Jews in the South

By Leonard Dinnerstein; Mary Dale Palsson | Go to book overview

David L. Yulee, Florida's First Senator

Leon Hühner

I T IS A curious fact that so little has been written concerning the career of several Southern statesmen who were potent figures in our national history during the period immediately preceding the Civil War. Men whose names in their day were familiar throughout the land are to-day well nigh forgotten, and even so brilliant a personality as that of Judah P. Benjamin had no fitting biography until Prof. Pierce Butler's comparatively recent work appeared.

Though by no means so prominent as Benjamin, David L. Yulee was nevertheless a noteworthy figure in his day. It is, therefore, remarkable that, beyond a dozen lines or so, nothing has ever been written concerning his career with the exception of an article by his son, C. Wickliffe Yulee, which, however, is mainly of a reminiscent and personal character.1 In preparing this paper, therefore, it was necessary to go through original documents on file in various government departments, the public reports of Senate and House Committees, and the writings of distinguished contemporaries.

Not only had Senator Yulee the distinction of having been a prominent factor in national affairs for over twenty years, but to him belonged in large measure the honor of having obtained the admission of Florida into the Union, and of being her first Senator. Besides this, he is of additional interest because he was the first Jew ever elected to the United States Senate.

____________________
1
C. Wickliffe Yulee, "Senator Yulee," Publications of the Florida Historical Society, Jacksonville, 1909, vol. ii, nos. 1 and 2.

-52-

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