Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Judah P Benjamin

Judah P Benjamin, "The Brains of the Confederacy"
One of the most unlikely of American stories involves Judah P. Benjamin, who was known as "the Brains of the Confederacy" during the American Civil War.

Benjamin was the second Jewish senator in United States history.  His home state was Louisiana, where he was a slaveholder, owning 150 negroes before releasing them.

In 1853, Benjamin was elected U. S. senator, and served in that capacity until the Civil War began in 1861.  Of course, being from Louisiana, his affections were with the southern war effort.  President Jefferson Davis appointed him the first Attorney General of the Confederacy.

Later, Benjamin was called on to also serve as Secretary of War and then, later still, as Secretary of State.  He possessed a brilliant mind, and therefore he came to be referred to as "The South's Greatest Brain".

Following the South's defeat, he escaped to England, where he became a prominent attorney.

He died in 1884 and is buried in Paris, France.

I wrote the following poem about this remarkable figure:

              JUDAH P BENJAMIN

The perpetual smile of the Southern Dark Prince
Masks a mind like a steel trap, decisive and true;
And his manner is pleasantly courteous, since
He is elder-statesman, Confederate.....and Jew.

A principled lawyer, styled powerf'ly plain.....
One step ahead of his foes, often two;
Extolled by admirers as the South's greatest brain,
Secretary of State, states-rightist.....and Jew.

Throughout his full lifetime he struggled alone.....
From St. Croix to Charleston to New Haven he grew;
Then to Lou'siana, where his influence shone
As senator, planter, defender.....and Jew.

Chief advisor to Jeff Davis, sweeping away
The bias of centuries, etched through and through
With hatred; sharp, biting reason keeping at bay
Prejudice opposing proud patriot.....and Jew.

(C) 2000 Clint Ellison


  1. An interesting history lesson about a man who needs more recognition. A beautiful poem you wrote honoring him.

  2. "It is a revolution, and it can no more be checked by human effort... than a prarie fire by a gardener's watering pot."

    Judah Philip Benjamin

    Interesting informations, Clint!
    Thank you!
    Best regards from Romania!

  3. Thank you, Wind. I love this quote from Judah Benjamin! Best wishes to you from Texas!