Walter Leake, Third Governor of Mississippi: 1822-1825
Although his term began January 7, 1822, Governor Leake did not deliver
his inaugural address until June 24 because the capital city was being
relocated from Natchez. When he finally gave his address, the capital
was temporarily situated at Columbia in Marion County. Five days later,
the Mississippi Legislature located the state capital at the new town
of Jackson, which was near a trading post on the Pearl River known as
LeFleur’s Bluff. In December 1822 members of the legislature and
other state officials moved to Jackson. During Governor Leake’s
first year in office the state’s first capitol, a small two-story
brick building on Capitol Street, was constructed at a cost of $3,000.
Following Mississippi’s admission to statehood, Leake was appointed one of the state's first two United States senators. In 1820, after he resigned his Senate seat, Leake was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge John Taylor. He served on the high court until his inauguration as governor in January of 1822.
During his first administration, Governor Leake signed a law abolishing
imprisonment for debt, making Mississippi one of the first states in America
to enact such a law. Governor Leake also tried unsuccessfully to persuade
the legislature to pass a law prohibiting dueling in Mississippi.
In 1823, Governor Leake became Mississippi’s first governor to be re-elected for a second term. But in the second year of his second term, Governor Leake became ill and died November 17, 1825, at his home in Mt. Salus, now known as Clinton. He was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor Gerard C. Brandon.
Leake County and Leakesville, the county seat of Greene County, are named in honor of Governor Leake.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Posted December 2003
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (1950), 1446.
Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1912), 50.
Rowland, Dunbar. Mississippi Comprising Sketches in Cyclopedic Form II. 63-67.
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