William Charles Cole Claiborne in the Louisiana State Capitol.
(transcription of the above)
William Charles Cole Claiborne
Territorial Governor 1803 - 1812 Governor 1812 - 1816
William Charles Cole Claiborne was born Sussex County, Virginia in 1775. At age 15 he went to New York, then the nation's capital and was employed by the clerk of the Congress. While working with Congress, he met both John Sevier and Thomas Jefferson. Sevier advised him to become a lawyer. Claiborne followed his advice and became a lawyer. He soon moved to Tennessee and helped draft their first constitution. This gave him an interest in public life. Sevier was elected first governor of Tennessee and appointed Claiborne, twenty-one years old, as a justice on the Tennessee Supreme Court. A year later, Claiborne was elected to Andrew Jackson's vacant seat in the United States House of Representatives. Claiborne helped Thomas Jefferson secure his presidential ambitions when in 1801 the House of Representatives was given the choice of Thomas Jefferson or Aaron Burr for President of the United States.
When the governorship of the Territory of Mississippi was vacant President Jefferson appointed Claiborne to the position. President Jefferson chose Claiborne and General James Wilkinson to take possession of the Louisiana Territory in 1803. Claiborne had unlimited power for a few months before organized government was set up in 1804. Claiborne, under the new government, became Governor of the Territory of Orleans, which is modern day Louisiana excluding the Florida parishes. In 1811 the Territory of Orleans adopted a constitution which provided a two year term for a twenty-five member House of Representatives and a four year term for a fourteen member Senate.
On April 30, 1812, Louisiana gained statehood. The state constitution was written creating a two-step gubernatorial election. First, those registered voted on candidates, and then the state legislature chose between the two candidates with the most votes. Claiborne easily won the election. Claiborne was inaugurated as Louisiana's first true governor on July 31, 1812. His initial term as governor was largely consumed by the War of 1812. Claiborne died in New Orleans on Nov. 23, 1817. Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee all have counties named after him.
On the front of the Louisiana State Capitol building.
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