Pierre Soulé

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Pierre Soulé
PSoulé.jpg
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
January 21, 1847 – March 3, 1847
March 3, 1849 – April 11, 1853
Preceded by Alexander Barrow
Henry Johnson
Succeeded by Solomon W. Downs
John Slidell
Personal details
Born (1801-08-31)August 31, 1801
Castillon-en-Couserans, France
Died March 26, 1870(1870-03-26) (aged 68)
New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Henrietta Armantine Mercier
Profession Politician, Lawyer

Pierre Soulé (August 31, 1801 – March 26, 1870) was an attorney, politician and diplomat from Louisiana during the mid-19th century. Serving as a United States Senator from 1849 to 1853, he resigned to accept appointment as as U.S. Minister to Spain, a post he held until 1855.

He is likely best known for his role in writing the 1854 Ostend Manifesto, part of an attempt by Southern slaveholders to gain support for the US to annex Cuba to the United States. Southern slaveholders wanted to expand their territory to the Caribbean and into Central America. The Manifesto was roundly denounced, especially by anti-slavery elements, and Soulé was personally criticized.

Born and raised in France, Soulé was exiled for revolutionary activities. He moved to Great Britain and then the United States, where he settled in New Orleans and became an attorney, later entering politics.

Pierre Soulé

Early life and education[edit]

Pierre Soulé was born in 1801 Castillon-en-Couserans, a village in the French Pyrénées. He was exiled from France as a young man for revolutionary activities, allowed to return, then imprisoned several years later for his continued opposition to the government.

Emigration and US politics[edit]

In 1825 Soulé escaped prison, and fled first to Great Britain, then to Haiti, and finally to the United States. He settled in New Orleans and became a lawyer.

In 1847, Soulé sat briefly in the United States Senate as a Democrat elected by the state legislature. He was returned to the Senate for a full term, serving from 1849 to 1853. He resigned to take an appointment as U.S. Minister to Spain, a post he held until 1855.

During this period, Soulé became known for writing the 1854 Ostend Manifesto, part of an attempt by Southern slaveholders of the planter class to gain support to annex Cuba to the United States. Worried about being bound by free states to the north and west, Southern slaveholders wanted to expand their territory to the Caribbean and into Central America. Cuba still had legal slavery at the time. The Manifesto was roundly denounced in the United States, especially by anti-slavery elements. Soulé was personally criticized for violating his role as a diplomat and Minister to Spain, which still controlled Cuba.

In late 1852, while in Washington, D.C., he had provided some support and assistance to the agent responsible for rescuing Solomon Northup, a free black from Saratoga Springs, New York, who had been kidnapped into slavery and held in the Red River region in Louisiana for twelve years.[1]

Soulé opposed Southern secession before the American Civil War, but supported his state of Louisiana in the Confederacy after the war began. In 1861, he supported organizing the Allen Rifles and gave an impassioned speech at a big barbecue in Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish.[2]

On May 18, 1861, Soulé was captured by Federal troops, charged with "plotting treason against the United States government," and imprisoned in Fort Warren, Massachusetts.[3] Soulé escaped from the prison and was able to return to Confederate territory.

After the war ended in 1865, he went into exile in Havana. Soulé eventually returned, and he died in New Orleans.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave, Darby and Miller, Buffalo, 1854, page 196.
  2. ^ John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 76
  3. ^ Winters, p. 133
United States Senate
Preceded by
Alexander Barrow
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Louisiana
January 21, 1847 – March 3, 1847
Served alongside: Henry Johnson
Succeeded by
Solomon W. Downs
Preceded by
Henry Johnson
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
March 3, 1849 – April 11, 1853
Served alongside: Solomon W. Downs and Judah P. Benjamin
Succeeded by
John Slidell
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Daniel M. Barringer
United States Ambassador to Spain
April 7, 1853 – February 1, 1855
Succeeded by
Augustus C. Dodge