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Secessionist fire-eater dies

February
18
1874

On this day in 1874, secessionist leader Louis T. Wigfall died in Galveston. The South Carolina native arrived in Texas in 1846 and settled in Nacogdoches, where he was a law partner of Thomas J. Jennings and William B. Ochiltree. Soon Wigfall opened his own law office in Marshall. He was active in Texas politics from the month he arrived, "alerting" Texans to the dangers of abolition and growing influence of non-slave states in the United States Congress. After serving in the Texas legislature Wigfall was elected to the U.S. senate in 1858, where he earned a reputation for eloquence, acerbic debate, and readiness for encounter. In the forefront of southern "fire-eaters," Wigfall continued his fight for slavery and states' rights and against expanding the power of national government. He played an important role in the formation of the Confederacy, and served in the Confederate congress. After the Civil War, Wigfall traveled to England, where he tried to foment war between Britain and the United States, hoping to give the South an opportunity to rise again. He returned to the United States in 1872, lived in Baltimore, and moved back to Texas shortly before his death.

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