FRANCIS R. T. NICHOLLS was born in Donaldsville, Louisiana on August 20, 1834. His education was attained at the Jefferson Academy in New Orleans, and at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1855. After serving briefly as a lieutenant in the 2nd Artillery Regiment, Nicholls resigned his military commission. He then studied law at Tulane University, was admitted to the bar in 1861, and established his legal career in Napoleonville, Louisiana. During the Civil War, he served as lieutenant colonel of the 8th Louisiana Regiment, lost an arm in the Battle of Winchester and a foot in the Battle of Chancellorsville, and rose to the rank of brigadier general of the 2nd Louisiana Regiment. Nicholls entered politics in 1876, winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He went on to defeat Stephen B. Packard in the general election by a majority of 8,000 votes. However, the Republican controlled Returning Board announced Packard the winner. Nicholls disregarded the ruling, and was sworn into office on January 8, 1877. During his tenure, a defacto government was organized, which eventually was recognized by the federal government. Also, the dishonesty of three state bureaucrats was dealt with, and a constitutional convention amended his gubernatorial term from four years to three. After leaving office on January 13, 1880, Nicholls returned to his law practice. He was reelected to the governorship on April 17, 1888. During his second term, he battled against the corrupt Louisiana Lottery Company by vetoing a lottery bill that had been approved. However, the State Supreme Court overturned his decision. Later, the federal government banned the lottery from using the U.S. mail to sell tickets. After completing his term, Nicholls left office on May 10, 1892. He then secured an appointment as chief justice of the Louisiana State Supreme Court, a position he held for twelve years. He also served as an associate justice of the State Supreme Court from 1904 to 1911. Governor Francis R.L. Nicholls passed away on January 4, 1912, and was buried at the St. John Episcopal Cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
Dawson III, Joseph G. The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Baton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1990.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.