Friday, March 17, 2006

Current Projects: William Mallory Levy

I'm currently in the preliminary stages of researching the life of William Mallory Levy. Levy was born in Isle of Wight, Virginia in 1827 and attended William and Mary College. He served in the Mexican War (in the same unit with Jubal Early) and opened a law office in Portsmouth, VA. In the early 1850s, he moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana where he practiced law, edited the Natchitoches Chronicle, and got involved in politics. He was a committed southern Democrat and served as an elector for Breckenridge in the 1860 election. He was a colonel in the CSA during the war and afterwards resumed his law practice. Levy served one term in Congress and was heavily involved in the Hayes-Tilden deal negotiations regarding the disputed returns from Louisiana and, a few years later, was named an associate justice of the LA Supreme Court. He died in 1882. The only secondary source that discusses Levy at any length is Rosen's The Jewish Confederates. Rosen, however, focuses exclusively on Levy's war experience. I am particularly interested in investigating Levy's affiliation, if any, with Judaism. Intial research on this issue has been inconclusive. Levy makes an interesting contrast with his contemporary, Samuel Fleishman, the subject of my Southern Jewish History paper. While Fleishman chose the "right" side during the Civil War and Reconstruction - and was murdered, Levy embraced the opposite positions and prospered.

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