John Walker Maury

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John Walker Maury

John Walker Maury (1809–1855) was an American politician. He served as the fifteenth Mayor of Washington, D.C. for one two-year term, from 1852 to 1854.

Early life[edit]

John Walker Maury was born in Caroline County, Virginia in 1809 to a Maury family, a prominent Virginia family. His great-grandfather, Reverend James Maury, had founded the Maury Classical School for Boys at which Thomas Jefferson was his student for two years. His grandfather, Walker Maury, was headmaster of a school in Williamsburg; his great-uncle, "Consul" James Maury, was the United States' first consul to Liverpool, England, appointed by George Washington; and his uncle, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a famous and accomplished oceanographer.

He moved at 17 to Washington City (as the capital was then called), where he established a law practice. He married five years later, in 1831, to Isabel Foyes, eventually producing 15 children.[1]

Political career[edit]

At the age of only 26, the popular John Walker Maury was elected to the Washington Common Council, serving for five years until declining to run again in 1840. However, one year afterward he was elected to the Board of Aldermen. His abilities were so admired that when he was only 37 years old, in 1846, he was selected to replace the late John P. Van Ness as the president of the National Bank of the Metropolis.

As mayor, Maury had two significant accomplishments. He and the philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran convinced Congress to appropriate funds for the Government Hospital for the Insane, now known as St. Elizabeths. He also oversaw the start of construction of Washington's public waterworks. Additionally, he appropriated the money to pay sculptor Clark Mills to complete the statue of Andrew Jackson that stands in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House.[2]

In 1854, at the peak of the Know-Nothing movement in American politics, Maury was unseated by Know-Nothing candidate John T. Towers. He died one year later, shortly before his 46th birthday. His son William Arden Maury would recall that "There was, perhaps, never a greater outpouring of the people from President Pierce and the venerable Senator Benton down to the humblest citizen than was seen at his funeral." [3]

He was interred at Congressional Cemetery in Washington.

Maury Elementary School in Washington D.C. was named in honor of John Walker Maury who was the 14th Mayor of the city of Washington.[4]


Political offices
Preceded by
Walter Lenox
Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Succeeded by
John T. Towers