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The Southern States of America
Chapter III - Louisiana in the Federal Government, 1812 - 1861

Formed Into a State.

A census taken in 1810 gave the total population of the territory of Orleans as 76,556, more than enough for the formation of a state, even without the additional population of the district of "West Florida, annexed to the territory by proclamation of the President in that same year. After a memorable debate, in which the forlorn hope of conservatives in Congress, led by Josiah Quincy, of Massachusetts, made a desperate fight against extending the Union over what they regarded as an alien population, the act enabling the people of the territory to form a state government passed the House by a vote of seventy-seven yeas to thirty-six nays. Josiah Quincy did not carry out his open threat of secession, nor did Poindexter, of Mississippi territory, enjoy an opportunity of hanging Quincy and his abettors for treason. The people of the territory quietly elected a convention, which drew up a conservative constitution (Jan. 22, 1812); Congress admitted the new state of Louisiana, adding to its territory the greater part of West Florida, and the new constitution went into operation April 30, 1812.

Steamboats on the Mississippi.

The same year, a fortnight before the adoption of the constitution, the citizens of New Orleans were welcoming (January 10) the first steamboat that plied on the Mississippi. The New Orleans was really of far greater significance in the development of the country than the formation of a state government. The company to whom had been given the privilege of operating boats navigated by steam soon brought out two other boats, the Vesuvius and the Ætna; the steamboat, despite frequent terrible disasters, won its way rapidly, and the commerce of the city and the agricultural districts of the state felt the powerful influence of more rapid communication and reduced freights.

At first the steamboat, though more certain and more speedy than any other means of transportation, moved at a rate that would seem painfully slow, even when we remember the early practice of "tying up" at the bank of the river at night. In 1814 the trip up the river to Natchez, about three hundred miles, consumed five days; by 1820 even this had been reduced to three days; in 1834, one day and seventeen hours, and in the fifties at least two boats, the Princess and one of the numerous tribe of Natchez, made the trip in seventeen hours. During the same period the time to Louisville had been reduced from twenty-five days to four days by such steamers as the A. L. Shotwell and the Eclipse.


At the beginning of the period we are considering, the greater portion of the population of the state, says Monette {Valley of the Mississippi, Vol. II., p. 517), "were concentrated in the city of New Orleans, and upon the river coast for thirty miles below and seventy miles above the city. * * * The whole portion of the state west of the Washita and north of Red River, in 1830, contained scarcely two thousand inhabitants. The same region in 1845 had been subdivided into several large parishes, with an aggregate population of not less than fourteen thousand souls." From the beginning, in fact, despite the War of 1812, commercial expansion went on rapidly, immigrants came in numbers, and the population had risen to 153,407 in 1820, the greater part distributed upon the Mississippi and its tributaries, where the land was more fertile and more accessible to the steamboat and its lingering rival, the flatboat. Though the great mass of population centering at New Orleans continued to give a preponderance to that part of the state, the tendency to progress northward and westward became more and more marked, and may be briefly indicated by noting that the next parish to Orleans in population was St. Martin in 1820, St. Landry in 1850, and Rapides in 1860, when the total population had risen to seven hundred thousand.

Plantation System.

This growth of the population, relatively, in the more northern parts of the state was due not only to the natural cause that here new lands were opened to settlement, but also to the fact that the plantation system, already strong in the sugar parishes, tended to force out the small proprietor. The policy of France and Spain had been, in the main, to encourage the small landholder, especially in the region contiguous to the mouth of the river, the object being to provide here a population dense enough to defend the entrance to the colony in time of war. And though this policy had not been rigidly adhered to, and had not brought a large population to the colony, it may be stated as a fact that for many years after the cession to the United States the number of small holdings in this portion of the state was very large. But with the advent of the more ambitious American settlers, and especially with the improvements in the culture and marketing of both cotton and sugar cane, began the elimination of the small "Cajian" farmer in the richer lands available for either of these staples. We do not require the testimony of Olmsted (Journey in the Seaboard Sieve States, pp. 660, 669, 673, etc.) to establish the fact that the fifty or one hundred arpent farm of Pierre Le Franc would ultimately be annexed to the thousand-acre plantation of Major Jones; the process of consolidation still, in a measure, continues. Perhaps the large plantation system was more thorough in the alluvial lands of Louisiana than anywhere else. The land was extremely fertile, the climate almost tropical, the means of transportation, even at the best, inadequate to handle perishable produce, while the staple crops, cotton and sugar, both required considerable outlay of capital for successful cultivation no less than for manufacture. Therefore the small proprietor, who could produce ample food crops for home consumption, but who could produce little that could be got to market and disposed of profitably, found himself unable to compete with the large capital and the superior organization on large plantations. Moreover, the soil in a great part of the alluvial territory required careful drainage, a matter not only of large expense but also capable of being carried out, in many cases, only by an extensive system covering a great area. The state of those days would aid little, if at all, in such enterprises, and cooperation among many small owners was practically impossible. "While the state did aid in the other all important work of maintaining levees to protect the land from overflow, only the large owner could protect himself adequately by interior levees to keep off the water coming from the swamps and bayous in the rear, or drain off the rain water and the seepage water from within his levees. And while one overflow would irretrievably ruin the small farmer, especially if he had planted sugar cane, the larger resources of wealthy proprietors would tide them over the misfortune. In every way, therefore, the conditions were favorable to the development of large plantation systems, even without the institution of slavery.

The plantation depended for its success upon organized resources, and the analogy which has been frequently pointed out between the plantation and the factory is very suggestive. The success of the planter was not due to luck, not achieved in the indulgence of idleness, of extravagant or luxurious tastes. The successful planter worked hard, not merely in effecting the organization of his resources, but even in the actual superintendence of work upon the plantation. In the earlier years crude methods of cultivation and slipshod management would suffice, but even here the necessity of maintaining discipline among the slaves was a healthy stimulus to activity; and as the population became more dense, the competition in agriculture more keen, the successful management of a plantation called for intelligence of no mean order and constant vigilance. The care of the land, through drainage, protection from overflow, and ultimately through simple fertilization, was essential. The care of and the direction of labor to secure its maximum of production was no less essential. The care of the working stock of mules and horses must also be considered. And above all, the exercise of good judgment in providing improved machinery for the harvesting of the crop counted greatly in the period after 1830, when steam machinery of many kinds was being introduced both for cotton and for sugar. It was, in fact, this period that separated the wheat from the chaff among the planters. They shared in the prevailing craze for extravagance and speculation, and hundreds among the less provident and energetic found the day of reckoning all too hard. The plantation system, where it really was a system, came through the ordeal rather strengthened than discredited, and after the temporary check to all business activities the large plantation continued to spread its influence over practically the entire state where conditions favored it.

It is impossible to give accurate figures to indicate the extent of the plantation system. But a fair index to conditions may be found in a brief review of cotton and sugar culture.

Cultivation of Sugar and Cotton.

Prior to 1815 the cultivation of both sugar and cotton was in a rudimentary stage, with little more organization than was inherent in the institution of slavery wherever it existed. In fact, even as late as 1846, we find that DeBow's Review thinks it necessary to plead earnestly for iron cotton ties in place of rope, and that this innovation is seriously resisted by the mercantile interests concerned in compresses at the larger ports, while even the simple horsepower press, with wooden screws, is so rare on plantations in Georgia that "one-half of the cotton is put up for market, not in bales at all, but bundled up in something like old meal bags." In the case of cotton, indeed, it is too often assumed that the application of Whitney's gin solved the whole problem of preparation for the market. The invention of a satisfactory press for plantation use was scarcely less important, and the substitution of iron ties is also an item of considerable importance, for the loosely tied bales were not only so bulky that they had to be compressed for ocean shipment, at extra cost, but they were also far more dangerous in case of fire, when the ropes burned through and the loose cotton expanded in a flaming mass. The total cotton crop of the United States in 1829-30 was only 976,845 bales. With increased facilities in the way of machinery, encouraging more extensive planting, the crop rose in ten years (1839-40) to 2,177,835 bales. It is estimated that the crop of Louisiana was 350,000 bales (of 400 lbs. each) in 1845, and it is certain that, excluding a few years of enthusiasm about sugar when, under the stimulus of higher prices, sugar was quite extensively cultivated in districts more suited to cotton (such as West Feliciana Parish, the state greatly increased her cotton production as the more northerly parishes became settled. Concordia alone, for example, after 1850, had several planters whose yearly crop was between two and three thousand bales.

In regard to the cultivation of sugar we have a clearer and more definite history. Up to 1825 the varieties of cane planted in Louisiana had not been satisfactory because not able to resist cold. But in that year the hardier ribbon cane, first experimented with by Mr. Jean Joseph Coiron at Terre-aux-Boeufs about 1817, was extensively planted, and proved to be far more satisfactory than the Creole or Malabar cane. The remainder of the story can best be told in extracts from an article by one of the most energetic and intelligent of the pioneers in sugar culture, E. J. Forstall (DeBow, Southern States, III, 275): "The statistics from 1803 to 1817 are so deficient that it is extremely difficult to arrive at any correct data as to the progressive annual increase of the sugar crop during the above period. The crop in 1818 had attained 25,000 hogsheads (the hogshead averaged 1,000 lbs.). Cattle was the only power used up to that period. In 1822 steam power was introduced; the first engines and mills cost about $12,000, and were chiefly imported by Gordon and Forstall. This power, however, was used but by very few, until our own foundries placed it within the reach of all, by reducing its cost to $5,000 or $6,000." In 1830-31 Gordon and Forstall, Valcour Aime, and others, introduced the vacuum pan process to replace the wasteful open kettle process, and their experiments proved that Louisiana sugar could be refined to as good a grade as any other. The effect of these improvements, even in the face of a lowering of the tariff, can best be seen in the following figures from Mr. Forstall's article: In 1822 the crop amounted to 30,000 hhds.; 1825-26, 45,000; 1826-27, 71,000; 1828-29, 48,000; 1834-35, 110,000; 1839-40, 119,947; 1844-45, 204,913.

Mr. Forstall estimates that there were 308 plantations in operation in 1827-28, with 21,000 slaves, 82 mills operated by steam, 226 by horse power. In 1830-31 there were 691 plantations, 36,000 slaves, 282 steam engines and 409 horse-power mills; in 1843-44, 762 plantations, 50,670 slaves, and 410 cotton plantations were preparing to plant cane, under the impetus of the tariff of 1842. At the time of his writing, sugar was extensively cultivated in nineteen parishes, and the industry was being extended to Rapides, Avoyelles, Concordia, Catahoula and Calcasieu. From later estimates we learn that twenty-four parishes produced sugar in 1849; there were 1,536 sugar houses, of which 865 were operated by steam, and the product was 247,923 hhds. of sugar. Though it soon became apparent that the true sugar belt hardly extended north of Baton Rouge, and that both soil and climate were unsuited to cane in some of the parishes where cane had been introduced, the industry continued to flourish, with improved machinery and better methods of cultivation, until the last year of the old regime, 1861-62, saw the largest crop ever made, 459,410 hhds., valued at over $25,000,000. And it is significant of the tendency to concentration that the sugar was produced in a smaller number of sugar houses than in 1849. The economy of the large refinery with improved machinery over the old-fashioned mill was established, and in this last year of work under slavery the direction in which sugar culture was to develop under free labor was indicated.


For all forms of agriculture, and indeed for most kinds of labor, conditions in Louisiana of the olden days were determined by the institution of slavery. It seems to the present writer that this is no place to undertake a formal recital of well-known facts in regard to slavery, even if space permitted. But we must at least call attention to the increase of slavery in the state. In 1810 there were 34,000 slaves and 7,000 free negroes, forming together more than half of the population; by 1820 there had been a slight gain of whites over slaves, but the whites were still outnumbered by the total negro population; by 1830 the effects of the agricultural expansion discussed above are noticeable; the slaves greatly outnumbered the whites, or, putting it in round numbers, where there has been an increase of but sixteen thousand in the whites, we find forty thousand in the slaves. From this time on there was an improvement in conditions, for though the number of slaves continued to increase, the whites increased more rapidly, until in 1850 the whites at last outnumbered the slaves, and in 1860 outnumbered both slaves and free negroes.

Slavery had been accepted in Louisiana as one of the things that always had been and always would be. There does not seem to have been at any time any extensive sentiment in favor of emancipation, such as marked even Virginia prior to 1800. It is notable, however, that many individuals among the slaves were emancipated, and that for many years there continued to be a marked increase in the number of free negroes; thus the ten thousand of 1820 had risen to sixteen thousand in 1830 and to twenty-five thousand in 1840. Here, under the reaction from the abolition excitement, the liberal policy in regard to free negroes receives a fatal check; not only is emancipation less common, but more care is taken to guard against the influx of free negroes from other states and from abroad, and but seventeen thousand free negroes are reported in 1850. While it would be idle to pretend that there was any likelihood that the people of Louisiana would ever have advocated wholesale emancipation, it seems worth mention that, even after 1840, the rights of free negroes were carefully regarded (see even Olmsted, pp. 633, 636, 637, etc.), and the actual number, as well as the proportion of free negroes, was much greater in Louisiana than in neighboring states. For example, the census of 1850 reports, in round numbers, 17,000 in Louisiana, 9,000 in Mississippi, and 2,000 in Alabama, out of total populations, respectively, of five hundred thousand, six hundred thousand and seven hundred thousand.

From time to time at the beginning of the rapid increase of slavery, we note indications of a desire to check it. But we should remark that this does not indicate any hostility to slavery as such, but a fear lest, with the preponderance of blacks, Louisiana should suffer the fate of Hispaniola — a fate vividly present to a people who had, in the one year of 1810, received nearly six thousand refugees from that unhappy island (Martin, p. 346). Of such a nature is the discussion in the Governor's Message and in the legislature of 1826, with the futile act prohibiting "the bringing of any slave into the state merely for the purpose of sale" (Martin, Condon's Annals, p. 424). And the fears of thoughtful Louisianians are again expressed in the message of Acting-Governor Dupré, 1831: "The annual supply is gradually pouring in, and scarce a ship arrives from the slave-holding states that does not come freighted with a living cargo of vice and crime, to be disgorged upon our shores and incorporated into our domestic establishments." Deprecating the dangerous increase in slave population, however, is a very different thing from desiring the abolition of slavery. And as the years passed peacefully in Louisiana, with no disturbance of any moment at all among the slaves, with a white population not only increased but better organized against possible slave insurrection, and with greater wealth invested in slaves and produced by their labor, the tone of the press and of the public men becomes assured: slavery is not a danger to the continuance of white supremacy, though emancipation would be; the economic conditions in the state demand the existence of slavery. Leaving out of consideration the ordinary arguments in favor of slavery as a natural condition recognized by the law of God and the law of nations, as a positive benefit to the negro, it would be easy to accumulate a great mass of matter from the press, from the debates in the legislature and in the constitutional conventions, from periodicals such as DeBow's Review, to show that behind all other arguments lay the economic argument. And though it may be easy to demonstrate what some planters clearly perceived, that slave labor was expensive and inefficient, the planters were face to face with facts, not with theories. Though it may be that an increased white immigration would have followed the elimination of slavery, it is extremely doubtful if that immigration would have sufficed to supply the demand for labor to develop the resources of the state as rapidly as they were being developed. Ultimately, the negro population, whether slave or free, could not prove other than a detriment; immediately, it was the only apparent labor supply, the source of the wealth of the state; and it was fondly hoped, by a people who blinded themselves to the progress of the greater world, that slavery might justify its continued existence.

With regard to the treatment of slaves in Louisiana, there were severe laws for the regulation of slaves, but both laws and public opinion provided protection for the slave against ill treatment. Statutes that were pretty well enforced regulated the rations, the clothing, the quarters, the labor of slaves. And though it may be easily shown that the legal ration was far less varied than that the free laborer demanded, it was wholesome and sufficient, and it was generally very freely supplemented. On most plantations the slaves were allowed either to have garden patches of their own, or there was a garden and orchard to supply vegetables and fruits, and a herd of cattle to supply occasional rations of fresh meat. The typical quarters of fifty years ago were, I venture to say, more comfortable and more sanitary than the typical cabin of to-day. And the dependent classes, children, old and sick negroes, were more carefully provided for. Occasional acts of barbarity on the part of owners or overseers undoubtedly occurred; but that cruelty was the exception rather than the rule is indicated by the often noted docility and faithfulness of the slaves when the absence of the masters during the war left women and children at their mercy, and by the popular indignation that marked any case of flagrant cruelty. Upon this last point, one may recall the riot in New Orleans, in 1834, when a certain Mme. Lalaurie barely escaped from the mob after the discovery of her inhuman cruelty to her slaves. So violent was the feeling that the woman fled from the state.

Among the planters, the merchants and professional men of New Orleans, the scale of living was extravagant: slavery fostered a lordly manner. The cafe's, the clubs, the theatres, the stores of the one city of the state the centre of its life, were patronized by a prodigal and a cultured people fond of pleasure and of relaxation. There was more reading of standard literature in those days among business men, as well as among planters, than there is now, in the day of cheap magazines. And yet it is the conviction of the writer that too much roseate nonsense has been indulged about life on the plantation or in the city in the ante-bellum days. Neither the planter nor the factor nor the lawyer led a life of idle ease and pleasure; they were workers, whose energy built up the state; they lived often rather in rude profusion than in luxury.

The period between 1812 and 1861 is emphatically a period of agricultural and commercial development. We have therefore devoted the greater part of this article to these matters. But in the political history of the state there are also a few events of such significance that we cannot pass them by unnoticed.

War of 1812 in Louisiana.

Louisiana had hardly taken her name among the states before news arrived in New Orleans, at that time the capital, that the Union was at war with Great Britain. The scene of war in the first two years was too remote to involve the state, though great interest was taken in its progress. Preparations for the organization of troops were, however, undertaken, and in this matter, as well as in all others, the Creole population showed an energy and a spirit of patriotism that ought to have guarded them from any suspicion. The people of the state were most immediately concerned in the attempt to break up the gang of so-called pirates at Barataria, commanded by Jean Lafitte. Governor Claiborne besought the legislature for a force adequate to cope with Lafitte, and put a price on Lafitte's head. The audacious freebooter retaliated by offering thirty times the reward for Claiborne's head. Pierre Lafitte was arrested and confined in New Orleans, but his brother was beyond the reach of the governor. Thus matters stood when the first news of the intention of the British to attack Louisiana came through Jean Lafitte.

On Sept. 2, 1814, a British brig anchored off Barataria, and Captain Lockyer had an interview with Lafitte, proposing service under the British with the rank of captain and thirty thousand dollars, and showing him a proclamation of the English Colonel Nicholls that was intended to win the support of the Creoles. The crafty Lafitte asked for a few days to consider the matter, wrote to Mr. Blanque, of the legislature, and enclosed the papers given him by the British, protesting his loyalty to the state. Lafitte's warning was heeded, but the expedition then fitting out against the Baratarians was allowed to proceed, several of the pirates were captured and brought to New Orleans, but Lafitte himself escaped.

Meanwhile Andrew Jackson had been named to take charge of the defense of Louisiana, and the British had been repulsed in an attack on Fort Bowyer, Mobile Point (Sept. 14-15, 1814). Jackson captured Pensacola in spite of its being a Spanish town — he was never over-nice in his "distinction of enemies" — and hurried to New Orleans (December 2) to make ready for the British. A fortnight after his arrival the British had overpowered, after stubborn resistance, a small flotilla of gunboats in Lake Borgne (December 13), thus enabling them to land their army without opposition. As yet there was no certainty regarding the number of the British forces, but it was known that they probably outnumbered any force that Jackson could immediately oppose to them.

Jackson displayed characteristic energy in fortifying the many approaches to the city from the rear, and was heartily aided by the people. He declared martial law in New Orleans on December 16, and sent urgent orders to Generals Coffee, Carroll and Thomas to hurry to the city with their troops. On the night of December 22 the British, with a force of sixteen hundred men, surprised a picket at the mouth of Bayou Bienvenu, advanced up that bayou and the Villeré canal communicating with one of its branches, and emerged on the plantation of General Villeré, commander of the state militia, on the morning of the 23d. At Villeré's house they captured a company of militia, but Major Villeré, a son of the general, escaped by leaping out of a window. With a neighboring planter, Colonel De La Ronde, he crossed the river, rode hastily up the west bank and reached New Orleans to announce the attack by the British. (Fortier, Vol. III., p. 110.)

It was about half-past one o'clock when this news reached Jackson, but he determined to attack at once. Leaving Governor Claiborne with four regiments of state militia to guard against a possible attack from the direction of Gentilly, he collected his motley but enthusiastic force, consisting of Tennessee riflemen under Coffee, dragoons from Mississippi, the Orleans Rifles, Plauché's battalion of militia, Daquin's two hundred free men of color. Baker's Forty-fourth Regiment, and eighteen Choctaw Indians, in all amounting to 2,131 men. The armed schooner Carolina, under Commodore Patterson, was ordered to drop down the river and take position opposite the British lines, while Jackson marched toward the now historic field, some six miles below the city. The Carolina arrived at her station and opened fire about half-past seven o'clock in the evening, and Jackson vigorously attacked the enemy soon after. The British had increased their force to about forty-five hundred men. But they were not prepared for Jackson's bold onslaught, and they overestimated the force at his disposal. After a sharp fight they fell back to their camp, and Jackson, seeing that the darkness was too great, retired to the De La Ronde plantation. The British had lost 305 men in killed, wounded and prisoners, while the Americans lost 213.
It is unquestionable that this battle probably did as much to save New Orleans as the greater battle that was to follow. Jackson had not only warded off an attack that would have found him unprepared, but he had tested his own troops and had inspired the enemy with an extra amount of caution when boldness on their part might have captured the city.

On the following day Jackson fell back to the Rodriguez Canal, about two miles above the field of the first battle, entrenched himself there and awaited re-enforcements. On Christmas day Gen. Sir Edward Pakenham arrived and took command of the British forces, which had been increased to five thousand, and were soon augmented to eight thousand, most of them the very flower of the British army. On the 27th his batteries set fire to the Carolina, but the Americans towed the Louisiana out of danger. On the 28th there was a sharp skirmish, in which excellent service was rendered by the company of Baratarian artillery under command of Dominique You. After this there was comparative inaction until January 8, while Jackson continued to strengthen his position and to collect re-enforcements.

His line, extending about half a mile, from the river to the swamp was defended by a water-filled ditch, and by a parapet of varying height and thickness. The idea that it was built of cotton bales is an absurd fiction that brings back the inspiring picture in Peter Parley's old history of our childhood days; the thick Louisiana mud was far more effective than a rope-fastened cotton bale. On this line Jackson had planted eight batteries, with thirteen cannon. In the river lay the Louisiana, and on the opposite bank Commodore Patterson had planted three guns to harass the British flank. To defend his line Jackson had about four thousand men, a part of his available forces being detached to serve under General Morgan on the right bank of the river, and others to establish lines in his rear. The utmost prudence had been displayed in preparation; every little help that could be got was utilized, including the service of Lafitte and his Baratarians, whose offenses were wisely overlooked for the present, and all was ready for the bold defense that Jackson knew so well how to inspire in his men.

We will not here recite the story of this amazing battle, in which Creole and Tennesseean and pirate and free negro won an almost bloodless victory over troops that Wellington had led. Before daylight on January 8, the rockets from the British line announced the attack. On came the splendid columns in the dim light. Before nine o'clock the battle was over. General Pakenham was killed in a charge, General Gibbs was mortally and General Keane severely wounded; the British had lost two thousand and thirty-six. The American loss, on both sides of the river, was seventy-one; in the main battle along that fatal parapet, seven killed and six wounded.

The aftermath of the great victory is less pleasing, with Jackson engaging in a petty quarrel and being fined by Judge Hall. But it should be remembered that in his official reports and public expressions, then and long afterward, he was just and generous in praise for those who had helped him to win the victory. It should also be remembered that, though the battle on the plains of Chalmette was fought after the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States had been signed, it was useful to the nation, and to the state of Louisiana in particular, because it was convincing proof that the mixed population of the state could be depended upon.

After this great event the annals of Louisiana seem of small general interest. In the thirty years intervening before the next war, the men of peace were building up the state, New Orleans was becoming a great city, second in commercial importance only to New York. The French population in 1815 had supplied most of the leaders. For some years the great Creole names still deserve the first place: Vlleré, Forstall, Valcour Aime, Mazureau, Roman, Poydras, Martin, Gayarré — these and others might be mentioned as conspicuous leaders in commerce, agriculture, politics, law and letters. But as the middle of the century approached the preponderance of the new American population began to count, and the leaders in politics and law and commerce are such men as Benjamin, Slidell, Pearce, Peters, De-Bow, McDonogh, Robb, Walker, Randell Hunt, Wickliffe and Moore.

Part in War With Mexico.

The war with Mexico naturally aroused the martial ardor of Louisiana, and there were over forty-eight hundred volunteers from Louisiana by June, 1846. And though the volunteer troops from Louisiana were denied the privilege of sharing in any of Taylor's great victories, Louisiana troops served with credit under Scott; and Louisianians took pride in "Old Rough-and-Ready" himself, and in many soldiers who were to win laurels in a sterner conflict, such as "a little more grape, Captain Bragg," and P. G. T. Beauregard.


But the easy victory over unfortunate Mexico could not distract for long the attention of the people from the increasing bitterness of the contest over slavery. As the critical year approached the attitude of the press and the people became more clearly defined. One should say the attitudes, for there were two clearly marked and almost equal parties in the state. The political leaders, such as Benjamin, realized the gravity of the crisis, and were for the most part fairly moderate in tone, though uncompromising in their determination to uphold the rights of the state. A large proportion of the older citizens, especially the men of wealth, were sincerely attached to the Union, and abhorred secession as deeply as did the legislature of 1830, with its resolution "that nullification and secession are essentially revolutionary measure" (Fortier, Vol. III., p. 222). These men were the heirs of the old Whig party, and the strength of the sentiment represented by them was shown when, South Carolina having seceded, Governor Moore ordered an election for a convention to meet in January, 1861.

In the presidential election the vote of Louisiana had stood Breckinridge, 22,681; Bell, 20,204; Douglas, 7,625 — with none, of course, for the "Black Re-publican." In spite of the efforts of the extremists, in spite of the contagious enthusiasm engendered by South Carolina's action and by the course of events in neighboring states, the vote for the convention, Jan. 7, 1861, showed no overwhelming majority for secession: 20,448 votes for "southern rights" candidates, and 17,296 for candidates favoring various other policies. If there had not been so many "various policies," if the conservatives had been able to propose any concerted action that would have promised safe guidance for the state in this perilous time, the result might have been different. But in truth, regret it as we may, there was no safe alternative offered to Louisiana; she must have cast in her lot with the other slave states.

Accordingly, when the convention met at Baton Rouge, Jan. 23, 1861, the time for argument had passed. The majority of the members regarded themselves as acting under a direct mandate from the people. It was their business to carry out that mandate. Those who infer that this body was a rabble of fire-eaters are vastly in error. The presiding officer was the venerable ex-Gov. Alexandre Mouton, not a secessionist of irreconcilable malignity, but a sane, dignified and conservative man. And among the members one finds such men as ex-Gov. A. B. Roman, Christian Roselius, E. G. W. Butler, Louis Bush, J. B. Wilkinson, T. J. Semmes, etc., of the best that the state could furnish. They went about their work with a full sense of the responsibility they were incurring, but with the conviction that the safety and the honor of their state demanded secession. On the fourth day of their session the "Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Louisiana and other states united with her under the compact entitled 'The Constitution of the United States of America' " was reported by John Perkins, Jr., of Madison. It passed by a vote of 112 yeas to 17 nays. The die was cast. When the ordinance was signed, 121 delegates cast in their lot with the state and affixed their names to the ordinance.

A state flag, not the present pelican, was adopted on February 11, and the "Independent Commonwealth of Louisiana" continued a lone star until March 21, when the convention ratified the Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States. On March 26 the convention adjourned, and the rest is the story of a brave struggle in a hopeless cause.

Bibliography.— The extensive and valuable work of Professor Alcée Fortier, History of Louisiana, together with the works of Gayarré, of Martin, of Phelps, and of Miss King and John R. Ficklen, furnish the indispensable bases for any sketch of Louisiana. For statistical information especially, DeBow's Review is indispensable; and much valuable matter may be gleaned also from P. Champomier's Statement of Sugar Crops made in Louisiana, 1850-1861, from contemporary directories of New Orleans, Census reports, Journals of the Legislature, etc.

Pierce Butler,
Professor of English, H. Sophie Newcomb College, Tulane University.

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