Abraham Jonas (1801 - 1864) MP

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Birthplace: Exeter, Devon, UK
Death: Died in Quincy, Adams, IL, USA
Managed by: Kevin Lawrence Hanit
Last Updated:

About Abraham Jonas

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Jonas_(politician)

Abraham Jonas (born September 12, 1801 in Exeter, England; died June 8, 1864) was the first permanent Jewish resident in Quincy, Illinois. He was a former member of the Illinois and Kentucky State Legislature, a leading lawyer, and a valued friend of Abraham Lincoln.

Jonas was born in Exeter, England to Annie Ezekiel and Benjamin Jonas. Abraham’s brother, Joseph Jonas, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio becoming the first Jew to settle west of the Allegheny Mountains. Abraham and his brother Edward joined Joseph in Cincinnati in 1819. Abraham and his two brothers were original members of Congregation B'nai Israel (Sons of Israel), the first Jewish congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains. Abraham also joined the Freemasons in Cincinnati. He and Joseph married Lucy and Rachel Seixas; daughters of the first Rabbi born in America – Gershom Mendes Seixas. Lucy suddenly died in 1825, and Abraham moved to Williamstown, Kentucky. There he married Lucy Block from a pioneering Jewish American family and operated a general store. He was elected to the state legislature for four years. While in Kentucky, Abraham organized a Masonic Lodge and was eventually elected Master of the lodge in 1832. During that time he and Lucy had five children.

In 1836 he moved to Columbus in Adams County, Illinois to operate another general store. Within two years he moved to Quincy, IL opening a carriage business and studying law in Orville Browning’s office. He then organized the Grand Masonic Lodge of Illinois in 1840 and was elected Grand Master. In 1842 he was elected as a Whig to the state legislature. Lucy and Abraham had three more children around this time. He decided to establish a law partnership with Henry Asbury, turning over the family business to his brothers Edward and Samuel who had joined him in Quincy in 1840 or 1841. It is suspected that it was during his years in legislation in Springfield that Abraham Jonas met Abraham Lincoln, as Lincoln was too a member of the state legislation at the time. Jonas ran for the Illinois Senate in 1844 but was defeated by the Democratic candidate. But his loyalty to the Whig party earned him the position as postmaster of Quincy in 1849 serving until 1853. Lincoln and Jonas remained dear friends during this time. When the Whig party died, Jonas and Lincoln both joined the new Republican Party. On November 1, 1854 Lincoln was accused of attending a Know-Nothing Party meeting, but was vouched by Jonas who he was actually with. Jonas arranged the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate in Quincy, and aided Lincoln to his candidacy. It was his law partner Henry Asbury who suggested Lincoln’s candidacy in front of a group of local Republicans. Asbury’s suggestion was greeted by silence until Jonas agreed that it would be a good idea.

Abraham Jonas was noted as one of the greatest orators himself in the area. He was elected Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1843. Lincoln appointed Jonas postmaster of Quincy in 1861 until his death in 1864. Jonas had five children, four sons and a daughter. Three of his sons fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War while the other fought for the Union. Lincoln personally ordered the release of his son Charles Jonas from a prisoner of war camp to be at his father’s bedside.

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Abraham Jonas's Timeline

1801
1801
Exeter, Devon, UK
1829
October 11, 1829
Age 28
Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH, USA
1830
1830
Age 29
1832
1832
Age 31
1834
July 19, 1834
Age 33
Williamsport, Grant County, Kentucky, United States
1836
1836
Age 35
1838
1838
Age 37
1840
1840
Age 39
1842
1842
Age 41
1844
1844
Age 43