“Men with their wives, and often six or seven children, trudging fearfully through the streets … carrying away from their homes whatever they could pick up at that instant.” While Levin was widely pinpointed for inciting the violence, in the days to come the charismatic speaker accepted not a hint of blame.
In a heated defense, he asserted that his followers had nothing but peaceful intentions until “an armed body of ferocious foreigners” assaulted them.
(Although perhaps no more surprising than a candidate professing love and respect for his Jewish son-in-law while retweeting an image of the Star of David atop a pile of money).
Levin himself was no Mayflower descendant, but in fact a first-generation American.
But like so many politicians, Levin was known more for what he opposed than for what he supported.
He became a passionate anti-duel advocate following his own misadventure, and also denounced the vile, immoral nature of the theater.
Philadelphia’s bloody week was not, as some expected, the end of Lewis Levin, but rather the start of an upward climb that would soon elevate him to the center of mid-nineteenth-century American politics.
He worked as a teacher and studied law, converted to Methodism, and moved to Woodville, Mississippi, a bucolic settlement among the rolling hills of Wilkinson County, just north of the Louisiana border. After surviving an armed duel with a nemesis who claimed Levin had stole one of his speeches, a severely wounded Levin fled the state.
(It was reported in some sources that his opponent in the duel was none other than Woodville’s hometown hero, Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederacy.) Levin next lived briefly in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he was reportedly “embroiled in a number of serious quarrels before moving on again,” at one point spending six months in jail for an unpaid debt.
“Parties reeled, politicians changed and cowered before the fiery eloquence of this daring reformer,” wrote John W.
Forney, the Clerk of the House of Representatives during Levin’s era.