A monument to Judah P. Benjamin, the Jewish lawyer from Louisiana, who served as Secretary of State in the cabinet of the Confederate States of America, was unveiled in Sarasota today by the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. A large crowd attending the dedication ceremonies in the Sarasota civic center park heard speakers praise Benjamin’s services to the Confederate cause.
The monument, which is of pink Georgia marble, has carved into its stone face the inscription: “Near this spot on June 23, 1865, Judah P. Benjamin, Secretary of State of the United Confederacy, set sail for a foreign shore.” Benjamin fled from here to escape Union troops who were pursuing him.
A senator from Louisiana in the period immediately preceding the Civil War, Benjamin was a leading spokesman for the South, although personally opposed to secession. When Louisiana did secede, however, and joined the Confederacy he threw in his lot with the South. He served successively as Attorney-General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State in President Jefferson Davis’ cabinet. On April 2, 1865, when it became obvious that the rebellion of the South was doomed, he together with other government leaders left Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, and proceeded southward.
Benjamin finally reached Florida after several narrow escapes from the Union soldiers and on June 23, 1865, sailed for Bimini in the West Indies from whence he eventually went to England. Although 54 years old at the time he fled from the United States and ill from diabetes and a weak heart, Benjamin re-established himself in England, was admitted to the Bar and for sixteen years practiced there, honored as a leader among English barristers. He died in Paris in 1884.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.