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Blakeview: William Charles Cole Claiborne 

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

There's a lot of talk this week about who should be the state's next governor, but in this space we'll look back on the first elected governor — William Charles Cole Claiborne. He was appointed territorial governor by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 and was elected governor in 1812, after Louisiana became a state. Born near Richmond, Virginia in 1775, Claiborne later moved to Tennessee, where he was appointed a state Supreme Court justice and then was elected to Congress. He became a key ally of Jefferson during his presidency and was rewarded with the Louisiana governorship. Claiborne had his work cut out for him, both in establishing a new government and later leading the state during the War of 1812.   In their book Louisiana Governors: Rulers, Rascals and Reformers, historians Jack McGuire and Walter Greaves Cowan point out Claiborne's key success was "securing acceptance of the U.S. regime by the largely foreign population of Louisiana, for whom the customs, religion, language and government of the Americans were strange." The Louisiana Constitution allowed him to serve only one term as governor, after which he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He served there less than nine months, dying in 1817 at age 42.


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