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Stephen B. Packard

Stephen Bennett Packard (April 25, 1839 - January 31, 1922) was a carpetbagger from the U.S. state of Maine who 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 Radical 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. When Warmoth was removed 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.

Packard was the Radical Republican candidate for governor in 1876. In a disputed outcome, both Packard and his Democratic opponent, Francis T. Nicholls were inaugurated. 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.

In the Compromise of 1877, the incoming Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes recognized Nicholls as the legitimate Louisiana authority. The Louisiana electoral votes were hence 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. Remaining federal troops were withdrawn from both Louisiana and South Carolina.

As a reward for his services to the party, which had then acquired the nickname 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.

References

"Stephen B. Packard", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 2 (1988), pp. 625–626

Joe Gray Taylor, Louisiana Reconstructed, 1863-1877 (1974)

David C. Roller and Robert Twyman, The Encyclopedia of Southern History (1979)

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