The Blue & the Gray
The Gray: Judah P. Benjamin
Senator from Louisiana
Judah P. Benjamin served as Louisiana’s senator from 1852 until the state seceded in 1861. He lived on Lafayette Park and was once given the honor of holding a new Torah scroll at Washington Hebrew Congregation.
After Louisiana’s secession, Benjamin became the highest ranking Jew in the Confederate government. President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis named him Secretary of War in 1862 and Secretary of State in 1863. He became known as the “brains of the Confederacy.”
During the war, Benjamin faced antisemitic criticism from both North and South, even though he had abandoned formal Judaism. He fled to England after the war, and was buried in a Catholic cemetery in France.