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What’s in a name? Slidell, Texas

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, October 20, 2018
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Slidell, Texas, was given its name by R.J. Battle, according to local lore. He named the town after John Slidell of Louisiana.

John Slidell

John Slidell was born in 1793 in New York City. He graduated from Columbia College. He married Mathilde Deslonde in 1835 and had three children, two of whom would come to hold a title – one became a countess and the other a baroness.

Slidell moved to New Orleans and practiced law there from 1819 to 1843. During that time, he was the district attorney in New Orleans and served in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Slidell entered national politics in the House in 1842. He was sent to Mexico to negotiate a peace agreement with Mexico. He was rejected by the Mexican government and returned to Washington having failed to broker peace. The Mexican-American war soon followed.

Slidell became a senator in 1853. He was a prominent voice for the interests of the South.

When Louisiana voted to secede, he quit the Senate and moved back to New Orleans. He received a diplomatic appointment to represent the Confederacy in France. On his way to France on a British vessel, he was captured by the U.S. Navy and they took him and another Confederate diplomat prisoner. Great Britain threatened war over the incident, and Lincoln relented and the diplomats were freed.

R.J. Battle

Slidell proceeded to France and failed to convince them to recognize the Confederacy or to promise a market for Southern cotton once the blockade was broken.

After the Civil War, Slidell moved to Paris, France. He died in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England in 1871. He was 78 years old.

Why did R.J. Battle name the town after him? There is no direct connection between the two men.

R.J. Battle was born in Tennessee in 1819. He moved to the Texarkana region of Texas in the 1840s. He married, had kids and lived in relative prosperity until the Civil War. He owned slaves.

The Civil War ruined his financial prosperity by freeing all his property. He then moved to this area where he lived in and around until his death in 1892, at some point naming the town of Slidell after a political figure of moderate notoriety, who mostly failed to accomplish his goals and was famous for being taken prisoner.

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