walker chaired the Alabama delegation to the 1860 Democratic National Convention, and was one of several who walked out amidst arguments over the issues of slavery and territorial expansion, which eventually lead to the split of the party into Northern and Southern platforms.

     One of Alabama's most prominent secessionists, he was appointed the first Confederate Secretary of War on February 21, 1861. On April 11th, after President Jefferson Davis (June 3, 1808-December 6, 1889) and the Cabinet as whole deliberated, Walker authorized the bombardment of Fort Sumter which commenced at 4:30 a.m. the next day. He was also largely responsible for the organization and recruitment of troops, and mobilizing the Army. Much of the Confederacy's success in battle during the first year of the war were due, in part, to his efforts while in office.

     Immediately following his resignation on September 16, 1861, he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. He commanded garrisons at Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama, and was also briefly in charge of District of North Alabama before resigning his commission on March 31, 1862. From April 1864 to war's end, he served as a military court judge and held the rank of Colonel.

     After the war, he returned to his law practice and was involved with several high profile cases. In 1883, he gained an acquittal in his defense of Frank James (January 10, 1843-February 15, 1918), a former Confederate and the brother of Jesse James (September 5, 1847-April 3, 1882). He continued his involvement in politics as well. He was President of the Alabama State Constitutional Convention in 1875, and was once again a state delegate to the Democratic National Convention the following year. Walker died on August 23, 1884, and is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama.

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