Walter Colton, an American clergyman and writer, born in Rutland, Vt., May 9, 1797, died in Philadelphia, Jan. 22, 1851. He graduated at Yale college in 1822, at Andover theological seminary in 1825, and became professor of moral philosophy and belles-lettres in the scientific and military academy at Middletown, Conn. In 1830 he edited a journal in Washington, and in the following year was appointed chaplain in the navy, and ordered to the Mediterranean. While on that station he gathered the materials for his "Ship and Shore in Madeira, Lisbon, and the Mediterranean" (New York, 1835), "Visit to Athens and Constantinople" (1836), "Land and Lee in the Bosporus and AEgean" (1851), and "Notes on France and Italy" (1851). In 1835 he was assigned to the naval station at Charles-town, Mass.; in 1837 he edited the "Colonization Herald," and in 1838 was assigned to the chaplaincy of the naval station at Philadelphia. In 1845 he was ordered to the Pacific coast, and on July 28, 1846, was appointed alcalde of Monterey in California by the American military authorities. Having discharged the duties of this office for nearly two months under a military commission, he was elected by the citizens of Monterey as alcalde or chief judge, with a jurisdiction extending over 300 m. of territory.
He established the first newspaper and built the first school house in California. The first public announcement of the discovery of gold in California was made by him in a letter to the Philadelphia "North American," in May, 1848. He returned to Philadelphia in 1849. His "Deck and Port" and "Three Years in California" were published in 1850; and a volume of "Literary Remains," with a memoir by Henry T. Cheever, in 1851.