|Judah P Benjamin, "The Brains of the Confederacy"|
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