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The Southern Jewish weekly. [volume] (Jacksonville, Fla.) 1939-1992, February 05, 1954, Image 7

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liMqri February 5, 1954
American Notables
BY HARRY SIMONHOFF
1801: Gov. David Emanuel of Georgia
The sixth Governor of Georgia called himself ’ David Emanuel.
The evidence is by no means overwhelming that he was of Jewish
birth. But one thing is significant, if not conclusive. In the long line
of Georgia's Chief Executives, from Oglethorpe to Talmadge, the
tradition clings only to David £manuel that he ‘was Jewish.
Some historians admit it.
Others are content with referring
to him as a Presbyterian, which
in itself does not rule out the
possibility of birth in another
faith. The American Jewish His
torical Society became interested,
and its curator, the lawyer-his
torian Leon Huhner investigated.
He quotes a letter from Abraham
Minis, of the old Jewish family
that came over in the second or
third immigrant boat to Georgia.
He states unequivocally that not
only was the governor a Jew but
the lady he married was a Jewess.
The strongest evidence comes
from Judge H. D. D. Twiggs of
Savannah, whose ancestor Gen
eral John Twiggs of Revolution
ary fame married the sister of
David Emanuel. With the author
ity derived from family traditions,
the judge writes: “I do not know
where Governor David Emanuel
came from. I only know that, be
yond doubt, he was a Jew.”
Burke County
From the best accounts avail
able, David Emanuel was born in
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Pennsylvania, wither in 1742 or
1744. ‘He wandered south and in
his 25th year settled permanently
in Burke County, Georgia. We do
not know the extent of his edu
cation, but he held the position
of justice of the peace five years
after arrival. Active in politics,
he also became active among the
patriotic Colonials intent upon
throwing off the yoke of Britain.
In the Continental Army, he
served as a soldier, a scout, and
on the Executive Council.
Burke .County became a battle
ground and fighting intensified
the bitterness between the Colon
ials and the Red Coats, as the
British were called. But the bit
terest vindictiveness raged be
tween the native Americans on
both sides of the struggle. Eman
uel almost paid with his life be
cause of this animus.
While scouting, he was cap
tured with two other patriots.
The Tories condemned three fel
low Americans to death. A large
fire was kindled and the three
companions were stripped of their
clothes. Two of the prisoners were
shot dead. A mulatto, whose re
ward whs the dead scouts’ clothes,
fired a t Emanuel and missed.
Quick as a flash of lightning,
Emanuel leaped over the fire and
made his escape in the dark
night. He jumped into the neigh
boring swamp and sank to his
neck. The pursuers passed him by
several times, but could not de
tect his head. After several hours
he crept out of the swamp and
reached the army headquarters
of General Twiggs.
This adventqre evidently did
much to enhance his popularity.
For in the same year, while the
war is still on, we find him a
magistrate, chosen by the General
Assembly. In January of the fol
lowing year, he is appointed Jus
tice for Burke County. Elected in
1783 to the State Legislature, he
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is in 1784 reappointed Justice for
Burke County.
N The Patriot •
Yet for David Emanuel the war
went on. He suffered severely
after Georgia was overrun by the
enemy. Together with 30 other
patriot families, he built a cluster
of cabins near Augusta. From this
refuge they harassed the enemy
and became so troublesome that
the Tories labeled the village
‘‘Rebel Town.” We find that his
brother Levi was also active in
the struggle for independence. In
j 1776 Levi Emanuel received his
(commission of Second Lieutenant
from the Council of Safety. Six
years later he is a sergeant-major
i in the militia under the command
,of General Mad Anthony Wayne.
! Was the original commission
issued without authority? Or did
the frequent resignations, a com
|mon practice in the war for lib
' erty, reduce a commissioned offi
cer td the status of a non-com.
After the war, David Emanuel
rose to political importance. He
represented Burke County in the
General Assembly for a number
of years. He became a member of
the Constitutional Convention in
1789 and again in 1795. About this
jtime the “Yazoo Frauds” broke
[into an open scandal. Many of
the legislators were involved in
the conspiracy that lost a vast
land empire to the state. Emanuel
was one of the three eminent citi
zens entrusted with investigation
of this, betrayal of a public trust.
This service brought about his
election as President of the State
Senate. On March 3rd 1801, David
Emanuel was sworn in as the
sixth Governor of Georgia.
The Governor ,
I Some confusion has arisen as
to how he became Chief Execu
tive. Several historians maintain
I that as President of the Senate, he
; automatically became Governor
when his predecessor James Jack
son resigned to enter the U. S.
Senate. Other authorities claim
that Emanuel was elected in 1801.
In any case he only held the of
fice for eight months, until his
successor was chosen by the Gen
eral Assembly.
He died in 1808, and is de
scribed in Sherwood's Gazeleer
"a fine looking man, amiable, of
good character and inflexible
integrity." Four years later the
■ State of Georgia preserved his
name on her map. A vast tract of
land within her boundaries is
called "Emanuel County."
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Notice Is hereby given that the
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Page Seven

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