BENJAMIN, Judah Philip (1811-84), American lawyer and
statesman, born in Christiansted, Saint Croix Island, taken to Charleston, S.C., as a child, and educated at Yale College (now Yale University). He practiced law in New Orleans, La., and early became
prominent in politics, serving first with the Whigs and afterward with the Democrats. He was a U.S. senator from Louisiana from 1853 until that state seceded from the Union in 1861. He then became attorney general
in the cabinet of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. During the American Civil War Benjamin also served successively as the Confederacy's secretary of war and secretary of state. When Davis was
captured in 1865, Benjamin escaped with some difficulty to Great Britain. There he began to practice law the following year, was appointed a queen's counsel in
1869, and until his retirement in 1883 was considered one of the most learned members of the British bar. His Treatise on the Law of Sale of Personal Property (1868) became a legal classic in Great Britain.