The Secretary of State's Office will be closed on Monday, Sept. 1 in observance of Labor Day and will re-open on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
  Home > Historical Resources > About Louisiana > Louisiana Governors 1877-Present > Francis T. Nicholls
Print

Francis Redding Tillou Nicholls 1877-1880, 1888-1892

Get Microsoft SilverlightClick to listen to audio

Born: August 20, 1834 in Donaldsonville, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian
Education: Jefferson Military Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point and University of Louisiana (Tulane)
Career Prior to Term: Lawyer and Confederate General
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1876 bringing the Reconstruction Era to a close; re-elected in 1888
Career after Term: Chief Justice and Associated Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court
Died: January 4, 1912 in Thibodaux, Louisiana

A conservative Democrat who looked at the antebellum period as a golden age in Louisiana, Francis R. T. Nicholls embodied the "Bourbon" or planter approach to less government-low taxes, few official services and little involvement by blacks in the political processes.

Nicholls became Governor as part of the national compromise of 1877. In return for Louisiana's presidential electoral votes, Rutherford B. Hayes recognized Nicholls' victory over Stephen B. Packard.

Nicholls still had to determine which of the rival legislatures would act as the official institution. Nicholls convinced some Republicans to join his Democratic faction to give it the necessary quorum.

His first administration battled three corrupt men with great power: State Treasurer, Edward Burke; Samuel James, operator of the convict lease system, and Lieutenant Governor Louis Wiltz, a defender of the Louisiana Lottery.

Wiltz presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1879 which reapportioned the legislature, moved the capital back to Baton Rouge, lowered taxes and cut a year from Nicholls' term.

Nicholls fought the corrupt Louisiana Lottery throughout his second term. He lost the battle when the state Supreme Court revoked his dissolution of the lottery. Nicholls won the war, however, when the Federal government outlawed the use of mails to sell lottery tickets.

Nicholls later became a Supreme Court Justice himself, serving until his retirement in 1911.

He died in Thibodaux in 1912.

Back