Henry Stuart Foote: Nineteenth Governor of Mississippi: 1852-1854
During the United States sectional crisis of 1850, which was precipitated
by California’s petition for statehood as a free state, U.S. Senator
Henry Stuart Foote of Mississippi and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts
joined with U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois to draft the Great
Compromise of 1850. That compromise resolved, at least temporarily, the
major controversies between the North and the South.
Late in the campaign, when it was evident that Mississippians would not vote in favor of secession, Quitman withdrew, and the Democratic Party called on Jefferson Davis to take his place. But even Jefferson Davis, who resigned his seat in the U. S. Senate, could not defeat the popular Foote, who won by a narrow margin.
Foote was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, on September 20, 1800, but
moved to Mississippi in 1830, by way of Alabama, after fighting several
duels for which he had become rather infamous. Foote maintained an active
and very prosperous law practice in Vicksburg and edited a newspaper for
a short time before moving to Raymond in Hinds County. Foote was a learned
man and wrote several books, including a highly entertaining autobiography
entitled Casket of Reminiscences.
Foote moved to California but returned to Vicksburg for a short period, and then moved to Tennessee. Like many other southerners who opposed secession, Foote supported the Confederate States of America after it was formed and represented Tennessee in the Confederate Congress. When the Confederacy refused to seek a settlement of the war after the fall of Vicksburg, Foote resigned from the Confederate Congress.
After the Civil War, Foote opened a law practice in Washington, D. C. He was appointed superintendent of the United States mint in New Orleans in 1878 and served in that capacity until his death in Nashville, Tennessee, on May 19, 1880.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Posted December 2003
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (1950), 1170.
Dictionary of American Biography VI, 500-501.
Lloyd, James. Lives of Mississippi Authors 1817-1967 (Jackson, 1981), 173-176.
Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1912), 65.
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