Governor Andrew Longino was a pivotal figure in Mississippi history. He was the first governor elected after the American Civil War who was not a Confederate veteran, and he was the last governor to be nominated by a state party convention. In 1903, the state adopted the popular primary system of nominating all candidates for public office.
As the first governor of the 20th century, which contemporaries called the “Century of Light” and the “Century of Progress,” Governor Longino warned the people of Mississippi to brace themselves for the enormous changes that the 20th century would bring. He especially urged Mississippians to embrace the new age of technology that could revolutionize the state’s economy and provide thousands of new jobs.
A graduate of Mississippi College in Clinton, Longino was the first governor to hold a degree from a Mississippi institution of higher learning. Longino was born in Lawrence County, Mississippi, on May 16, 1854, and, after taking a law course at the University of Virginia, was admitted to the state bar in 1881. Prior to his election as governor in 1899, Longino served in the Mississippi Legislature, as a district attorney, and as chancellor of the seventh judicial district.
During Governor Longino’s administration, President Theodore Roosevelt went bear hunting in the Mississippi Delta. His local guide on that now famous hunt was Holt Collier, an African American who had fought with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. It was on that hunt that President Roosevelt refused to shoot a tethered bear. His sportsmanship received extensive coverage in the national press and a Brooklyn toy manufacturer, who saw a cartoon depicting Teddy Roosevelt’s refusal to shot the bear, began producing the now famous “Teddy Bear.”
Governor Longino’s administration was noted for several major accomplishments. A bill authorizing a new capitol was passed and its cornerstone was laid June 3, 1903. A new state penitentiary was built at Parchman, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History was established, a constitutional amendment providing for the election of state judges was passed, and a textile school was started at Mississippi A & M College in Starkville, now Mississippi State University.
While still in office, Governor Longino ran for the United States Senate in 1903, but was defeated by Hernando DeSoto Money. After leaving office in January 1904, Governor Longino maintained a law practice in Jackson. In 1919, he ran for governor, but was defeated in a run-off election by Lee Russell. Following that defeat, Longino retired from public life. On February 24, 1942, Governor Longino died at Jackson.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Buchanan, Minor. Holt Collier, His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts, and the Origin of the Teddy Bear. Jackson: Centennial Press, 2002.
Kelly, Thomas E. Who’s Who in Mississippi (Jackson, 1914), 76.
Mississippi Official and Statistical Register (1912), 80.
Rowland, Dunbar. Mississippi Comprising Sketches in Cyclopedic Form II, 113-117.