United States Senator from Louisiana
1853 – February 1861
|Preceded by||Pierre Soule'|
|Succeeded by||William Pitt Kellogg|
U.S. Representative for the 1st congressional district of Louisiana
1843 – November 1845
|Preceded by||Edward Douglass White|
|Succeeded by||Emile La Sere|
New York City
|Died|| July 28, 1871 (aged 78)|
Isle of Wight, England
|Resting place||Saint-Roman Family Cemetery in Paris, France|
|Spouse(s)||Mathilde Deslondes Slidell (married 1835-1870, her death)|
|Children|| Alfred, Marie, and Matilda Slidell
A native of New York City, he was a son of John Slidell, Sr. (died 1816), a merchant, and the former Margery Mackenzie (1773-1838). He graduated from Columbia College in 1810. He settled in New Orleans in 1819. In 1835, he married the former Mathilde Deslondes (1800-1870), and the couple had three children, Alfred, Marie, and Matilda. Slidell's sister, Jane, married United States Navy Commodore Matthew Perry. His brother, Thomas Slidell, was a chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, based in New Orleans. Younger brother Alexander Slidell Mackenzie (1803-1848), who changed his middle name to his last name to qualify for an inheritance, was also a Navy officer who in 1842 ordered the execution of three suspected mutineers in what is known as the Somers Mutiny. John Slidell himself was engaged in the mercantile business in New York and was admitted to the New York bar. His New Orleans law practice extended from 1819 to 1843.
Slidell was a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, ran unsuccessfully in 1828 for the United States House of Representatives but was elected to that body for one term from 1843 to 1845. He was the Orleans Parish district attorney from 1829 to 1833. He was appointed an envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Mexico from 1845 to 1846, but the unstable Mexican government refused to recognize him. He was similarly an envoy to Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras. He was a member of the United States Senate from 1853 to 1861 but resigned at the advent of the American Civil War, as did all southern senators except Andrew Johnson.
He was a Confederate diplomatic agent to France from 1861 to 1865. In an international incident in 1861, Slidell and fellow diplomat James M. Mason of Virginia were seized by the British from the U.S. Navy war vessel, the Trent, was a key political figure in Louisiana during the 1850s and the administration of U.S. President James Buchanan. After the Civil War, he resided in Paris, France, as had another high-ranking Confederate Judah P. Benjamin, who served in the U.S. Senate alongside Slidell.
Slidell, a city (2010 population: 27,000) in St. Tammany Parish in suburban New Orleans, is named in his honor. He died at the age of seventy-eight at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in England and is interred at the Saint-Roman family private cemetery near Paris.
- Slidell, John. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography: Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on April 19, 2020.
- 'A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses these sources for its article on Slidell: National Cyclopedia of American Biography, II; Clayton Rand, Stars in Their Eyes (1953); The Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1971 (1971); “John Slidell: Louisiana Politician” (Master of Arts thesis, at Tulane University in 1948); A. L. Diket, ohn Slidell and the Community He Represented in the Senate, 1853-1861 (Ph. D. dissertation at Louisiana State University, (1958), and Louis M. Sears, John Slidell (1925).