Heydenfeldt, Solomon

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HEYDENFELDT, SOLOMON (1816–1890), U.S. jurist. Heydenfeldt was born in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1837, he moved to Alabama and was admitted to the state bar in the same year. He practiced law in Tallapoosa County and served as judge of the county court, but left for San Francisco in 1850, possibly due to public disapproval of his stand against further importation of slaves into Alabama. In 1852, after an unsuccessful attempt to gain the Democratic Party nomination for the United States Senate, he was elected justice of the California Supreme Court by popular vote, thus becoming the first Jew to hold judicial office in that state. Heydenfeldt remained in the post until 1857, when he returned to private practice. As a southern sympathizer during the Civil War, however, his refusal to take a loyalty oath to the Union cost him his legal career, though he continued to reside in San Francisco until his death. Heydenfeldt was active in philanthropic causes and was a leader in the Jewish community.

[Max Vorspan]