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Louisiana’s Ordinance of Secession

February 05, 1861
Louisiana’s Ordinance of Secession Image courtesy of the Library of Congress A one-term Member from Louisiana, John Edward Bouligny retained his House seat after Louisiana seceded from the Union.
On this date, Miles Taylor of Louisiana submitted Louisiana’s ordinance of secession to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, making it the sixth of 11 southern states to leave the Union by the late Spring of 1861. A three-term Member who represented the southern and western parishes of greater New Orleans, Taylor supported secession, he said, “in obedience to the will of the people of my State . . . with feelings of the gravest and most profound anxiety.” Taylor hoped the break in the Union would be done peacefully and “without contention,” but warned the House that any attempt by federal officials to blockade the southern coastline or any effort to send troops into a seceding state would be viewed as an act of war. Northern Members questioned how someone who had taken an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution could now “avow, advocate, and justify treason?” Daniel Sickles of New York noted that based on Taylor’s reasoning the seceding states declared war the moment they began seizing the forts, ships, and “public moneys” belonging to the United States located in the South. Taylor reaffirmed his desire to live in peace with the North but said that he would fight if he had to. On the other hand, Representative John Edward Bouligny, also of Louisiana, was a strong supporter of the Union, and became the only Louisiana Member to remain in the House amid the secession crisis. Roughly a year after Taylor left Washington, his former district (and much of southern Louisiana) fell under Union military control when the U.S. navy captured New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Natchez, Mississippi. After a five-year absence, the Louisiana delegation resumed service in the House on July 18, 1868.

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