Judah Philipp Benjamin

Picture of Judah Philipp Benjamin

Place of birth: British West Indies

Citizenship: United States


Judah Benjamin was born in 1811, in the British West Indies, in the family of Orthodox Jews. In 1813, Benjamin emigrated to America and settled in New Orleans (Louisiana), where she was one of the largest in the US Jewish community.

At fourteen Judah went to Yale University, but soon left him for unknown reasons. Getting an education was enough for him to open legal advice in New Orleans. Benjamin tried many occupations - from the lawyer of the railway company to a sugar planter. In 1842 he was elected to the legislature of Louisiana, and in 1852 - in the US Senate. Benjamin became the first Jew in the Senate`s history.

In Washington, he met with Jefferson Davis, with whom he established a very unusual relationship - to treat each other with sincere respect outside the Senate, they were bitter rivals at the meetings. They often went down to the mutual insults, once even called Benjamin Davis to a duel, but he quickly made a public apology.

No less unusual relationship were Benjamin and his wife - the one giving birth to a daughter, in 1842, went to Paris and met her husband once a year, during his holiday visit to the French capital.

After the split of President Benjamin Davis appointed Attorney General of the Confederation. During the entire term of the Ministry of Justice, Benjamin has been an outspoken advocate of diplomacy cotton (cotton policy shipment to Europe in exchange for arms and equipment, and failure in the supply of cotton to countries that did not support the South).

In November 1861 Benjamin was appointed as Minister of War, and the post almost ruined his career. The failure of the first year of the war allowed the generals to make of Benjamin scapegoat to shift the blame to the military department. Especially Generals Beauregard and Jackson succeeded in criticizing the minister of war. Beauregard directly accused the minister of connivance and collaboration with the enemy, and Jackson threatened to withdraw from the military service, if Benjamin does not cease to intervene DM cases.

In February 1862, after the fall of Roanuk Islands, Benjamin was forced to resign. President Davis did not give him long to be around and in April Benjamin he became Secretary of State.

At the Secretary of State Benjamin has one obsession - to be drawn into war Britain. For this purpose it was necessary to abolish slavery, and Benjamin urged the South to do it sooner than before smart enough in the North. Former slaves, Secretary of State for the plan could and should be involved in the struggle for the cause of the South. Preliminary bill on the open call for blacks in the army of the Confederation met strong opposition to the apologists of slavery. They feared that if the former slaves suddenly prove capable and brave soldiers, the whole theory of the south of their inferiority to collapse like a house of cards.

The last months of the war and the first few months the world - the white spot in the whole life of Benjamin. On this almost unknown - almost its entire archive of Benjamin burned. The first part of the archive was on fire before the evacuation of the capital, and the second - shortly before his death. Benjamin was accused in the preparation of the Lincoln assassination, but have found no evidence, though dying destruction of the archive allows some historians to doubt his innocence.

Benjamin emigrated to England and began his career as a successful lawyer in international law. In 1872 he became an adviser to the queen.

He did not have any papers, essays, and books about his role in the war or his attitude to it. All post-war period, he only twice broke his silence. The first time - in September 1865, when opposed the detention of Jefferson Davis, and the second time - in 1883, when he had to repel accusations of financial mismanagement and embezzlement of funds from the Confederate accounts in European banks.

He avoided meeting with former associates. An exception was made only for Davis, with whom the former secretary of state met five times.

At the beginning of 1880 Benjamin left London and was reunited with his family in Paris. He died in 1884.

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