The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

John Slidell. By Louis Martin Sears, Professor of HI-istory in
Purdue University. (Durham, N. C.: Duke University
Press, 1925. Pp. 252. $2.50.)
Students of Southern history who had looked forward to the
appearance of Professor Sears's book for a full and satisfactory
life of the ante bellum leader of Louisiana and Southern diplomat
have doubtless felt something of disappointment that the volume
is so slender. On the more important phases of Slidell's career-
the mission to Mexico, the engineering of Buchanan's nomina-
tion to the Presidency, and the mission to France in behalf of
the Confederacy-he has little to add to the article he published
some years ago in the South Atlantic Quarterly and the American
Historical Review. The truth is, of course, that Professor Sears
has had to depend upon very scanty material, for but few of
Slidell's papers have survived. His correspondence with Buchanan
and J. M. Mason, with a few scattering letters to Marcy, is
about all that is left. The Congressional Globe and the contem-
porary newspapers provide some matter, but with it all counted
in the total is really inadequate. This is particularly the case for
Slidell's political activities in Louisiana. One marvels that the
New Orleans papers could contain so little about the man who
was for so many years the political leader of the State.
There are several questions, therefore, that have been left un-
answered. Just how did Slidell achieve the leadership in Louis-
iana politics? What was his program, if he had any beyond his
own advancement and the election of Buchanan? Slidell was not
only loyal to the South but was one of the acknowledged leaders
of that section, yet practically nothing is said of his relations
with other Southern leaders. To what extent was the break be-
tween the Buchanan group and Douglas due to a real difference of
principles and to what extent was it the result of mere rivalry for
party control? Just what were Slidell's projects and accomplish-
ments as a railroad builder? The railroad problems of the New
Orleans section during the forties and fifties suggest many fas-
cinating possibilities. Slidell's connection with August Belmont
should be a fruitful subject for investigation along this line.
But it must be said that even with scanty materials Professor


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 30, July 1926 - April, 1927. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 17, 2014.