Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Most Prominent Politicians: State Edition - Louisiana

Lawyers Guns and Money have been running a series of posts about the 'most prominent politicians in each state.' The list is going in order of the state's admission to the union. The list is weighted towards national impact and historical impact (away from, but not excluding, recent [post-2000] politicians). They've made it up to New Jersey, so it'll be a while before they get to Louisiana.

The list also tends to rank the top 3 and then list a few other 'also-rans.'

It got me thinking about what Louisiana's list might look like. There is the (excellent) Louisiana Political Museum, in Winfield, LA, but I'll distill it down a bit and use the metrics of LGM (national significance and historical characters).

#1, 2, AND 3- Huey Long. No doubt whatsoever. T. Harry Williams still has the best history of, love him or hate him, the most important man in Louisiana's history. I'll also group all the Longs into Huey (they were all imitations, compared to the genuine article).

I give him all top 3 slots and leave the rest to a list in historical order.

W. C. C. Claiborne- The first Louisiana Governor, important in the lead up to the Battle of New Orleans and his handling of the Haitian Emigres.
Zachary Taylor- The only Louisianian who made it to the presidency. He was the last president who actively owned slaves during his presidency (mainly through marriage). I've always found him an interesting character because, despite owning slaves, he was generally hostile to slave interests (probably because of his travels in the military) and his very short term in office (due to abrupt illness and death).
Henry C. Warmouth- "Carpetbagger" governor who did build up quite a formidable block of emancipated black voters. Huey Long secretly admired his political cunning.
Murphy Foster- NOT Mike Foster, Jr. Murphy Foster was one of a line of Conservative/"Reform" governors in the post-Reconstruction era, but he was the only one that actually practiced what he preached when it came to gambling. He shut down the NOTORIOUS Louisiana State Lottery Company (unlike his "reformer" predecessors that condemned the Lottery when campaigning and then exploited it to levels that even the carpetbaggers would consider obscene.
Dutch Morial- The only black politician on my list, partly because of his Civil Rights record prior to his mayorship. PBS Pinchback wasn't around long, and Bill Jefferson, frankly, did nothing of note with his ample talents. $Bill was a brilliant Harvard Law grad, worked his way up to become a senior Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee and a close ally of Bill Clinton and all that talent went to waste. He used it to enrich his family and local political allies (like Eddie Jordan).
Hale Boggs- Short-tenured Speaker of the House
Bob Livingston- Short-tenured Speaker of the House.
Edwin Edwards- Louisiana's only 3-term governor. See Huey Long.
Mary Landrieu- The most national significance of any of the Landrieu's (mainly for being on the Senate Appropriations Committee).

That's my list, given the slant towards 'national significance.' Am I missing anyone? What would your list look like?

1 comment:

Clay said...

It's finally up at LGM.