David Levy Yulee
(1810-1886)

man

Died aged c. 76

David Levy Yulee was born David Levy in 1810 on St. Thomas, British West Indies. He was admitted to the bar in 1836 and later helped lead Florida into statehood, first as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1838 and then as territorial delegate to Congress from 1841 to 1845. David Levy was elected to the United States Senate in 1845. The next year he added the name of his father’s Sephardic ancestry, Yulee. In 1851, he established a 5,000-acre sugar plantation on the Homosassa River, and was among the first in Florida to grow sweet oranges budded from sour orange stock. A resident of Fernandina, he became the first southerner to utilize federal grants by drawing up an "Internal Improvement Act." He used the land to build an extensive system of railroads. Yulee completed the east-west railroad from Fernandina to Cedar Key, June 12, 1860 and had the first telegraph line extended from Georgia to Fernandina. When civil war broke out, Yulee resigned from the Senate and served in the Confederate Congress. Following the war, he rebuilt his railroad, which had been destroyed. Yulee entertained President Ulysess Grant in 1870 in Fernandina. That year, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he died six years later.

OpenPlaques

David Levy Yulee (born David Levy; June 12, 1810 – October 10, 1886) was an American politician and attorney. Born in St. Thomas, then under British control, he was of Sephardi Jewish ancestry: his father was from Morocco and his mother from Europe. The family moved to Florida when he was a child, and he grew up there on their extensive lands. He later served as Florida's territorial delegate to Congress. Yulee was the first person of Jewish ancestry to be elected and serve as a United States Senator, serving 1845–1851 and again 1855–1861. He founded the Florida Railroad Company and served as president of several other companies, earning the nickname of "Father of Florida Railroads." In 2000 he was recognized as a "Great Floridian" by the state. Levy added Yulee, the name of one of his Moroccan ancestors, to his name soon after his 1846 marriage to Nancy Christian Wickliffe, daughter of ex-Governor Charles A. Wickliffe of Kentucky. Though Yulee converted to Christianity (Episcopalian) and raised their children as Christian, he encountered antisemitism throughout his career. Yulee was in favor of slavery and the secession of Florida. After the Civil War, he was imprisoned at Fort Pulaski for nine months for having aided the escape of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. After being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson, he returned to his Florida railroad interests and other business ventures.

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Commemorated on 2 plaques

David Levy Yulee
David Levy Yulee

David Levy Yulee [full inscription unknown]

Fernandina Chamber of Commerce, 102 Centre Street, Fernandina Beach, FL, United States where they was

David Levy Yulee [full inscription unknown]

Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins State Historic Site, Highway 490 west of U.S. 19 on Yulee Drive, Homosassa, FL, United States where they was