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William Charles Cole Claiborne

Gov. William Charles Cole Claiborne

  • July 30, 1812 - December 16, 1816
  • Jeffersonian-Republican
  • January 1, 1775
  • November 23, 1817
  • Virginia
  • William and Mary College
  • Married three times--Elizabeth W. Lewis, Clarissa Duralde, Suzette Basque; four children
  • Representative, Senator


WILLIAM C.C. CLAIBORNE, Louisiana’s first governor, was born in Sussex County, Virginia in 1775. His education was attained at the Richmond Academy, and for a short time at William and Mary College. He later studied law, was admitted to the bar, and then established his legal career in Sullivan County, Tennessee. Claiborne entered politics in 1796, serving as a member of the Tennessee Constitutional Convention. Later that same year, he was appointed to the bench of the newly formed Tennessee State Supreme Court, a position he held until 1797. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1797 to 1801, and was governor of the Mississippi Territory from 1801 to 1803. After the Louisiana Purchase, Claiborne was named one of the commissioners who assisted in the transfer of possession from France. From 1804 to 1812, he served as governor of the Territory of Orleans. In 1812, the Territory of Orleans was admitted to the Union as the state of Louisiana. Claiborne was elected governor by a popular vote and confirmed by the legislature. According to the Louisiana Constitution, the two candidates with the most popular votes were both eligible to become governor, with the legislature making the final selection. Claiborne was sworn into office on July 30, 1812. During his tenure, the War of 1812 was dealt with, and educational issues were addressed. After completing his term, Claiborne left office on December 16, 1816. The following year he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and served in that position from March 4, 1817 until November 23, 1817, when he passed away. Governor William C.C. Claiborne was buried at the Basin St. Louis Cemetery, and was later reinterred at the Metairie Cemetery.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Dawson III, Joseph G. The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Baton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1990.

Encyclopedia Louisiana

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.

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