HENRY W. ALLEN was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia on April 29, 1820. His early education was attained in the common schools of his native state. After moving to Missouri, Allen apprenticed as a merchant and attended Marion College. However, after two years, he became disinterested and ran away to Mississippi. He supported himself in Grand Gulf as a tutor, studied law at night, and served in the Texas war against Mexico. Allen entered politics in 1845, serving as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, a position he held until 1847. Two years after moving to Louisiana, Allen was elected to the Louisiana Legislature, serving from 1853 to 1854. He retired briefly from public service, studying law at Harvard and volunteering in the Italian independence conflict, which was over by the time he reached Italy. Allen stayed in Europe, and traveled the continent. Upon his return home, he published The Travels of a Sugar Planter in 1861. During the Civil War, he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 4th Louisiana Regiment, served as military governor of Jackson, Mississippi, was wounded in the cheek and both legs in the Battles of Shiloh and Baton Rouge, and rose to the rank of brigadier general. After his military service, he was elected governor of Confederate Louisiana on November 2, 1863. He was sworn into office on January 25, 1864. During his tenure, he worked to restore the state’s economic and industrial standing. Sugar and cotton was exported to Mexico in exchange of sorely needed items, such as dry goods. State stores, factories, and foundries were organized; and provisions and merchandise were sold below cost in an effort to relieve the state’s destruction and food shortage. Also, a Shreveport medical dispensary was initiated, a state laboratory was instituted that produced and dispensed medicine, and the state’s monetary system was re-established. After leaving office on June 2, 1865, Allen went into exile, settling in Mexico, and establishing the Mexico Times, an English-language newspaper. Governor Henry W. Allen passed away on April 22, 1866 in Mexico City. He was buried at the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, 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.