Image courtesy of Library of Congress
A cenotaph in Congressional Cemetery honors Representative Pierre Bossier of Louisiana.
On this date, the House held a funeral
for Representative Pierre Bossier
of Louisiana, the tenth Member of Congress to have died since the 28th Congress
began in December 1843. Bossier was born in French-held Louisiana, and prior to his House service was most famous as a duelist whose 1839 encounter with political enemy and fellow state militia officer Francois Gaiennie set off an avalanche of honor killings that left another eleven people dead. Bossier’s coffin was placed in the well of the House, and the funeral service conducted by the President of Georgetown University, James Ryder, S.J. The ceremony and the eulogy impressed newspaper correspondents: “The lighted candles, the priests in their white surplices, and the clouds of incense wreathing in the Hall, presented a scene calculated to strike the beholder with awe. The Rev. Mr. Ryder then took his seat at the desk, and delivered an eloquent sermon.” The mourners emerged from the fragrant fog to the East Front of the Capitol, and thence a mile and half in solemn procession to Congressional Cemetery, where Bossier’s body was interred temporarily, before being moved to this hometown of Nachitoches, Louisiana. A sandstone cenotaph was raised to honor the Congressman, one of 169 such monuments in the cemetery.