Hunter, Robert Mercer Taliaferro (tŏlˈəvər) [key], 1809–87, American statesman, b. Essex co., Va. He was a U.S. Representative for Virginia (1837–43, 1845–47), serving as speaker from 1839 to 1841. Hunter became a leading states' rights Democrat and supported John C. Calhoun for the presidency in 1844. He entered the U.S. Senate in 1847, where he became a prominent spokesman for the Southern cause. He resigned in 1861 to become the Confederate secretary of state (1861–62) and then a Confederate senator (1862–65). He participated in 1865 in the futile Hampton Roads Peace Conference. Imprisoned for several months after the war, Hunter helped organize (1867) a conservative party that won control of the Virginia state government from the radicals in 1869.
See C. H. Ambler, ed., Correspondence of Robert M. T. Hunter, 1826–1876 (1918); biography by H. H. Simms (1935).
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