New Orleans Public Library
|Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans|
Isaac W. Patton (1828-1890)
Mayor Isaac W. Patton was born in Fredericksbury, Virginia, February 4, 1828 and was descended from one of the first colonial families. His great-grandfather was General Hugh Mercer, who fought in the battle of Culloden and upon defeat of the Stuart faction came to the Virginia Colonies and later became a General in the Revolutionary War and was killed at the battle of Princeton. Mayor Patton’s father was a lawyer of note in Richmond and prominent in political affairs.|
Isaac W. Patton was educated at Fairfax Institute, near Alexandria and at the age of nineteen began the study of law in his father’s office. The Mexican War breaking out a short while later, he gave up his studies and was commissioned by President Polk, Second Lieutenant in the Tenth United States Infantry. He also inherited his military inclinations from his mother’s side, for his maternal grandfather was a Captain in the Revolutionary War with General Washington and performed valiant service. When the Mexican War ended in 1849, he was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Third Artillery, United States Army, serving until 1855. In that year he resigned and married Miss Frances E. Merritt, daughter of Dr. Merritt of Richmond, Virginia and two years later moved from his native state to Louisiana, which has since been his home. He engaged in cotton planting on property he purchased in Madison Parish and also looked after a sugar plantation below New Orleans which belonged to his father-in-law.
In the first year of the War between the States, Mr. Patton was elected Captain of the Screwmen’s Guard stationed at Proctorville. Shortly before arrival of the Federal Fleet at New Orleans, he was ordered to take command of the battery at Chalmette. When the city fell, the troops retired to Camp Moore on the Jackson Railroad. Captain Patton was then elected Colonel of the Twenty-second Louisiana Infantry with which he served until the end of the war. During the siege of Vicksburg he was wounded in the hip, from which he ever afterwards suffered and it probably was one of the ultimate causes of his death. Notwithstanding this wound, after the fall of Vicksburg, he again took command and saw active service at Mobile Bay, Spanish Fort and Cuba Station.
At the close of the war he returned to New Orleans and embarked in the commission business. In 1872 he was elected sheriff of the Criminal Court. He was a member of Captain Pleasants’ Company on September 14, 1874 in the famous battle on the levee.
In 1878 he was elected Mayor of New Orleans and held this post for two years. The most important feature of Mayor Patton’s administration was his management of the city’s finances. His first step was to reduce the debt by fifty percent. In 1880 the legislature passed Act 133, establishing the Board of Liquidation which has been instrumental in solving the whole complicated problem of finance and has put the credit of the city on a firm basis. Considerable progress was made in constructing railroads which gave better access to the west and northwest, sanitary conditions improved steadily and towards the close of Mayor Patton’s term, records showed that the death rate of the city was lower than it had been during the ten preceding years. At the expiration of his term, he returned to business, but in 1884 was elected City Treasurer and resigned that post to become Registrar of Voters by appointment of Governor S. D. McEnery and during the summer of 1888 was appointed tax collector for the Fourth District of Orleans Parish by Governor Nicholls.
Death terminated his career on February 9th, 1890, while he was still leading an active life, though sixty-two years of age. Physically he was well proportioned and carried himself with a military grace, even until a few days before his death. He was well known and welcome anywhere, his popularity rested upon his real worth. He was always cheerful and sincere, his aims were always the purest and his whole life was actuated by the highest principles – that of serving best his fellow-men, his people and his state.
The funeral took place from his residence, No. 221 Washington Avenue between St. Charles Avenue and Prytania Street. He was survived by his wife and three sons.
|Members of the Patton Administration|
November 18, 1878-December 16, 1880
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