Anselm McLaurin, the oldest of eight brothers and the father of ten children, was the last Confederate veteran elected governor of Mississippi.
McLaurin was born in Rankin County on 26 March 1848 and enlisted in the 3rd Mississippi Artillery at the age of sixteen, becoming a captain. After the war ended, he resumed his education at the Summerville Institute and studied law. After being admitted to the bar in 1868, he opened a practice in Raleigh, Mississippi, in Smith County. In 1871 he was elected district attorney. After serving one term, McLaurin moved back to Brandon and was elected to the state legislature from Rankin County. He and two of his brothers served as delegates to the constitutional convention of 1890, where McLaurin unsuccessfully introduced a measure that would have disfranchised any man convicted of wife abuse.
Following the death of US senator Edward C. Walthall in 1894, McLaurin was appointed to fill the remainder of the term, serving until 3 March 1895. McLaurin then ran for governor, defeating Frank Burkitt, the Populist Party candidate.
When McLaurin took office in 1896, the state treasury was virtually depleted, and he called a special session of the legislature to increase ad valorem taxes and to authorize him to secure a loan to meet the state’s financial obligations. He called a second special session of the legislature to consider the construction of a new State Capitol, since the original structure, built in 1839, was in extremely poor condition. The legislature authorized a new building, but McLaurin vetoed the measure because he considered the size and the design of the proposed building unsuitable for the state’s needs.
During McLaurin’s second year in office, Mississippi suffered a yellow fever epidemic that virtually closed Jackson. Almost 90 percent of the population evacuated the city in the summer of 1898, and McLaurin was forced to move to his home in Brandon and to conduct state business by telephone.
After completing his term as governor, McLaurin was elected to the US Senate in 1900, defeating Congressman John Allen of Tupelo, one of Mississippi’s most popular politicians. McLaurin won reelection in 1906 and served until his death at his home in Brandon on 22 December 1909.
- Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (1950)
- Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1912)
- Dunbar Rowland, Encyclopedia of Mississippi History, vol. 2 (1907)