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Louisiana’s Secession indigenous the Union Louisiana seceded indigenous the Union on January 26, 1861, although countless in the state protest the decision.

by man M. Sacher


Courtesy that Library of Congress, rarely Book and Special collections Division

A protest versus the ordinance that secession.

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Taliaferro, James G (Author)

On January 26, 1861, the delegates to Louisiana’s secession convention meeting in Baton Rouge vote 113 come 17 to secede native the Union. Immediately thereafter, convention president Alexandre Mouton proclaimed the connection between Louisiana and also the United claims to it is in dissolved, and in a symbolic demonstration of this readjust in status, the delegates lowered the American flag in the chamber and also replaced it with a flag showing a pelican feeding her young (the photo on the state seal). Louisiana retained this independent status until march 21, 1861, once it transferred its allegiance come the Confederate claims of America.

The overwhelming pro-secession poll at the convention without doubt overstates antebellum Louisianans’ commitment to secession. Transparent the prewar period, Louisiana repeatedly rejected the to plan of radical southerners who demanded that the southern leave the Union. In the 1832 Nullification Crisis, Louisiana offered no support to southern Carolina “fire-eaters” (fervent secessionists), and also former Louisiana senator Edward Livingston also wrote Andrew Jackson’s force Bill, which pledged military activity against those who resisted federal law. Later, the state sustained the weaken of 1850 and did not send a delegation to that year’s secessionist Nashville Convention. Also, Louisiana’s Whigs did not share the little government proclivities the their southern neighbors. Instead, they endorsed an activist conference government, especially regarding a sugarcane tariff and government aid to business, in a manner an ext akin come the northern branch that the party rather than to various other southern Whigs who advocated for states’ rights.

At the exact same time, white Louisianans shared other southerners’ meeting both come slavery and also to the contrary to federal interference v the institution either in the states or territories. Consequently, the climb of a sectional Republican Party devoted to protecting against slavery’s expansion caused Louisianans come reevaluate their allegiance to the united States. In particular, two occasions pushed them toward secession. First, john Brown’s fail abolitionist raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in October 1859 heightened sensitivity towards both instant threats to slavery and also to the increase Republican Party. Second, the presidential choice of 1860 dealt a additional blow to the state’s conservatism. Not only did the state cast its electoral votes for john C. Breckinridge, the candidate the the southern wing that the autonomous Party, however the election resulted in the triumph the Republican Abraham Lincoln, who had actually not received a single popular vote in Louisiana.

The 1860 Presidential Election

Lincoln’s election adjusted the political calculus in Louisiana. 3 weeks before the contest, a Democrat accurately framed Louisianans’ choices in the occasion of Lincoln’s victory: “What space we come do? shall we remain quiet and also wait to view him inaugurated, and develop his plan and policy or shall we anticipate what it will certainly be, and act at when to takes actions for our self-preservation? What candlestick these measures be? shall we have actually a southern Convention that the slave says or will each state act by itself? these are crucial questions.” And, for the following two months, Louisiana’s voters and also political leader struggled over the finest answers to this “important questions.”

Louisiana’s politics leaders, an especially Governor cutting board Overton Moore and Senator john Slidell, inserted themselves in the vanguard of state’s secession movement. Privately they maintained that they opposed instant secession but felt obliged to monitor the command of your constituents. Nevertheless, their public actions certainly pushed their other Louisianans away from the Union. In particular, branch Moore’s pro-secession decided at the opened of the unique December legislative branch session set the mood because that the election of convention delegates on January 7, 1861. Various other events added toward the secessionist atmosphere in Louisiana. In November, Benjamin Palmer, a leading Presbyterian minister in brand-new Orleans, ceded a sermon declaring magnificent sanction for secession. Numerous newspapers reprinted the sermon, and more than fifty thousand duplicates were distributed. Additionally, by the moment Louisianans vote in at an early stage January, south Carolina had seceded, and also four various other southern claims had elected pro-secession conventions.

The Secession Convention

Candidates for the secession convention did no run together party nominees however instead divided between secessionists and cooperationists. The previous group endorsed secession, while the last group included some unionists yet mainly consisted of those who wanted to have actually a conference of southern states prior to any type of state’s secession. Secessionists captured the bulk of seats. While specific results are impossible to obtain, the best estimates show that eighty delegates should be labeled secessionists in contrast to forty-four cooperationists and also six unknown. The in its entirety vote totals point to a less decisive victory. The main state returns, i beg your pardon were not released for an ext than a century, perform secessionist delegates as recording 52.7 percent that the vote. Part of the discrepancy in between this poll percentage and the number of secessionist delegates stems indigenous the reality that in many areas delegates ran uncontested, for this reason reducing voters’ desire to actors a ballot. In fact, an ext than 12,000 guys who had voted in the November presidential choice (approximately one in 4 of those that had actors ballots) declined to poll in January.

By the time the convention met in Baton Rouge on January 23, the an outcome was no in doubt. Governor Moore had currently ordered the seizure the the commonwealth arsenal at Baton Rouge and Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson top top the Mississippi River. Additionally, with 4 other states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi—having joined southern Carolina outside the Union, the definition of “cooperation” was less clear. Part delegates maintained that cooperating v their fellow southern states currently meant leaving fairly than staying in the Union. The overwhelming failure of a call to send delegates to a southerly convention in Nashville (24 in favor and also 106 against) illustrates this decline in anti-secessionist sentiment.

After vote 113 to 17 in donate of secession on the 3rd day of the convention, the delegates strove to preserve all appearances that unity. All but seven members signed the secession ordinance, and also the delegates reacted swiftly and also decisively once James G. Taliaferro, a Catahoula Parish delegate and one the the convention’s most ardent unionists, lodged a protest versus secession completing that that presaged anarchy and also war. Not just did the convention repudiate his protest, yet the members even refused to encompass it in the main journal. Additionally, the delegates decided against popular ratification that secession by 84 to 45, competing that voters had currently had your say when they chosen the delegates. They additionally refused to relax the main vote totals native the January 7 choice of delegates, probably worried the publishing data which suggested that 47.3 percent the the state’s voters had supported cooperationist candidates would threaten their cause.

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In the wake up of the convention’s vote, the state all set for war. Volunteer units quickly sprang up. Additionally, partly in an initiative to protect its western boundary, Louisiana sent out an envoy come Texas to persuade the Lone Star State to join its sister slaveholding states external the Union. The convention itself briefly adjourned to relocate from Baton Rouge to brand-new Orleans in bespeak to allow the state legislature to meet at the capitol. After ~ the members come in their brand-new location, they sent six delegates to the Montgomery, Alabama, convention that formed the Confederacy, seized the united state Mint in new Orleans, and ratified the Confederate constitution on march 21 prior to adjourning on march 26.