to 1860 the development of the state in population, agriculture and commerce was very rapid. Donaldsonville was the (nominal) capital in 1825-1831, Baton Rouge in 1849-1864 and again after 1882. At other times New Orleans has been the capital, and here too have always been various state offices which in other states ordinarily are in the state capital.
By an ordinance of secession passed on the 26th of January 1861, Louisiana joined the Confederate States. In the first year there was very little military activity in the state, but in April 1862 Admiral D. G. Farragut, with a powerful fleet, ascended the Mississippi past Forts Jackson and St Philip, which defended the approach to New Orleans, and a military force under General B. F. Butler occupied that city. The navigation of the river being secured by this success and by later operations in the north ending in July 1863 with the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the state was wholly at the mercy of the Union armies. The intervening months were signalized by the capture of Baton Rouge in May 1862—the Confederates vainly attempting to recapture it in August. Later, in April 1864, the Confederates under General Richard Taylor won a success against the Unionists under General N. P. Banks at Sabine Cross Roads near Mansfield and were themselves repulsed at Pleasant Hill, these battles being incidental to a campaign undertaken by the Union forces to crush opposition in western Louisiana. A large portion of the state was occupied by them in 1862-1865. There were various minor skirmishes in 1862 and 1863 (including the capture of the Federal camp at Berwick Bay in June 1863).
As early as December 1862 the Union military government, at President Lincoln’s direction, had ordered elections for Congress, and the men chosen were admitted in February 1863. In March 1864 also a state government to supersede the military rule was established under the president’s auspices. By 1863 two parties had arisen among the loyal classes: one of radicals, who demanded the calling of a constitutional convention and the abolition of slavery; the other of conservatives. The former prevailed, and by a convention that assembled in April 1864 a constitution was framed closely following that of 1852 but repudiating the debt incurred by Louisiana as one of the Confederate states and abolishing slavery. Two-thirds of the delegates were from New Orleans. The legislature was ordered to establish free schools for the blacks, and was empowered to give them the suffrage: neither of these provisions, however, was carried out. The extent of the Union control is shown by the fact that the legislature of 1864 represented half of the area and two-thirds of the population of the state. The army stood at the back of the new government, and by the end of 1864 Louisiana was apparently “reconstructed.” But in 1864 the opposition of Congress to presidential reconstruction had clearly developed, so that the electoral votes of Louisiana (like those of Tennessee) for president were not counted. By the spring of 1866 the ex-Confederates had succeeded in gaining possession of most of the local government and most of the state offices, although not of the governorship. The Republican party naturally became extremely radical. The radicals wished to have negro suffrage in order to get possession of the government. They, therefore, wanted still another constitutional convention. A clause in the constitution of 1864 provided for the reconvening of the convention in certain circumstances, but this clause referred only to necessities prior to the establishment of a government, and had therefore determined. Nevertheless, the radicals, because it was impossible to call a convention through the medium of the state government, took advantage of this clause to reconvoke the old convention at New Orleans. The day set was the 30th of July 1866. The ex-Confederate party determined to prevent the gathering, but the idea of interference by force seems to have been abandoned. A street riot was precipitated, however, incidental to a procession of armed negroes; the metropolitan police fired upon the assembled convention; and altogether some 200 persons, mostly negroes, were killed. This incident raised the crucial question of national politics in 1866: namely, whether the states reconstructed by the president should not again be reconstructed.
This being settled affirmatively, Louisiana was reconstructed with vigour. A constitution of 1868 gave suffrage to the blacks, and disfranchised all whites made ineligible to office under the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the national Constitution, and also (practically) those who had by word, pen or vote defended secession. Then the state ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, and was declared readmitted to the Union in July 1868. Probably no other southern state suffered equally with Louisiana from the corruption of “carpet-bag,” “scalawag,” negro legislatures. For four years (1868-1872) the government expenses increased to ten times their normal volume, taxation was enormously increased, and about $57,000,000 of debt was created. But a quarrel broke out among the Republicans (1872), the result of which was the installation of two governors and legislatures, one supported by the Democrats and Liberal Republicans and the other by the radical Republicans, the former being certainly elected by the people. The rivalry of these two state governments, clashes of arms, the recognition by the Federal authorities of the radical Republican government (Pinchback and Kellogg, successively governors) followed. One historic clash in New Orleans (on the 14th of September 1874) between the “White League” (“White Man’s Party”) and the Republican police is commemorated by a monument, and the day is regarded by Louisianans as a sort of state independence-day. Finally, in 1876, Francis Tillon Nicholls (b. 1834), a Democrat, was chosen governor, but the Republican candidate, S. B. Packard, claimed the election, and with a Republican legislature for a time occupied the State House. In the national election of 1876 there were double returns (Republican: 75,315 for Hayes and 70,508 for Tilden; and Democratic: 83,723 for Tilden and 77,174 for Hayes) from Louisiana, which, as was the case with the double electoral returns from Florida, Oregon and South Carolina, were adjudicated by the Electoral Commission in favour of the Republican electors voting for Hayes. Civil war being threatened within the state President Hayes sent to Louisiana a commission composed of Wayne McVeagh, Gen. J. R. Hawley, Charles B. Lawrence, J. M. Harlan, and John C. Brown, ex-Governor of Tennessee, which was instructed to promote “an acknowledgment of one government within the state.” The rival legislatures united, organizing under the Nicholls government, which the commission found was upheld by public opinion. The president ordered the withdrawal of Federal troops from the capitol on the 20th of April 1877, and the white party was thus left in control.
After 1877 the state prospered markedly in all material respects. Of subsequent political events perhaps the most notable, besides the practical disfranchisement of the negroes, are those connected with the Louisiana State Lottery Company (1868-1893). For the renewal of its privileges in 1890 the company finally agreed to give the state $1,250,000 yearly, and despite strenuous opposition by a powerful party the legislature voted a renewal, but this measure was vetoed by the governor. The United States government, however, forbade lotteries the use of the mails, and the company withdrew its offers. The constitution of 1898 prohibits lotteries and the sale of lottery tickets within the state. In 1891 the lynching of eleven Italians at New Orleans gave rise to grave difficulties involving Italy, the United States, and the state of Louisiana. Since 1900 a white Republican Party has made some headway in Louisiana politics, but in national and state elections the state has been uninterruptedly and overwhelmingly Democratic since 1877.
Governors of Louisiana
|French Domination 1682-1762.|
|A. le Moyne, Sieur de Sauvolle (died in office)||1699-1701|
|J. B. le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville||1701-1713|
|M. de Muys, appointed 1707, died en route, Bienville continuing to serve.|
|Sieur de Bienville, acting governor||1716-1717|
|Sieur de Bienville||1718-1724|
- Terms of actual service in Louisiana; Gayarré is the authority for the French and Spanish period.