William Pitt Kellogg (December 8, 1830 – August 10, 1918) was an American lawyer and Republican Party politician who served as the governor of Louisiana from 1873 to 1877 and twice served as a United States senator during the Reconstruction era.

William Pitt Kellogg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1883 – March 3, 1885
Preceded byChester Bidwell Darrall
Succeeded byEdward James Gay
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1883
Preceded byJoseph R. West
Succeeded byRandall L. Gibson
In office
July 9, 1868 – November 1, 1872
Preceded byJohn Slidell
Succeeded byJames B. Eustis
26th Governor of Louisiana
In office
January 13, 1873 – January 8, 1877
(disputed with John McEnery until May 22, 1873)
LieutenantCaesar Antoine
Preceded byP. B. S. Pinchback
Succeeded byStephen B. Packard
Personal details
Born(1830-12-08)December 8, 1830
Orwell, Vermont, U.S.
DiedAugust 10, 1918(1918-08-10) (aged 87)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican

He was one of the most important politicians in Louisiana during and immediately after Reconstruction and was notable for being elected after most other Republican officials had been defeated when Democrats regained control of state politics, though he was also one of the Northern-born politicians who were derided by Southerners as "carpetbaggers" during this period. Kellogg is also notable as one of the few incumbent senators ever to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served one term. He was the last Republican U.S. senator from Louisiana until David Vitter in 2005.

Early life and education


Kellogg was born in Orwell, Vermont, near the New York border, where he spent his childhood.[1] After completing his education in the common schools, he moved to Peoria, Illinois, at the age of eighteen and was a school teacher for several years. His fifth cousin William Kellogg lived in the area and served as a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1857 to 1863.[1]



Kellogg became a lawyer, likely "reading law" and studying with practicing lawyers. He moved to Canton, Illinois, and started a law practice. There he joined the U.S. Republican Party and eventually came to know fellow lawyer Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln became president in 1861, he appointed Kellogg as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Nebraska Territory.[1]

With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Kellogg was granted a leave of absence and returned to Illinois to join the 7th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Cavalry. By 1862, he had risen to the rank of Colonel and played an important role at a small battle near Sikeston, Missouri. Kellogg resigned because of ill health on June 1, 1862. He then returned to Nebraska and resumed his work as Chief Justice. After the Civil War, Kellogg was elected as a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

On April 14, 1865, hours before his assassination, Lincoln appointed Kellogg as the federal collector of customs of the port of New Orleans.[2] This launched Kellogg's 20-year political career in Louisiana, notable as he was one of the first perceived carpetbaggers.[1] He remained Collector of New Orleans, despite complaints,[3] until 1868, and was then elected to the United States Senate. That year, "reconstructed" Louisiana was readmitted to the federal Union.

In 1872, Kellogg ran on the Republican ticket and was elected governor. He resigned from the Senate to take office. In the election, John McEnery, a Democrat, ran against Kellogg. The sitting Governor Henry Clay Warmoth, although a Republican, opposed the Republican Party faction that was loyal to President Ulysses S. Grant, who was supporting Kellogg. Warmoth supported McEnery.

The results of the election were disputed by the Democrats. The politics of the state was in turmoil for months, as both candidates held inauguration celebrations, certified their local candidate slates and tried to gather political power. Political tensions broke out into violence, including the Colfax Massacre in April 1873. As Governor, Warmoth controlled the State Returning Board, the institution which administered elections. With the election challenged, Warmoth's board named McEnery the winner. A rival board claimed Kellogg to be the victor, although the board had no ballots or returns to count.[4]

Former Confederate Assistant Secretary of War John Archibald Campbell was involved in the controversy surrounding Kellogg. He was a member of the "Committee of One Hundred" that went to Washington to persuade President Grant to end his support of what they called the "Kellogg usurpation". Grant initially refused to meet them but later relented. Campbell stated the case before Grant but was refused.[5]

The House of Representatives declared that the Kellogg regime was "not much better than a successful conspiracy." The Senate threw out both returns of Louisiana's 1872 presidential electoral results. A Senate committee reported that the entire Louisiana 1872 election had been unfair and that both state governments were illegal. It recommended that a new election be held under federal supervision.[6]

President Grant ignored the Senate committee recommendation and chose to put the force of the U. S. Army behind Kellogg's machine, perhaps because Grant's own brother-in-law, James Casey, was part of the machine. Casey also held the lucrative post of New Orleans Customs Collector, to which Grant reappointed him in March 1873.

In January 1875 even President Grant admitted that Louisiana's 1872 election "was a gigantic fraud, and there are no reliable returns of its result."[7]

In February 1876, Kellogg was impeached by the Louisiana House of Representatives. The Senate did not convict him, however, and he remained in office.[8]

According to historian William Gillette, "By having invoked federal authority in civil law and having employed federal force in state politics, he [Grant] had mounted a successful coups d'état."[9]

Warmoth was impeached for allegedly stealing the election. A black Republican, P. B. S. Pinchback, became governor for 35 days until Grant seated Kellogg as Governor with Federal protection. McEnery's faction established a "rump legislature" in New Orleans to oppose Kellogg's actions. McEnery urged his supporters to take up arms against Kellogg's fraudulent government. In 1874 the anti-Republican White League sent 5,000 paramilitary men into New Orleans, wherein the Battle of Liberty Place, they defeated the 3500-man Metropolitan Police and state militia. They took over the state government offices for a few days but retreated before the arrival of federal troops sent as reinforcements. President Grant had finally sent U.S. troops in response to Kellogg's request for help.[10]

Kellogg's lieutenant governor was Caesar Antoine, an African-American native of New Orleans. He had been a State Senator from Shreveport before running as lieutenant governor. Despite the intense backlash against the Republican Party among white Democrats in the South, Kellogg was elected to the United States Senate in 1876. He served in the Senate until 1883. He did not seek re-election, for his party was too weak in the South to be competitive. He was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Railroads from 1881 to 1883.

Kellogg was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1882, defeating the incumbent Democrat Chester Bidwell Darrall and served one term from 1883 to 1885. He was defeated for re-election in 1884 by Edward James Gay. He continued to live in Washington, D.C., but retired from political life. He died in Washington and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Kellogg was one of the most important politicians in Louisiana during and immediately after Reconstruction. He was able to maintain power for much longer than most Republican elected officials who had come to the area from the North. He is also notable as one of few senators to be elected to the House of Representatives immediately after leaving the Senate. (Claude Pepper, a 20th-century Florida Democrat, was similarly elected to the House after having served in the Senate but did not begin his long House tenure until 12 years after the end of his Senate service.)


  1. ^ a b c d "William Pitt Kellogg". freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  2. ^ Kellogg, William Pitt (2007). "The Recollections of William Pitt Kellogg". Abraham Lincoln Quarterly. 3 (7): 319–339. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  3. ^ New Orleans Custom-house Officials: Fraudulent and Dishonest Acts of W.P. Kellogg, Collector. His Attempted Defense. Additional Allegations and Facts. Perjurers, Smugglers and Kellogg Associate. His Accomplices and Victims Exposed. McGill & Witherow, printers and stereotypers. 1867.
  4. ^ Ezell, John (1975). The South Since 1865. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-02-334750-4.
  5. ^ The Ouachita Telegraph. "Death of a Great Jurist." March 12, 1889: 1.
  6. ^ William B. Hesseltine, Ulysses S. Grant Politician, (New York: Dodd-Mead & Co. 1935), 344-46
  7. ^ William B. Hesseltine, Ulysses S. Grant Politician, (New York: Dodd-Mead & Co. 1935), 344-46, 354
  8. ^ "William Pitt Kellogg". knowlouisiana.org. Know Louisiana. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. Retrieved 10 June 2023.
  9. ^ William Gillette, Retreat From Reconstruction, (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1979),112
  10. ^ "John McEnery". 2013-06-14. Archived from the original on 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Louisiana
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
U.S. senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
Served alongside: John S. Harris, Joseph R. West
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Louisiana
Served alongside: James B. Eustis, Benjamin F. Jonas
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Louisiana
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Notes and references
1. Because Louisiana seceded from the Union in 1861, seat was vacant from 1861 to 1868 when John Slidell withdrew from the Senate.
2. Seat contested until 1876 when James B. Eustis was elected.

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