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"Governor of Louisiana, 1860-1864; a leader of the secession movement. His birthplace stood 4 1/2 miles northwest." Louisiana’s Confederate Governor, Thomas Overton Moore, was born in Sampson County on April 10, 1804. He was the first of ten children of James and Emma Jane Overton Moore. After attending school in North Carolina, he left the state to live with his grandfather in Nashville and then on to live with his uncle in Rapids Parish of central Louisiana. As an overseer on his uncle’s plantation, he learned firsthand how to run a such an operation. By 1830 he was a planter himself, owning over 2000 acres including a plantation his in-laws had passed on to his wife, Bethiah Jane Leonard. He and his wife had five children, but only one, Emma Jane, survived into adulthood.
Moore entered politics in 1842 and, by 1848, he was elected to the state House of Representatives. He was elected to the Senate in 1856. As a legislator he was a key promoter for establishing a seminary that later became Louisiana State University. In 1859 he reluctantly accepted the Democratic nomination for governor of Louisiana. Despite the fact that he did not campaign, he won the election by a landslide. As the Civil War approached, Moore strongly supported the formation of the Confederate States of America. On January 25, 1861, the Louisiana Secession Convention voted to take the state out of the Union. Federal troops captured New Orleans in June 1862 and George F. Shepley was appointed military governor of Louisiana. Shepley, however, only had power in the southern part of the state. Moore continued to act as governor over central and northern Louisiana.
Upon returning home after his term ended in January 1864, Moore fled from federal officials, moving to his Houston County, Texas, plantation. From there, he and other former Confederate leaders went to Mexico City and on to Cuba. Moore was able to leave Cuba in November of 1865 when President Andrew Johnson granted him parole. Back in Louisiana, his home and plantation had been destroyed by Federal troops. Moore and his wife lived in an overseer’s house until January 1867 when he received a full pardon from President Johnson. His last political appointment was as a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1874. Thomas O. Moore died on June 25, 1876. He was buried in Mount Olivette Church cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana.
Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr., “Thomas O. Moore,” in Joseph G. Dawson III, ed., The Louisiana Governors (1990)
Dumas Malone, ed., Dictionary of American Biography, VIII, 138
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 310—sketch by Ezra Adams
Vincent H. Cassidy, “Louisiana,” in W. Buck Yearns, ed., The Confederate Governors (1985)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
North Carolina Civil War Historical Markers.