DAVID YULEE and COTTON WOOD PLANTATION
Location: S.R. 346 (High Street)
David Levy Yulee was born at St.
Thomas, West Indies, in 1810. He attended school in
Virginia from 1819 until 1827 when he went to
Micanopy to work on one of the plantations of his
father, Moses Elias Levy. He studied law and was
admitted to the bar in 1836. His time was divided
between the practice of law and agriculture. Yulee
was elected to the Florida Constitutional Convention
at St. Joseph in 1838. He was a delegate to Congress
from the Territory of Florida from 1841-45 and
spearheaded the drive for statehood. In 1845, he was
chosen as the first U.S. Senator from Florida and
was the first Jew, in the United States, to be
elected to the U.S. Senate. Defeated for reelection
in 1851, Yulee was again elected to the Senate in
1855. In the Senate he served as chairman of the
committees on naval affairs and on post offices and
post roads. Yulee served in the U.S. Senate until he
resigned upon the secession of Florida in 1861.
While serving as territorial delegate, Yulee
obtained a railroad survey of Florida and was one of
the first railroad promoters in the South. In 1853
he incorporated the Florida Railroad which, when
completed in 1860, passed through Archer, connecting
Fernandina and Cedar Key. Long an advocate of the
Southern movement and secession, Yulee supported
Florida's entry into the Confederacy. However, he
chose not to pursue elective office and devoted time
to his plantations and his railroad. He was at odds
with Confederate authorities who wanted to use
materials from his railroad for more vital lines.
Cotton Wood Plantation, located about one mile
northeast of this site, was the home of Yulee during
the War Between the States. Upon the fall of the
Confederacy, personal baggage of President Jefferson
Davis and part of the Confederate treasury, reached
Cotton Wood, under armed guard, on May 22, 1865.
Following the war, Yulee was imprisoned at Ft.
Pulaski, at Savannah, until Gen. U.S. Grant
intervened for his release in March of 1866. Yulee
sold his holdings in Florida and moved to
Washington, D.C. in 1880. He died in 1886 and was
buried at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in
Washington, D.C. Originally known as David Levy, he
had his name changed by an act of the Florida
Legislature in 1845.