Belknap, William Worth

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

William Worth Belknap, 1829–90, U.S. Secretary of War (1869–76), b. Newburgh, N.Y. After practicing law in Iowa, he served in the Civil War, was a division commander under Sherman in Georgia and the Carolinas, and became a major general in 1865. An internal revenue collector in Iowa (1865–69), he was made Secretary of War by Grant. In 1876 a political scandal broke when a House committee found evidence that Belknap had indirectly received annual bribes from the trader at an Indian post. Impeachment was unanimously voted. Grant accepted Belknap's resignation. At the Senate trial, the vote was 35 "guilty," 25 "not guilty" —falling short of the two thirds necessary to convict. Of the 25, 22 declared that they voted "not guilty" on the ground that the Senate lacked jurisdiction after Belknap's accepted resignation. He later practiced law in Washington, D.C.