BENJAMIN, JUDAH P. (1811-1884). American Jewish Senator and the Confederacy’s first attorney general, second secretary of war and third secretary of state; known as the “brains of the Confederacy.” ALS. (“J.P. Benjamin”). 1p. 8vo. London, March 31. To Mrs. Sellar.
“I shall be very happy to dine with you on Sunday evening – only I am not very well, and if I should fail, please be assured that the only cause will be that I am not well enough. I am, dear Mrs. Sellar, Very faithfully yr friend & servt…”
Although born in the Danish West Indies, Benjamin grew up in the Carolinas and, as an adult, settled in New Orleans. While there he practiced law, purchased a sugar plantation and eventually entered state politics. In 1853, Benjamin was elected a U.S. Senator, the first openly Jewish member of that body; he later refused offers by both Presidents Fillmore and Pierce to serve on the Supreme Court. While in the Senate, Benjamin established a close relationship with fellow Senator Jefferson Davis, which led Benjamin to support pro-South policies and accept prominent positions in the Confederacy; interestingly, he was the only cabinet member not to own slaves, having sold them and his plantation in 1850. Following the war, Benjamin fled to England where he again established a very successful law practice, becoming Queen’s Counsel. Our letter was written during this post-war exile. He is buried in Paris’s famous Pere Lachaise cemetery.
Folded with normal wear. In very good condition and scarce from this last period on Benjamin’s life. [indexhistory] [indexJudaica]