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1859 Louisiana gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1859 Louisiana gubernatorial election
Flag of the United States (1859–1861).svg

← 1855 November 7, 1859 1863 (Confederate) →
Thomas Overton Moore, CDV, c1860s.jpg
No image.svg
Nominee Thomas Overton Moore Thomas Jefferson Wells
Party Democratic Know Nothing
Popular vote 16,306 10,805
Percentage 60.15% 39.85%

Governor before election

Robert C. Wickliffe

Elected Governor

Thomas Overton Moore

The 1859 Louisiana gubernatorial election, was the third election to take place under the Louisiana Constitution of 1852. As a result of this election Thomas Overton Moore became Governor of Louisiana. This was the last Louisiana gubernatorial election before the outbreak of the Civil War.

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Hey it’s Professor Dave, I wanna tell you about Abraham Lincoln. Like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln has become so shrouded in myth and legend that it can be difficult to separate the actual flesh and blood human being from the secular saint that he’s become. Not that he doesn’t deserve mountains of praise for holding the country together by sheer force of will, but we do him and ourselves a disservice by promoting him to demigod status; it is in Lincoln’s humanity that we find the core of his greatness. And it is in his story that we find all the previous currents of American history cascading into a tumultuous convergence – liberty vs. slavery, states’ rights vs. Federalism, secession vs. union, industrial vs. agrarian, elites vs. the common man, North vs. South. The Civil War did not conclusively solve these problems; we still grapple with many of them today. But it was in Lincoln’s time that the great moral issue of slavery finally reached critical mass. And with it came the other great issue stretching from Washington to Buchanan – the preservation of the Union. As for his youth, the legends are true. Lincoln was indeed born in a modest log cabin in Kentucky in 1809. The family moved to Indiana where his mother died in 1818, but his father remarried and young Abe became very close to his stepmother. As a child, Lincoln preferred reading to manual labor. Among his favorite books were the King James Bible, Aesop’s Fables, The Pilgrim’s Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Life of Washington, and Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. But as he grew older and taller, eventually topping out at six foot four, he assumed more responsibility for his chores and became an excellent log splitter. The family moved to Illinois in 1830 where he found work transporting goods to New Orleans. He married in 1840, and he and his wife settled in Springfield, where he practiced law. His political career began in 1834, when he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, in which he served for eight years. He was then elected to the U.S. Congress in 1846, but was unpopular because of his opposition to the Mexican War, and he returned to Springfield in 1849, resuming his successful law practice. In 1854, he became a leader in building the new anti-slavery Republican Party. In 1858, he ran for Senate and gained national prominence due to a series of widely publicized debates with Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln became known as an articulate spokesman against the expansion of slavery, and even though he lost the election, Lincoln had become a national figure. Because of this, in 1860, he became the Republican Party presidential nominee. With the enormous expansion of new territories thanks to the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican War, the struggle between slave states and free states had shifted in favor of anti-slavery forces. The temporary solutions offered by the Missouri and Kansas Compromises would no longer suffice. The Northern states had abolished slavery in 1803, while it remained a crucial component of the Southern agrarian economy, which was so heavily dependent on cotton. Already fearful of losing their political clout in Congress by the admission of so many new free states, the Southern states were terrified by the growing power of the abolition movement in the North, and viewed the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican Party as a threat to their very existence. Already haunted by the slave uprisings in Haiti in which whites were murdered by rebelling slaves, their worst fears were confirmed when radical abolitionist John Brown launched a raid on the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in 1859, in an attempt to cause an armed insurrection by Southern slaves. The 1860 election of Lincoln in a four-way race convinced them that their way of life was in mortal danger, despite Lincoln’s assurances that he would not abolish slavery. On December 20th, 1860, South Carolina, which had been threatening secession for decades, was the first state to declare it was leaving the Union. Their “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,” was intentionally modeled after Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, and every cited violation involved slavery. Although President Buchanan had declared the secession illegal, he did nothing to stop it. Emboldened by Buchanan’s passivity, six other states seceded, and on February 4th, 1861, the seven rebellious states approved a Constitution for a new nation, the Confederate States of America. However, Lincoln denied their right to secede, maintaining that the United States was “one nation, indivisible.” Lincoln did indicate he was open to compromise, including Constitutional amendments protecting slavery, if it could preserve the Union. But events had moved too quickly, passions were too inflamed, and as he traveled to the capital for his inauguration, assassination attempts were discovered, so Lincoln arrived in Washington in disguise. On March 4th, 1861, Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th president, and his inaugural speech attempted to reassure the Southern States of his peaceful intentions regarding slavery: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. We are not enemies, but friends. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Unfortunately, Lincoln’s literary genius could not persuade the South to remain in the Union. But he still clung to the belief that it could be preserved without bloodshed. Lincoln failed to realize the depth of the Confederacy’s determination to go to war. For the South, it was nothing less than a second American Revolution, with Lincoln and the Northern abolitionists behaving in the tyrannical mold of King George the Third. When Lincoln resupplied Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay, South Carolina viewed this as an act of war. On April 12th, 1861, Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter. The Union troops quickly surrendered, and the Civil War had begun. On April 15th, Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring an insurrection against the United States and called for 75,000 troops to recapture Federal forts, protect the capital, and preserve the Union. This action caused slave states in the Upper South – Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina – to join those in the Deep South – South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas – which had already seceded. The 11 states became the heart of the Confederacy, later claiming Missouri and Kentucky as members, although neither actually declared secession, nor were they controlled by the Confederacy. Encountering an unprecedented crisis, Lincoln responded with determination. He expanded his presidential military powers, and imposed a blockade on every Confederate shipping port, which became one of the key components to Union success. His disbursement of funds before their appropriation by Congress led to charges of overreaching, as did his suspension of habeas corpus, one of his most criticized actions of the war. After Lincoln called for troops, many in Maryland wanted to leave the Union. On April 19th, the 6th Massachusetts Militia arrived in Baltimore on its way to defend Washington, and was attacked with bricks, stones, and pistols by an anti-war mob of Southern sympathizers. Several soldiers fired into the crowd, killing twelve civilians. Four soldiers were also killed, the first casualties of the Civil War. After the so-called Pratt Street Riot, the Maryland legislature voted to close the railways that were critical for the defense of Washington, and the governor ordered troops to burn vital railroad bridges. Lincoln, using his powers as Commander-in-Chief, ordered the Army to arrest the officials involved in the sabotage, suspending the writ of habeas corpus in areas needed for the Union troops to reach Washington. One of those arrested, John Merryman, petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted by Chief Justice Taney ordering the commander of Fort McHenry to produce Merryman for a hearing before Taney to explain on what legal basis the Army had seized him. Instead, the commander explained that he was acting under orders from President Lincoln, who had delegated authority to the military to suspend habeas corpus. Taney, author of the 1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court Decision that said no descendant of African slaves had any rights of American citizenship, declared Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus unconstitutional. Lincoln ignored the ruling and jailed thousands of suspected Confederate sympathizers, backed by support from Congress and the public. At first, it was believed that the war would be over in 90 days or so. The Northern public clamored for a march against the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, which was expected to end the rebellion. Giving in to the political pressure, the ill-prepared Union Army marched across Bull Run, just 25 miles south of Washington DC, against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army camped near Manassas Junction. The Union Army launched a surprise attack on the Confederates, which was successful until reinforcements arrived. The Confederates, under general Thomas Jackson, stood their ground, which resulted in Jackson receiving his nickname, “Stonewall”. In the face of a fierce counterattack, the Union retreated. After Bull Run, no one thought it was going to be a 90-day war. One British historian called the Civil War one of the most ferocious wars ever fought. The war was divided into the Western and Eastern theaters. In the East, the Union suffered defeat after defeat due to an ever-revolving set of timid generals that frustrated Lincoln. In the West, however, it was the reverse. In April 1862, the Union Navy captured New Orleans, allowing Union forces to move up the Mississippi. The Union's key strategist and tactician in the West was Ulysses S. Grant, who’d won victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, the Battle of Shiloh, and on July 4th, 1863, at the Siege of Vicksburg, solidifying Union control of the Mississippi River, one of the two great turning points of the war that occurred on that day. But the Eastern front continued to be dominated by the South. Under the brilliant leadership of Virginian General Robert E. Lee, who had declined an offered top command in the Union Army, the South launched an invasion of Maryland in 1862, with the intent to replenish his supplies and possibly influence the Northern elections to fall in favor of ending the war. Union General George McClellan’s men found a dispatch revealing Lee’s plans. Discovering that Lee’s army was divided, McClellan decided Lee could be destroyed by an all-out attack at Antietam, and in the bloodiest day of the war, Lee withstood the Union assaults but withdrew his battered army back to Virginia. The North claimed victory and Lincoln used it to announce the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order changing the status of three million slaves to free men and women, based on the president’s constitutional authority as commander-in-chief. This was intended to put the South on the diplomatic and moral defensive, dooming any chance at recognition by Great Britain, and broadened the scope of Lincoln’s goals from merely preserving the union to also freeing all slaves. Nevertheless, the 1862 mid-term elections brought the Republicans severe losses due to sharp disfavor with the administration over its failure to deliver a speedy end to the war, as well as rising inflation, new high taxes, rumors of corruption, the suspension of habeas corpus, the military draft law, and fears that freed slaves would undermine the labor market. Two disastrous Northern losses at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville emboldened Lee, as Lincoln kept sacking and hiring new generals, looking in vain for the one that would pursue and demolish Lee’s army. Flush from his string of victories, Lee embarked on his most daring gambit, an invasion of the North. His immediate goal was to acquire urgently needed supplies for his men from the wealthy farming districts of Pennsylvania, while the long-term goal was to agitate Northern anti-war activity by demonstrating the South’s ability to strike at the heart of the North. His monumental blunder on the third day of battle would nearly cost Lee his army when he ordered a frontal assault on impregnable Union lines. The twin Union victories at Gettysburg in the East and Vicksburg in the West on July 4th, 1863 sealed the South’s fate. The remaining year and a half of the war, the Confederacy would be always on the defensive. This view, even after Lincoln’s stirring Gettysburg Address, only became clear in hindsight. For many Northerners, the endless bloodshed spawned anti-war sentiment, and Lincoln became convinced that he would not be re-elected. General George McClellan ran against him in the fall of 1864. But Lincoln had already made a decision that would end the war. He put Ulysses S. Grant in command of the entire Union Army at the rank of Lieutenant General, which no officer had held since George Washington. When asked why he favored Grant so much, Lincoln replied, “He fights.” Grant and fellow general William Tecumseh Sherman would use overwhelming force to crush the South. The North could replace its casualties while the South could not. Lincoln authorized Grant to target the Confederate infrastructure, its plantations and railroads. The damage caused by Sherman’s March to the Sea through Georgia in 1864 was primarily exacted on the great slave-owning mansions and railroad lines. It did not target civilians. Admiral David Farragut’s capture of Mobile in August and Sherman’s entry into Atlanta in September were twin victories that swept Lincoln to a landslide re-election victory. As Lincoln gave his Second Inaugural Address on March 4th, 1865, it was obvious that the South could no longer win the war. Their armies were so reduced they had taken to inducting slaves and promising them freedom if they would fight for the Confederacy. Outlining his postwar vision, Lincoln urged reconciliation: “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace.” Lee’s army had been dramatically reduced by desertion and casualties, and was now much smaller than Grant’s army. Realizing that Richmond, the southern capital, was now lost, Lee decided to evacuate on April 3rd, 1865. Initially, Lee had planned to continue the war but when his army reached Appomattox Court House where they had planned on securing supplies, he discovered they were surrounded. After an initial battle, he determined that it was hopeless, and he surrendered his Army on April 9th, 1865, at the McLean House. In a gesture of Grant’s respect and anticipation of peacefully restoring Confederate states to the Union, Lee was permitted to keep his sword and his horse, Traveller. The war was over. On April 14th John Wilkes Booth, a Southern sympathizer and spy, shot Lincoln at Ford’s theater in Washington DC, after hearing the President give a speech advocating suffrage for the freed slaves. Lincoln died early the next morning, a martyr for the cause of the Union’s preservation. At Lincoln’s bedside, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton remarked: “Now he belongs to the ages." The photographs taken of Lincoln in 1861 compared with those taken just four years later show the terrible strain the war took upon the man. As president, Lincoln dealt with many other matters besides managing the war. He signed the Homestead Act in 1862 that made millions of acres of government-held land in the West available for purchase at very low cost; the Morrill Land-Grant College Act provided government grants for agricultural colleges in each state, while the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864 granted Federal support for the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in 1869. Other important legislation involved measures to raise revenues to finance the war such as the Revenue Act of 1861, which created the first U.S. income tax. Lincoln also presided over the expansion of the federal government’s economic influence through the creation of a national banking system with the National Banking Act, which also established a national currency. But history will always remember him as “O Captain, My Captain,” as the great American poet Walt Whitman wrote upon his death. “O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: But O heart! Heart! Heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead.” Before the Civil War, the United States was referred to in the plural, as in, “the United States are.” After the conflict, it became singular, as in “the United States is,” a single, united nation. As historian Garry Wills notes, Lincoln, in his literary masterpiece “The Gettysburg Address,” performed a trick in bypassing the slavery-friendly Constitution as the United States’ birth, dating its creation instead to the Declaration of Independence, with its immortal phrase, “All men are created equal,” being the cornerstone of American democracy and freedom. In a very real sense, he reinvented the way Americans look at themselves. Along with George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt, Lincoln is consistently rated among the holy trinity of greatest American presidents. After a series of weak, ineffectual presidents, he assumed leadership during the greatest crisis the United States had ever faced and met it head on, strengthened by his near mystical conviction of the nation’s oneness as a living, unified whole that contains the last, best hope of mankind. Through the brilliance of his great literary gifts we are at times still able to see the United States as he saw it, a sacred union illuminating the greatest hopes and desires of human history, a cause for which he himself gave his last full measure.


Popular Vote[1]

Party Candidate Votes received Percentage
Democratic Thomas Overton Moore 16,306 60.15%
Know Nothing Thomas Jefferson Wells 10,805 39.85%
Total Vote 27,111

Preceded by
1855 Louisiana gubernatorial election
Louisiana gubernatorial elections Succeeded by
1863 Louisiana gubernatorial election (Confederate)


  1. ^ Jeanne Frois. 2006. Louisiana Almanac, 2006–2007 Edition. Gretna, La: Pelican Pub. Co. p.547
This page was last edited on 13 October 2019, at 17:14
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