James Luther Slayden, United States representative, son of Thomas A. and Letitia E. (Beadles) Slayden, was born in Mayfield, Kentucky, on June 1, 1853. Upon the death of his father in 1869, he moved with his mother to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he worked for two years before attending Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia, in 1872–73. He returned to work in New Orleans until November 1876, when he moved to Texas. He settled in San Antonio by 1879 and became a cotton merchant and rancher. In 1892 he was elected to the House of Representatives in the Twenty-third Legislature. In 1896 he was elected to represent Texas as a Democrat in the Fifty-fifth Congress. He was reelected to ten succeeding congresses. As a legislator and later as a congressman Slayden promoted the growth of the railroad system in Texas. In Congress, while a member of the Committee on Military Affairs, he encouraged the expansion of Fort Sam Houston and was instrumental in making San Antonio a military center. He was appointed one of the eight envoys to the centennial celebration of the Mexican republic in September 1910 and was appointed by Andrew Carnegie as one of the original trustees for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in October 1910. For several years Slayden was president of the American Peace Society. He was also chairman of the American group of the Interparliamentary Union. After his retirement from Congress in 1919, he divided his business interests between an orchard in Virginia, a ranch in Texas, and a mine in Mexico. He married Ellen Maury (see SLAYDEN, ELLEN M.) in 1883. Slayden was an Episcopalian, a Mason, an Elk, and an Odd Fellow. Washington and Lee University honored him with the Phi Beta Kappa Key. He died in San Antonio on February 24, 1924, and was buried in Mission Park Cemetery.
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Biographical Directory of the American Congress. Sondra Wyatt Gray, The Political Career of James Luther Slayden (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1962). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Slayden, James Luther,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 24, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
August 26, 2019