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Register of the Cannon-Walker Family Collection, 1891-1950
Mss255  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Marion Cannon is largely represented in this collection by correspondence, speeches, newspaper clippings, political pamphlets and biographical materials relevant to his most important years of public life (1890-1895). Also of interest is his diary of a train trip from Emigrant Gap to Wheeling, West Virginia (1872). Marion R. Walker is represented by correspondence, speeches, position papers, clippings, government and party publications, and biographical materials related to his congressional election campaign (1949-50). Donald B. Walker is represented in this collection chiefly by notes he has taken on non-White minorities in San Joaquin county agriculture. Of particular interest are Walker's indexes of minorities and agricultural topics derived from local newspapers and county land records (1900-1925).
Background
The Cannon-Walker family came to California in 1850. The family have been particularly active in mining, agriculture and public affairs. They are represented in this collection by the papers of men from three different generations: Marion Cannon (1834-1920); Marion R. Walker, Cannon's grandson (1915-); and, Donald B. Walker, PhD., Cannon's great grandson, (1941-). Trained in blacksmithing, Marion Cannon practiced that trade near Nevada City, using his earnings to acquire mining claims. By 1857, he owned the Vulcan Mine, the fourth largest hydraulic operation in Nevada County. Cannon gradually became involved in public affairs, being first elected State Grand Steward of the Masonic Order (1860) and subsequently Recorder of Nevada County (1867). In 1873, he purchased land in Ventura County and moved his family there. Cannon farmed barley, beans, apricots, and walnuts for more than a decade before again involving himself in public life. As a farmer, he came to know at first-hand the railroad's strangle-hold on the distribution of farm produce. Although a lifelong Democrat, Cannon saw that neither political party in California was sufficiently free of railroad influence to fight its excesses for the popular good. Thus, he helped to organize farmers, outside the two party system, in opposition to the railroad's power: first, through the Farmers' Alliance, and, later, through the Populist Party. An effective leader, Cannon was chosen first President of the California Farmers' Alliance (1890) and two years later, when the Alliance joined with labor organizations to create the Populist Party, delegates to the State Convention chose Marion Cannon to run for the 6th Congressional District seat, representing the voters of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. He was subsequently nominated by the Democratic Party, as well, and, in November 1892, Cannon was elected to the House of Representatives, where he served one term before being abandoned by the Populist Party as a result of disagreements with other Party leaders over his association with the Democratic Party. Cannon's political views were generally those expressed in the Populist Party platform of 1892. He favored woman suffrage, government ownership of railways and the popular election of senators, but was less committed to the cause of Free Silver.
Availability
Collection is open for research.