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Lewis Charles Levin

(1808 - 1860)

Lewis Charles Levin was an American Jewish Congressman and the first Jew ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Levin (born November 10, 1808; died March 14, 1860) was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) with a law degree in 1828 and then briefly taught school in Mississippi, but had to quit town after being wounded in a duel.

Levin began gaining notoriety in Philadelphia in the later 1830's for his public crusades on the evils of alcohol and against Catholic political power. In 1843, Levin founded the American Republic Party (later called the Native American Party) and shortly in 1844 he ran for Congress and was elected. His party's platform called for extending the period of naturalization to twenty-one years; election of only native born Americans to all offices; and, rejection of foreign interference in all institutions, social, religious and political.

Levin was re-elected twice to Congress before being defeated in 1850. He then returned to the practice of law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania until his death on March 14, 1860

Source: Connie L. McNeely and Susan J. Tolchin, “On the Hill,” in L. Sandy Maisel and Ira Forman, Eds. Jews in American Politics. (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2001), pp. 54 and 375.