David Levy Yulee
| United States Senator |
March 4, 1855 –January 21, 1861
|Preceded by||Jackson Morton|
|Succeeded by||Thomas W. Osborn (1868)|
July 1, 1845 –March 3, 1851
|Preceded by||Seat established|
|Succeeded by||Stephen Mallory|
|Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives |
from Florida Territory's at-large district
March 4, 1841 –March 3, 1845
|Preceded by||Charles Downing|
|Succeeded by||Edward Cabell (Representative)|
June 12, 1810
Charlotte Amalie, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands)
|Died||October 10, 1886 76) (aged|
New York City, New York, U.S.
David Levy Yulee (born David Levy; June 12, 1810 – October 10, 1886) was an American politician and attorney. Born in St. Thomas, then under British control, he was of Sephardi Jewish ancestry: his father was from Morocco and his mother from Europe. The family moved to Florida when he was a child, and he grew up there on their extensive lands. He later served as Florida's territorial delegate to Congress. Yulee was the first person of Jewish ancestry to be elected and serve as a United States Senator, serving 1845–1851 and again 1855–1861. He founded the Florida Railroad Company and served as president of several other companies, earning the nickname of "Father of Florida Railroads."In 2000 he was recognized as a "Great Floridian" by the state.
Levy added Yulee, the name of one of his Moroccan ancestors, to his name soon after his 1846 marriage to Nancy Christian Wickliffe, daughter of ex-Governor Charles A. Wickliffe of Kentucky. Though Yulee converted to Christianity 187) and raised their children as Christian, he encountered antisemitism throughout his career.(Episcopalian :
Yulee was in favor of slavery and the secession of Florida. After the Civil War, he was imprisoned at Fort Pulaski for nine months for having aided the escape of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.After being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, he returned to his Florida railroad interests and other business ventures.
He was born David Levy in Charlotte Amalie, on the island of St. Thomas. His father was Moses Elias Levy, a Sephardi Jewish businessman from Morocco who made a fortune in lumber in the British colony.His mother, Hannah Abendanone, was also Sephardi; her ancestors had gone from Spain in the 15th-century expulsion to the Protestant Netherlands and England. Some later migrated to the Caribbean as English colonists during the British occupation of the Danish West Indies (now the United States Virgin Islands). Moses Levy was a first cousin and business partner of Phillip Benjamin, the father of Judah P. Benjamin, the future Secretary of State of the Confederate States of America.
After the family immigrated to the United States in the early 1820s, Moses Levy bought 50,000 acres (200 km2) of land near present-day Jacksonville, Florida Territory. He wanted to establish a "New Jerusalem" for Jewish settlers. The parents sent their son to a boy's academy and college in Norfolk, Virginia. Levy studied law with Robert R. Reid in St. Augustine, was admitted to the bar in 1832, and started a practice in St. Augustine.
During his twenties Levy served in the territorial militia, including during the Second Seminole War. In 1834 he was present at a conference with Seminole chiefs, including Osceola.
In 1836 he was elected to the Florida Territory's Legislative Council, serving from 1837 to 1839. He was delegate to the territory's constitutional convention in 1838 and served as clerk of the legislature in 1841.
In 1851 Yulee founded a 5,000-acre (20 km2) sugar cane plantation, built and maintained by enslaved African Americans, along the Homosassa River. The remains of his plantation, which was destroyed during the Civil War, are now the Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site. Yulee was also business partners with John William Pearson at Orange Springs, Florida, but he abandoned his idea of building a railroad in the area as tensions rose and war seemed imminent.
While living in Fernandina, Yulee began to develop a railroad across Florida. He had planned since 1837 to build a state-owned system. He became the first Southerner to use state grants under the Florida Internal Improvement Act of 1855, passed to encourage the development of such infrastructure. He made extensive use of the act to secure federal and state land grants "as a basis of credit" to acquire land and build railroad networks, which were built with slave and Irish immigrant laborthrough the Florida wilderness.
Issuing public stock, Yulee chartered the Florida Railroad in 1853. He planned its eastern and western terminals at deep-water ports, Fernandina (Port of Fernandina) on Amelia Island on the Atlantic side, and Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico, to provide for connection to ocean-going shipping. His company began construction in 1855. On March 1, 1861, the first train arrived from the east in Cedar Key, just weeks before the beginning of the Civil War.
Levy (still going by that surname) was elected in 1841 as the delegate from the Florida Territory to the United States House of Representatives and served four years. He was seated after his election,but his position was disputed, as opponents argued that he was not a citizen. Levy agreed to suspend his legislative activities pending resolution of this issue in the next Congressional session. By late March 1842 the associated investigations, committee votes, and attempts to bring the issue to a vote in the full House, which included a defense by Levy and testimony from witnesses favorable to him, had not produced a definitive opinion of the House. Levy was allowed to take his seat, and no further attempts were made to contest his claim to it. Once seated in the House, Levy worked to gain statehood for the territory and to protect the expansion of slavery in other newly admitted states.
In 1845, after Florida was admitted as a state, the legislature elected Levy as a Democrat to the United States Senate, the first Jew in the United States to win a seat in the Senate. He served until 1851 (during which period he began using Yulee as his surname).During his first Senate term, he served as chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Private Land Claims (1845-1849) and the United States Senate Committee on Naval Affairs (1849-1851).
In 1855 Yulee was again elected by the Florida legislature to the Senate. He served until resigning in 1861 in order to support the Confederacy at the start of the American Civil War.
Yulee's inflammatory pro-slavery rhetoric in the Senate earned him the nickname "Florida Fire-Eater".Although he frequently denied that he favored secession, Yulee and his colleague, Senator Stephen Mallory, jointly requested from the War Department a statement of munitions and equipment in Florida forts on January 2, 1860. He wrote to a friend in the state, "the immediately important thing to be done is the occupation of the forts and arsenals in Florida."
During the Civil War, Yulee did not seek any elective or appointive office. There is some dispute as to his wartime legislative service as some sources state that he served in the Confederate Congress and others do not. 188 specifically for aiding in the 1865 escape of Jefferson Davis.After the war, Yulee was imprisoned in Fort Pulaski for nine months for treason, :
After receiving a pardon and being released from confinement, Yulee returned to Florida and rebuilt the Yulee Railroad, which had been destroyed by warfare. He served as president of the Florida Railroad Company from 1853 to 1866, as well as president of the Peninsular Railroad, Tropical Florida Railway, and Fernandina and Jacksonville Railroad companies. His development of the railroads in Florida was his most important achievement and contribution to the state.He was called the "Father of Florida Railroads". His leadership helped bring increased economic development to the state, including the late nineteenth-century tourist trade. In 1870 Yulee hosted President Ulysses S. Grant in Fernandina.
In 1846, Levy officially changed his name to David Levy Yulee by act of the Florida Legislature,adding his father's Sephardic surname. That year he married Nancy Christian Wickliffe, the daughter of Charles A. Wickliffe, the former governor of Kentucky and Postmaster General under President John Tyler. His wife was Christian, and they raised their children in her faith.
Selling the Florida Railroad, he retired with his wife to Washington, D.C. in 1880, where she had family.Yulee died six years later while visiting in New York City. Yulee was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
The George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida have a collection of David Levy Yulee Papers (1842–1886). Some of the material has been digitized.
Nassau County is a county of the U.S. state of Florida. According to the United States Census, the county's population was 85,832 in 2018.
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Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park is a Florida State Park located in Homosassa, off U.S. 19. It contains the ruins of a sugar plantation owned by David Levy Yulee. Yulee was a delegate of the Florida Territorial Legislative Council. After Florida became a state, he was elected by the legislature in 1845 to the United States Senate, becoming the first American of Jewish heritage to serve there. After Florida seceded from the Union, Yulee served in the Confederate Congress. He is credited with having developed a network of railroads that tremendously boosted the state's economy.
Italia is an unincorporated community in Nassau County, Florida, United States, located near the center of the county. It is a Florida Heritage Site.
Joseph Finegan, sometimes Finnegan, was an Irish-born American businessman and brigadier general for the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. From 1862 to 1864 he commanded Confederate forces operating in Middle and East Florida, ultimately leading the Confederate victory at the Battle of Olustee, the state's only major battle. He subsequently led the Florida Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia until near the end of the war.
The Yulee area is a historic residence hall complex at 13th Street and Inner Road, SW, on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida in the United States. It is the site of the first permanent dormitories built for women after the campus became co-educational in 1947. On June 24, 2008, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Florida Railroad was the first railroad to connect the east and west coasts of Florida, running from Fernandina to Cedar Key. The line later became part of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and, where still in use, is operated by CSX Transportation and the First Coast Railroad. The highway corridor of SR 24, US 301, and SR A1A/SR 200 closely parallels the former Florida Railroad.
George Rainsford Fairbanks was a lawyer, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Florida State Senator, president of Florida Fruit Growers Association and the Florida Fruit Exchange; editor of the Florida Mirror; the author of books on Florida history; and the founder and president of Florida Historical Society. He lived in Fernandina Beach. He is listed as a Great Floridian.
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SS David L. Yulee was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after David Levy Yulee, an American politician and attorney. Born in St. Thomas, then under British control. He later served as Florida's territorial delegate to Congress. Yulee was the first person of Jewish ancestry to be elected and serve as a United States Senator. He founded the Florida Railroad Company and served as president of several other companies, earning the nickname of "Father of Florida Railroads".
There is only one known statue of a Jewish Confederate leader. It depicts David Levy Yulee, an industrialist, plantation owner, and Confederate senator from Florida, and it shows him sitting on a bench.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives |
from Florida Territory's at-large congressional district
as U.S. Representative
|New seat|| United States Senator (Class 1) from Florida |
Served alongside: James Westcott, Jackson Morton
| United States Senator (Class 3) from Florida |
Served alongside: Stephen Mallory
Title next held byThomas W. Osborn (1)
|Notes and references|
|1. Because of Florida's secession, the Senate seat was vacant for seven years.|