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Governor Henry Clay Warmoth

Encyclopedia Louisiana

Henry C. Warmoth, 1842-1931

May 9
Born in Mcleansboro, Illinois from parents of Dutch extraction.
1860 Admitted to the bar to become a District Attorney at age 18.
1861 Joins Union forces as a Lt. Col. of the Missouri Volunteers.
Saw the capture of Arkansas Post, wounded at Vicksburg, he is dishonorably discharged for circulating exaggerated Union losses but appeals to Abraham Lincoln and is re-commissioned.
Serves briefly at Lookout Mountain before he is assigned to Louisiana where General Banks appoints Warmoth to Provost Court.
Leaves military service.
1865 He arrives in New Orleans in 1965 penniless but resourceful. He targets the newly freed black men, easily convincing them that he was the man to represent them in the state government. He enters private law practice in New Orleans, runs for Congress as a Republican and is elected, but denied a seat.
July 30
A black suffrage riot breaks out in New Orleans and many blacks and Republicans are killed. As a witness, Warmoth writes an account.
1867 Although he is not a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 his age influences a minimum age clause for office holders.
Warmoth is chosen over Major Francis E. Dumas to run against Talliaferro for governor at age 26 and defeats him by 2 votes. He presides over a Carpetbagger Reconstruction administration that can be described as Louisiana’s most corrupt.

Oscar J. Dunn a black house painter is elected Lt. Governor but dies shortly after and is replaced by the president pro tempe of the State Senate Pickney Benton Stewart Pinchback, a mulatto.

Under him the state’s bonded debt rises from $6 million to $25 million and at one time reached over $100 million. He was cautious and never appointed anyone before they signed a blank resignation form. A cohort tricked him into an impeachment but his term expired before a verdict was rendered.

Warmoth is accused of making a princely profit by most of Louisiana. His newspaper has a state contract and he trades in state bonds while the state debt and taxes rise.
In presidential race Democrat Horatio Seymour carries Louisiana, but Grant wins. Warmoth creates the State Returning Board. All election returns are reported to the State Returning Board for validity and approval.

At this time Republicans are divided into state government under Warmoth and the Customhouse gang consisting of Federal employees. The state government supports black suffrage, but is still prejudiced. Beginning this year elections in Louisiana will be proven dishonest and violent through the year 1900. Groups such as the Knights of the White Camellia terrorize black citizens while the State Returning Board consistently reverses the Democratic majority in many voting districts.
1872 Warmoth supports liberal Horace Greely against U.S. Grant and Democrat John McEnery vs. William Pitt Kellogg at the Customhouse for governor. The state returns are confused and fraudulent, forcing Grant to name the winners. His last two years in office have been a struggle for Warmoth until he is impeached and suspended from office for the last 35 days.
May 30
Warmoth marries heiress Sally Durand of Newark, New Jersey. They will have two sons and a daughter and will reside at Magnolia Plantation in Plaquemines Parish.
1884 Helps establish a sugar refinery and leads a campaign for a higher tariff to protect the sugar industry. He sells his plantation after the tariff passes.
1888 Warmoth loses a race for the governor’s office.
1890 Appointed Collector of Customs in New Orleans by president Benjamin Harrison while living in the St. Charles Hotel.
1931 Dies in New Orleans at age 89 and had a well attended funeral
Please watch this space for more information in the future

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Updated: Thursday, December 20, 2001