Jacques Philippe Villeré was the first native-born Governor of Louisiana, serving from 1816 to 1820. As a war hero fighting against the British during the Battle of New Orleans and later as an elected official for a state which had just recently joined the United States, Jacques Villeré participated in the vast process known as the “Americanization” of Louisiana. At the same time, considering the pivotal role that the Louisiana Purchase had in the transformation of the United States, one might equally assert that Villeré and prominent members of his generation presided over the consolidation of the United States as a continental power. Simply put, Jacques Villeré shaped the destiny of Louisiana as a state while Louisiana steered the United States toward a hegemonic role in the Western Hemisphere.
Villeré’s gubernatorial tenure coincided with President James Monroe’s first term as chief executive of the United States, a period conventionally known as the “Era of Good Feelings”. Partisanship in government had subsided from the days of ferocious conflict between Republicans and Federalists marking the first decade of the 19th century. The spirit of nationalism peaked as President Monroe ran unopposed for a second term in office.
In the meantime, Louisiana represented a significant step in the nation’s progress towards greater wealth and global influence. By the end of his time as Governor, among his numerous accomplishments, Jacques Villeré had succeeded in eliminating Louisiana’s debt.