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Murphy James Foster, Sr.
Murphy James Foster, Sr. (January 12, 1849 June 21, 1921), was a Louisianamarker politician who served two terms as a Democratic governor of Louisiana from 1892 1900. His grandson, Murphy J. Foster, Jr., served as a Republican governor of the state from 1996 to 2004.

Foster was born on a sugar plantation near Franklinmarker, the seat of St. Mary Parish, to Thomas Foster and the former Martha P. Murphy. He was educated in public schools and attended Washington and Lee Universitymarker in Lexington, Virginiamarker, and graduated from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennesseemarker in 1870. He studied law at the University of Louisiana (later Tulane Universitymarker) in New Orleansmarker and was admitted to the bar in 1871.

On May 15, 1877, Foster married the former Florence Daisy Hine, the daughter of Franklin merchant T.D. Hine. She died on August 26, 1877 at age 19. In 1881, he married the former Rose Routh Ker, daughter of Captain John Ker and the former Rose Routh of Ouida Plantation in West Feliciana Parish near Baton Rougemarker. The couple had ten children, nine of whom lived to maturity. One was Murphy James Foster, II, the father of future Governor Mike Foster. Mike Foster is technically Foster, III, but he uses the term "Jr."

Prior to serving as governor, he was a state senator from 1880-1892. In 1892, he was elected governor as the Democratic nominee, and he had the support of the Farmer's Alliance as well.

In the 1896 general election, Foster won reelection. He defeated the Republican-Populist fusion candidate, John N. Pharr. Foster received 116,116 votes (57 percent) to Pharr's 87,698 ballots (43 percent). The election however suffered heavily from fraud in Foster's favor and a clear accounting of the election results is probably not possible.

After leaving the office of governor in 1900, he was elected by the state legislature as a U.S. senator. He served until 1913,when he was defeated. Thereafter, he was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as the customs collector in New Orleans. He died in 1921 on the Dixie Plantation near Franklin, some nine years before his future grandson-governor was born.

Foster struggled to maintain white supremacy in Louisiana through his support of the Louisiana Constitution of 1898, which practically disfranchised blacks. He also led the fight which succeeded in outlawing the Louisiana Lottery Co. Foster fought for the interest of sugar growers and supported flood-control legislation and the regulation of railway rates.

In 1997, Foster was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfieldmarker.


External links

Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, 1896 Louisiana gubernatorial election returns

"Murphy James Foster," A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. I (1988), p. 315

Miriam G. Reeves, The Governors of Louisiana (1962)

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