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Claiborne, William Charles Coles

William Charles Coles Claiborne, 1775–1817, governor of Louisiana, b. Sussex co., Va. He began law practice in Sullivan co., Tenn., and was appointed a judge of the state supreme court in 1796. As a Congressman (1797–1801) he supported Jefferson, and in 1801 the President made him governor of Mississippi Territory. In 1803, Claiborne was one of the commissioners appointed to receive Louisiana from France after the Louisiana Purchase, and he was governor (1804–12) of the newly organized Territory of Orleans. American government was not well received by the Creoles, and Claiborne had many quarrels with legislators and others. He was also criticized for his apparent approval of the questionable activities of Gen. James Wilkinson. However, when the Territory of Orleans was admitted to the Union in 1812 as the state of Louisiana, Claiborne was elected governor and served until 1816. In 1817 he was elected to the U.S. Senate but died before he could take his seat.

See D. Rowland, ed., Official Letterbooks of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816 (6 vol., 1917).

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