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“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.He married Ann Christian Hays in 1833, but she died just a year later.
The noted Army captain and writer John Gregory Bourke, whose parents were old friends of Levin’s in Philadelphia, surprisingly described “a very close intimacy” between the scorching anti-Catholic populist and Bourke’s own Roman Catholic father.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.Levin practiced law in three states before settling in the city of brotherly love, where, as Forman writes, “because of the Panic of 1837 and other factors, Philadelphia had lost most of her prosperity; hard times now seemed the rule.” The sharp economic downturn made his adopted city ripe ground for the political movement Levin would soon spark.An avowed American exceptionalist who wrote that “we stand apart from, and above all other people,” Levin was passionate about three things: his home country, his adopted religion, and the plight of the working man – a personal holy trinity that would spark the crusade spanning the rest of his life.