John T. Ludeling


John Ludeling, the first chief justice to be born in Louisiana, brought stability and integrity to the Reconstruction-era court and his refusal to take sides won respect from both Confederate and Union sympathizers. Learn more »

John Theodore Ludeling was the fifth chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court and the first to be born in Louisiana—on January 27, 1827, in New Orleans. Ludeling served on the high bench from November 1, 1868, to January 9, 1877, under federal occupation of the state following the Civil War, which ended once Union troops were withdrawn from Louisiana upon the National Compromise of 1877. This controversial agreement allowed Republican Rutherford B. Hayes to assume the US presidency after a disputed election in return for his promise to remove federal troops from former Confederate states.

Ludeling’s parents were John Henry Ludeling, an immigrant from France, and Françoise Lorette de Salnavol, a refugee from the 1801 slave revolt in Santo Domingo. After John Henry’s death Françoise married Bernard Hemken (or Hemkin), a German immigrant who died in 1846. The family moved to Monroe while John L. Ludeling was a young boy. At age twelve he enrolled in St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, and he remained a student there until 1843 but did not complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree. Ludeling returned to Monroe, where he read law in the office of Isaiah Garrett and was admitted to the Louisiana bar. In 1855 he married Maria Copley Larkin, daughter of Enoch Copley and a descendant of the artist John Singleton Copley, according to some sources. They had four children.

Ludeling’s law practice prospered in Monroe before the Civil War. He aligned himself with the newly emerging Republican Party (unpopular in the South for its antislavery position), and, although his brothers enlisted in the Confederate army, Ludeling himself opposed secession and refused to fight against his family or his country. Ludeling’s courage and integrity earned him respect from both sides of the conflict. After the Civil War, Ludeling was elected to the 1867 Constitutional Convention; in 1868 he was appointed chief justice by the Reconstruction governor Henry C. Warmoth. Serving in the very difficult postwar period, Ludeling brought stability and integrity to the court. With the removal of federal troops from the state on January 9, 1877, Ludeling realized that his time on the Louisiana Supreme Court had come to an end.

Gov. Francis T. Nicholls’s administration was accepted as the legitimate authority in Louisiana following a disputed election against Republican Stephen B. Packard in 1876. He quickly appointed new justices to the supreme court. After retirement, Ludeling served as the first president of the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Pacific Railroad and acquired great wealth as a major stockholder of the company. He died on January 21, 1891, at his country home, Killeden Plantation, on Bayou Desiard, near Monroe. He received a Masonic funeral service and was buried in the old City Cemetery in Monroe.


Cite This Entry

Chicago Manual of Style

Shull, Janice. "John T. Ludeling." In KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published November 4, 2014.

MLA Style

Shull, Janice. "John T. Ludeling." KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

External Links

Disclaimer » If you click on any of the links below, you will leave KnowLA. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities does not certify the accuracy of information, nor endorse points of view expressed on the site to which you are navigating, with the exception of other LEH sites.

Return to top of page

Explore this Entry

Related Entries


The post-Civil War period in US history is known as the Reconstruction era, when secessionist states were brought back into the Union.

Fall of New Orleans and Federal Occupation

For both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War, New Orleans was considered a strategic city at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

» All Related Entries

Share |
  • RSS icon