Talbot's administration was despotic. He was famous for writing settlers' names on the settlement map in pencil. However, his insistence on provision of good roads, maintenance of the roads by the settlers, and the removal of Crown and clergy reserves from main roads quickly resulted in the Talbot Settlement becoming the most prosperous part of the province. Eventually, however, he began to make political demands on the settlers, after which his power was reduced by the provincial government.
Talbot founded the town of St. Thomas, Ontario.
Talbot served many years in the Massachusetts legislature, sat in the governor's council in 1864- 1869, and in 1872 was chosen lieutenant-governor, as a Republican. On the election of Governor William B. Washburne to the United States Senate in 1873 he became governor, but lost the election in 1874, but in 1878 he was elected and served until 1880.