Robert C. Nicholas

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Robert Carter Nicholas
Robert Carter Nicholas.jpg
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
January 13, 1836 – March 3, 1841
Preceded byGeorge A. Waggaman
Succeeded byAlexander Barrow
Secretary of State of Louisiana
In office
GovernorAlexandre Mouton
Preceded byLevi Pierce
Succeeded byZenon Ledoux, Jr.
Louisiana Superintendent of Education
In office
Preceded byAlexander Dimitry
Succeeded byJohn N. Carrigan
Personal details
Born(1787-01-10)January 10, 1787
Hanover, Virginia
DiedDecember 24, 1856(1856-12-24) (aged 69)
Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana
Political partyDemocratic

Robert Carter Nicholas (January 10, 1787 – December 24, 1856) was a United States senator from Louisiana. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and also served as Secretary of State of Louisiana and Louisiana's Superintendent of Education.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Hanover, Virginia, on January 10, 1787, he was the son of Revolutionary war veteran and politician George Nicholas (1754–1799) and his wife(1754–1799).[1] and the grandson of Robert Carter Nicholas (1728–1780).[2], and named for his late grandfather Robert Carter Nicholas, Sr.[3] In 1816 and 1817 Nicholas attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.[4][5]

Military service[edit]

Nicholas joined the United States Army in 1808, receiving a commission as a Captain in the 7th Infantry Regiment.[6] Nicholas was promoted to major in 3rd Infantry Regiment in 1810[7] and became Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Infantry Regiment in 1812.[8] He served with his regiment in the War of 1812, including combat at the Battle of Chippewa.[9] After serving with the 30th Infantry, in 1814 he was promoted to colonel, and he commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment until resigning his commission in 1819.[10][11]


After his military service, Nicholas relocated to Kentucky, and in 1821 received an appointment as U.S. Indian Agent to the Chickasaw Nation.[12]

Nicholas later moved to Louisiana, where he owned a sugarcane plantation in Terrebonne Parish while residing in St. James Parish.[13] He operated that plantation using enslaved labor. In the last federal census in his lifetime, Nicholas owned 236 enslaved people.[14]

Nicholas was elected as a Jacksonian (later a Democrat) to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator-elect Charles E.A. Gayarre, and served from January 13, 1836, to March 3, 1841.[15]

He was Secretary of State of Louisiana in 1845.[16] From 1849 to 1853 he was Louisiana's Superintendent of Education.[17][18]

Death and legacy[edit]

Nicholas died in Terrebonne Parish on December 24, 1856.[19] He was originally buried at his plantation, and later moved to the Burthe family vault at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans.[20]

Hanover, VA

Personal life[edit]

He married Susan Adelaide Vinson, and their children included a daughter, Mary. Mary Nicholas was the wife of Frederick George Burthe.[21]

Nicholas was a nephew of John Nicholas, a U.S. Representative from Virginia and Wilson Cary Nicholas, a Senator from Virginia.[22]


  1. ^ du Bellet, Louise Pecquet (1907). Some Prominent Virginia Families, Volumes I and II. Baltimore, MD: Clearfield. p. 316. ISBN 9780806307220.
  2. ^ "Historical and Genealogical Notes: Nicholas". William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Volume 27. Williamsburg, VA: William and Mary College. July 1, 1918. p. 132.
  3. ^ "Ni5-1 Robert Carter Nicholas". The Genealogy of the Hester Family of Saginaw and the Bland and Nicholas Families of Shelbyville Ky. Dr. William Hester. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  4. ^ "Alumni of William and Mary College". The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA. 42: 361. October 1, 1888. ISBN 9780788405839.
  5. ^ Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office. 1961. p. 1387.
  6. ^ United States Senate, Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, 1810, page 309
  7. ^ Journal of the Senate of the United States of America. Washington, DC: R. C. Weightman. 1810. p. 308.
  8. ^ Powell, William H. (1900). List of Officers of the Army of the United States from 1779 to 1900. New York, NY: L. R. Hamersly & Co. p. 88. robert c. nicholas 12th infantry.
  9. ^ Quisenberry, Anderson Chenault (1969). Kentucky in the War of 1812. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. 165. ISBN 9780806302829.
  10. ^ Anderson Chenault Quisenberry, Kentucky in the War of 1812, 1996, page 165
  11. ^ United States War Department, A Compilation of Registers of the Army of the United States, from 1815 to 1837, 1837, page 19
  12. ^ United States Senate, Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the United States Senate, Volume 3, 1821, page 235
  13. ^ Robinson, Merritt M. (1843). Reports of cases argued and determined in the Supreme Court of Louisiana, Volume 22. New York, NY: A. S. Gould. pp. 7–8.
  14. ^ 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule for Eastern District, St. James Parish, Louisiana pp. 49-51 of 85, available on
  15. ^ Byrd, Robert (1993). Senate, 1789–1989: Historical Statistics, 1789–1992, Volume 4. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 114. ISBN 9780160632563.
  16. ^ Michel, John T. (1902). Annual Report of the Louisiana Secretary of State. Baton Rouge, LA: Baton Rouge News Publishing Company. p. 328.
  17. ^ Jeanne Frois, Louisiana Almanac: 2006-2007, 2006, page 555
  18. ^ The Boardman, Volumes 6-8, 1951, page 5
  19. ^ "Louisiana Intelligence: Death of Robert C. Nicholas". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. December 29, 1856. p. 4. (Incorrectly indicates that Nicholas served 12 years in the Senate and as Chargé d'Affaires in Naples.)
  20. ^ Robert C. Nicholas at Find a Grave
  21. ^ The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 57. Richmond, VA: Virginia Historical Society. 1949. p. 83.
  22. ^ American Political Leaders 1789–2009. Washington, DC: CQ Press, Inc. 2010. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-60426-537-8.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State of Louisiana
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Louisiana
Served alongside: Alexander Porter, Alexandre Mouton
Succeeded by