Founders & Fur Traders
ON SEPTEMBER 30, 1847, when the founding father of Montgomery, Alabama, cradle city of the Southern Confederacy, had reached his ninetieth year, he was visited by a reporter for the Montgomery Flag and Advertiser, Albert James Pickett, who was later to write the official history of the State of Alabama. Pickett found the old man living alone in an abandoned Indian hut on the outskirts of the city. Once a man of property-not only had he founded Montgomery but he had also introduced the first cotton gin into the county-he was now a pauper, dependent upon neighbors for his sustenance. A coffin, built by his own hands, stood by his bedside. The only other furnishings Pickett noted in the hut were two crude chairs, an old chest, a few bottles suspended by strings from the ceiling, and a rough table, on which rested a Hebrew Bible. His name was Abraham Mordecai and he was a Jew.
Pickett was at first quite taken with the old gentleman and described him as alert and intelligent despite his advanced years. Later, however, when he came to write his history, Pickett revised his favorable opinion. “Old Mordecai,” as he had come to be known, was now “a Jew of amorous disposition, living among border ruffians and carrying on with Indian squaws in approved border style.” Moreover, wrote Pickett, “Mordecai had married an Indian woman . . . tainted with the blood of Ham.”
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