All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Harriet A Doss

Advisory Committee Members

Stephen Miller

Brian Steele

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2017

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

ABSTRACT In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson commissioned William Charles Cole Claiborne as a representative of the United States to accept the cession of the Louisiana Territory from France. After the United States took control of Louisiana on December 20, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Claiborne as the temporary governor of the territory while Congress devised a governmental structure of the new territory and the president sought more qualified candidates for the position of governor. The inhabitants of Louisiana protested the choice of Claiborne as temporary governor, pointing to his inability to speak their language (French and Spanish), his youth (he was twenty-eight years old), and his inexperience. Criticism of Claiborne by the Louisianians continued as Congress‘ unpopular plan for the territory became known and Jefferson retained Claiborne as the temporary governor while he continued his search for a replacement. Despite Claiborne’s abysmal start as the temporary governor of the Louisiana Territory, when Louisiana was admitted as a state in 1812, the inhabitants elected him as the first governor of the new state of Louisiana. How did Claiborne go from the despised temporary governor to the first elected governor of Louisiana? The key turning point occurred in 1807 and 1808. During that period, Claiborne dealt with an alleged treasonous attack on New Orleans and its aftermath, managed to discredit most of his iv detractors, and learned to work with the territorial legislature. In those key years, Claiborne matured in office and started using his power to quiet his political foes, force compromise between the federal government and territory inhabitants, and establish his leadership. Keywords: Louisiana Purchase, Claiborne, Jefferson, Orleans Territory, Creole, Judiciary

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