James B. Eustis

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James Biddle Eustis
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
March 4, 1885 – March 3, 1891
Preceded byBenjamin F. Jonas
Succeeded byEdward D. White
In office
January 12, 1876 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byWilliam P. Kellogg
Succeeded byBenjamin F. Jonas
United States Ambassador to France
In office
May 6, 1893 – May 24, 1897
PresidentGrover Cleveland
Preceded byT. Jefferson Coolidge
Succeeded byHorace Porter
Member of the Louisiana Senate
In office
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
James Biddle Eustis

(1834-08-27)August 27, 1834
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedSeptember 9, 1899(1899-09-09) (aged 65)
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
Resting placeCave Hill Cemetery
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseEllen Buckner
RelationsGeorge Eustis Jr. (brother)
Charles Bohlen (grandson)
Alma materHarvard Law School

James Biddle Eustis (August 27, 1834 – September 9, 1899)[1] was a United States senator from Louisiana who served as President Cleveland's ambassador to France.

Early life[edit]

Born in New Orleans, he was the son of George Eustis (1796–1858) and Clarice (née Allain) Eustis. His father was a lawyer who served as a Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. James's brother, George Eustis Jr., was a United States representative from Louisiana.[1]

James pursued classical studies, graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1854, was admitted to the bar in 1856.[1]


After his admission to the bar, he commenced practice in New Orleans. He served as judge advocate during the Civil War in the Confederate Army and resumed the practice of law in New Orleans.[2]

He was elected a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives prior to the Reconstruction acts, and was one of the committee sent to Washington, D.C. to confer with President Andrew Johnson on Louisiana affairs. He was again a member of the State house of representatives in 1872, and was a member of the Louisiana Senate from 1874 to 1878.[2]

Eustis was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy in the term commencing March 4, 1873, caused by the action of the Senate in declining to seat rival claimants William L. McMillen and P. B. S. Pinchback.[3] Eustis served from January 12, 1876, to March 3, 1879; he was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection, and was professor of civil law at the Tulane University Law School from 1877 to 1884, then called the University of Louisiana. He was again elected to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1885, to March 3, 1891; he was not a candidate for reelection, and practiced law in Washington, D.C., in 1891.[2]

While a sitting senator, Eustis wrote a controversial essay for The Forum titled "Race Antagonism in the South," in which he complained that "The white man's patience is to-day taxed as ever by the unending complaints of the Negro and his friends" and that Blacks "continue to appeal to what he considers the inexhaustible sympathies of the white race" despite having "every advantage over every other laboring class in the world."[4]

If his lot is to continue to be one of inferiority, rather than appeal to the political favoritism of the federal government, or to the partisan sympathies of Northern philanthropists, as he has done in the past, he should rely implicitly upon the magnanimity of his white fellow-citizens of the South, to treat him with the justice and generosity due to his unfortunate condition.[4]

The essay prompted vigorous responses from supporters of civil rights, including George Washington Cable, Albion Winegar Tourgée, Atticus Greene Haygood, and others.[5][6][7]

From 1893 to 1897 he was ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to France, and then settled in New York City.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Eustis was married to Ellen Buckner (1836–1895),[8] a daughter of Henry Sullivan Buckner, a cotton broker who built a mansion at 1410 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans in 1856,[9] and Catharine (née Allan) Buckner.[10] Ellen was an aunt to Mortimer N. Buckner, president and chairman of the New York Trust Company. Together, James and Ellen were the parents of:[11]

  • William A. Eustis (1860–1863), who died young.
  • Marie Clarice Eustis (1866–1956), who married George Peabody Eustis Corcoran (1864–1936) in 1887. They divorced and she married pianist Josef Hofmann in 1905.[12]
  • James Biddle Eustis Jr. (1872–1915),[13] who married Nina Floyd Crosby (1881–1966)[14]
  • Celestine Eustis (1877–1947), who married Charles Bohlen (1866–1936) in 1902.[15]

Eustis died in Newport, Rhode Island on September 9, 1899.[1] He was interred at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.[16][17] He was a member of The Boston Club of New Orleans.[18]


Through his daughter Celestine, he was posthumously a grandfather of diplomat Charles Bohlen (1904–1974), who served as the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, the Philippines and France.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Death of James B. Eustis; Ex-Ambassador to France Expired Last Night at Newport. His Distinguished Career: Served in the Confederate Army on Gen. Magruder's Staff and Was Fourteen Years in the Senate". The New York Times. Newport. September 10, 1899. p. 11. Retrieved April 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Eustis, James Biddle (1834–1899)". bioguideretro.congress.gov. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  3. ^ Compilation of Senate Election Cases from 1789 to 1885 - Pages 483 - 512
  4. ^ a b Eustis, J. B. (1888). The Forum. Forum Publishing Company. pp. 144–154. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  5. ^ Cable, George Washington (1888). A Simpler Southern Question. Forum. pp. 392–403. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  6. ^ Tourgée, Albion Winegar (April 15, 2010). Undaunted Radical: The Selected Writings and Speeches of Albion W. Tourgée. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-3754-3. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  7. ^ Haygood, Atticus Greene (1888). A Reply to Senator Eustis's Late Paper on Race Antagonism. Open Letter Club. Retrieved February 23, 2022.
  8. ^ "Remains of Mrs. James B. Eustis". The New York Times. London. November 1, 1895. p. 5. Retrieved April 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Henry Sullivan Buckner House, 1410 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans". www.loc.gov. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. June 30, 1945. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  10. ^ "Soule Business College". old-new-orleans.com. Old New Orleans. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Atkins, Jennifer (2017). New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920. LSU Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-8071-6758-8. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Mrs Wood to Wed George M. Eustis; State Senator's Widow Is Engaged to Son of Mrs. Josef Hofmann. Msss De Forest Betrothed Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd K. de Forest to Marry W. de B. Roberta, Princeton Graduate". The New York Times. May 11, 1923. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "James Biddle Eustis". The New York Times. July 9, 1915. p. 11. Retrieved April 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Mrs. J.b. Eustis Weds a Marquis; Becomes a Catholic to Marry Head of Junior Branch of de Polignac Family. Ceremony in Cathedral Bridegroom, a Former Aviator, Is One of the Best Known Sportsmen in France". The New York Times. October 25, 1917. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  15. ^ "Mrs. Charles Bohlen". The New York Times. August 15, 1947. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  16. ^ Times, Special to The New York (September 12, 1899). "Funeral of James B. Eustis". The New York Times. Newport, Rhode Island. p. 7. Retrieved April 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Funeral of James B. Eustis.; Service at Newport This Evening -- Burial Will Be at Louisville". The New York Times. Newport, Rhode Island. September 11, 1899. Retrieved April 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nnc1.cu09362126&seq=313
  19. ^ Phelps, Robert H. (January 2, 1974). "Charles Bohlen, Diplomat, 69, dies". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2020.


External links[edit]

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William Kellogg (– November 1, 1872)
Vacant (1872–1876)
U.S. senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
January 12, 1876 – March 3, 1879
Served alongside: Joseph R. West, William P. Kellogg
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Benjamin F. Jonas
U.S. senator (Class 3) from Louisiana
Served alongside: Randall L. Gibson
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by U.S. Ambassador to France
Succeeded by