Yulee, David Levy

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YULEE, DAVID LEVY

YULEE, DAVID LEVY (1810–1866), U.S. senator. Yulee, who was born David Levy in St. Thomas, West Indies, was taken to the U.S. by his father in 1818. After being educated at Norfolk, Virginia (1819–27), he managed one of his father's Florida plantations. He then moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where he studied law. After admission to the Florida bar (1832), Levy was appointed clerk to the territorial legislature. During the Seminole wars, he became known as a vigorous defender of white settler rights. He was subsequently elected to the legislative council (1836) and to the legislature (1837), and served as a delegate to the Florida constitutional convention (1838). From 1841 to 1845 Levy was the Florida territory's delegate to Congress, where he vigorously campaigned for Florida's admission to the Union. Upon its admission in 1845 he was elected its first senator, the first Jew in the U.S. Senate. In 1846 Levy legally assumed the name of Yulee soon after his marriage to the daughter of ex-governor Wickliffe of Kentucky, and his children were subsequently brought up as Christians. Yulee served as chairman of the Senate Naval Committee in 1846 where he advocated the acquisition of ironclad vessels and opposed the abolition of flogging as a naval punishment. He was defeated for election in 1851, was reelected in 1855, and served until 1861 when he resigned his seat. Although Yulee was a vigorous supporter of slavery and secession, his participation in the Civil War was limited to service in the Confederate Congress. In 1865 he was appointed by the governor of Florida to a commission charged with seeking Florida's readmission to the Union. Before the commission reached Washington, Yulee was arrested and interned in Ft. Pulaski. After his release a year later, he retired from politics and dedicated himself to the highly lucrative business of rebuilding Florida's ruined railway system.

bibliography:

dab, 20 (1936), 638; L. Huehner, in: ajhsp, 25 (1917), 1–30; B.W. Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War (1951), index.