Lewis Charles Levin

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Levin, the first open Jew in the House of Representatives.

Lewis Charles Levin (10 November 1808—14 March 1860) was the first Jew to be elected as a Congressman in the United States, where he served in the House of Representatives. He was active as a politician in Philadelphia and served three terms between 1845–51, for the Pennsylvania 1st District. Levin was born in Charleston, South Carolina and graduated from South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina) in 1828. Levin is best known for his involvement in the Know Nothing movement and his agitation against Catholics (particularly those of Irish descent) in the United States.

Despite the fact that he was not a nativist himself in that he was strongly in favour of immigration—unlike many in the Know Nothing movement—he was opposed to the immigration of Catholics specifically (at the time quite a few from Germany and Ireland were arriving). Christian sectarianism in Pennsylvania had traditionally being minimal, prior to Levin's activism. He also managed to exploit historic rivalries between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants. His agitation led to the Philadelphia Nativist Riots in which churches were burned down. Levin and his collaborator Samuel R Kramer were arrested and fined for "exciting to riot and treason".

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