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William Charles Cole Claiborne (1775 – 23 November 1817) was a United Statesmarker politician, best known as the first U.S. governor of Louisianamarker. He also has the distinction of being the youngest Congressman in U.S. history, having been elected to the House of Representatives at the age of 22.

Early life and career

William C. C. Claiborne was born in Sussex Countymarker, Virginiamarker. He studied at the College of William and Marymarker, then Richmond Academy. At the age of 16 he moved to New York Citymarker, where he worked as a clerk under John Beckley, the clerk of the United States House of Representatives, which was then seated in that city. He moved to Philadelphiamarker with the Federal Government. He then began study of law, and moved to Tennesseemarker in 1794 to start a law practice. Governor John Sevier appointed Claiborne to that state's supreme court in 1796. The following year he resigned to run successfully for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, even though he was not yet 25 years of age, as required by the United States Constitution.

He served in the House through 1801 when he was appointed Governor of the Territory of Mississippimarker.

Louisiana Territorial Period

Claiborne moved to New Orleansmarker and oversaw the transfer of Louisiana to U.S. control after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He governed what would become the State of Louisiana, then termed the "Territory of Orleans", during its period as a United States territory from 1804 through 1812.

Relations with Louisiana's Creole population were initially rather strained. He gradually gained their confidence, saw the territory take in Francophone refugees from the Haitian Revolution, and suppressed a slave revolt in the area around La Placemarker.

He presided over the suppression of the largest slave revolt in American history, the 1811 German Coast Uprising.

After West Florida secured its independence from Spain in 1810, Claiborne annexed the area on the orders of President Madison, who considered it part of the Louisiana Purchase.

After Statehood

Claiborne was the first elected governor after Louisiana became a U.S. state, winning the election of 1812 against Jacques Villeré, and serving from 1812 through 1816.

After his term as governor, he was elected to the United States Senate, serving from 4 April, 1817 until his death.

His body was originally buried in St. Louis Cemeterymarker # 1. This was a controversial honor; this then most prestigious of the city's cemeteries is a Roman Catholic cemetery, while Claiborne was Protestant. He was later reinterred in Metairie Cemetery.

Three U.S. counties are named in his honor: Claiborne Parish, Louisianamarker; Claiborne County, Mississippimarker; and Claiborne County, Tennesseemarker. The longest street in New Orleansmarker, Louisianamarker is named in his honor: Claiborne Avenue.

The World War II Camp Claibornemarker was named for him in 1939. This installation is still used today for training the Louisianamarker Army National Guard, particularly by the 256th Infantry Brigade for road marches and land navigation.

The Claiborne Building is located in downtown Baton Rougemarker and serves as a government administrative center for the Louisiana government.

William Claiborne was a direct ancestor of fashion designer Liz Claiborne.

In 1993, Claiborne was posthumously inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfieldmarker. Along with Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and Earl Kemp Long, Claiborne was among the first thirteen inductees into the Hall of Fame.


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