The Jewish Politician and Slave Owner Who Was the Brains of the Confederacy

Judah Benjamin was the largest Jewish slave owner in the South and a key member of Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ government. ‘This is a person who had some very impressive qualities but did sickening, horrible things,’ says biographer James Traub

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Judah Benjamin
Judah Benjamin.
Rich Tenorio
Rich Tenorio

There have never been any calls to topple statues of Confederate politician Judah Benjamin. But that’s probably because no statues were erected in the first place.

Benjamin occupies a murky place in American Jewish history. He was among the first Jewish U.S. senators, rose to prominence in national affairs and even featured on the Confederate two dollar bill. Yet the rebel government he served in was a proud defender of slavery – as was he.

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