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James Byeram Owens

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James Byeram Owens
Deputy from Florida
to the Provisional Congress
of the Confederate States
In office
February 4, 1861 – February 17, 1862
Preceded byNew constituency
Succeeded byConstituency abolished
Personal details
Bornc. 1816
Fairfield County, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedAugust 1, 1889
Marion County, Florida, U.S.
Resting placeEvergreen Cemetery,
Ocala, Florida, U.S.
SpouseLouisa Owens
ChildrenWillie Owens

James Byeram Owens (c. 1816 – August 1, 1889) was a slaveowner and American politician who served as a Deputy from Florida to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1862. He mounted legal arguments in defense of secession based on an originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution[1] and Southern arguments in favor of states' rights, with the intention of protecting the practice and institution of slavery.



Owens was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, moving to Mississippi and later to Marion County, Florida, in 1857, with two of his brothers.[1] Owens was one of the wealthier slaveowning planters in Marion County.[2] His name appears on the 1860 Slave Census Schedules for Marion County which attribute to him the ownership of 89 enslaved persons.[3] Owens used the forced labor of enslaved people to work the land on his plantation, where cotton was grown.[1]

Owens served as a delegate from Florida at the Democratic National Conventions of 1860. At the first convention, held in Charleston, he was selected to represent the interests of Southern Democrats in a debate with Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts. Owens, along with the Florida delegation and several other entire delegations representing the Southern states, walked out of the Charleston convention and held their own convention, where they nominated John C. Breckinridge for the Democratic Party ticket in the U.S. presidential election of 1860.[1]

Owens then represented Marion County at the Secession Convention of Florida held in Tallahassee in January 1861 and was a signatory to the Ordinance of Secession which declared Florida's secession from the United States.[4] Shortly thereafter, Florida joined the Confederacy and Owens became a Deputy in the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States as well as a signatory to the Constitution of the Confederate States, representing Florida.

After the war, Owens, along with all other former Confederates, was granted a full and unconditional pardon by President Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Notable relatives


Owens was the brother-in-law of Ethelbert Barksdale and the maternal grandfather of John W. Martin, the 24th Governor of Florida, by way of his daughter, Willie Owens, and her husband, John M. Martin Jr., himself the son of John Marshall Martin.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Cutler, H.G. (1923). History of Florida : past and present, historical and biographical, volume III. Lewis Publishing Company. pp. 8–10.
  2. ^ Smith, Julia Floyd (2017). Slavery and plantation growth in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1860. Gainesville, Florida. ISBN 978-1-947372-62-7. OCLC 1079199321.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ "Marion County, Florida 1860 slaveholders and 1870 African Americans". freepages.rootsweb.com. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  4. ^ "Florida Secession". www.colket.org. Retrieved February 21, 2022.
  1. "Mrs. James B. Owens". The Ocala Evening Star. November 21, 1907.
Political offices
Preceded by
New constituency
Deputy from Florida to the
Provisional Congress of the Confederate States

Succeeded by
Constituency abolished