A true part of the story
Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844–1917) was one of the most celebrated sculptors of his day. A religious minority in America who became an expatriate in Europe, his work was lauded the world over. Once, he kneeled to be knighted by European monarchs; today, his most famous memorial is slated to be torn down by our own Department of Defense.
Ezekiel was a Virginian and a practicing Jew who sailed across the seas to live in Catholic Rome. He was a fashionable and well-traveled dandy who’d seen his college roommate, the seventeen-year-old Thomas Garland Jefferson, shot in the Civil War’s Battle of New Market. Ezekiel lost his shoes in the bloody mud that day and nursed his dying friend for two more days before he lost him as well. They’d been fighting with the Virginia Military Institute, in which they were enrolled, Ezekiel as the first Jewish cadet. See: he was a proud Confederate, who years later nevertheless hosted the Union hero Ulysses S. Grant in his Italian studio underneath a fluttering Southern battle flag.
Christopher Bedford is the executive editor of the forthcoming magazine Common Sense.
Originally published in The New Criterion.