Benjamin Franklin Peixotto

February 28, 2023
by Tanya Elder

Benjamin Franklin Peixotto, was born in Ohio as one of eight children of Rachel Seixas Peixotto and Dr. Daniel Moses Levy Peixotto. Benjamin started his life as a journalist for the Ohio Plain Dealer, but sided early during the Civil War with the Copperheads, who wanted peace between the Union and Confederacy. He left the newspaper with its editor George Davis, going on to found the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the first B’nai B’rith lodge in Cleveland, and the Jewish Orphan Asylum. Peixotto would later become a lawyer in New York, and was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant as American consul to Romania where Peixotto called for the Jews of Romania to be evacuated to the United States due to pograms and antisemitism. The AJHS holds the records of the Board of Delegates of American Israelites, the first Jewish civil rights group in the U.S. with numerous documents from him regarding “Rumania.” After he left government service, his founded the Menorah: A Monthly Magazine for the Home in 1886. He passed away in 1890 at the age of 55 years old. The AJHS holds his death mask, an image of which can be viewed at the United States National Portrait Gallery