The Louisiana Lottery
T HE NEW YORK lottery syndicate of C. H. Murray and Company was intrigued by the reports of its Louisiana agent, Charles T. Howard. People in New Orleans had a mania for gambling, he said; they bought up the company's tickets as fast as they went on sale. Maybe, suggested Howard, the syndicate should transfer its interests to New Orleans and seek a charter from the legislature. He was sure that the legislature was the kind of body that would grant the kind of charter that syndicates liked to have. His associates were impressed. In many states sentiment against gambling was rising; restrictive laws were making it increasingly difficult to operate games of chance. They told Howard to approach the legislature.
Howard was a superb approacher. Born in Baltimore, he had come to New Orleans in 1852. For years he acted as the agent of the Alabama Lottery Company. Supposedly he had served in the Confederate army and navy; his enemies claimed that he had concocted a war record out of his imagination. After the war he reappeared in New Orleans as the agent of the Murray company. Burly, bluff, flashy, he was the epitome of the Gilded Age speculator. Like others of his kind he knew what he wanted and used whatever methods were necessary to reach his goals. He believed greatly in the persuasive power of money. He could be affable and generous or domineering and tight-fisted. When crossed, he was ruthless. Seeking social prestige in New Orleans, he applied for membership in the exclusive Metairie Racing Club. When he was rejected, he told the directors that he would ruin their organization. In fact, he said, he would turn their site into a cemetery -- which is exactly what he did. Beauregard, who took his money and was a little sensitive about the association, said after his death that he was "rough but had a very good heart."1____________________