26: Judah P. Benjamin, 2nd Jewish Senator in U.S.
Judah P. Benjamin, 2nd Jewish Senator in U.S. History & Confederate Politician, Imperial Salted Paper Print
Anonymous hand-colored, salted paper print depicting Judah P. Benjamin, 12 x 16.5 in. (sight), matted and framed, 18 x 23 in.
Judah P. Benjamin (1811-1884), born to Sephardic Jewish parents on the Island of St. Croix, Danish West Indies, immigrated to Savannah, GA with his parents in 1816. He attended Yale College at the age of 14, but left before finishing to teach and study law in New Orleans, LA. Benjamin was admitted to the bar in 1832 and started a practice in New Orleans. The following year, he got married and eventually became a slaveholder, establishing a sugar cane plantation in Belle Chasse, LA, which, along with his law practice, prospered.
Benjamin became involved with politics in 1842 when he was elected to the lower house of the Louisiana State Legislature, serving this position until 1844. He was elected as a Whig to the U.S. Senate in 1853 and re-elected in 1859 as a Democrat. In February 1861, Benjamin withdrew from his Senate seat and was appointed Attorney General under the provisional government of the Confederate States. He was then appointed Acting Secretary of War in August 1861, serving through November 1861, when he was appointed CSA Secretary of War. Benjamin resigned in February 1862 to accept the appointment of Secretary of State in Jefferson Davis' Cabinet, a position he held through the end of the war. He then moved to Great Britain in 1865, studying English law in London and opening a practice after being admitted to the bar in 1866. Benjamin also received the appointment of Queen's counsel in 1872. After retiring in 1883, he moved to Paris and died one year later.