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Governors from 1877

 Francis T. Nicholls 1877-1880
Francis T. Nicholls - Democrat
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 Lt. Gov. 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, La., 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, La. in 1912. 

 Louis Alfred Wiltz 1880-1881
Louis Alfred Wiltz - Democrat
An ally of the Louisiana Lottery Co., Louis A. Wiltz was elected governor under the Constitution of 1879, a pro-democrat document written to replace the 1868 Constitution written by republicans. As lieutenant governor, Wiltz had presided over the Constitutional Convention which reduced the term of Gov. Francis T. Nicholls. Wiltz replaced Nicholls as the democratic nominee and defeated a weak republican opponent.

Wiltz's term is notable mainly for his support of the corrupt lottery which controlled the Legislature. Public education was neglected, black disenfranchisement continued and state Treasurer Edward A. Burke, an ally of Wiltz, continued to embezzle state funds.

Wiltz died in office of tuberculosis in 1881.

 Samuel Douglas McEnery 1881-1888
Samuel Douglas McEnery - Democrat
Samuel McEnery succeeded Gov. Louis Wiltz when Wiltz died in office. McEnery had joined Wiltz on the democratic pro-lottery ticket in the election of 1879, an off-year election called for by the Constitution of 1879.

McEnery's administration, hampered by the power of state Treasurer Edward A. Burke, possessed little strength. Burke, Louisiana Lottery Co. officials and Samuel James, the lessee of convict labor at the state penitentiary, ran Louisiana during McEnery's term. The lottery controlled the Legislature and James controlled levee construction contracts, while Burke controlled state funds. McEnery did work to improve flood protection by building more levees. He organized the Cotton Centennial Exposition, a world's fair to attract business and industry to Louisiana.

In a political arrangement with Gov. Nicholls after the election of 1888, McEnery agreed not to contest the election results in exchange for a seat on the Supreme Court. McEnery later served in the U.S. Senate.

He died in New Orleans in 1910.

 Francis T. Nicholls 1888-1892
Francis T. Nicholls - Democrat
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 Lt. Gov. 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, La. in 1912.

 Murphy James Foster 1892-1900
Murphy James Foster - Democrat
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 grandffather 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, La. in 1921.

 William Wright Heard 1900-1904
William Wright Heard - Democrat
William Wright Heard, a protege of Gov. Foster, received the democratic nomination for governor in 1900. Because of previous efforts to disenfranchise blacks, republicans and white populists, the democratic nomination was tantamount to election.

Heard enjoyed a low-key term. His bourbon predecessor had eliminated the corrupt lottery and the convict lease system, and had weakened the burgeoning populist movement which might otherwise have empowered poor whites.

Heard did not have to face any major crises. While governor, he moved control of the prison system from independent lessees to the State Penitentiary Board of Control. He signed legislation creating the first State Board of Education, parish school boards and a State Crop Pest Commission to wage an unsuccessful war against the cotton boll weevil.

Heard, one historian wrote, by 1914 "had spent virtually his entire adult life on the public payroll, mostly in second level administrative positions where little leadership was called for. For that reason, he may possess the distinction of having been the first modem career bureaucrat to occupy Louisiana's political summit."

Heard died in New Orleans in 1926.

 Newton Crain Blanchard 1904-1908
Newton C. Blanchard - Democrat
Newton Crain Blanchard developed a strong career as a bourbon Democratic Party functionary before stepping onto a higher national stage. From chairmanship of the Democratic Committee of Caddo Parish, Blanchard worked as a delegate to the 1879 Constitutional Convention and was on the staff of both Govs. Wiltz and McEnery.

Blanchard then served in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate before becoming an associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Blanchard became the highly qualified democratic nominee for governor in 1904.

As chief executive, Blanchard worked to improve a dismal public education system. State appropriations for education rose from 1.5 million to 3.5 million during his term. He signed legislation establishing certification of teachers and public school libraries as school construction increased. The number of high schools in Louisiana doubled.

Blanchard supported laws lowering property taxes and creating a board to assess property. He created a State Board of Forestry, encouraged the construction of a state reform school and approved a law making state primaries mandatory, eliminating gubernatorial nomination by convention.

Blanchard died in Shreveport, La. in 1922.

 Jared Y. Sanders 1908-1912
Jared Y. Sanders - Democrat
J.Y. Sanders was the first governor elected under the primary law passed during Gov. Blanchard's administration. Under the law, Sanders had to face another democrat in a primary election before running against nominal republican opposition.

Sanders supported progressive legislation. During his term, the Legislature passed a State Conservation Commission Act, a tax on corporations using state resources, and an amendment approving the use of property tax for a special highway fund.

Sanders' knowledge of the legislative process, garnered through his position as speaker of the House before he was governor, enabled him to pass the laws he needed. As a reforming governor, Sanders pushed for regulation of gambling and liquor and for the passage of child labor laws.

After leaving office, Sanders continued to contribute to the improvement of state highways. As a member of the 1921 Constitutional Convention, Sanders helped develop a master plan for a state highway system. He was the first attorney for the Louisiana Highway Department, created by that Constitution. Sanders campaigned against Huey Long in 1927.

He died in 1944 in Baton Rouge, La. Gov. Sanders is buried in Franklin, La.

 Luther E. Hall 1912-1916
Luther E. Hall - Democrat
Luther Hall ran for governor with the encouragement and support of John M. Parker and his Good Government League reformers. That support vanished after the election as Hall's weak reform measures were defeated by legislators beholden to the New Orleans Choctaw Club machine led by Mayor Martin Behrman.

Progressive legislation to reform election procedure, refund state debt and increase state revenue all failed. Hall's call for a state constitutional convention to unravel confusion about bonded debt was rejected by voters. Legislation to change New Orleans to a commission form of government passed, but machine politicians dominated the new system. About the only successful legislation backed by Hall was a weak workmen's compensation law.

Hall's heart was set on a position in the state Supreme Court. He had been a democratic candidate for associate justice when Parker persuaded him to run for governor. During his campaign to win nomination to the court in 1921, Hall died of a heart attack in New Orleans.

 Ruffin G. Pleasant 1916-1920
Ruffin G. Pleasant - Democrat
Ruffin G. Pleasant played in the first Louisiana State University-Tulane game as a captain of the LSU squad in 1893. Knocked out of that game, Pleasant remained in the political game through alliances at various times with machine-politicians Martin Behrman, progressive reformer John Parker, Huey Long and various anti-Longs.

Pleasant became governor with the support of Behrman's New Orleans Choctaw Ring, defeating John Parker in the closest race in any election between 1896 and 1964. Pleasant's term coincided with World War I. His efforts to prepare the state for war and encourage U.S. participation became the primary feature of his administration.

Pleasant supported his foe Parker for governor in 1920, then opposed Parker's attempts to tax natural resources in the Constitutional Convention of 1921. Pleasant allied himself with Huey Long to oppose the severance tax, but Long later became his bitter enemy.

Pleasant died in Shreveport, La. in 1937.

 John M. Parker 1920-1924
John M. Parker - Democrat
 Henry L. Fuqua 1924-1926
Henry L. Fuqua - Democrat
Henry Fuqua brought considerable managerial skill to the office of governor, but his lack of political expertise hampered his efforts during his short term.

Fuqua pushed through the anti-Klan legislation begun during Gov. Parker's term and increased the budget for LSU for more construction on the new campus.

He ran into trouble when he awarded the franchise to build a toll bridge from east New Orleans to Slidell, La. across Lake Pontchartrain to a private firm, the Watson-Williams syndicate, represented by former Gov. J.Y. Sanders. Huey Long would use this controversial decision in his campaign for governor in 1928.

Fuqua did not live to seek another term. He died in office on Oct. 11, 1926. He was the last governor to win office on the strength of the New Orleans Choctaw Club political machine.

 Oramel H. Simpson 1926-1928
Oramel H. Simpson - Democrat
Oramel Simpson succeeded to the office of governor from his position as lieutenant governor on Oct. 11, 1926 when his predecessor, Gov. Fuqua, died.

Simpson inherited Fuqua's office and the controversy over the state contract to build the Lake Pontchartrain bridge from eastern New Orleans to Slidell, La. The new governor opposed the bridge because the contract had been awarded by Gov. Fuqua to investors allied with the New Orleans machine - Simpson's political enemy. To thwart the Behrman machine, Simpson pushed for a non-toll bridge to be built from Chef Menteur. A new free bridge would take business and revenue from the toll bridge. Later he started a free ferry service to reduce the toll bridge's revenue.

Simpson's biggest challenge came in the Mississippi River flood of 1927. With New Orleans threatened, he ordered a downriver cut in the levee. Property owners from the downriver parishes received compensation for their losses from the Legislature.

Although at heart a conservative, his opposition to Behrman's machine in New Orleans helped pave the way for the election of Huey Long.

Simpson died in New Orleans in 1932.

 Huey P. Long 1928-1932
Huey P. Long - Democrat
Huey P. Long's life and career defy short summary. He may have captured himself best when he told reporters, "I am suis generis (one of a kind), just leave it at that."

No other governor in Louisiana history affected the political and social landscape like Huey Long. His impact lasted far beyond his death.

Politically, because he offered a dramatic alternative to the leadership of the paternalistic bourbons of the late 19th century and the mildly progressive democrats who preceded him, Louisiana voters benefited from a de facto two-party system. Unlike other southern states mired in the politics of race, Louisiana politics were based on a real, if controversial, choice given to voters. Huey Long, and his followers for 30 years after his death, pushed for an unprecedented expansion of governmental services in education, transportation and health. The anti-Longs, fiscal conservatives, opposed his plans to increase severance taxes on natural resources, to pave thousands of miles of roads, to provide free textbooks, to build a new state capitol and to establish an extravagantly grandiose regime without sound financing.

The anti-Longs often did not approve of increasing political participation for blacks and poor whites which Long fought for through the removal of the poll tax as a voting qualification. His detractors opposed Long's methods of controlling the Legislature and his demagogic methods of appealing to the masses.

Long's single-minded use of power not only strengthened the executive branch, it helped him achieve his goals. His highway program built almost 13,000 miles of roads. All schoolchildren received free textbooks whether the communities wanted them or not. Funding for LSU and the Port of New Orleans greatly increased.

Long expanded the Charity Hospital System, built LSU Medical School and brought natural gas to New Orleans.

Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 while still governor, Long remained in his state office until his slate of candidates took over in 1932. He brought his radical social platform of redistributing wealth to the national level and appeared to be a serious threat to President Roosevelt in the 1936 election. History, however, was deprived of such a contest. Huey Long's tumultuous career was cut short by an assassin's bullet in 1935. Shot by an assailant in a corridor of the very capitol he built, he died on Sept. 10. Long is buried on the capitol grounds. A fascist dictator or latter day Robin Hood, he remains in political lore the one and only "Kingfish."

 Alvin O. King 1932
Alvin O. King - Democrat
Alvin O. King became governor as a result of a political controversy between Huey Long and Dr. Paul Cyr. After Long was elected to the U.S. Senate, Lt. Gov. Cyr declared Long's office vacant and proclaimed himself governor. Long successfully argued that Cyr's actions were illegal and that King as president pro-tempore of the state Senate should become lieutenant governor. After Long's slate of candidates won election in January 1932, Huey took his U.S. Senate seat and King became governor.

During his five months in office, King called for reduced spending on highways because the state could not sell highway bonds at an acceptable interest rate because of the failing national bond market. Long, however, was the true power and King simply handled routine matters until the Kingfish's candidate, O.K. Allen could take office.

King provided a short period of stability during years of political turmoil. He returned to his law practice in Lake Charles, La. where he died in 1958.

 Oscar K. Allen 1932-1936
Oscar K. Allen - Democrat
O.K. Allen, an associate of Huey Long's since their early days in Winnfield, La., was handpicked by him to head the Complete the Work ticket of Longite candidates in 1932. Allen had been Long's legislative floor leader in the state Senate and his chairman of the Highway Commission.

Allen had no misconceptions about his source of power, calling his term the Long-Allen administration. Long directed state operations from Washington, D.C. with a daily phone call to Allen.

Allen's administration coincided with the worst of the Great Depression in Louisiana. Local government looked to the state to pay for services formerly provided by local school boards and police juries. This added to Long's power and to the power of the executive office. Meanwhile, the state became more dependent on federal dollars and Allen became a resource for local governments applying for federal funds. He also cooperated with New Deal agencies providing relief to the needy.

Later, parroting Long, Allen criticized Franklin D. Roosevelt, leading to the cancellation of public works programs. After Huey's death, Allen won the primary to succeed him in the U.S. Senate, but never had the opportunity to serve.

In 1936, he died in the executive mansion of a brain hemorrhage.

 James A. Noe 1936
James A. Noe - Democrat
James A. Noe, a wealthy independent oil man, ran for the state Senate at the request of Huey Long. He won, became a Long floor leader and was chosen by his colleagues to be president pro tempore of the Senate. In 1936, Gov. Allen died in office. Without a lieutenant governor to succeed Allen, Noe became governor for the five-month interim period before Richard Leche took office.

Noe appointed Huey's widow, Rose McConnell Long, to complete Long's U.S. Senate term. He completed necessary federal paperwork to receive $6 million for state highways and began the process of establishing a state public welfare office under the national Social Security Act.

Noe later ran for governor twice -- in 1940 and in 1959. He was more successful in his business interests, founding two radio stations and one television station and promoting the growth of his oil business which helped support his philanthropy.

His split with Longite Gov. Richard Leche paved the way for the Louisiana Scandals which broke the political grip of the Long faction in Louisiana in 1940.

Noe died in Texas in 1976.

 Richard W. Leche 1936-1939
Richard W. Leche - Democrat
Richard W. Leche won the battle to succeed Huey Long as the leader of the Long faction after Huey's assassination. He won the democratic primary by a 3-to-1 margin and proceeded to honor his statement, "When I took the oath of office, I didn't take any vow of poverty."

Leche validated Huey's prediction that his underlings would get in trouble without him around to control them. He and other state officials allegedly developed a scheme to sell trucks to the Highway Department. This constituted mail fraud and Leche received 10 years in Federal prison. He served five years, was pardoned, and after his release, became a lobbyist and a lawyer.

As governor, Leche retreated from some Long positions, exemplified in his pro-business stance of offering a 10-year property tax exemption for new businesses and in creating a Department of Commerce and Industry. He also backed a one percent sales tax, a tax Long had consistently opposed.

Leche did continue the highway, bridge and hospital construction plans Long had begun. Leche died in New Orleans in 1965.

 Earl K. Long 1939-1940
Earl K. Long - Democrat
Earl Long, Huey's younger brother, entered politics as one of his campaign workers. He never ventured beyond Huey's shadow, even during a period of conflict with him, until after his brother's assassination in 1935.

Earl first became governor after Richard Leche resigned for health reasons soon before he was convicted of federal mail fraud. Long's first term was hampered by the Louisiana Scandals which contributed to his defeat by Sam Jones in the 1940 election. During his two terms of 1948 to 1952 and 1956 to 1960, Long followed his legacy. He advocated a free lunch program for schoolchildren, pushed for a vocational school system, made the salaries of black and white school teachers equal and fought for highway construction and old-age assistance.

Earl Long also used his power, as his brother had, to punish enemies. He attempted to curb the power of New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison and abolished the state Civil Service system to increase patronage from the governor's office. His last term coincided with the efforts of the Citizens' Councils and the Louisiana Joint-Legislative Committee on Segregation to oppose racial integration. Both groups, led by state Sen. Willie Rainach, sought to protect segregation in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional.

Part of Rainach's strategy was to purge the rolls of black voters, a large segment of Long's political machine. Long's sometimes incoherent speech on the floor of the Legislature, which led his family to attempt to institutionalize him, was an attack on Rainach's methods and an unsuccessful attempt to protect the voting rights of blacks.

Long, unable to succeed himself as governor, ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with James A. Noe. The Noe-Long ticket came in fourth in an election notable for its race baiting -- a strategy unused in Louisiana for 60 years. Long later won a congressional election in 1960, but died in Alexandria, La. a week after his victory.

 Sam H. Jones 1940-1944
Sam H. Jones - Democrat
Sam Jones broke the 12-year hold on the governor's office enjoyed by the Long faction in Louisiana politics. Following the Louisiana Scandals of 1939 which focused voters' attention on the corruption of Long's followers, Jones won the gubernatorial election of 1940 defeating Earl Long. Jones had no experience in state government but promised, and delivered, an honest administration.

He enacted civil service legislation, established competitive bidding for state purchases and abolished the practice of annual voter registration. Jones governed during wartime, a difficult period to administer new policies. The reduction of executive power further hindered him.

Jones did continue several of the Long programs including free lunches for schoolchildren, equal pay for black and white teachers and increased funding of state colleges and aid to the blind, elderly and indigent families. Chiefly, he restored state and national respect for Louisiana.

Jones did not build a political dynasty. He ran again in 1948, against Earl Long but, as one historian wrote, "Long outpromised Jones." Jones' heritage of good government continues in a group he helped found, the Public Affairs Research Council.

He died in Lake Charles, La. in 1978.

 Jimmie H. Davis 1944-1948
Jimmie H. Davis - Democrat
Jimmie Davis won his first gubernatorial election in 1944 with the support of reform Gov. Jones. Davis at first thought he should avoid mixing his two careers of country music and politics. After a campaign stop in Shreveport, La., however, where he was accused of going high hat because he would not sing. Davis decided to speak for a while and sing three or four songs. He continued that strategy at every campaign rally throughout his political career which constantly frustrated his opponents.

Davis' first term benefited from wartime and postwar prosperity. He continued Jones' reform program, but also he traveled to Hollywood, Calif. and Nashville, Tenn. to make B movies and sing.

Davis' accomplishments included the establishment of a State Retirement System and the funding of more than $100 million in public improvements leaving the state a $38 million surplus.

For his second term, Davis secured the support of the third strongest candidate, Willie Rainach, the chief of the segregationist movement in Louisiana, to defeat Chep Morrison. Davis used the segregation issue to come from behind and that issue dominated his second term. During that period he built the Sunshine Bridge, the new Governor's Mansion and the Toledo Bend Reservoir. All were criticized at the time, but now recognized as beneficial to the state.

Jimmie Davis died peacefully in his sleep at his Baton Rouge, La. home on Nov. 5, 2000. He was 101 years old and had continued to make public appearances until a few months before his passing. Following visitation in Baton Rouge, La., his funeral was held at the Jimmie Davis Tabernacle in Jonesboro, La. He is buried in the cemetery there.

 Earl K. Long 1948-1952
Earl K. Long - Democrat
Earl Long, Huey's younger brother, entered politics as one of his campaign workers. He never ventured beyond Huey's shadow, even during a period of conflict with him, until after his brother's assassination in 1935.

Earl first became governor the first time after Richard Leche resigned for health reasons soon before he was convicted of federal mail fraud. Long's first term was hampered by the Louisiana Scandals which contributed to his defeat by Sam Jones in the 1940 election. During his two terms of 1948 to 1952 and 1956 to 1960, Long followed his legacy. He advocated a free lunch program for schoolchildren, pushed for a vocational school system, made the salaries of black and white school teachers equal and fought for highway construction and old-age assistance.

Earl Long also used his power, as his brother had, to punish enemies. He attempted to curb the power of New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison and abolished the state Civil Service system to increase patronage from the governor's office. His last term coincided with the efforts of the Citizens' Councils and the Louisiana Joint-Legislative Committee on Segregation to oppose racial integration. Both groups, led by state Sen. Willie Rainach, sought to protect segregation in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional.

Part of Rainach's strategy was to purge the rolls of black voters, a large segment of Long's political machine. Long's sometimes incoherent speech on the floor of the Legislature, which led his family to attempt to institutionalize him, was an attack on Rainach's methods and an unsuccessful attempt to protect the voting rights of blacks.

Long, unable to succeed himself as governor, ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with James A. Noe. The Noe-Long ticket came in fourth in an election notable for its race baiting -- a strategy unused in Louisiana for 60 years. Long later won a congressional election in 1960, but died in Alexandria, La. a week after his victory.

 Robert F. Kennon 1952-1956
Robert F. Kennon - Democrat
As governor, Bob Kennon wanted to take a "civics book approach to government." After defeating Earl Long, Kennon reestablished the state Civil Service system which Long had abolished and pushed for state constitutional amendments to reduce the powers of the executive office. He supported home rule for New Orleans, reducing the kind of interference governors had long practiced in the state's most populous city.

Kennon tried to forestall the implementation of the Supreme Court's desegregation decision in Louisiana, supporting segregationists' efforts to construct defenses around the separate but equal public education systems.

Kennon's reforms extended into the social arena. He fought organized crime in the state by attacking gambling and prostitution. He also reformed the prison system and installed voting machines in every precinct. Kennon administered a corruption-free executive branch.

After his term, he returned to his law practice in Baton Rouge, La. Kennon again ran for governor in 1963, but was defeated in the first primary. He died in 1988.

 Earl K. Long 1956-1960
Earl K. Long - Democrat
Earl Long, Huey's younger brother, entered politics as one of his campaign workers. He never ventured beyond Huey's shadow, even during a period of conflict with him, until after his brother's assassination in 1935.

Earl first became governor the first time after Richard Leche resigned for health reasons soon before he was convicted of federal mail fraud. Long's first term was hampered by the Louisiana Scandals which contributed to his defeat by Sam Jones in the 1940 election. During his two terms of 1948 to 1952 and 1956 to 1960, Long followed his legacy. He advocated a free lunch program for schoolchildren, pushed for a vocational school system, made the salaries of black and white school teachers equal and fought for highway construction and old-age assistance.

Earl Long also used his power, as his brother had, to punish enemies. He attempted to curb the power of New Orleans Mayor Chep Morrison and abolished the state Civil Service system to increase patronage from the governor's office. His last term coincided with the efforts of the Citizens' Councils and the Louisiana Joint-Legislative Committee on Segregation to oppose racial integration. Both groups, led by state Sen. Willie Rainach, sought to protect segregation in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional.

Part of Rainach's strategy was to purge the rolls of black voters, a large segment of Long's political machine. Long's sometimes incoherent speech on the floor of the Legislature, which led his family to attempt to institutionalize him, was an attack on Rainach's methods and an unsuccessful attempt to protect the voting rights of blacks.

Long, unable to succeed himself as governor, ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with James A. Noe. The Noe-Long ticket came in fourth in an election notable for its race baiting -- a strategy unused in Louisiana for 60 years. Long later won a congressional election in 1960, but died in Alexandria, La. a week after his victory.

 Jimmie H. Davis 1960-1964
Jimmie H. Davis - Democrat
Jimmie Davis won his first gubernatorial election in 1944 with the support of reform Gov. Jones. Davis at first thought he should avoid mixing his two careers of country music and politics. After a campaign stop in Shreveport, La., however, where he was accused of going high hat because he would not sing, Davis decided to speak for a while and sing three or four songs. He continued that strategy at every campaign rally throughout his political career which constantly frustrated his opponents.

Davis' first term benefited from wartime and postwar prosperity. He continued Jones' reform program, but also he traveled to Hollywood, Calif. and Nashville, Tenn. to make B movies and sing.

Davis' accomplishments included the establishment of a State Retirement system and the funding of more than $100 million in public improvements leaving the state a $38 million surplus.

For his second term, Davis secured the support of the third strongest candidate, Willie Rainach, the chief of the segregationist movement in Louisiana, to defeat Chep Morrison. Davis used the segregation issue to come from behind and that issue dominated his second term. During that period he built the Sunshine Bridge, the new Governor's Mansion and the Toledo Bend Reservoir. All were criticized at the time, but now recognized as beneficial to the state.

Jimmie Davis died peacefully in his sleep at his Baton Rouge, La. home on Nov. 5, 2000. He was 101 years old and had continued to make public appearances until a few months before his passing. Following visitation in Baton Rouge, La., his funeral was held at the Jimmie Davis Tabernacle in Jonesboro, La. He is buried in the cemetery there.

 John J. McKeithen 1964-1972
John J. McKeithen - Democrat
John McKeithen employed a folksy plea - "Won't you he'p me?" - with a promise to "clean up the mess in Baton Rouge" to win election as governor in 1964. McKeithen's stance as a reformer, combined with his Longite roots in northern Louisiana, attracted followers of both the Long and anti-Long factions. His first term promoted reform with a state code of ethics, an extension of civil service, completion of an inventory of state property and cooling the heat of racial conflict. McKeithen established a biracial Louisiana Commission on Human Relations to reduce racial tension.

Chiefly, McKeithen concentrated on selling Louisiana to the nation during his first four years. His effort to attract business and industry became a personal crusade. McKeithen fought for passage of two constitutional amendments, one which changed the economic landscape of Louisiana, the other affecting the political life of the state: voters approved the construction of the Superdome in New Orleans and approved a measure allowing governors to serve two consecutive terms.

His second term featured reform of the Department of Corrections, increased highway construction and the establishment of a uniform insurance program for state employees.

Following his second term, McKeithen retired to his farm in Caldwell Parish, where he continued practicing law and managing an oil and gas exploration company. He later established a law practice in Baton Rouge, La., as well. A devout supporter of Louisiana State University, he was appointed to that University's Board of Supervisors in 1983.

McKeithen died on June 4, 1999, at the age of 81, in his hometown of Columbia, La., and is buried there.

 Edwin Washington Edwards 1972-1980
Edwin W. Edwards - Democrat
Edwin Washington Edwards was elected to his first term by an unprecedented combination of Cajun and black votes.

His administration was marked by several accomplishments. Edwards supported a constitutional convention to replace the unwieldy Constitution of 1921. The new Constitution, written in 1973 and made effective in 1975, directed the governor to reorganize the executive branch. Edwards also pushed for legislation tying the severance tax on crude oil to a percentage of the barrel price rather than a flat fee.

High energy prices of the 1970s helped Louisiana maintain a balanced budget during Edwards' first two terms.

Edwards named blacks to key state positions and his support of black politicians resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship. He supported the open primary which pitted candidates of all parties against each other in a first general primary - this inadvertently strengthened the Republican Party in state elections as democrats split their votes. Edwards' third term was marked by federal indictments, but not convictions, for mail fraud, obstruction of justice and public bribery stemming from the sale of hospital certificates, and coincided with failing oil prices and failing state revenues.

Thought to be politically dead after conceding the 1987 race to Buddy Roemer, Edwards roared back into the governor's mansion for an unprecedented fourth term in 1992. Not since his first gubernatorial election had Edwards received the endorsement of so many major newspapers and organizations - all intent on keeping former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke out of office. Early in his fourth term, Edwards led the passage of land-based casino gambling legislation.

 David Connor Treen 1980-1984
David C. Treen - Republican
David Connor Treen, the first republican governor in Louisiana since Reconstruction, knew well the political realities of the state. After receiving the endorsement of four democrats he had faced in the open primary, which helped him defeat democrat Louis Lambert in the run-off election, Treen appointed them to positions in his administration or made them legislative leaders. During his administration, Louisiana truly became a two-party state.

Treen's term unfortunately coincided with a harsh downturn in the state's economy as the oil boom went bust. His own quiet personality surprised Louisiana voters attracted to flamboyance. The combination resulted in Treen's defeat by Edwards in the 1983 election.

His accomplishments as chief executive included the appointment of more blacks to office than any other previous governor, the strengthening of teacher certification requirements and the establishment of the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts.

 Edwin Washington Edwards 1984-1988
Edwin W. Edwards - Democrat
Edwin Washington Edwards was elected to his first term by an unprecedented combination of Cajun and black votes.

His administration was marked by several accomplishments. Edwards supported a constitutional convention to replace the unwieldy Constitution of 1921. The new Constitution, written in 1973 and made effective in 1975, directed the governor to reorganize the executive branch. Edwards also pushed for legislation tying the severance tax on crude oil to a percentage of the barrel price rather than a flat fee.

High energy prices of the 1970s helped Louisiana maintain a balanced budget during Edwards' first two terms.

Edwards named blacks to key state positions and his support of black politicians resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship. He supported the open primary which pitted candidates of all parties against each other in a first general primary - this inadvertently strengthened the Republican Party in state elections as democrats split their votes. Edwards' third term was marked by federal indictments, but not convictions, for mail fraud, obstruction of justice and public bribery stemming from the sale of hospital certificates, and coincided with failing oil prices and failing state revenues.

Thought to be politically dead after conceding the 1987 race to Buddy Roemer, Edwards roared back into the governor's mansion for an unprecedented fourth term in 1992. Not since his first gubernatorial election had Edwards received the endorsement of so many major newspapers and organizations - all intent on keeping former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke out of office. Early in his fourth term, Edwards led the passage of land-based casino gambling legislation.

 Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III 1988-1992
Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III - Republican
"Buddy" Roemer won the governorship without a majority vote, a point which somewhat weakened his administration. Roemer led in the primary with 33 percent to Edwin Edwards' 28 percent. Edwards withdrew from the election and Roemer, another in a long, but frequently interrupted line of Louisiana reform governors, took office.

Roemer increased teacher pay, strengthened the Department of Environmental Quality to enforce environmental laws and toughened the laws on campaign finance.

The Legislature, however, defeated his efforts to revamp the tax system by opposing his attempt to revise property tax exemption, preferring instead to renew temporary sales taxes. Furthermore, Roemer's education reform program was bitterly opposed by certain organizations.

Late in his term Roemer switched parties and joined the republicans, but never won the full allegiance of long term members of the state GOP. Despite a scandal-free administration, he failed to increase the support he received in the 1987 election. Gov. Roemer came in third in the 1991 campaign losing to a controversial pair of politicians who incited strong feelings -- Edwin Edwards and David Duke.

 Edwin Washington Edwards 1992-1996
Edwin W. Edwards - Democrat
Edwin Washington Edwards was elected to his first term by an unprecedented combination of Cajun and black votes.

His administration was marked by several accomplishments. Edwards supported a constitutional convention to replace the unwieldy Constitution of 1921. The new Constitution, written in 1973 and made effective in 1975, directed the governor to reorganize the executive branch. Edwards also pushed for legislation tying the severance tax on crude oil to a percentage of the barrel price rather than a flat fee.

High energy prices of the 1970s helped Louisiana maintain a balanced budget during Edwards' first two terms.

Edwards named blacks to key state positions and his support of black politicians resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship. He supported the open primary which pitted candidates of all parties against each other in a first general primary - this inadvertently strengthened the Republican Party in state elections as democrats split their votes. Edwards' third term was marked by federal indictments, but not convictions, for mail fraud, obstruction of justice and public bribery stemming from the sale of hospital certificates, and coincided with failing oil prices and failing state revenues.

Thought to be politically dead after conceding the 1987 race to Buddy Roemer, Edwards roared back into the governor's mansion for an unprecedented fourth term in 1992. Not since his first gubernatorial election had Edwards received the endorsement of so many major newspapers and organizations - all intent on keeping former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke out of office. Early in his fourth term, Edwards led the passage of land-based casino gambling legislation.

 Murphy James "Mike" Foster Jr. 1996-2004
Murphy J. "Mike" Foster - Republican
Gov. Murphy James "Mike" Foster Jr. was born on July 11, 1930, in Shreveport, La. Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Centerville, La. where he attended public school as a child. As a young man, he was involved in several extracurricular activities including the Boy Scouts. Attaining the highest honor and rank of Eagle Scout is the one childhood accomplishment the governor still cherishes and holds dear.

In 1948, he graduated from high school and enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute. After one semester, Gov. Foster transferred to Louisiana State University, where he pursued a chemical engineering degree. After graduating from the university in 1952 with a degree in chemistry, Foster joined the Air Force and served in the Korean War. After returning home to Franklin, La. from the war, he began farming sugar cane and soon after formed Bayou Sale Contractors, primarily as a means to keep his farm crew together in the off-season. Additionally, the governor has been a board member of several local banks, a junior warden of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, the president of the St. Mary Parish Farm Bureau and a member of the American Legion.

A life in politics never appealed to Mike Foster; however, in 1986, after “becoming frustrated with the non-responsiveness of state government" he ran for a seat in the state Senate. After fulfilling two very active terms in the Senate, then-Sen. Foster decided that he could get more accomplished as governor.

On Jan. 8, 1996, after mounting a successful campaign as a republican candidate, M.J. "Mike" Foster Jr., was inaugurated as Louisiana’s 49th governor since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. After a very successful first term, Gov. Foster ran for a second term and won in a landslide in the first primary. This was the first time in many years that anyone has won the governorship outright without a runoff election. He was inaugurated in January 2000 and that term expired in 2004.

When he was not running the state, Gov. Foster enjoyed spending his free time at his home, Oaklawn Manor, in Franklin, La. While family, fishing and hunting occupied the bulk of his free time, his thirst for knowledge and education led him to take motorcycle and helicopter-flying lessons. While in office, he also started taking courses part-time at Southern University Law School in Baton Rouge, La.

 Kathleen Babineaux Blanco 2004-2008
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco is the first woman to be elected governor of Louisiana. In her long career of public service, she has distinguished herself and her state in a variety of positions of ever-increasing responsibility.

Kathleen Blanco has served in state offices since 1984, when she became the first woman ever elected to represent the people of Lafayette in the state Legislature. She serviced two terms before being the first woman elected to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. While on the PSC, she served as chairperson in 1993 and 1994. In 1996, she was elected to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. Along with many other economic activities, Blanco was to position Louisiana along with Paris, Rome and London as a top travel destination.

Most recently, Gov. Blanco served two terms as lieutenant governor of Louisiana. She was reelected by an overwhelming 80 percent of the state’s electorate. As the state’s second-highest official, she directly supervised the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, which encompasses the Offices of State Parks, State Museums, State Libraries, Cultural Development and Tourism. Recently, through the park system, she was successful in launching the Audubon Golf Trail. She also administered the Louisiana Serve Commission and the Louisiana Retirement Development Commission. Louisiana Serve oversees 64 national service projects across Louisiana and involves more than 13,000 service volunteers. The retirement development commission is dedicated to marketing Louisiana as a premier retirement state.

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and her husband Raymond have been married since 1964. They are the parents of six children and the proud grandparents of five.

 Bobby Jindal 2008-Present
Bobby Jindal
Bobby Jindal was sworn in as governor of Louisiana on Jan. 14, 2008.

He was elected governor of Louisiana on Oct. 20, 2007, with 54 percent of the vote in the primary, winning 60 of 64 parishes.

Shortly after taking office, Gov. Jindal called a special session to address comprehensive ethics reform, the cornerstone of his election platform. Since the conclusion of the session, the Better Government Association and the Center for Public Integrity announced that Louisiana’s new ethics laws are among the best in the nation.

Additionally, the governor's second special session eliminated burdensome taxes that deterred investment in Louisiana and limited the growth of existing Louisiana businesses.

Gov. Jindal has put forth detailed plans for reforming our state's health care, education and transportation systems, as well as for encouraging workforce development and continuing recovery efforts in areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as well as Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Gov. Jindal led the historic response to Hurricane Gustav by successfully moving 1.9 million people out of harm's way, the largest evacuation of citizens in the history of the United States, including the largest medical evacuation in history moving more than 10,400 people from hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities out of the path of the storm.

Gov. Jindal has worked tirelessly to eliminate the bureaucratic red-tape that has slowed the recovery process in the past, allowing recovery from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike to progress quickly. Louisiana's oil and gas, agriculture, fisheries and transportation industries were all affected by the storms, and Gov. Jindal continues to work with local, state and federal entities to ensure that all individuals and industries affected are provided with the necessary assistance.

Jindal was born in Baton Rouge, La. on June 10, 1971. He graduated from Baton Rouge High School in 1988 and went on to attend Brown University where he graduated with honors in biology and public policy. Following his graduation from Brown, he attended Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar, having turned down admissions to medical and law schools at both Harvard and Yale.

In 1994, Jindal went to work for McKinsey and Company as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies before entering public service. In 1996, he was appointed secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. There were many issues that needed resolving during his tenure, not the least of which was the growing deficit in Louisiana's Medicaid program. During Jindal's tenure as DHH secretary, he rescued Louisiana's Medicaid program from bankruptcy, childhood immunizations increased, Louisiana ranked third best nationally in health care screenings for children and new and expanded services for elderly and disabled persons were offered.

In 1998, Jindal was appointed executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. As executive director, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the commission, whose work continues to be the driving force behind much of the ongoing debate on how to strengthen and improve Medicare.

At the conclusion of the commission's work, Jindal was appointed president of the University of Louisiana System, the 16th largest higher education system in the country. While serving as president, Jindal worked to establish areas of excellence at each individual institution.

President George W. Bush appointed Jindal to serve as assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2001. In that position, he served as the principal policy advisor to the secretary of Health and Human Services. He later resigned from the position in 2003 to return to Louisiana and run for elected office for the first time. In that race, Jindal went from being a relatively unknown candidate for governor, to receiving the most votes in the primary election and eventually 48 percent of the vote in runoff.

In 2004, he was elected to the 109th United States Congress representing the first district of Louisiana. In Congress he was elected freshman class president and served on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Resources. Jindal also served as assistant majority whip. In his first term he passed a number of notable pieces of legislation and played an instrumental role in Louisiana's recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. His noteworthy accomplishments include the passage of legislation to bring significant offshore energy revenues to Louisiana for the first time and legislation that keeps Federal Emergency Management Agency from taxing certain recovery grants as income.

Jindal was re-elected to Congress in 2006 with 88 percent of the vote majority.

Jindal and his wife Supriya have three young children.