Photo Credit: Jewish Press
Exhibited beneath is a November 4, 1853 business letter accounting by Moses Elias Levy from Charleston:
I see by the Jacksonville News that the Probate Judge gives apprehension to all Creditors of Jones to present the claims adjoin his acreage afore May – the acreage accepting been declared insolvent. Are we to delay until the adjustment of the acreage afore we abatement on hart, who with Jones accordingly active the note? Farewell friend, M.E. Levy.
Levy (1782-1854) is best accepted for his enactment of the ancient Jewish adjustment on American soil, for actuality an abrupt Southern aitionist, and as the ancestor of David Levy Yulee, Florida’s aboriginal U.S. agent and the nation’s aboriginal Jewish senator.
Although he was a admired agent with ample business interests and all-embracing access who accomplished abundant absolute success, he never forgot his religious and cultural Jewish ancestor and spent his absolute developed activity as a amusing activist, religious reformer, and abstract visionary. In addition, he decidedly avant-garde agronomical development and accessible apprenticeship in Florida, area he afterwards served as the state’s secretary of education.
Descended from a affluent and affecting Sephardic ancestors – his ancestor was a arresting amount in the Ottoman Empire and an adviser to the Sultan – Levy was aloft in Gibraltar afore authoritative his way to St. Thomas in 1800, area he affianced in the barge business and accumulated a ample fortune. Afterwards relocating to Florida in 1820, he began purchasing acreage in arctic axial Florida that eventually exceeded 100,000 acres.
More than seven decades afore Herzl convened the Aboriginal Zionist Congress in Basel, Levy boarded on his own “New Jerusalem” plan to displace afflicted and afflicted European Jews on Pilgrimage Plantation, which he congenital on 1,000 acreage a Gainesville and appointed as a abode for Jews to apprentice agriculture and abstraction Hebrew and Bible.
With absolute able animosity about the allowances an agronomical association could accept for exile-weary Jews, and assertive durably in the concepts of Divine Providence and Messianic redemption, Levy anticipation that he could accelerate the advancing of the Messiah by creating a abstracted Jewish citizenry in Florida, which again had a statewide citizenry of alone about 200 Jews, with no applicable antebellum Jewish community.
Although afflicted by the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment) and about abnegation Rabbinic law to “strengthen Jewish character through modernization,” he nonetheless remained a Sabbath eyewitness and amorous addict of the Jewish Bible, which he advised every day. His adherence to the Torah was such that he approved to assemblage it as law at his Pilgrimage Plantation, which he ran like a avant-garde Israeli moshav: clandestine buying and common labor.
Levy assassin Frederick Warburg to recruit Jewish settlers for the colony, and Warburg and bristles added German Jewish families lived on the plantation, as able-bodied as Levy’s son, David. Levy was active in his efforts to defended all-important accessories and provisions, including amoroso pikestaff he brought in for planting; some historians acclaim him with actuality the aboriginal amoroso pikestaff importer in the United States.
Maintaining the antecedents was a ambitious and continuing challenge, mostly due to its adverse and alien location. It stood from 1822 until it was austere bottomward in 1835 during the additional Seminole Indian War. At the end of the day, Levy had succeeded in bringing few Jewish settlers to Florida and, afterwards the abortion of Pilgrimage Plantation, he alone his Jewish dream.
During a cruise to recruit colonists for Pilgrimage, Levy anonymously appear A Plan for the Aition of Bullwork in London in 1828, which put him absolutely in the beginning of a growing anti- movement. As one of the few amid the anti- armament with absolute acquaintance as a bondservant buyer and Caribbean planter, he was radically out of accordance with the prevailing political, economic, and amusing angle of the antebellum South.
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In the January 23, 1858 accord apparent above, David Levy Yulee writes from Washington, D.C.: “Please accelerate one of the copies of the “Globe” to which I may be advantaged to the ‘Ed[itor]’s Home Companion,’ Ocala, Florida – in the nos. issued – basic with [our?] session.
Although historians about accredit to him as “the key artist of Florida statehood,” Yulee (1810-86) was additionally accepted as “the Ancestor of Florida Railroads” for founding the Florida Railroad Company and ablution Florida’s aboriginal cross-peninsula line, which affiliated the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean (and which he built, at atomic in part, application bondservant labor); as “the Florida Fire Eater” for his annoying pro- rhetoric, including advancement for re-opening the across bondservant trade; and as “the Abundant Floridian” for his seminal contributions to Florida politically and economically.
Yulee fabricated key adorning contributions not alone in his accommodation as a railroad pioneer, but additionally as a association architect and developer who planned Florida’s infrastructure, including developing ports and the accompaniment postal system, and reintroducing citrus bake-apple agriculture to Florida.
Nonetheless, to his political enemies – and there were abounding – his absolute name was an anathema. These included ex-President John Quincy Adams, who attacked him as “the Jew agent from Florida” who was decidedly unfit because, as a Sephardic descendent, he independent “African blood”; Andrew Johnson, who alleged him a “miserable little cuss, a abhorrent little Jew”; and Sam Houston, who characterized him as “an capricious little gypsy Jew.”
Upon Florida’s acceptance to the Union in 1845, a beholden Florida assembly adopted him as the state’s aboriginal senator, authoritative him the aboriginal Jew anytime to serve in the United States Senate. As senator, he was a political conservative, a active best of state’s rights, a appalling articulation for the academy of , and a able alienation adherent who was amid the accumulation of Southern senators who helped to plan the Confederacy (he was the aboriginal agent to acknowledge his state’s alienation from the Union to Congress).
Levy clearly afflicted his name to Levy Yulee by official act of the Florida assembly afore his alliance to the Christian babe of the ex-governor of Kentucky in 1846. There is an absolute belief that continues to this day apropos the affidavit from his name change – including his acceding to the demands of his Christian wife and/or her family, his admiration to attenuate his affiliation with Judaism, and his admiration to accretion political and amusing advantage by sidestepping anti-Semitism. But Yulee himself about explained his reason:
The name which my ancestor affiliated was that which I asked permission to resume. It was his amusement to append its use afterwards abrogation his affectionate home and to apply the name of Levy in its stead. From affidavit that will artlessly advance themselves in every affection that holds in abundant attention the anamnesis of those through whom we trace our actuality and our lineage, I accept anticipation it acceptable in me as a civil assignment to accost the name and restore it in the annals of the animal race.
Yulee alone burden from both his Jewish ancestor and his Christian ancestors to absolutely alive what they accounted to be the able religious life. On one hand, he cut himself off from any affiliation with Jews, aloft his accouchement as Christians, and lived a Christian accessible life, which included approved abbey attendance.
On the added hand, he never alone the “Levy” from his name; he resisted constant burden from his wife and others to formally convert; he never denied or hid his Jewish identity; and he maintained a adherence of a sorts to the traditions of his ancestors and ancestors, admitting added in agreement of advancement a ancestral and celebrated band than a religious one.
Born in St. Thomas, West Indies, Yulee had been taken to the United States in 1818 by his father, Moses Elias Levy. At first, he had managed one of his father’s Florida plantations, but Moses disowned him afterwards acquirements that his son aggregate neither his adulation of Judaism nor his abhorrence of .
After his acceptance to the Florida Bar in 1832, he became a acknowledged advocate and was adopted to the Territorial Legislature, area he championed Florida statehood and became acclaimed as a active apostle of white face rights. He served as a agent to the Florida built-in assemblage and played an important role in drafting Florida’s aboriginal architecture in 1838.
Levy (he had not yet afflicted his name) was adopted agent to the House of Representatives for the Florida Territory in 1841, but his bench was challenged back anti-Semitic opponents argued that because of his Sephardic Jewish ancestry, he wasn’t absolutely an American citizen. Afterwards investigations, hearings, and board votes on the issue, the abounding House bootless to affair a absolute opinion. Levy was acceptable to booty his seat, and commenced alive to accretion Florida statehood and to action for the addendum of bullwork to newly-admitted states.
After the Civil War, he was appointed by the governor to biking to Washington to accommodate Florida’s readmission to the Union. However, Yulee was arrested as a traitor and interred in a Federal bastille for a year, until actuality appear through the action of General Ulysses Grant – appropriately authoritative Yulee and Jefferson Davis the aftermost two Confederate leaders to be pardoned afterwards the Civil War.
After his release, Yulee retired from backroom and committed himself to reestablishing Florida’s continuing in the United States, abating Florida’s prosperity, and accretion commerce, decidedly rebuilding the state’s railway system, which had been around destroyed by the war.
Both Levy County and the boondocks of Yulee are called for him, as are endless bridges, streets, buildings, abode halls, and museums in Florida. Curiously, the aboriginal bronze anniversary Yulee was not apparent until June 12, 2014 at the celebrated alternation annex in Fernandina Beach, Florida – and this admitting the a furor over demands to aish statues canonizing bondservant owners, bullwork supporters, and leaders of the Confederacy.
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