Edward A. Burke

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Edward Austin Burke​

Louisiana State Treasurer​
In office
1878​ – 1888​

Born c. 1840
Possibly Kentucky, Ohio, or Illinois
Died 1928 (aged 88)​
Political party Democrat
Occupation Politician and newspaper publisher

Edward Austin Burke, known as E. A. Burke (c. 1840 – 1928), was a Louisiana politician and newspaper publisher whose life story remains an enigma 180 years after his birth. Though he claimed a Kentucky birthplace, he may have been born in Ohio or Illinois.[1]

Short biography

During the American Civil War, Burke claimed to have been a Confederate major, but he may have actually served in the Union Army. After the war, Burke came to New Orleans as a common laborer but became active in the city's Democratic Party. He managed his party's state campaign in 1876, when the Democrats gained a foothold in the governor's office that lasted until 1980. He represented Louisiana whites in Washington, D.C., in negotiations which ended Reconstruction in 1877. [1][2]

After Reconstruction, Burke was allied with the corrupt Louisiana State Lottery Company. He was elected state treasurer in 1878, a post that he held for a decade. He was considered to have been "the behind-the-scenes leader" of state government from 1879 to 1888, during the administration of Governor Samuel Douglas McEnery (1837-1910).[1]

From 1879 to 1881, Burke was the managing editor of The New Orleans Democrat, a publication owned in part by the lottery interests. In 1881, he merged the paper into The Times-Democrat, of which he became the publisher. In 1884 and 1885, he spearheaded the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition held in New Orleans. In 1889, a year after he left the state treasure's position, Burke was indicted for embezzlements in state bonds totaling more than one million dollars. He fled to Honduras and successfully resisted extradition. There he died at the age of eighty-eight and is interred at an undisclosed location.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Burke, Edward A.. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography: Louisiana Historical Association..
  2. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography bases its article on Burke from James F. Vivian, “Major E. A. Burke: The Honduras Exile, 1889-1928,” Louisiana History, XV (1974); C. Vann Woodward, Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (1951), and William I. Hair, Bourbonism and Agrarian Protest: Louisiana Politics, 1877-1900 (1969).