Jacques Villeré

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Jacques Villeré
Jacques Villere.jpg
26th, 2nd since U.S. Statehood Governor of Louisiana
In office
December 16, 1816 – December 18, 1820
Preceded by William C. C. Claiborne
Succeeded by Thomas B. Robertson
Personal details
Born April 28, 1761
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
Died March 7, 1830(1830-03-07) (aged 68)
St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Jeanne Henriette de Fazende

Jacques Phillippe Villeré (April 28, 1761 – March 7, 1830) was the second Governor of Louisiana after it became a state. He was the first Creole and the first native of Louisiana to hold that office.

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1761 near present-day Kenner, Louisiana, on his maternal grandfather's plantation La Providence. [1]

His father was Joseph Antoine de Villeré, an official in the French Navy during the reign of King Louis XV and later a colonial militia captain in the German Coast area of present-day southeast Louisiana. When the French colony of La Louisiane was ceded to Spain in 1763, Joseph was executed by Spanish Governor Alejandro O'Reilly, who was sent by King Charles III to suppress a local revolt.[2] Villeré's grandfather, Etienne Roy de Villeré, had accompanied Iberville on the voyage from France to the Gulf coast, late in the 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIV.

Jacques's mother was Louise Marguerite de la Chaise, daughter of Jacques de la Chaise and granddaughter, on her mother's side, of Charles Frederick d’Arensbourg.

Military service[edit]

Villeré joined the French Army and was educated for two years in France at the Crown's expense, due to his father's death at the hands of O'Reilly. In 1776, while still an adolescent, he was assigned to Saint-Domingue as a first lieutenant in the artillery. His mother's death in the 1780s brought him back to settle in Louisiana (New Spain), which became a possession of the United States about twenty years later.

In 1814-15, he served with distinction in the (War of 1812's) Battle of New Orleans, as a major general commanding the 1st Division of the Louisiana Militia. His men stood fast, assigned to the area near Lake Borgne and Bayou Dupre, as British forces approached New Orleans by sea.

The Villeré plantation, Conseil, located downriver from the city, was overrun by the British. In fact, Villeré's son Gabriel, who had the rank of major and guarded the plantation with thirty soldiers, was surprised and captured when the British Army initially made its presence known. Maj. Villeré managed to escape and report the news to Gen. Andrew Jackson, who ordered the night attack of December 23, 1814.[3]

The Villeré home was used as British headquarters throughout the Louisiana campaign for nearly one month.[4] The family's property was damaged and they lost a number of slaves, who were taken aboard Royal Navy vessels and later freed.

Family, political career, & later life[edit]

In 1784, Villeré married Jeanne Henriette de Fazende, the daughter of Gabriel de Fazende, who owned a plantation seven miles (11 km) below New Orleans in present-day Saint Bernard Parish. The couple raised eight children. Jeanne Villeré died in 1826.[5]

In 1803, Villeré secured a seat on the municipal council (the Cabildo) of New Orleans during the brief return to French colonial administration. The next year, after the Louisiana Purchase took effect, Villeré was appointed a Major General in the territorial militia, a Police Juror in what in a few years would be the "county" of Orleans Parish, and a Justice of the Peace for the area which would soon become St. Bernard Parish.

Villeré was a member of the convention which drafted Louisiana's first state constitution. He ran for Governor in 1812, to serve as the first governor after statehood, but was defeated in the election by William C. C. Claiborne who was elected overwhelmingly with over 70% of the vote.

Jacques Villeré was elected as the second state governor in 1816, narrowly defeating Joshua Lewis. He took office in December of that year and served through 1820, a period of prosperity and growth for the new state. His gubernatorial administration was noted for efforts to provide bankruptcy protection for debtors, the designation of death-by-dueling as a capital offense, and reduction of the level of state debt.[6]

He retired to the family's sugar plantation in St. Bernard Parish after his term, as the law did not permit him to succeed himself in office.[7] Villeré was brought out of retirement to run again for Governor in the 1824 election, but he and Bernard de Marigny split the Creole vote and Henry Johnson was elected Governor.

He was preparing to run for Governor again in the 1830 special election; but he died March 7, 1830, before the election, at the plantation Conseil after a long illness. His remains were interred at St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, in New Orleans.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ VILLERE, Jacques Philippe in the Louisiana Historical Association's Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, accessed 18 April 2017.
  2. ^ Ibid.
  3. ^ Reilly, Robin. The British at the Gates. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1974 (Reprinted 2002 by Robin Brass Studio, Toronto), p. 251 ff.
  4. ^ Wilson, Samuel, Jr. Plantation Houses on the Battlefield of New Orleans. New Orleans: Louisiana Landmarks Society, 1989 (Reprinted 2011 by Pelican Publishing Co.), p. 87.
  5. ^ Jacques P. Villeré at La-Cemeteries.com, retrieved 18 April 2017.
  6. ^ Jacques Villere in the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography
  7. ^ Jacques Philippe Villeré in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities' encyclopedia, accessed 18 April 2017.
Political offices
Preceded by
William C. C. Claiborne
Governor of Louisiana
1816–1820
Succeeded by
Thomas B. Robertson