William Wright Heard
Born: April 28, 1853 in Union Parish, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Baptist
Education: Attended a local academy in Farmerville, Louisiana
Career Prior to Term: Accountant and State Senator
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1900
Career after Term: Returned to accounting and banking business in New Orleans
Died: May 31, 1926 in New Orleans, Louisiana
William Wright Heard, a protege of Governor 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.