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Thomas Overton Moore

Thomas Overton Moore

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Thomas Overton Moore was an attorney and politician who was the 16th Governor of Louisiana from 1860 until 1864 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

Early years


Moore was born in Sampson County, North Carolina
Sampson County, North Carolina
-Demographics:As of the census of 2010, there were 63,431 people, 22,624 households, and 16,214 families residing in the county. The population density was 67.1 people per square mile . There were 26,476 housing units at an average density of 27 per square mile...

, one of eleven children of James Moore and Jane Overton. The Moores were a Carolina planter family, and Jane Overton was the daughter of General Thomas Overton
Thomas Overton
Thomas Overton was an American military and political leader best known for having been the second to Andrew Jackson in his duel with Charles Dickinson in 1806.Thomas Overton was born in Louisa County, Virginia in 1753...

, a Tennessean and friend of Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

. In 1829, Moore moved to Rapides Parish, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, to become a cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 planter. The next year, he married Bethiah Johnston Leonard, with whom he had five children.

Originally the manager of his uncle's plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

, he bought his own and became highly prosperous. He was elected to the State House of Representatives
Louisiana House of Representatives
The Louisiana House of Representatives is the lower house in the Louisiana State Legislature, the state legislature of the US state of Louisiana. The House is composed of 105 Representatives, each of whom represents approximately 42,500 people . Members serve four-year terms with a term limit of...

 in 1848, and the State Senate in 1856. In the Senate, Moore was chairman of the Education Committee and led the effort to establish the Louisiana State Seminary, now known as Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College. Moore played a role in the selection of William Tecumseh Sherman as the first Superintendent of the La. State Seminary.

Governor of Louisiana


He was elected Democratic governor in November 1859, defeating Thomas Jefferson Wells, and shortly thereafter had the occasion to meet W.T. Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

, superintendent of the newly created Louisiana Military Academy. He took the oath of office on January 23, 1860. In his inaugural address, Moore told the legislators and visitors at the Capitol that a powerful party in the North threatened the existence of the slave-holding states:

"So bitter is this hostility felt toward slavery, which these fifteen states regard as a great social and political blessing, that it exhibits itself in legislation for the avowed purpose of destroying the rights of slaveholders guaranteed by the Constitution and protected by the Acts of Congress. . . . [in] the North, a widespread sympathy with felons has deepened the distrust in the permanent Federal Government, and awakened sentiments favorable to a separation of states."

A supporter of John C. Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge
John Cabell Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States , to date the youngest vice president in U.S...

 in the 1860 election
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

, the winner of the Louisiana electoral votes, he ordered U.S. military posts in the state to be seized by state militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

 on January 10, 1861, as the state convention on secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 was sitting. The ordinance
Local ordinance
A local ordinance is a law usually found in a municipal code.-United States:In the United States, these laws are enforced locally in addition to state law and federal law.-Japan:...

 of secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 passed the convention on January 26, 1861. Moore placed Col. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 in command of the state military, and Louisiana joined the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 on March 21, 1861, the sixth state to do so.

Despite Moore's appeals to the Confederate government for a strong defense of New Orleans, and brisk recruiting of troops in Louisiana, the state rapidly came under threat during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The Union blockade
Union blockade
The Union Blockade, or the Blockade of the South, took place between 1861 and 1865, during the American Civil War, when the Union Navy maintained a strenuous effort on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the Confederate States of America designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, and arms...

 disrupted commerce in New Orleans, and the naval forces assembling in the Gulf
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 would advance up the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 in early 1862. After a prolonged bombardment, the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip
Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip
The Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip was the decisive battle for possession of New Orleans in the American Civil War. The two Confederate forts on the Mississippi River south of the city were attacked by a Union Navy fleet...

 concluded with the destruction of the Confederate navy on the lower Mississippi and the passage of the forts by the Union fleet in the early morning of April 24, 1862. New Orleans surrendered on April 27. Two days earlier, Moore and the legislature had decided to abandon Baton Rouge as the state capital, relocating to Opelousas on May 1, 1862.

Moore visited the state militia at the eponymous Camp Moore
Camp Moore
Camp Moore, north of the Village of Tangipahoa near Kentwood, Louisiana, was a Confederate training base and principal base of operations in eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi. The base was named for Louisiana Governor Thomas Overton Moore and operated from May 1861 to 1864 during the...

 in Tangipahoa Parish and began organizing military resistance at the state level, ordering the burning of cotton, cessation of trade with the Union forces, and calling for the enlistment of all free white males between ages 17 and 50 in the militia. However, despite a brief check at Baton Rouge, Union forces continued to advance into Louisiana and up the Mississippi, and the capital was moved again to Shreveport.

After the governorship


In January 1864, Moore's term as governor ended, and he was succeeded by Henry Watkins Allen
Henry Watkins Allen
Henry Watkins Allen was an American soldier and politician, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

. He returned to his plantation, but was soon forced to flee upriver by the Red River Campaign
Red River Campaign
The Red River Campaign or Red River Expedition consisted of a series of battles fought along the Red River in Louisiana during the American Civil War from March 10 to May 22, 1864. The campaign was a Union initiative, fought between approximately 30,000 Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen....

, soldiers of which burned the plantation in May. After the Civil War, he fled into Mexico to escape arrest, and subsequently to Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

. From Havana, Moore applied for a pardon. Moore's application for pardon was delivered by hand to Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 by William Tecumseh Sherman. He eventually returned to Louisiana after being pardoned by Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 on January 15, 1867. His lands were restored to him, in part through the influence of Sherman, and he left politics, spending the rest of his life rebuilding his livelihood. He died in 1876 near Alexandria, Louisiana.

See also

  • CSS Governor Moore
    CSS Governor Moore
    LSNS Governor Moore was a schooner-rigged steamer in the Confederate States Navy.Governor Moore had been Southern S. S. Company's Charles Morgan, named for the firm's founder and built at New York in 1854 as a schooner-rigged, low pressure, walking beam-engined, seagoing steamer...

    , a Confederate "cotton-clad
    Cotton-clad
    Cottonclads were a classification of steam-powered warships where a wooden ship was protected from enemy fire by bales of cotton lining its sides. This provided some protection from enemy fire, but not to the extent of ironclads...

    " warship named after him.

External links