Notes for Alexandre Mouton: U.S. Senator (1837-1842 or 1843) Governor of Louisiana (1844-1848 or 1843-1846)
One of the most powerful politicians in Louisiana both before and after the Civil War.
From "DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY":
"Alexander Mouton, governor of Louisiana and senator, was born on the Bayou Carencro, in Attakapas County, now Lafayette Parish, LA., the son of Jean and Marie Marthe (Bordat) Mouton and the descendant of Acadian exiles on both sides of his family. He received his elementary education in the district schools of his county and later attended Georgetown College in the District of Columbia. He spoke French as his native tongue and received his instruction in the district schools altogether in that language, but during his youth he acquired a good knowledge of English, which he spoke fluently and effectively. He studied law in the offices first of Charles Antoine and later of Edward Simon of St. Martinville, La., in 1825 was admitted to the bar, and began to practice in Lafayette Parish. He soon gave up practice, however, to manage a plantation given him by his father near Vermilionville, the present town of Lafayette, La., where he became one of the more prosperous sugar planters of the state. In 1826, he was married to Zelia Rousseau, a grand-daughter of Jacques Dupre, one of the wealthiest cattle raisers in the Opelousas country and later acting-governor of Louisiana. The had four children. In the same year, he was elected from Lafayette Parish to the lower house of the state legislature and served from 1829 to 1832. He was speaker in 1831 and 1832. He was named presidential elector on the Democratic ticket in the elections of 1828, 1832, and 1836. In 1836, he was again elected to the state legislature, which, in 1837, chose him to the United States Senate to fill out the unexpired term of Alexander Porter, who had resigned. At the end of that term, he was reelected and served from Jan. 12, 1837, to Mar. 1, 1842, when he resigned to campaign for the governorship of Louisiana on the Democratic ticket. While he was senator he was married in 1842 to his second wife, Emma K. Gardner, the daughter of Charles K. Gardner. They had six children.
He was inaugurated governor in January 1843 for a term of four years but, under the new constitution of 1845 which made some rearrangements in the terms of state officers, he retired in February 1846. At the beginning of his administration the state was deeply in debt, but by its close mose of the indebtedness had been liquidated and provision had been made for the payment of the rest by 1872. He was very active in the presidential campaign of 1844 in behalf of (James Knox) Polk and Dallas and contributed effectively toward carrying the state in their behalf. He was interested in the development of railroads in Louisiana and was president of the southwestern railroad convention held at New Orleans in January 1852. He was also made president in 1858 of the vigilance committee of the Attakapas country, which was organized for the purpose o ridding that part of the state of bandits and marauders. In 1856 and in 1860, he was a delegate from Louisiana to the Democratic conventions in Cincinnati and Charleston respectively. In 1861, he was a delegate to the Louisiana secession convention, served as president of that body, and voted for secession. He was subsequently a candidate for the senate of the Southern Confederacy but was defeated. During the Civil War, he sustained heavy losses both in his family and in his fortune. To the end of his life, he remained a picturesque type. He is said to have been the original for George W. Cable's brief desription, in "Carancro" (Century Magazine, Jan. 1887, p. 355), of "the Acadian of the Acadians", the grandson of the Acadian widow who took refuge in Louisiana, whom the people of Louisiana made "Senator, Governor and President of the Convention."
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ALEXANDER MOUTON.--The name that heads this sketch is well known, not only in Louisiana, but throughout the United States. Alexander Mouton was born November 19, 1804, in what was then Attakapas, on Bayou Carencro, which was the dividing line between Attakapas county and county of Opelousas, on the road now leading from the present town of Lafayette to Grand Coteau. He died February 12, 1885.
Mr. Mouton was the ninth Governor of the State of Louisiana, and the first Democrat to occupy the executive chair. He was a lineal descendant of an early Acadian family, and was proud of his origin. His mother, Marthé Bordat, was the daughter of Dr. Antoine Bordat, ex-surgeon of the French army, and Marguerite Martin, who was first married in Acadia, now Nova Scotia, to a gentleman named Robichaux, who came to New Orleans with many other refugees who were driven from their country by the British government on account of their allegiance to France, which had possessed and controlled it prior to England's conquest of Canada. Mrs. Robichaux married a second time, in New Orleans, Dr. Bordat of that city, who subsequently removed to the birthplace of Governor Mouton. Governor Mouton's father was a son of Salvator Mouton, who was also an Acadian refugee.
Educational advantages in the section of Louisiana in which Governor Mouton spent his youthful days were at that time very limited, a few indifferent country schools affording the only opportunities for instruction of the rising generation. The population consisted nearly solely of Acadian descendants, and the French language was universally spoken and for many years the only language taught in the schools of that locality, so that it was difficult for one to obtain a thorough English training. Governor Mouton was, however, a precocious youth, and he proved himself equal to the emergency. He acquired, unaided, a good knowledge of the English language, and from the fluency with which he spoke he might have been considered a thorough classical scholar.
The days of his boyhood were uneventful, and consisted in the regular routine of events attending the youthful days of a country boy. At an early age young Mouton evinced a great interest in public affairs, and, probably, to this is due the fact that he chose as his vocation law, as the entrance to the political arena has been, in the United States, chiefly through the doors of this profession.
In 1821 Governor Mouton went to St. Martinsville, the seat of the parochial government of St. Martin parish, and studied law in the office of Charles Antoine, an attorney of St. Martinsville. Charles Antoine died shortly after Governor Mouton entered his office, and young Mouton finished his law study with Edward Simon, a distinguished jurist, who was at one time Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.
Being admitted to the bar in 1825, Mr. Mouton commenced the practice of his profession in Lafayette parish, which had been incorporated in 1823. He only practised [sic] a short while, however, when he retired to his country home, seemingly preferring the freedom and ease of a country life to the tedious routine of an attorney's duties.
In 1826 the citizens of Lafayette parish, looking around for a man of energy and ability to represent them in the State Legislature, chose Mr. Mouton. His services were eminently satisfactory, and he succeeded himself in that body for three consecutive terms, and was Speaker of the House during the sessions of 1831-32.
From 1832 until 1836 Governor Mouton resided on his plantation. He was on the Presidential Electoral ticket during the presidential campaigns of 1828, 1832 and 1836. In the latter part of 1836 he was elected for the fourth time to the lower house of the State Legislature. In January, 1837, he was elected by that body to fill the unexpired term of Judge Porter in the United States Senate, and succeeded himself for the long term. While in Congress he was a member of the Committee on Private Land Claims and Patents.
Mr. Mouton was nominated for Governor of his State in 1842, and he resigned his seat in the Senate March 1, of that year, and, being elected, he entered upon his executive duties January 30, 1843. Commenting upon the condition of public affairs in the State at the time, Governor Mouton in his first message to the Legislature remarked: "We can justly attribute the evils we suffer to no other cause than to ourselves. Louisiana, under a good government, and poised on her own resources, would leave nothing to be wished for by her sons. It is but too common to look abroad for causes which are to be found immediately among ourselves. It is too customary to look to the general government for relief in distress, whilst that relief should have been sought at home. By the manly exercise of our own faculties, availing ourselves of our own advantages, and calling to our aid the sovereign power of the State, we could overcome all our difficulties." His public utterances were noted for their strength and wisdom. The Governor's remarks upon the fearful condition of the State Treasury, its cause and remedy, are full of facts and suggestions. He recommended as a remedy for this great evil legislative prevention, as far as possible, of the revival of a banking system as heretofore organized.
A new constitution for the State having been adopted May 14, 1845, involving a complete change of officers, Governor Mouton's term was brought to a close at the expiration of his third year. Leaving the executive chair, Governor Mouton again retired to private life and never again participated actively in political affairs.
January, 1852, he was chairman of the great Southwestern Railroad Convention. He was also a delegate to the National Convention held in Cincinnati, 1886. In 1858 he was selected president of the Vigilance Committee for the Attakapas country, which was organized to rid that section of the country from an organized band of marauders who set the laws at defiance. In 1860 he was a delegate to the National Convention held at Charleston, South Carolina, for the nomination of President of the United States. In 1861 he was a delegate and president of the Secession Convention that met in Baton Rouge. This may be said to have ended his public career, although he was afterward a candidate for a seat in the Confederate States Congress.
The latter days of Governor Mouton's life were spent on his plantation in Lafayette parish. There he lived a retired life, rarely leaving his home, save occasionally making a trip to New Orleans, since the extension of the Morgan Railroad, which afforded the traveling facilities which he could not previously command, for which he had a peculiar partiality, railroads being confessedly his hobby. Age pressed more heavily upon the governor in consequence of the severe loss he sustained in the war, by the death of his gallant son, General Alfred Mouton, at Mansfield, Louisiana, through the treachery of a body of Federal soldiers, who, after surrendering, fired upon and killed him. The devastation of his native place also added to the misfortunes which seemed to accumulate at that period of life when he was least able to sustain himself under the burden.
Governor Mouton was a man of remarkably prepossessing appearance; tall and commanding in figure, every feature of his countenance plainly expressed the great courage and resolution characteristic of his nature. Dignified and courteous in his manner, slow and deliberate in conversation, Governor Mouton laid no claim to oratorical power, preferring to listen to others rather than express his own views and opinions. He had that happy faculty of setting at ease those whom he entertained, and was a most congenial host.
Governor Mouton was married, in 1826, to Miss Zelia Rousseau, the daughter of Jaquez Dupre', the most wealthy stock raiser in " Opelousas county" in his time. He was also prominent in public affairs, and acted as President pro tem. of the State Senate and ex-officio Lieutenant Governor, subsequently becoming acting Governor in 1830; succeeding A. Beaurias, who was acting Governor after the death of Governor Derbigny. By his first marriage Governor Mouton had five children: General Alfred Mouton a graduate of West Point, who was killed at Mansfield, 1864; Mathilde, who married Frank Gardner, the defender of Port Hudson; Idieda, who married J. S. Mouton, a sugar planter of Lafayette parish; Cecilia, who died unmarried. After the death of his first wife the governor married, while a Senator in Washington City, 1842, Miss Emma K. Gardener, daughter of Colonel Charles K. Gardener, officer in the United States army. To the latter union four sons and two daughters were born: Charles, Paul, George, Rufus, Ann Eliza and Marie.
Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical, Biographical Section, pp. 238-241. Edited by William Henry Perrin. Published in 1891, by The Gulf Publishing Company.
More About Alexandre Mouton: Burial: Unknown, St. John the Evangelist Cemetery, Lafayette, LA. Education 1: Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Education 2: Local Schools. Elected 1: Bet. 1837 - 1842, U.S. Senator from Louisiana. Elected 2: Bet. 1843 - 1846, Governor of Louisiana. Graduation: Georgetown College, District of Columbia.
More About Alexandre Mouton and Emma Kitchell Gardner: Marriage: January 1842
Children of Alexandre Mouton and Celestine Zelia Rousseau are: