Karl Preuss's essay, like Weiner's study of Sidney Wolf, illustrates the experience of a minor participant far from the center stage. Like Wolf, Jacobson worked closely with other activists in a triracial society with an important military component. Unlike Wolf, however, Jacobson served a community with a tradition of rabbinic leadership.
Southern Jews today may admit with some discomfort that many of their ancestors tended to reflect local attitudes about blacks. Thus, according to one estimate, perhaps a quarter of southern Jews owned slaves. In his History of the Jews in America, Howard M. Sachar lists several prominent Jews who supported the southern cause during the Civil War and served in various high-ranking government positions. Judah P. Benjamin, for example, served in several offices for the Confederate States.1
Although Texas was a part of the Confederacy, it is perhaps more difficult to make similar generalizations about Jews who lived in that part of the South. Many of the newcomers to Texas after it became a state in 1845 were Germans who gravitated toward the free soil ideology of the Republican party. Some of these Germans were also Jewish, and, like their more established southern cousins, they usually reflected the prevailing attitudes of their adopted culture. As a result, southern Jews and the recently arrived German Jews of Texas often did not see eye-to- eye on the question of abolition.
Even during the years preceding Texas statehood, Germans settled in central and southern Texas in appreciable numbers. By 1850 one estimate placed the German population of San Antonio at two-fifths of
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Publication information: Book title: The Quiet Voices:Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s. Contributors: Mark K. Bauman - Editor, Berkley Kalin - Editor. Publisher: University of Alabama Press. Place of publication: Tuscaloosa, AL. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 135.
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