An Analysis of the Legacy of Leander Perez
Leander Perez was born into a large upper-middle class family in Plaquemines Parish in 1891 to two old local families. He was raised in an intellectual atmosphere which was semi secluded due to the difficulty of travel in the region. Throughout high school he was described as intelligent but unimaginative. While in school Perez may have lacked creativity, he certainly possessed ambition once he entered the workforce as a lawyer. Over the course of his political career he would amass a great amount of power and wealth through sometimes shady and always tumultuous means.
Perez’s ascent to power featured his political savvy and personal attributes. One attribute that was especially useful for Perez was that he “always thought big”(Jeansonne, p. 9). While Perez was known to be ambitious, it would take a fortunate break for him to begin his ascent to power. Due to the death of Robert Hingle, district judge of Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes, Leander was commissioned as judge of the district by the Governor in 1919 and was able to maintain his commission one vote after being accused of being ineligible for the position. Upon obtaining the political position of district judge, Leander retained his position through a difficult primary, often bribing voters and using illegal ballots.
Upon his election, Perez exhibited the political savvy that allowed him to maintain his power in the region. He used his political power to “reward his friends and render impotent his political opponents” (Jeansonne, p. 18). Through this method, he retained a strong backing by his faction, the New Regulars. Perez recognized that even with solid support, opponents could still cause trouble. After accusations of illegal political practices, Perez sought to defend himself through attacking those whom accused him. Continuing his expansion of power, Leander became district attorney without opposition.
Although Perez gained his power through...