Phillips, Philip

views updated


PHILLIPS, PHILIP (1807–1884), U.S. congressman and jurist. The son of an immigrant from Germany, Phillips, who was born in Charleston, South Carolina, began studying law there in 1825, and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1828. As a delegate to the South Carolina "nullification convention" of 1832, Phillips, a unionist, strongly opposed Southern secession over the slavery issue. Phillips was elected to the South Carolina state legislature in 1834 but moved the following year to Alabama, where he served in the legislature from 1844 to 1853. In 1853 he was elected as a Democrat to a two-year term in the House of Representatives in Washington, thus becoming the second U.S. Jew to sit in Congress. Phillips was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court in 1850 and during his stay in Washington argued many cases before the Court. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he and his non-Jewish wife were placed under house arrest in Washington because of the latter's openly pro-Southern sympathies. However, later that year they were permitted to move to New Orleans. After Lee's surrender Phillips returned to Washington, where he continued to practice law. Among his published legal works was his Statutory Jurisdiction and Practise of the Supreme Court of the United States (1872).

Although Phillips was secretary of the Charleston Reform Society of Israelites during his residence in that city, his association with Jewish life appears to have been tenuous. He did, however, head a Jewish delegation to President Buchanan in 1857 to petition for the repeal of the anti-Jewish clauses contained in the American-Swiss treaty of 1855.


B.A. Elzas, Jews of South Carolina (1905), passim; J.R. Marcus, Memoirs of American Jews 1775–1865, 3 (1955), 133–96.

About this article

Phillips, Philip

Updated About content Print Article