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Dry Goods Merchant and Freedom Fighter: Samuel Fleishman of Marianna, FL

Thursday, July 09, 2015 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Sabra Waldfogel wrote about the Jews who lived in Mound Bayou. Her most recent book is Freedom’s Island, about an all-black Mississippi town menaced in the 1880s by a greedy cotton planter and a former Klansman, and aided by a Jewish merchant. She has been blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.

On October 3, 1869, in Marianna, Florida, a crowd of twenty men ordered merchant Samuel Fleishman to leave the town where he had lived and done business for sixteen years. He told them that he would rather die than leave. That night, four men removed him from town by force. He never returned. A little more than a week later, his body was discovered in rural Jackson County. No one was ever charged with his murder.


Street Scene in Marianna, 1880s, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Living South, Looking North

Samuel Fleishman was born in the 1820s in Bavaria, where Jews were severely restricted in their occupations, their residences, and even in their opportunities to marry. He left Germany in the 1840s, settling in New York City, where he worked as a peddler and swiftly became an American citizen. By 1850, he had moved to Gadsden County in Florida, joining a relative already there, to set up a dry goods store. Three years later, he moved again, to Marianna in neighboring Jackson County, where his business prospered.

Fleishman lived in the South, but he retained close ties to the North. He traveled to New York to buy goods for his store, and he married Sophia Altman, born in New York, whose family had also come from Germany. Sophia’s brothers were dry goods merchants in Manhattan; the younger, Benjamin Altman, would rise to fame as the founder of a retail empire by the end of the 19th century. Fleishman had business dealings with his brothers-in-law until he died.

Fleishman’s new home was hospitable to business. Jackson County was a Whig stronghold before the Civil War. The Whigs, political opponents to the Democrats, felt that the federal government should promote internal improvements and the free flow of trade. Their views appealed to cotton planters, particularly those who had strong ties to the Northern brokers who bought their cotton and the Northern mills that wove it into cloth. Fleishman, who benefited from the freedom to do business and who had close connections with his relations in New York, must have found the Whig platform congenial.

When the Civil War broke out, Fleishman did not rush to join the Confederate cause, and when the Confederacy subjected men over forty-five to the draft, making him eligible for the Confederate Army, he fled to New York. He spent the war assisting his Northern brothers-in-law in their dry goods business. His business interests helped him to cast his fate with the Union.

Free to Do Business

When Fleishman returned to Marianna in 1865, he found the place greatly changed. The war had ravaged the county, destroying his business. Emancipation had freed half of the population. The Union Army was garrisoned there, represented by a black regiment, which galled the defeated Confederates of Jackson County. And early in 1866, the Freedmen’s Bureau, charged with enforcing the rights of former slaves, opened an office in Marianna. The Bureau agents were unapologetic supporters of the Radical Republicans, who believed that Emancipation meant social, political and economic equality for former slaves.

Fleishman sided with the Union and the Radical Republicans. He was one of the few residents of Marianna to befriend the agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau, who thought so highly of him that they recommended him for the position of tax collector in 1867. The Bureau’s regard for him infuriated his neighbors. Later that year, someone shaved the manes and tails of his horses and vandalized two buggies worth $200. It was the beginning of the harassment that would end with his expulsion from Marianna and his death.

To rebuild his dry goods business, Fleishman turned his attention to a new set of customers: freed black people. He treated them with common decency, which offended his Confederate neighbors. Much more threatening to the planters of Jackson County was Fleishman’s willingness to sell directly to former slaves and to extend them credit. After the war, cash-poor cotton planters hired black laborers by employing them as tenants and extending them credit against the future crop. A merchant like Fleishman threatened the cycle of credit and debt that became a new form of white control over black people. And for that, even more than his sympathy with the Bureau and its politics, or his courtesy to his black customers, he was in deep trouble in Jackson County.

The Martyr

During Reconstruction, the counties that suffered the most violence were evenly divided in population between black and white. In Jackson County, which was the scene of murderous violence between 1868 and 1871, the racial ratio was fifty-fifty. As elsewhere throughout the South, the Jackson County planters who despised free blacks and their allies, the Radical Republicans, found their own allies in the organization that used violence and murder to terrorize both: the Ku Klux Klan.

In Jackson County, the relationship between planter and Klan was literally familial. James Coker had been one of the richest planters before the war and afterwards, was still one of the town’s leading citizens. His son Billy, whose tendency to violence was fueled by alcohol, was foremost among the “redeemers” who harassed, intimidated, and assaulted black people, whether political or not, and who targeted whites who were Radical Republicans.

On September 28, 1869, the local redeemers shot and killed the town’s constable, a free black man named Calvin Rogers, along with a number of bystanders, including women and children. After the murders a rumor spread that Fleishman was urging black people to retaliate and offering to provide them with guns. The rumor sealed Fleishman’s fate. He was forcibly removed from Marianna a few days later, and ambushed on the road a few days after that.

Samuel Fleishman never intended to die for freedom. He wanted the freedom to do business. But on October 9, 1869, his dedication to that freedom made him a martyr.

Sources

I am deeply indebted to Daniel Weinfeld’s biographical essay, “Samuel Fleishman: Tragedy in Reconstruction Florida,” Southern Jewish History (2005, Volume 8), pp. 31-76, as well as his fuller treatment of the context, The Jackson County War: Reconstruction and Resistance in Post-Civil War Florida (University of Alabama Press, 2012). On the role of the Klan throughout the South, the best source remains Allen W. Trelease, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction (Louisiana State University Press, 1979).

Sabra Waldfogel writes historical fiction about Southern Jews and African Americans in slavery and freedom. For more information about her and her work, visit her website.

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The Jews of Mound Bayou

Monday, July 06, 2015 | Permalink

Sabra Waldfogel writes historical fiction about Southern Jews and African Americans in slavery and freedom. Her most recent book, Freedom’s Island, about an all-black Mississippi town menaced in the 1880s by a greedy cotton planter and a former Klansman, and aided by a Jewish merchant, has just been published. She will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.

Isaiah MontgomeryIsaiah Montgomery,
founder of Mound Bayou

When James Marr, resident and alderman of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, undertook his duties as census enumerator on June 1, 1900, he counted the Fink brothers, Frank and Joe, who were working as grocers. He listed them as black, but they were not. They were Jewish immigrants from Russia.

Jews ran groceries, dry goods stores, and general stores in small towns all over the South, and anywhere else, the presence of two Jewish merchants would be unremarkable. But Mound Bayou was an extraordinary place, an all-black town where no white person lived without invitation.

Who asked the Finks to live and work in Mound Bayou, and why did they accept? The answer lies with the man who founded and built Mound Bayou—visionary and entrepreneur Isaiah Thornton Montgomery. Montgomery was slave to one unusual man and son to another, and he brought his lifelong experience with racial accommodation and racial uplift to his dealings with the Finks.

Joseph Davis: The Utopian Slaveowner

Isaiah Montgomery was born in 1847 on the Mississippi plantation of Joseph Emory Davis, older brother to future Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Joseph Davis, a lawyer before he became a planter, was troubled by slavery, and when he met the utopian thinker Robert Owen, he decided to apply utopian ideals to the peculiar institution. He became a man of substance. On the eve of the Civil War, he owned 345 slaves.

More than his wealth set him apart. He treated his “servants” with a decency and a dignity highly unusual among Southern slaveowners. For Davis, assuring his slaves comfortable housing, food, and clothing was only the beginning. He encouraged their enterprise, allowing them to sell produce and to keep the profits, and he gave them the opportunity for self-governance. Davis’ slaves had their own court, where they resolved disputes and reviewed complaints from overseers. Isaiah Montgomery recalled of his childhood that “we just barely had an idea of what slave life was.”

Benjamin Montgomery: The Entrepreneurial Father

Isaiah Montgomery grew up observing an equally unusual relationship between his master and his father. Davis believed in encouraging the talents of his slaves, and the best example—and the greatest beneficiary—was Benjamin Montgomery, who first came to Davis’ attention when he ran away. It was common to punish or to sell a runaway slave, but instead, Davis “inquired closely into the cause of [Ben’s] dissatisfaction.” He discovered an educated, talented man, whom Davis came to respect and depend upon.

Benjamin Montgomery was skilled as a machinist and an inventor, but his greatest talent was for business. Davis set him up as the proprietor of a small general store on the plantation in 1842. Montgomery was soon was able to establish his own line of credit, and in addition to running the ever-expanding store, he also began to act as Davis’ agent in selling the plantation’s crops. On the eve of the Civil War, his store was patronized by the Davis family as well as by the Davis slaves, and Davis trusted him to manage the plantation’s business affairs. He continued to manage the Davis holdings throughout the Civil War.

In 1866, a war-weary Joseph Davis struck a bargain with the Montgomery family. He agreed to sell them the Davis holdings, and Benjamin Montgomery applied his considerable entrepreneurial talent to running a large plantation. Isaiah Montgomery, who managed the plantation’s store and oversaw one of his father’s three holdings, became his father’s right-hand man.

By the end of Reconstruction, the Montgomery family ran one of the largest and most successful cotton plantations in Mississippi. The family combined their belief in hard work with a dedication to education and cultivation. Isaiah Montgomery clearly saw that success in business and moral uplift went hand in hand.

The decline in the cotton market during the 1870s, combined with Benjamin Montgomery’s death in 1877, put the Montgomery plantation in jeopardy. Unable to repay their loan to the Davises, the Montgomerys relinquished the plantation to the Davis family in 1881.

Isaiah Montgomery Builds a Refuge

Inspired by the spirit of his father, Isaiah Montgomery wanted to create a “refuge” where black autonomy, financial success, and moral uplift could intertwine and encourage each other. In 1887, he bought a tract of undeveloped land from the Louisville, New Orleans and Texas Railroad, with the intention of establishing “a Negro colony,” in the later words of his friend Booker T. Washington. After a year of back-breaking effort, the town began to take shape, populated by farmers raising cotton and small merchants in town serving them.

The post-Reconstruction years in Mississippi saw the growth of sharecropping and debt peonage, a new form of enslavement for black farmers without capital. As the Republican Party—the party of President Lincoln and emancipation—declined in strength in Mississippi, so did the franchise for black voters. Throughout the South, Democratic politicians became convinced that the black franchise was the cause of political disruption in Southern elections. Mississippi became the first Southern state to disenfranchise its black voters in 1890.

Isaiah Montgomery’s feelings about black autonomy did not extend to participation in politics. He was the only black delegate at the 1890 convention. He sat on the franchise committee and argued for the poll taxes and literacy tests that effectively disenfranchised blacks, firm in the belief that the best course for black Mississippians was economic autonomy rather than involvement in political life.

Isaiah Montgomery Promotes Mound Bayou

Mound Bayou became an incorporated town in 1898, and held its first municipal election the same year. To no one’s surprise, Isaiah Montgomery was elected mayor, along with three aldermen and a constable. Montgomery had always been Mound Bayou’s greatest advocate, but his new responsibility as mayor spurred his efforts to encourage the town’s development. In 1900, Mound Bayou became a depot on the railroad that had always run through the town, which promised future growth.

Montgomery also became involved in an organization with a mission close to his heart: Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, which supported the efforts of black business owners all over the country, but particularly in the South. Montgomery helped Washington organize the League’s first meeting in Boston in September of 1900, where he spoke about Mound Bayou.

Montgomery was more than the town’s mayor. He was its foremost merchant, but also it and its leader and biggest booster. By 1900 he was clearly overextended, with three businesses to run: his own, the town’s, and the League’s. He needed someone to mind the store in Mound Bayou. Sometime around 1900, he met the Finks, who were working as grocers in nearly Beulah.

Enter the Finks

The experience of the Fink brothers was typical of Jews of their generation. They were born in the Russian Empire. Their father, a grain and coal merchant, left for America in the wake of the rise in anti-Semitism after the czar’s assassination in 1881. Once established in New York, Abe Fink sent for his wife and seven children, who settled there and became citizens. After their father’s death in 1892, the children made their way in the world, the daughters marrying and the sons going into business. Frank and Joe’s sister Celia married a man named Barnett Wolf, who moved to Mississippi to run a grocery in Beulah, and Frank and Joe followed shortly after.

The Finks must have struck a chord with Montgomery: refugees from persecution, hopeful to advance themselves through the business of storekeeping, with ties to grocery suppliers and a line of credit. Their manner must have struck him, too. Like many Jewish merchants in small Southern towns, they had become used to serving black customers and treating them with courtesy. They must have been unusually open-minded to contemplate the prospect of living among black people as social equals.

“No white man has ever lived here”

Everything in Mound Bayou occurred under the paternalistic scrutiny of Montgomery, and the transformation of the Finks into black people in the census was no exception. It was a way to protect the Finks, who were breaking the rules of proper racial behavior in Mississippi. But it was also a way to protect the image of Mound Bayou, which would become highly visible after Booker T. Washington began to help Montgomery publicize and raise money for “a town owned by Negroes.”

By 1901, the Finks had left Mound Bayou—Frank married, and he and Joe bought land in Duncan, north of Mound Bayou, where they ran a store and grew cotton. Three years later, when Booker T. Washington visited Mound Bayou, he wrote, “no white man has ever lived in this community since it was established, except the man who introduced the telephone system, and he remained only long enough to teach some of the townspeople to manage the exchange.” The Fink brothers, white and Jewish, who briefly threw in their lot with Mound Bayou’s, slipped from view and from the town’s history.

Sources

The best source on the intertwined history of the Montgomery family and the Davis family remains Janet Sharp Hermann’s book, The Pursuit of a Dream (Oxford University Press, 1981). It is fascinating to read Booker T. Washington’s 1904 piece on Mound Bayou, “Mound Bayou, Mississippi: a Town Owned by Negroes.” Information on the Finks comes from the census and from Fink family descendants—I’m especially indebted to Joe Fink’s grandson, Mark Hein. Also see Margery Kerstine and Judy Tucker, “Jake Fink: A Delta Entrepreneur,” Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies; December 2000, Vol. 31, Issue 3, p. 214.

For more information about Sabra Waldfogel and her work, visit her website.

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Jews and Slavery: Isaac Cardozo and Lydia Weston

Friday, August 01, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Sabra Waldfogel wrote about Raphael Moses, one of the most eminent Jews in Georgia in the nineteenth century, and Clara Solomon, a Jewish girl who lived in mid-nineteenth century New Orleans. She has recently published Slave and Sister, a novel about Jews and slavery in antebellum Georgia, and has been blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council.

Between 1828 and 1838, Lydia Weston and Isaac Cardozo of Charleston had six children together. They were like husband and wife, and like a family. But they were not. Isaac Cardozo was a Sephardic Jew. Lydia Weston was a former slave.

A white man of Charleston might love a black woman and their children all his life; he might install her as his “housekeeper”; he might even—scandalously so!—let her preside over his table and his guests. But he could never marry her. Isaac remained a bachelor all his life, staying at home with his long-lived parents. He would never bring Lydia or their children to the Cardozo Sabbath table.

Lydia Weston was connected with two of Charleston’s most eminent families—the Westons, white and black. Lydia’s master, Plowden Weston, was one of the richest planters in South Carolina. When Lydia was twenty-one, Weston granted her freedom. Many freed slaves were the children of their masters, but Lydia was not. Weston owned her a debt of gratitude for nursing him when he was ill. She took his surname, which acknowledged her connection with the white Weston family.

Plowden Weston had children by at least two slave women. One of them, called Toney, was freed at the same time as Lydia. The black Westons became substantial members of Charleston’s community of free persons of color. They were proud of their lineage, prosperous through business or skilled trade, and brown of skin. They held themselves apart from their black and enslaved brethren.

As a Weston, and as the companion of Isaac Cardozo, Lydia Weston was established as a free woman. In the 1840s, she paid the capitation tax levied on free blacks. In 1852, she bought property—she owned her own house. And most astonishingly, she owned slaves. In 1830, there was a girl under ten in her household who was enslaved, and in 1840, a woman over fifty-five.

Lydia Weston’s children would never be considered Jews, but they reaped the advantages of being free persons of color. All of them—her daughters Lydia and Eslanda, her sons Henry, Jacob, Francis, and Thomas—were prepared for life with education and a trade. Eslanda and Francis attended a local school for free blacks; Francis was prepared enough to attend the University of Glasgow after he left Charleston. Henry, the eldest son, was erudite enough to join the Clionian Debating Society, a group dedicated to education and intellectual improvement for the brown men of Charleston. The youngest son, Thomas, was also well-educated; he began his career as a teacher.

All of them learned a trade, too. Both of Lydia’s daughters were trained as seamstresses and Henry learned tailoring. Francis was apprenticed to a carpenter.

Did Isaac Cardozo pay his children’s school fees? Did the black Westons, tailors and millwrights, teach Lydia’s children a trade?

As the 1850s dawned, the fate of Lydia and her children changed. The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 put every black person in the United States, free or not, at risk, and the secession fervor of the 1850s, so strong in South Carolina, had free people of color justifiably worried about re-enslavement. After Isaac Cardozo died in 1855, Lydia and her children left Charleston. Francis went to Scotland to study, Thomas to New York to teach, and the rest of the family moved to Cincinnati to make a living.

During Reconstruction, two of Isaac’s sons rose to prominence. Francis served as South Carolina’s Secretary of State between 1868 and 1872, the first black person to hold public office in the state. Thomas was Mississippi’s State Superintendent of Education between 1873 and 1876.

They are known to history by the name of the father who could never claim them as his sons. They are Cardozos.

Sources on Charleston’s antebellum free black community:

No Chariot Let Down: Charleston’s Free People of Color on the Eve of the Civil War, edited by Michael Johnson and James L. Roark (W. W. Norton & Co, 1986), and Marina Wikramanayake's A World in Shadow: the Free Black in Antebellum South Carolina (University of South Carolina Press, 1989).

Sabra Waldfogel grew up in Minneapolis and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. Her short fiction has appeared in Sixfold Literary Magazine. Read more about her and her work at www.sabrawaldfogel.com.

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Jews and Slavery: Clara Solomon and Lucy Lewis

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Sabra Waldfogel wrote about Raphael Moses, one of the most eminent Jews in Georgia in the nineteenth century. She has recently published Slave and Sister, a novel about Jews and slavery in antebellum Georgia, and will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council.

Clara Solomon was a typical teenager. In the pages of her diary, she wrote about gossiping with her friends, tending to her younger sisters, yearning for pretty clothes, and fretting about her appearance. But her circumstances were far from typical. Clara Solomon kept her diary as the Civil War broke out and as the Union Army occupied New Orleans. She also wrote about the privations of the war; her worries for her father, working as a sutler for the Confederate Army; and her passionate defense of the Confederate cause.

In 1860, on the eve of the war, the Solomons were a well-to-do New Orleans family. The family was part of the long-established and assimilated Sephardic community spread throughout the United States. Clara’s father was a merchant, worth $1,000 in personal property, and he owned two slaves, 28-year-old Lucy and her 4-year-old daughter Dell.

Dell was the pet of the family. Her duties as a servant were light. As Clara told it, Dell occasionally answered the door; on a hot summer afternoon, she fanned Papa Solomon as he lay on the floor, to the whole family’s amusement; and she kept Josie, the youngest Solomon daughter, company as they convalesced together from the measles. She romped with Josie and was punished with her when they were naughty. When Clara’s mother bought dresses for herself and for her daughters, she bought one for Dell, too.

Lucy’s position in the family was more complicated. Through Clara’s eyes, she was a pair of capable hands, making a delicious biscuit or skillfully arranging Clara’s hair. She was trustworthy enough to take money to the market to buy shrimps for dinner. But she could be insolent to Clara’s mother and obdurate about telling lies.

Lucy had a life of her own, one that Clara glimpsed and commented on. Lucy had a friend named Jacksine, a free black woman, who came to visit. Jacksine brought Lucy a gift from a man named Solomon, who was “crazy to see Lucy; he thinks the world of her.” Was he Dell’s father? Could he and Lucy marry, as Clara speculated they might?

For Clara, Lucy came into sharpest focus as all of them—Clara, her mother, and Lucy herself—contemplated the possibility that Lucy might run away to seek protection from the Union Army that occupied New Orleans. Clara put it selfishly, but she recognized that Lucy might yearn to be free: “There are many instances in which house-servants, those who have been raised by people, have deserted them, though they have received the kindest treatment at their hands; but they imagine no sacrifice too great with which to purchase freedom.”

Lucy was “faithful,” but she was also capable of betrayal. The thought angered Clara so much that she wrote, “Should one of mine [act so], I would inflict severe punishment, and should discard them for ever.”

Was Lucy a member of the family? Or a snake in its bosom, to be distrusted and feared? Or both?

In 1870, Clara was back home, having been widowed after a brief marriage. Lucy had not left, either. Now surnamed Lewis, she, her daughter Dell, and her son Robert, born in 1863, were still part of the Solomon household. For all of them, it seems, the familiar bonds were too hard to break.

Sources:

The Civil Diary of Clara Solomon, edited by Elliott Ashkenazi (Louisiana State University Press, 1995), and the Federal Censuses of 1850, 1860, and 1870.

Sabra Waldfogel grew up in Minneapolis and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. Her short fiction has appeared in Sixfold Literary Magazine. Read more about her and her work at www.sabrawaldfogel.com.

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Jews and Slavery: Raphael Moses and London Moses

Monday, July 28, 2014 | Permalink

Sabra Waldfogel grew up in Minneapolis and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. Her short fiction has appeared in Sixfold Literary Magazine. She has recently published Slave and Sister, a novel about Jews and slavery in antebellum Georgia. She will be blogging here for the Jewish Book Council all week.

We know a great deal about Raphael Jacob Moses, one of the most eminent Jews in Georgia in the nineteenth century. He was born in Charleston in 1812 into a Sephardic family connected with Jews all over the settled United States. He was educated and trained as a lawyer, a profession he practiced throughout his life. After a few peripatetic early years, he married his cousin, Eliza Moses, and settled in Tallahassee, where he practiced law.

In 1850, he moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he bought a plantation in Muscogee County, which he named “Esquiline” after the hills of Rome. When the census was taken that year he owned sixteen slaves. In addition to his law practice, he cultivated peaches. He developed a method of shipping peaches that helped to commercialize the cultivation of peaches in Georgia. He prospered, and on the eve of the Civil War the number of his slaves had increased to forty-seven.

He was a passionate supporter of secession, and when the Civil War broke out, he volunteered, despite his advanced age. He became Chief Supply Officer to General Longstreet, and he was present at several of the war’s biggest battles, including the battle of Gettysburg. By a quirk of fate, he was issued the last order of the Confederacy. He was ordered to pay $10,000 in gold bullion for unused rations. He accompanied the bullion himself from Washington, Georgia, where the Confederate government sat for the month after Lee’s surrender, to Augusta.

After the war, Raphael Moses represented Georgia in the state legislature, as a Democrat and an opponent of Reconstruction. He remained “unreconstructed” for the rest of his life. He was buried in the cemetery near Esquiline, and his gravestone read, “Raphael J. Moses, C.S.A.”

We know very little about London Moses, Raphael Moses’ former slave. London was the only slave mentioned by name in his former master’s memoirs. He was also the only servant who remained with the family after Emancipation. Raphael Moses wrote that he “stayed with me until he died.”

London Moses was born in 1815, a native Georgian. His parents, born in the eighteenth century, were also native Georgians. We don’t know when he was married, but in 1870, when the census granted him the dignity of a name, he lived with his wife Margaret, born in 1816, also a native to Georgia. They had at least one child, Susan, who had been born into slavery in 1850; she and her family—her husband Harry Williams, and her daughters Peggy, 8, and Sarah, 2, and son, London, three months old, named after his grandfather—lived with him. There may have been other children, lost to death, sold away, gone to test their freedom after Emancipation, or moved away as they grew up.

Raphael Moses may have felt gratitude for London’s loyalty, but he did not give him money or property to start a life as a free man. In 1870, London Moses was working as a farm hand, meaning that he did not own a farm, but worked for wages on someone else’s. At fifty-four, he needed the help of his son-in-law, who was also a farm hand. London Moses was still a farm hand ten years later.

On July 12, 1867, London Moses, the faithful servant, went to the Muscogee County Courthouse in Columbus. As a free man, he was eligible to vote. Before he registered he pledged his allegiance in a way that his former master, the unrepentant Confederate, would have despised. As every Southerner who wanted to vote must do, London Moses signed the Reconstruction oath, and swore his loyalty to the United States of America.

Sources:

The best source for Raphael Moses’ life is his memoir, The Last Order of the Lost Cause: the Civil War Memoirs of a Jewish Family of the “Old South,” edited by Mel Young. The only sources for London Moses’ life are the Federal censuses of 1870 and 1880, and the 1867 Georgia List of Registered Voters.

Read more about Sabra Waldfogel and her work here.

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