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Murphy James Foster 1892-1900

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Born: January 12, 1849 in Franklin, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Methodist
Education: Preparatory school at Franklin; attended Washington and Lee University; graduated Cumberland University (Lebanon, Tennessee); and Law School at University of Louisiana (Tulane)
Career Prior to Term: State Senator
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1892 and re-elected in 1896
Career after Term: U.S. Senator and later Collector of Customs at New Orleans
Died: June 21, 1921 at Dixie Plantation near Franklin, Louisiana

Murphy J. Foster personified Bourbonism: paternalistic and protective of the Democratic Party. Foster was part of the codification of "Jim Crow" to separate blacks and whites in daily life. He was partly responsible for limiting voting rights in the Constitution of 1898 to literate men who owned property and to men whose grand- father or father had been registered in 1867.

Foster called out the state militia in New Orleans to break a labor union strike with military force. He passed legislation establishing the forerunner to Louisiana Tech and built temporary camps to house flood victims.

Foster was re-elected in 1896 with the help of somewhat questionable returns from north Louisiana but to his credit, the Governor ended the prison lease system and regulated railroads whose practices hurt agriculture in Louisiana. Foster faced the beginnings of the Populist revolt against the Democrats, but joined the Populists in opposing the Louisiana Lottery which finally abandoned the state during his term.

The Louisiana Legislature elected Foster to the U. S. Senate the day after his term as Governor ended. Woodrow Wilson later appointed him Collector of Customs in New Orleans.

Foster died on his plantation near Franklin in 1921.

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