Benjamin Mordecai, Jewish Benefactor of Confederate Cause Honored by the Famed Palmetto Riflemen

January 12, 1861

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Benjamin Mordecai, Jewish Benefactor of Confederate Cause Honored by the Famed Palmetto Riflemen
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 148

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      Background

      The Palmetto state, South Carolina, was the first to secede, and its proud son, Jewish merchant Benjamin Mordecai, the first to ante up: his $10,000 donation, made as soon as the state left the Union, was the single largest personal contribution to the cause of the Confederacy. The secession convention, in fact, passed a resolution praising Mordecai’s “liberality and patriotism… and…very generous donation.” Within weeks of secession, Mordecai wrote this letter to the famed Palmetto Riflemen militia - which, during the Mexican War and afterwards, had a greater than usual component of Jewish soldiers – in light of, assumedly his generous donation. “Your favors of the 11 inst with enclosed Resolutions of the Palmetto Riflemen as adopted at an extra meeting convened on the 8 inst is duly received,” he declares, and accepts “with much pleasure and pride the high compliment bestowed by your patriotic corps, and feel assured that the Rank and File are worthy the name they bear, and that whenever our gallant State shall require their service, they will ask that the post of danger shall be their post of duty.” Mordecai went on to generously serve his beloved home – running blockades, buying Confederate bonds, and most notably, underwriting a significant portion of the “Free Market of Charleston,” a fund which supported more than four hundred families of volunteer soldiers. Even after the war, Mordecai spent his remaining money on the Cause: in 1870, living in Baltimore and running a steamship line, he brought back to Charleston, at no charge, the bodies of the South Carolinians who fell at Gettysburg.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“B. Mordecai”), 1 page, quarto, Charleston, January 12, 1861. To Captain Alex Melchers of the Palmetto Riflemen.
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      Charleston Jany 12th 1861

      Capt Alex Melchers
      Palmetto Riflemen

      Dear Sir

      Your favors of the 11 inst with enclosed Resolutions of the Palmetto Riflemen as adopted at an extra meeting convened on the 8 inst is duly received.

      I accept with much pleasure and pride the high compliment bestowed by your patriotic corps, and feel assured that the Rank and File are worthy the name they bear, and that whenever our gallant State shall require their service, they will ask that the post of danger shall be their post of duty 

      very Respectfully
      your obt srvt

      B. Mordecai