Stephen Bennett Packard (1839 - 1922)

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Death: Died
Occupation: 2nd Unrecognized Governor of Louisiana
Managed by: Joel Scott Cognevich
Last Updated:

About Stephen Bennett Packard

Stephen Bennett Packard (April 25, 1839 - January 31, 1922), a native of Maine, emerged as an important Republican politician in Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction. He was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1876.

A captain in the Union Army during the American Civil War, Packard was appointed United States marshal in New Orleans in 1871 during the administration of U.S. President U.S. Grant. He emerged as a leader of what was called the "Customhouse Ring", a faction of the Republican Party opposed to Governor Henry Clay Warmoth.

In 1872, Packard directed the successful gubernatorial campaign of William Pitt Kellogg. Packard supported the impeachment of outgoing Governor Warmoth. The Democratic Party disputed the results of the election, and both parties claimed victory. The legislature impeached Warmoth as governor, on charges of having sold the election. His election board had certified John McEnery as governor. Packard obtained federal recognition of the African American P.B.S. Pinchback as governor for the thirty-five days left in Warmoth's term. Kellogg was then recognized by President Grant as the legitimate authority in charge.

In 1876 Packard was the Radical Republican candidate for governor in 1876. In another disputed election, both Packard and his Democratic opponent, Francis T. Nicholls were inaugurated. In the elections since 1868, there was increasing political violence. By 1876, the paramilitary White League, effectively an arm of the Democratic Party, had conducted open campaigns of intimidation and physical attacks, to keep freedmen and other Republicans away from the polls. Nicholls had led in the balloting by some eight thousand votes, but the Republican-controlled State Returning Board cited fraud and declared Packard the victor. Pinchback, however, refused to support Packard and endorsed Nicholls.

The New York Times, in an article datelined New-Orleans, February 16, 1877, has the headline "The Democratic Assassin. Gov. Packard's Attempted Murder.". At that time in New York, Packard was perceived to be Governor of Louisiana. The article describes the wounded condition of the assassin William H. Weldon, after being himself wounded in the attempt.

After the contested election of 1876, the Democratic-backed legislature, allied with Democratic Governor Francis T. Nicholls, selected Henry M. Spofford as United States Senator. However the Republican-dominated legislature, allied with Republican Governor Packard, had separately selected William Pitt Kellogg. The United States Senate, which was at the time dominated by the so-called Radical faction of the Republican party, refused to seat Spofford.

In the Compromise of 1877, the incoming Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes recognized Nicholls as the legitimate Louisiana governor. In exchange the Louisiana electoral votes were cast for the Hayes-William Wheeler ticket. Similarly, Hayes had recognized the "Redeemer" Democrat Wade Hampton, III, a Confederate general, as governor of South Carolina, rather than the incumbent Republican Daniel H. Chamberlain. As a result of the national compromise, the US government removed remaining federal troops from Louisiana and South Carolina, despite the pattern of violence and assassinations related to elections.

As a reward for his services to the party, which had then acquired the nickname Grand Old Party, or GOP, Packard was named United States consul at Liverpool. Packard's was the last strong Republican campaign for governor until 1964, when Charlton H. Lyons, Sr., a former Democrat, launched a campaign to rejuvenate the previously moribund GOP in Louisiana.

Stephen B. Packard is inurned beside the remains of his son, Stephen B. Packard, Jr., at the Washelli Columbarium at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle, Washington

Stephen Bennett Packard is an unrecognized Governor of Louisiana resulting from a highly contested 1876 election versus Francis T. Nicholls.

Packard was a Captain in tne Maine Volunteers during the civil war in a regiment reporting to General Butler. A native of Maine, he arrived in New Orleans after the Civil War. With his Gen. Butler relationship, he became New Orleans Judge-Advocate in 1864.

In 1867 he became a delegate to the state constitutional convention and then chairman of the Board of Registration, the administrator of civil affairs of the state until July 1868. In 1871, President Grant appointed him U. S. Marshall.

By the end of the Gov. Warmoth administration in 1872, Packard had become a leader of the "Customhouse Ring", a Radical Republican faction opposed to Warmoth. Packard supported the impeachment of Warmoth at the very end of Warmoth's term and then succeeded in having P. B. S. Pinchback recognized as governor for the thirty-five days left in Warmoth's term.

Packard then directed the gubernatorial campaign of William Pitt Kellogg against John McEnery in late 1872. The result of that election was similar to what Packard would experience in his own campaign for governor, except with the opposite result.

He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1876 where he eventually supported Blaine instead of Grant for president.

Elected and inaugurated as Governor of Louisiana in January 1877, he formed a legislature. Nicholls also claimed to have won, was inaugurated and also formed a legislature. This was a repeat of the 1873 election with both Kellogg and McEnery claiming the office of governor.

This time President Grant refused to intervene in this hotly contested election versus Nicholls. There were estimates that it would take 100,000 federal troops to impose Packard into office.

The Hayes-Tilden election for President was also undetermined with questionable results in several states including Louisiana. Rutherford Hayes endorsed Nicholls in the "Compromise of 1877" and then withdrew remaining federal troops from Louisiana on April 29, 1877.

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Stephen Bennett Packard's Timeline

1839
April 25, 1839
1863
1863
Age 23
Algiers, Louisiana, USA
1871
1871
Age 31
1874
1874
Age 34
1875
1875
Age 35
1922
January 31, 1922
Age 82
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- present
Westbrook Academy
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Seattle, WA, USA