What If the South Had Won the War

In the recent aftermath of the Charlottesville, Virginia calamity where thousands of racists, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan morons and neo-Nazis marched in protest of the University of Virginia’s decision to remove the statue and monument of General Robert E. Lee, the great and revered leader of the southern Confederate armies, they were met with thousands of protesters who supported the removal of all statues and monuments of Confederate war heroes. They met on the “field of battle” in Charlottesville, a university town, where the skirmish broke out leading to the death of one young lady and the wounding of dozens of others.

In his disgraceful remarks, the American elected excuse for a president laid the blame on both sides and hesitated to condemn neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan  and white supremacists by name.

The battle is still continuing across several of the southern states as an objection to former slave-owners and supporters of slavery who still degrade the Afro-American community . It looks as if the second American civil war is about to begin.

Abraham Lincoln’s legacy for emancipation and freedom for all is sadly fading. Racial hatred and anti-Semitism is growing across America.

The question comes to mind: what if the south had won the war. To this day, southern children are not taught to refer to the 1861-1865 war as a civil war. Rather they call it the War Between the States or the War for the Freedom of the Confederacy. It was the only war ever fought on American soil and is regarded as America’s greatest tragic war.

Had the south won, their genial hospitality and gracious good manners would have flooded the country with rum and martini drinks and flowing fountains of their famous mint julip. And departing guests would be greeted with the traditional “y’all come back again, ya hear”?

For Jews, north and south, there was one outstanding Jew. His name was Judah P. Benjamin, born in 1811 to Jewish Sephardic parents from London who emigrated to the United States, first settling in Charleston, South Carolina which had a large Sephardic community. Judah was educated in the synagogue school and in his early twenties he moved to New Orleans, Louisiana where he practiced law.

In 1852, he was elected to be the American Senator from Louisiana, the first elected Jew who did not renounce his Jewish faith but bore it proudly. He supported slavery and was himself a very wealthy slave owner. In the Senate he argued strongly for the preservation of slavery. But as war was on the horizon between north and south, he resigned from the Senate in 1861, returned to Louisiana and became the strongest supporter of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

President Davis had high regard for Judah Benjamin and appointed him to be the Attorney General for the Confederate states. Shortly thereafter he was appointed Secretary of War.

But his greatest honor was his appointment in 1862 to become the Secretary of State of the Confederacy,  second highest Cabinet position next to the President.

In 1865 when the southern states lost the war and their General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomatax courthouse to the northern General Ulysses Grant (who later became an American President), Judah P. Benjamin fled with Jefferson Davis. Davis was eventually caught by the northern Union army while Judah Benjamin succeeded in fleeing to England. There he was admitted to the Queens Council and practiced law. Sometime later he moved to France and in Paris he married a Catholic woman, Natalie Bauche de St. Martin. His only child was a daughter, Ninette, who was raised as a Catholic.

Upon his death on May 6, 1884, his wife buried him in her family crypt in the Catholic cemetery Pierre Lachaise.

His marriage was a failure and the speculation at that time was that Judah P. Benjamin was a homosexual. It was later supported by his biographer, the Civil War historian William C. Davis.

Judah Benjamin rested in an unmarked grave until 1938 when a group of the American Daughters of the Confederacy placed a marker at his tomb.

There are, to my knowledge, no statues or monuments in the south to honor the Jewish Secretary of State of the Confederacy. No monuments to a great man who served his cause loyally, even if he was on the losing side.

Meanwhile the battle continues as many Americans, especially in black communities, demand the removal of monuments and statues of racist slave holders.

I guess that means no more mint juleps and no more invitations to “y’all come back again, ya hear?”

The southerners still have their dreams. But erectile dysfunction has, is and will be the end of their dreams that “the south shall rise again”.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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