Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GIBSON, Randall Lee, senator born at Spring Hill, Woodford County, Kentucky, 10 September, 1832. His grandfather, Randall Gibson, was a Revolutionary soldier, who, after the war of independence, removed with his kindred to the southwest, and finally made his home at Oakley, Warren County, Mississippi. He built the first Church, and founded the first College (Jefferson) in the Mississippi valley. His father, Tobias Gibson, was a large sugar-planter in Terre Bonne parish, Louisiana. Randall was graduated with honors at Yale in 1853, and was also class orator. He was graduated in 1855 at the law department of the University of Louisiana (now Tulane University), of which he is at present (1887) the official head, being president of the board of administrators. He then studied at Berlin, traveled in Russia, and spent six months as an attache of the American legation at Madrid. On his return he engaged in sugar-planting, until the civil war, when he joined the Confederate army as a private, but was made a captain in the 1st Louisiana artillery, and stationed at Fort Jackson, below New Orleans. Not long afterward he was elected colonel of the 13th Louisiana infantry. At Shiloh ha commanded a brigade, which attacked the "hornet's nest" in front, and was four times repelled with great slaughter, but he held on, was in the front line at sunset, and was distinguished in the fighting next day. Gibson was with Bragg's army in the Kentucky campaign, and was recommended for promotion for skill and gallantry at Perryville. where one third of his brigade were killed or wounded, and at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga. He was in all the battles in General Joseph E. Johnston's retreat from Dalton to Atlanta, and at Jonesboro lost half his command. In the defeat of General Hood at Nashville he successfully covered the retreat. In Canby's campaign against Mobile, Gibson was detached with 3,500 men to Spanish Fort, where he held the National forces at bay for two weeks, and then withdrew his entire command, under cover of darkness, threading a pathway only eighteen inches wide through a marsh. He was financially ruined by the war, but, resuming his profession in New Orleans, soon acquired a lucrative practice. In 1872 he was elected to congress as a Democrat, but was not admitted to a seat. He was again elected in 1874, 1876, 1878, and 1880. He was then sent to the United States senate, and took his seat 4 March, 1883. He may fairly be said to have been the father of the policy for the improvement of the Mississippi River, which he originated, and has consistently advocated and successfully guided. He has been the most pronounced opponent in the south of all forms of financial inflation and irredeemable issues. As a member of the ways and means committee he steadily advocated moderate measures of revenue reform, and resisted alike the extreme protectionists and the free-traders. In 1882 he was selected by Paul Tulane as president of the board of administrators who were to manage his gift for education in New Orleans, now estimated at $1,500,000. Under his auspices Tulane University was founded.
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