39. The Jewish Commodore and Jefferson Fan
US naval officer Uriah Phillips Levy (1792 – 1862) was one of the great characters of American Jewish history. An eccentric and pugnacious man, Levy was a shrewd and wealthy businessman. He was also an admirer of Thomas Jefferson – an admiration based on the third president’s track record of championing religious liberty.
As Levy put it: “I consider Thomas Jefferson to be one of the greatest men in American history. … He did much to mold our Republic in a form in which a man’s religion does not make him ineligible for political or governmental life”.