David Emanuel (1744 – February 19, 1808) became 24th Governor of Georgia on March 3, 1801 upon the resignation of James Jackson to become U.S. Senator from Georgia. Emanuel served until November 7, 1801, the remainder of Jackson's term, but did not seek re-election. Emanuel was a member of the Democratic Republican Party. Prior to serving as governor he was the President of the Georgia Senate.


Some historians believe Emanuel to be the first governor of Jewish heritage of any U.S. state,[1] while others believe that he was Presbyterian.[2] One early claim that he was Jewish seems to have been based mainly on hearsay in Savannah, Georgia, and a letter from a descendant of David Emanuel's sister Ruth Emanuel Twiggs, Judge H.D.D. Twiggs of Savannah, who stated, "I do not know where Governor David Emanuel came from, I only know that, beyond doubt, he was a Jew."[3] Judge Twiggs was born some years after David Emanuel had died, and so would not have had first hand knowledge of his heritage.[4]

At least one person of Jewish heritage married into the Twiggs family, that being Abraham Myers who married David Emanuel Twiggs's daughter, Marion. Another rationale given for Emanuel having Jewish ancestry is the preponderance of Old Testament names in the Emanuel family tree.[5] Other researchers believe that David Emanuel was Presbyterian and of Welsh heritage. His family was closely associated with the Welsh community that originally settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania around 1700.[6] One Emanuel family researcher has found evidence that David Emanuel was a grandson of Emanuel Jones,[7] of Wales, and believes that the name "Emanuel" became the family surname because of the idiosyncrasies of the Welsh patronymic naming system.[8] The use of Old Testament names was actually common among Protestant Christians in some parts of Wales.[9] Emanuel Jones was at one time a trustee of the Charlestown, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Church.[10]

Life and career

Few details of Emanuel's early life are known, but according to the Georgia State Archives he was born in 1744 in Pennsylvania. He served as a captain and colonel in the Georgia Militia during the American Revolution under the command of his brother-in-law general John Twiggs. During the war, he is reported to have been captured by loyalists and barely escaped execution. He represented his home county of Burke County in the Georgia legislature.

Emanuel also served on the commission that investigated the Yazoo land scandal. Emanuel County, Georgia is named in his honor.[11] After Governor James Jackson resigned in 1801 to take a seat in the U.S. Senate, Emanuel, as president of the state senate, became acting governor. Overall he served three times as President of the Georgia Senate


  1. ^ Morris, Jeffrey B. (Fall 1976). "The American Jewish Judge: An Appraisal on the Occasion of the Bicentennial". Jewish Social Studies. 38 (3/4): 197. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Maisel, L. Sandy; et. al. (2001). Jews in American Politics. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 329–330. ISBN 0742501817. 
  3. ^ Huhner, Leon (1909). "The First Jew to Hold the Office of Governor of One of the United States". Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (18): 186–195.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ Seawright, John Ryan (April 12, 1995). "Ghost Fry: Trials and Tribulations: The Life of Judge H.D.D. Twiggs". Flagpole, Athens, Georgia. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Was Governor Emanuel of Georgia a Jew?". The American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger (Volume 109, Issues 14-26, p. 545). American Hebrew Publishing Company. 1921. 
  6. ^ Dye, Helen Sides (1999). The Johns Connections. Heritage Books Inc. pp. 245, 278–315. ISBN 0788412183. 
  7. ^ Emanuel, William. "Emanuel Jones, ca (1690 - 1757)". Then and Change Genealogy. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Emanuel, William. "Emanuel Family Genealogy and History". Then and Change Genealogy. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Rowlands, John & Sheila (1996). The Surnames of Wales. Genealogical Publishing Co. p. 167.  |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  11. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 119.