corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.11.22
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

United States

Resource Toolbox

A federal republic of North America. The history and condition of the Jews in this territory— apart from Russia and Austria the largest concourse of Israelites under one government in the world— is treated, for convenience, under the following rubrics:

    1. Successive Waves of Immigration.
    2. Separate Cities and States (in order of settlement or population)— New York, Newport, New England, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, California, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Washington, Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
    3. Jews in Their Relation to the Federal Government.
    4. Education.
    5. Philanthropy.
    6. Religious Development.
    7. Military, Naval, and State Service.
    8. Civil and Political Rights.
    9. Science, Art, Literature, and the Learned Professions.
    10. Commerce and Industry.
    11. Social Condition.
    12. Russian Immigration.
    13. Statistics— Growth, Distribution, List of States and Cities with Population 1877,1905, Nationalities of Immigrants, Occupations, Clothing Trade, Social Condition, Charity, Destitutes, Defectives and Delinquents, Synagogues, Institutions, Lodges, Periodicals, Distinguished Persons, Biostatics, Anthropology.

First Settlers from Spain and Portugal.
Persecution is the principal factor affecting Jewish immigration to the United States. The adventurous pioneer, seeking new lands from the desire to conquer obstacles and live a life untrammeled by the conventions of society, is less frequently found among the leaders of Jewish settlement in this country than the hardened victim of persecution— broken in almost everything but spirit and energy— in search of the opportunity merely to live in unmolested exercise of his faith. The effects of the events of European history upon American development might be written almost entirely from the annals of Jewish immigration. The first explorers and settlers of America came from Spain and Portugal and Jews naturally followed in their wake when the Inquisition made further residence in those countries an impossibility. Naturally, also, following the lines of least resistance, the Jews went to those places where the languages were spoken with which they were familiar. Therefore the first traces of Jews are found in South and Central America and Mexico, whence they spread to the West Indies and the changes in the map of Europe which are reflected in America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries caused the first settlements in the territory which is now the United States.

The tolerance of Holland (practically the only Jewish refuge in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries) was extended to her dominions in the New World, and resulted in laying the foundation of what has developed into the great New York community. By way of gratitude for the favors shown them, Jews effectively aided the Dutch in their resistance to foreign encroachment, especially in South America. From Spain, Portugal, and Holland, then, came most of the first settlers and though the large majority were of Sephardic stock, a few Germans are also to be found among them. England, where until the beginning of the eighteenth century but few Jews dwelt, contributed but a small number to the effective settlements she was making on the seaboard of the mainland. Though the colony of Georgia had Jewish immigrants in large numbers from 1733 on, they came in ships from England only because passage to the New World could be procured most readily from that country.

The German Element.
The large numbers of Germans who sought refuge from persecution in the freer air of Pennsylvania, during the eighteenth century, attracted Jews as well. They settled not only in the coast towns, but made their way into the interior, and before the close of the century they were to be found among those engaged in developing the western parts of the state. Similarly, the unhappy fate of Poland, dating from 1772, caused that state to send forth its quota of Jews to the United States, and the contribution of that country would be notable if only for the commanding figure of Haym Salomon . The Napoleonic wars and the distress which they wrought, especially upon the South German principalities, once again caused a tide of German immigration to set toward the United States. The Jews joined this migratory movement beginning toward the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and increased in numbers rapidly by reason of the events of 1848. From that time until 1870, when this phase of immigration lost its strength, they came in a steady stream, so that the Jewish population of the United States was quadrupled within the twenty years between 1850,1870.

Russian Immigration.
But none of the early migratory movements assumed the significance and volume of that from Russia and neighboring countries. This emigration, mainly from Russian Poland, began as far back as 1821, but did not become especially noteworthy until after the German immigration fell off in 1870. Though nearly 50,000 Russian, Polish, Galician, and Rumanian Jews came to the United States during the succeeding decade, it was not until the anti-Jewish uprisings in Russia, of the early eighties, that the emigration assumed extraordinary proportions. From Russia alone the emigration rose from an annual average of 4,100 in the decade 1871-80 to an annual average of 20,700 in the decade 1881-90. Additional measures of persecution in Russia in the early nineties and continuing to the present time have resulted in large increases in the emigration, England and the United States being the principal lands of refuge. The Rumanian persecutions, beginning in 1900, also caused large numbers of Jews to seek refuge in the latter country. The total Jewish immigration to the United States, through the three main ports of entry, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, from 1881 to Oct. 1, 1905, is stated to have been 996,908, although it is by no means certain that this number does not include Christians from Russia and Austria (see statistical section of this article for details).

In considering the separate states of the Union in detail, the varying records of their Jewish inhabitants may be sketched in outline, reference being made for further particulars to the special articles devoted to each state in The Jewish Encyclopedia .

As the Jews of the United States were destined to become more numerous, and consequently of more significance, in the state of New York than elsewhere, it were fitting on this account to begin this summary with the account of their settlement and development there. But there is a historical reason as well: the earliest documentary evidence concerning the Jews in this country relates to New York. Jewish connection with the Dutch colony of New Netherlands antedated by many years the beginnings of the migratory movement, for among the influential stockholders of the Dutch West India Company, founded in 1620, were a number of Jews. Their influence upon the fortunes of this company from that time on was of considerable importance. It would appear that Jews were on the muster-rolls of soldiers and sailors sent out to the colony of New Amsterdam in 1652, and that they had engaged to serve for the term of one year. Their identity, however, has been lost.

First Settlement.
The first known Jewish settler in New Amsterdam was Jacob Barsimson , who arrived on July 8, 1654, in the ship "Pear Tree." He was followed in September of the same year by a party of twenty-three who had taken passage in the bark "Saint Catarina." They probably came from Brazil , by way of Cuba and Jamaica, having been driven out when that country capitulated in 1654. The first authentic record of their arrival is obtained from the legal proceedings instituted against them, by the officers of the vessel, to procure the passage-money for which they had made themselves jointly liable. Some were unable to pay, and two were imprisoned in consequence. Others arrived while these proceedings were pending, much to the displeasure of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of New Netherlands, who ordered them to leave the colony, and wrote to the directors of the Dutch West India Company asking authority for their exclusion. The directors overruled Stuyvesant, and under date of April 26, 1655, instructed him that his attitude "was unreasonable and unfair, especially because of the considerable loss sustained by the Jews in the taking of Brazil, and also because of the large amount of capital which they have invested in the shares of the company." They directed that "they [the Jews] shall have permission to sail to and trade in New Netherlands and to live and remain there." Stuyvesant carried out his instructions with no good grace, evaded them whenever possible, and put many obstacles in the way of these early settlers. Further appeals to the directors of the company followed, resulting in the issuance of a reproof to Stuyvesant in March, 1656 the instructions to him directed that the Jews should be permitted to enjoy all the civil and political rights in New Netherlands that were accorded them in Amsterdam, and they were to be allowed to hold real estate and to trade. But they were not to be employed in the public service, nor allowed to open retail shops. This provision against engaging in retail trade had a marked effect upon their own future, as well as upon that of the colony. It resulted in their engaging in foreign intercolonial trade, for which, because of their connections, they were peculiarly fitted. The part the Jews played as importers and exporters, and in the general field of colonial commerce, is accordingly one of great significance.

Asser Levy.
The most prominent figure among these pioneers of the New Amsterdam colony was Asser Levy and it was due to his determined efforts that many of the political rights which the Jews enjoyed at this time were granted. In 1655, among others, he sought enlistment in the militia this was refused, and instead, he, with other Jews, was ordered to pay a tax because of their exemption. He declined to do this, and on Nov. 5, 1655, petitioned for leave to stand guard like other burghers of New Amsterdam. The petition being rejected, he appealed to the higher authorities, and in 1657 succeeded in obtaining certain burgher rights, and was permitted to perform guard duty like other citizens. He was the first Jew to own land in what are now known as Albany and New York city. His name figures constantly in the court records, and the litigation almost invariably resulted favorably to him. He appears to have amassed considerable wealth, and to have obtained the respect and esteem of the leading men of the town. Another of the prominent early settlers was Abraham de Lucena , who, with several others, in 1655 applied for permission to purchase a site for a burial-ground. This was denied at the time, on the ground that there was no need for it, but was granted a year later. In June, 1658, the burgomasters declined to permit judgment in civil actions to be taken against Jacob Barsimson, holding that "though defendant is absent, yet no default is entered against him, as he was summoned on his Sabbath." This unusual instance of religious toleration foreshadowed a New York statute of two centuries later, which renders it a misdemeanor maliciously to serve any one with process on his Sabbath, or with process returnable on that day. When, in Oct., 1660, Asser Levy and Moses de Lucena were licensed as butchers, they were sworn "agreeably to the oath of the Jews" and were not to be compelled to kill any hogs.

Under English Rule.
Upon the capture of the colony by the English in 1664, the rights hitherto enjoyed by the Jews were not interfered with, and for twenty years they appear to have lived much as before the British occupation, though with slight increase in their numbers. In 1672 Rabba Couty attained prominence by his appeal to the King's Council, in England, from a decree passed against him by the courts of Jamaica, as a result of which one of his ships had been seized and declared forfeited. His appeal was successful and resulted in establishing the rights of Jews as British subjects, and his appears to be the first case in which a colonial grant of naturalization was recognized as valid.

Shearith Israel.
In 1685 the application of Saul Brown to trade at retail was denied, as was also that of the Jews for liberty to exercise their religion publicly. That they did so privately in some definite place of worship would appear from the fact that a map of New York, dated 1695, shows the location of a Jews' synagogue in Beaver street, also that Saul Brown was the minister, and that the congregation comprised twenty families. Five years later the site of the synagogue was so well known that in a conveyance of property the premises were referred to as a landmark. In 1710 the minister of the congregation, Abraham de Lucena, was granted exemption from civil and military service by reason of his ministerial functions, and reference is made to the enjoyment of the same privileges by his predecessors. The minutes of the Congregation Shearith Israel of New York begin in 1729, when it was located in Mill street, and refer to records dating back as far as 1706. This congregation established on Mill street, in 1730, on a lot purchased two years before, the first synagogue in the United States. It would thus appear that the religious rights of these early Jewish settlers had been secured in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and that they enjoyed also many political rights. An act passed by the General Assembly of New York on Nov. 15, 1727, provided that when the oath of abjuration was to be taken by any British subject professing the Jewish religion, the words "upon the true faith of a Christian" might be omitted. Three days later an act was passed naturalizing one Daniel Nuñ ez de Costa. A bitter political controversy of the year 1737 resulted in the decision by the General Assembly that Jews should not be allowed to vote for members of that body.

In 1740 Parliament passed a general act permitting foreign Jews to be naturalized in the colonies. Previous to this date, however, the New York Colonial Assembly had passed numerous special acts of naturalization, some of which were applicable to individuals only others, more general in character, under which Jews could be naturalized without taking oath "upon the true faith of a Christian," were also put upon the statute-book. Between this time and the Revolutionary war the Jewish community in this colony increased by slow stages, the principal immigrants coming from Spain, Portugal, and the West Indies.

During the French and Indian war Jacob Franks was the royal agent, in association with a British syndicate, for provisioning the British forces in America his dealings with the crown during this period exceeded £ 750,000 in value.

In the Revolution.
Before and during the Revolutionary war the Jews had representatives of their faith upon both sides of the controversy, though the majority joined the colonial side. On the Non-Importation Agreement of 1769 the names of not less than five Jews are found this is also the case with respect to other agreements of a similar nature. The outbreak of the Revolutionary war dissolved the congregation in New York and upon the eve of the British occupancy of the town the majority of the congregation, headed by Gershom Mendes Seixas , took all the belongings of the synagogue and removed to Philadelphia, where they established the first regular congregation, the Mickvé Israel, in 1782. The small number who remained in New York occasionally held services in the synagogue. At the close of the war most of the Jews who had gone to Philadelphia returned to New York, which was rapidly becoming one of the most important commercial cities of the country. From this time on the community grew slowly, so that by 1812 it is estimated there were not more than 500 Jews in New York. However, a number of Jewish soldiers participated in the War of 1812, and the prosperity of the community was ever on the increase. The great tide of emigration from Germany that set in toward the beginning of the first quarter of the nineteenth century brought with it many Jews. They were in sufficient numbers by 1825 to establish the first German Jewish congregation. During the next forty years the German congregations increased rapidly, so that by 1850 no less than ten had been organized. Charitable and relief organizations were established and a considerable number of Jews took part in the Mexican war and entered the public service. The large influx which followed in the late forties and early fifties laid the foundation for the great community which afterward developed. Previous to 1881 the emigrants came for the most part from Germany, Bavaria, and Poland. Since the latter date Russia, Rumania, and Galicia have furnished the greatest numbers. At the present time (1905) the Jewish population of the state of New York is estimated at 820,000. Jews are now represented in New York city in every walk of life, political, professional, commercial, and industrial. See New York .

Up-State Settlements.
Though most of the earlier emigrants settled in New York city, a few wandered beyond its limits, some even as far as the confines of what now constitutes the state of Pennsylvania . In 1661, when Albany was but a trading-post, Asser Levy, as noted above, owned real estate there, but between that date and the early years of the nineteenth century there are no records of any settlers in that town. They were not there in sufficient numbers to form a congregation until 1838, and they had no rabbi until 1846. The present Jewish population is estimated at between 4,000,5,000.

Buffalo attained prominence in 1825 through the scheme of Mordecai M. Noah to establish Ararat as a city of refuge for the Jews. The corner-stone of the projected city was laid in one of the churches of Buffalo in that year but, as is well known, this scheme attracted no settlers, and the first religious organization was not established until 1847. The number of Jews there increased gradually from that time, and many members of the Jewish community have held distinguished political office. The present Jewish population is estimated at 7,000.

The first settlement of Jews in Syracuse probably antedates 1839, and a permanent religious organization was established in 1846. At the present time the number of Jews is estimated at 5,000. There are Jewish communities in at least fifty-two of the cities of the state of New York, and most of them have been established within the past twenty years.

Aaron Lopez.
V12p348a01.jpgNext in historical importance to the settlement of New York city is that of Rhode Island, at Newport. Established by Roger Williams upon a basis of toleration for persons of all shades of religious belief, the Jews were among the first settlers. Though the earliest authentic reference to Jews at Newport bears the date 1658, no doubt a few stragglers arrived as early as 1655. Fifteen Jewish families arrived in 1658, bringing with them the first degrees of masonry. They established a congregation almost immediately, and in 1684 had their rights to settle confirmed by the General Assembly. There is record of the purchase of a burial-place in Feb., 1677. Between 1740,1760 a number of enterprising Portuguese Jewish settlers from Spain, Portugal, and the West Indies arrived, and by their activity established Newport as the seat of the most extensive trade of the country. The most prominent of the settlers during this period were the Lopez , Rivera , Pollock, Hart , and Hays families. Aaron Lopez was one of the leading merchants of his time, and owned as many as thirty vessels. With the advent of Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, a native of Portugal, in 1745, the manufacture of spermaceti was introduced in America. In 1762 the erection of a synagogue was begun, and was completed and dedicated in the following year. From 1760 until the outbreak of the Revolution the Rev. Isaac Touro, who had come from Jamaica, was the rabbi of the congregation. In 1763 there were between 60,70 Jewish families in Newport. The first Jewish sermon which was preached in America, and which has been published, was delivered in the Newport synagogue on May 28, 1773, by Rabbi Ḥ ayyim Isaac Carregal . This was delivered in Spanish, and was afterward translated into English. Carregal was a most interesting personality he appears to have come from Palestine, and was on terms of intimacy with Ezra Stiles, the president of Yale College. The first Jewish club in America was formed in 1761 at Newport, with a membership limited to nine persons. Just before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war the Jewish population of Newport must have numbered nearly 1,000 souls. The war dispersed the community, which never regained its importance. The Jews for the most part espoused the colonial cause, and lost the greater part of their property when the town was captured by the British. In 1790 the congregation presented an address to Washington on the occasion of his visit to the city. The letter of welcome is still preserved and is reproduced here by courtesy of the owner, Mr. Frederick Phillips, New York. Abraham Touro bequeathed a fund to the city of Newport to maintain the synagogue as well as the cemetery this fund is still in existence, though no representatives of the original families now live in the city. The present Jewish population is about 200. There are Jewish settlements likewise in Providence, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket. The entire Jewish population of the state is estimated at 3,500.

In Other Parts of New England there were probably occasional stray settlers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but the intolerance of the Puritans rendered impossible the establishment of any religious communities. An interesting personality is that of Judah Monis, who became a convert to Christianity and filled the chair of Hebrew in Harvard College from 1722 until his death in 1764.

Mention is found of a Jew in Connecticut under date of Nov. 9, 1659, and of another in 1670. The first Jewish family to settle in New Haven came in 1772, though a few individuals who had become converts to Christianity dwelt there a few years before. The first congregation was established about 1840, the congregants being members of about twenty Bavarian families. From that date on the community increased by slow stages, and there are at the present time (1905) in New Haven about 5,500 Jewish inhabitants. There are Jewish settlements also in Bridgeport, Ansonia, Derby, Waterbury, New London, and Hartford. In the last-mentioned city there are about 2,000 Jewish inhabitants, the first congregation having been established in 1843. Since 1891 a number of Jewish farmers have been settled in various parts of the state. The total Jewish population of the state is about 8,500.

The earliest mention of a Jew in Massachusetts bears the date May 3, 1649, and there are references to Jews among the inhabitants of Boston in 1695,1702 but they can be regarded only as stragglers, as no settlers made their homes in Massachusetts until the Revolutionary war drove the Jews from Newport. In 1777 Aaron Lopez and Jacob Rivera, with fifty-nine others, went from Newport to Leicester, and established themselves there but this settlement did not survive the close of the war. A number of Jews, including the Hays family, settled at Boston before 1800. Of these Moses Michael Hays was the most important. In 1830 a number of Algerian Jews went to Boston, but they soon disappeared. The history of the present community begins with the year 1840, when the first congregation was established.

The Jewish immigrants to Vermont and New Hampshire have never been very numerous, though there are congregations in Burlington, Vt., and in Manchester, Portsmouth, and Nashua, N. H. The number of Jews at the present time (1905) in these two states does not exceed 2,000. Little of importance can be said about the communal life of the Jews in New England, and their numbers increased but slowly until after the beginning of the great Russian emigration in 1882, when the overflow from New York as well as the emigration through Canada commenced to stream into New England. It is estimated that the number of Jews now inhabiting the New England States is between 80,000,90,000, more than 60,000 of whom reside in Massachusetts alone.

The opening up of the West and the resulting unprofitable nature of farming in New England drew away from this part of the United States many thrifty farmers, who abandoned their unfruitful fields for the more attractive opportunities in the Western States. Of interest in connection with this shifting of the population is the fact that many of these abandoned farms, especially in Connecticut, have been taken up by Russian Jews, who, principally as dairy farmers, have added a new and useful element to the agricultural community.

Jacob Lumbrozo.
It would seem that only a few Jews found their way to Maryland during the first half of the seventeenth century, and that the first settlers of this colony came as individuals, and not in considerable numbers at any time, as was the case in New York, Newport, Savannah, and Charleston. To judge by the names alone it would appear that a few Jews were resident in Maryland from the earliest days of the colony. The most prominent figure, who was unquestionably a Jew, was a Dr. Jacob Lumbrozo , who had arrived Jan. 24, 1656, and who, in 1658, was tried for blasphemy, but was released by reason of the general amnesty granted in honor of the accession of Richard Cromwell (March 3, 1658). Letters of denization were issued to Lumbrozo Sept. 10, 1663. Besides practising medicine, he also owned a plantation, engaged in trade with the Indians, and had active intercourse with London merchants. He was one of the earliest medical practitioners in the colony, and his career casts much light upon the history and nature of religious tolerance in Maryland. By the strength of his personality he was able to disregard nearly all the laws which would have rendered his residence in the colony impossible, and he seems to have observed his faith even though this, under the laws, was forbidden. The unfavorable environment rendered the admittance of Jews to Maryland difficult, and until the Constitution of 1776 established the religious rights of all, few Jews settled in the colony. Beginning with the year 1797, by which time a considerable number of Jews had arrived there, the history of the Jews of Maryland is of special interest. By the terms of the Constitution of 1776 none could hold office in the state who was not a subscriber to the Christian religion. In the year just mentioned Solomon Etting and Barnard Gratz , and others, presented a petition to the General Assembly at Annapolis asking to be placed upon the same footing with other citizens. This was the beginning of an agitation, lasting for a generation, to establish the civil and political rights of the Jews. As this first effort failed it was renewed at almost every session of the Assembly until 1818. During the succeeding seven years the Cohen family, which had come to Baltimore in 1803 from Richmond, Va., took an important part in the attempt to establish their rights as citizens.

Jacob I. Cohen and the Struggle for Religious Liberty.
The most active member of the family in this struggle was Jacob I. Cohen , who was ably assisted by Solomon Etting. Their persistent efforts met with success in 1825, when an Act of Assembly was passed removing the disabilities of the Jews and in 1826 both of the above-named were elected members of the city council.

At the outbreak of the Civil war Maryland, although remaining in the Union, numbered among her citizens a large body of sympathizers with the Confederate cause. Owing to the pronounced antislavery attitude assumed by Rabbi David Einhorn , the conflict of opinion was especially severe among the Jews. For the most part the history of Maryland is the history of Baltimore, where Jews had settled in small numbers prior to the Revolution. The most prominent of these settlers was Benjamin Levy , who, in addition to being a prominent merchant, had the distinction of being appointed one of the committee to arrange the celebration in Baltimore of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The first cemetery was procured as early as 1786, and the beginnings of communal organization date from 1826, although the congregation was not regularly organized until 1838. The Jews of the city have participated to a considerable extent in the civic life of the town and state, and have taken some part in national affairs. A number have been members of the Assembly, and at the present time (1905) Isidor Rayner is a United States senator. The Jewish population of Baltimore in 1902 was estimated at 25,000, and that of the twenty-three counties, including towns outside of Baltimore, at 1,500, making 26,500 the total Jewish population of the state.

Philadelphia.
It is of record that Jews from New Amsterdam traded along the Delaware River as early as 1655. There were probably some settlers in the southeastern portion of the territory of which William Penn took possession in 1681. A very considerable number of the early Pennsylvania colonists were German Jews. The first Jewish resident of Philadelphia was Jonas Aaron, who was living there in 1703. Another early pioneer and one of considerable prominence was Isaac Miranda. He was the first to settle at Lancaster , at which place, as also at Shaefferstown, there was an early Jewish immigration. Miranda became a convert to Christianity and held several state offices. A number of Jews settled in Philadelphia in the first half of the eighteenth century, and became prominent in the life of the city. Among these were David Franks, Joseph Marks, and Sampson Levy. The Non-Importation Resolutions of 1765 contained the signatures of eight Jews, an indication of the importance of the Jewish community at this time. As early as 1747 a number of persons held religious services in a small house in Sterling alley, and afterward in Cherry alley— between Third and Fourth streets. They were mostly German and Polish Jews and their differences as to the liturgy to be followed prevented, at the time, the formation of any regular congregation. Attempts, indeed, were made in 1761 and 1773 to form one, but none was established until the influx of Jews from New York during the Revolutionary war, with the arrival of Gershom Mendes Seixas, gave the community sufficient strength to carry out this cherished object. A lot was purchased and a synagogue erected, the dedication occurring in Sept., 1782. A number of Philadelphia Jews served in the army of the Revolution and the inestimable services rendered by Haym Salomon to Robert Morris in the finances of the Revolution make his name stand out as the most prominent character in American Jewry. The Congregation Mickvé Israel adopted the Sephardic ritual, and the most important minister of the congregation after Seixas was Isaac Leeser , who arrived in 1829. He was the leading Jewish minister of his time, and few others have left such an impress upon American Jewish affairs as he. As minister, teacher, organizer, translator of the Bible, editor, and publisher he was a man of indefatigable energy and rare ability. Prominent also were members of the Phillips family, chief among whom were Zalegman Phillips and Henry M. Phillips.

Mickvé Israel and Rodeph Shalom.
The latter was one of the leading lawyers of Philadelphia, a politician of importance, and a member of the 35th Congress. Leeser's successor as minister of the Mickvé Israel congregation was Sabato Morais , a native of Leghorn, Italy, who, from 1851 until his death in 1897, was a leading figure in American Jewish affairs. It was due to his efforts that a Jewish Theological Seminary was established in New York.

The first German congregation was the Rodeph Shalom, which was organized in 1802, but which probably had meetings at an earlier date. The most prominent of its rabbis was Marcus Jastrow , who was succeeded by the present incumbent, Henry Berkowitz. The best-known cantor of this congregation was Jacob Frankel. During the Civil war he acted as chaplain of hospitals under the United States government. The first leading Reform minister installed in Philadelphia was Samuel Hirsch. Many other congregations have been formed, especially since 1882, when the Russian emigration brought large numbers to the city. Next in importance to the settlement at Philadelphia was that at Lancaster, where Jews were to be found in 1730, before the town and county were organized. Joseph Simon was the best known of the first arrivals. Meyer Hart and Michael Hart were among the earlier settlers at Easton, where they arrived previous to the Revolutionary war. A synagogue was established there in 1839. Shaefferstown had a few Jewish settlers at an early date, and a synagogue and cemetery in 1732. For a considerable number of years preceding the Revolutionary war a number of Jews of Pennsylvania were engaged in the exploitation and sale of western Pennsylvania lands. Among the more prominent of these were Jacob and David Franks , Barnard and Michael Gratz , Joseph Simon, and Levy Andrew Levy.

There is an important Jewish settlement in Pittsburg, where Jews arrived in considerable numbers as early as 1830, organizing a congregation in 1846 in Harrisburg, where a congregation was established in 1851 and in Wilkesbarre, Scranton, and Reading. As elsewhere, the Russian emigration of 1882 largely increased the number of Jews in Pennsylvania, and communities are now to be found in at least fifty towns of the state. The present (1905) Jewish population of Pennsylvania is estimated at 115,000, of whom nearly 75,000 live in Philadelphia.

The Jewish settlement in Georgia dates almost from the very foundation of the colony and the early history of Georgia is practically the history of the growth and development of Savannah, Jewish life centering in that city. It would appear that a movement was set on foot in London to settle some Jews in the colony even before Oglethorpe, in June, 1733, led his first band of followers to the point which soon after became the city of Savannah. The second vessel which reached the colony from England (on July 11, 1733) had among its passengers no less than forty Jewish emigrants. Though their arrival was unexpected, the liberal-minded governor welcomed them gladly, notwithstanding that he was aware that the trustees of the colony in England had expressed some opposition to permitting Jews to settle there. These first settlers were all of Spanish and Portuguese extraction, though within a year of their arrival others, who were apparently German Jews, also took up their residence there. These two bands of settlers received equally liberal treatment from Oglethorpe, and were the progenitors of one of the most important communities of Jews in the United States. Many of their descendants are still living in various parts of the country. The first male white child born in the colony was a Jew, Isaac Minis.

Among the first immigrants was Dr. Nuñ ez, who was made welcome because of his medical knowledge, and because he, with a number of others, brought sufficient wealth to the colony to enable the immigrants to take up large tracts of land. A congregation was organized as early as 1734. Three years later Abraham de Lyon, who had been a "vineron" in Portugal, introduced the culture of grapes. The cultivation and manufacture of silk and the pursuit of agriculture and of commerce were the chief occupations of these early settlers. A dispute with the trustees of the colony respecting the introduction of slaves caused an extensive emigration to South Carolina in 1741, and resulted in the dissolution of the congregation. But in 1751 a number of Jews returned to Georgia, and in the same year the trustees sent over Joseph Ottolenghi to superintend the somewhat extensive silk-industry in the colony. Ottolenghi soon attained prominence in the political life of his associates, and was elected a member of the Assembly in 1761 and in succeeding years. There seems to have been little if any distinction made socially between the Jews and the other settlers, and educational and philanthropic institutions seem to have been supported by all alike.

In the Revolution.
Though the Jews participated prominently in the events leading up to the Revolution, it would appear that even in the midst of absorbing political discussions they were able, in 1774, to start another congregation. They were not all, however, to be found on the colonial side during the war, for Mordecai Sheftall , Levi Sheftall, Philip Jacob Cohen, Philip Minis , and Sheftall Sheftall were in the first days of the Revolution disqualified by the authorities from holding any office of trust in the province because of the pronounced revolutionary ideas which they advocated. The community was dispersed during the Revolution, but many Jews returned immediately after the close of the war. In 1787 the congregation was reestablished, largely owing to the energy of Mordecai Sheftall, and it was incorporated on Nov. 30, 1790, under the name of Mickvé Israel of Savannah. The charter, with the minutes of the congregation of that date, still exists. Under date of May 6, 1789, Levi Sheftall, in behalf of the Hebrew congregation of Savannah, presented an address to Washington on the occasion of his election to the presidency, to which Washington made a gracious reply. The community does not seem to have prospered in the last days of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, but in 1820 began to increase in importance and on the occasion of the consecration of a new synagogue in July, 1820, Dr. Jacob de la Motta delivered an address which was printed, and which is still a document of great value to American Jewish history. The synagogue was destroyed by fire in 1829, but was replaced by a substantial brick structure ten years later, and was consecrated in Feb., 1841, by Isaac Leeser. In 1878 the old synagogue, having been outgrown, was closed, and a new edifice was consecrated on the same day. The community has prospered materially within the past twenty-five years, and a number of its members have held important political office. Herman Meyers has held the office of mayor of the city of Savannah for a number of years.

After Savannah, Augusta appears to have been the next town in the state in which Jews settled. In 1825 one Florence, accompanied by his wife, was the first arrival. Other families came the following year from Charleston, though a congregation was not organized until 1846. Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon have quite extensive communities, and congregations are to be found in Augusta, Albany, Athens, Brunswick, and Rome. They were all established after 1850, and most of them within the past twenty-five years. At Atlanta there is a home for orphans founded and managed by the Independent Order of B' nai B' rith. The community at Savannah still continues to be the most important, and numbers about 3,000. The total Jewish population of the state is estimated at 7,000.

Jewish Company.
The liberal charter which John Locke drew up in 1669 for the governance of the Carolinas should have operated to attract Jews thither at an early date, since "Jews, heathen, and dissenters" were by the terms of Locke's charter granted full liberty of conscience. Though political changes modified Locke's original plans considerably, the spirit of tolerance was always retained. Nevertheless no Jews in any numbers appear to have come to South Carolina until the exodus from Georgia in 1740-1771, already referred to. However, one Simon Valentine is mentioned as living in Charleston in 1698, and probably arrived there three years earlier. A few others followed him, for in 1703 a protest was raised against "Jew strangers" voting in an election for members of the Assembly. In 1748 some prominent London Jews set on foot a scheme for the acquisition of a tract of 200,000 acres of land in South Carolina. Nothing came of this, however, though on Nov. 27, 1755, Joseph Salvador purchased 100,000 acres of land near Fort Ninety-six for £ 2,000. Twenty years later Joseph Salvador sold 60,000 acres of land for £ 3,000 to thirteen London Sephardic Jews. This land was known as the "Jews' Lands." Another of the Salvadors (Francis , the nephew of Joseph) purchased extensive tracts of land in the same vicinity in 1773-74. Moses Lindo, likewise a London Jew, who arrived in 1756, became actively engaged in indigo manufacture, spending large sums in its development, and making this one of the principal industries of the state. During the Revolutionary war the Jews of South Carolina were to be found on both sides and the most eminent of the revolutionists was Francis Salvador, who was elected a member of the First and Second Provincial Congresses which met 1775-76, the most important political office held by any Jew during the Revolution. Two-thirds of a company of militia commanded by Richard Lushington was made up of Charleston Jews. After the fall of Charleston in 1780 the majority of Jews left that city, but most of them returned at the close of the war. The Sephardic Jews established a congregation in 1750, and the Jews of German descent another shortly thereafter. In 1791, when the Sephardic congregation was incorporated, the total number of Jews in Charleston is estimated to have been 400. At the opening of the nineteenth century the Charleston Jews formed the most important community in the United States. A number of its members held important political office, and Mayer Moses was a member of the legislature in 1810. About this time it was due to the Jews that free masonry was introduced into the state. A large number of Jews from New York went to Charleston at the close of the Revolutionary war and remained there until the commencement of the Civil war. The Jews of South Carolina participated in the War of 1812 and in the Mexican war, and were in considerable numbers on the Confederate side during the Civil war. Many South Carolina Jews moved north during the reconstruction period.

A congregation was organized at Columbia in 1822. Communities also exist at Darlington, Florence, Orangeburg, and Sumter. The first Reform movement in any congregation in America was instituted at Charleston in 1824 and another in 1840 (see below). The total number of Jews in the state at the present time (1905)is estimated at 2,500.

The first settlers in North Carolina seem to have come to Wilmington before the end of the eighteenth century, and appear to have been an offshoot of the Charleston community. In 1808 an attempt was made to expel a member of the General Assembly because of his Jewish faith. The community grew slowly, so that in 1826 it was estimated that there were but 400 Jews in the state. No considerable augmentation of their numbers occurred until after the immigration of 1848. Wilmington continues to be the leading community a congregation was established there in 1867. There are small communities in about ten other cities. The total Jewish population of the state is estimated at 6,000.

To judge by names appealone it would ar that a few Jews wandered into Virginia as early as 1624. A small number seem also to have been there before the end of the seventeenth century, but for nearly 100 years no traces of Jewish settlement are found. At least one Jewish soldier— possibly two— served in Virginia regiments under Washington in his expedition across the Alleghany Mountains in 1754. It is probable that Jews drifted into the colony from Baltimore and other points in Maryland at an early date. By 1785 Richmond had a Jewish community of about a dozen families of Spanish-Portuguese descent, which organized a Sephardic congregation in 1791. This congregation remained in existence until 1898. The migration of German Jews to Richmond began early in the nineteenth century and in 1829 they were in sufficient numbers to organize a congregation. In 1870, when the public-school system was established in Richmond, the first sessions were held in the rooms of the German Jewish congregation. Over one hundred Virginian Jews saw military service during the Civil war. The Richmond community has achieved prosperity, and now (1905) numbers about 2,500 Jews. An important community is established also at Norfolk. Nearly twenty other congregations exist in the remaining towns of the state, and there are similar organizations in about six towns of West Virginia. The present Jewish population of the entire state of Virginia is about 15,000, and that of West Virginia about 1,500.

The most prominent early figure in the history of the Jews in Louisiana is Judah Touro , who went to New Orleans about 1801. The community increased but slowly during the first half of the nineteenth century, but has grown rapidly since that time. The first congregation was established about 1830, and since that date, and especially during the last twenty years, a number of additional congregations have been formed and important charitable organizations established. Martin Behrman is mayor of New Orleans (1905). About twenty towns now have Jewish communities with an estimated population of 12,000.

The Western wave of migration which took place in the early years of the nineteenth century carried with it a considerable number of Jews to Kentucky. Among these was one Salamon from Philadelphia, who established himself at Harrodsburg about 1808. In 1816 he was made cashier of the Bank of the United States at Lexington. Shortly after the War of 1812 the Jews began to go to Louisville, where the most important community of the state is still located. The first congregation there was chartered in 1842, and a synagogue was built in 1850. Another congregation was organized in 1856, and since the Russian emigration, beginning in 1881, a number of others have been established. In 1901 Louisville had six congregations and numerous philanthropic and educational institutions. There are other communities in at least half a dozen other towns in the state. The total Jewish population at the present time (1905) is estimated at 12,000.

A few Jews were among the traders who settled in Tennessee, near the Holston River, in 1778, but they were mere stragglers and made no permanent settlement. About 1845 some Jews began to arrive in Memphis, where they had been preceded by Joseph J. Andrews. In 1853 a congregation was organized, and an Orthodox congregation in 1862. At Nashville a congregation was established in 1854. Jews have been prominent also in Chattanooga in the years 1894 to 1898 George W. Ochs was mayor of the city. There are several communities in other towns of the state, though the total Jewish population probably does not exceed 7,000.

Of the remaining states of the southern group east of the Mississippi River the principal Jewish settlements have been made in Alabama and Mississippi. An occasional Jew made his way into the territory which is now Alabama during the early part of the eighteenth century. One Pallachio became prominent in 1776. Abraham Mordecai came from Pennsylvania and settled in Montgomery county in 1785 he established trading-posts, and dealt extensively with the Indians, and in Oct., 1802, with the aid of two Jews, Lyons and Barnett, who had come from Georgia, he erected the first cottongin in the state. Of the other early settlers Philip Phillips was the most prominent. He moved to Mobile about 1835, from Charleston, and held prominent political office in 1853 he was elected to Congress. He afterward resided in Washington, and became known as a leading attorney there. The first congregation in Mobile was formed in 1841, where the largest community of the state is still to be found. A number of other congregations were established about the middle of the century, notably at Montgomery. About six other towns have Jewish communities. The present Jewish population is estimated at 7,000.

It is likely that there were a few Jews in the Natchez district of Mississippi before the close of the eighteenth century, but no congregation was organized until that of Natchez was established in 1843. No other congregation was organized before 1850. The present Jewish population of this state does not exceed 3,000.

Florida has a Jewish population of about 3,000, and the earliest congregation was established at Pensacola, in 1874.

Jacob de Cordova.
Of the Western States of the southern group none has such Jewish interests as Texas, and with the early development of no states other than Georgia and California have Jews been so intimately associated. They were among the first of Austin' s colonists in 1821, when Texas was still a part of Mexico and Samuel Isaacs, who served in the Army of the Republic of Texas, received 320 acres of land in Fort Bend county for his services. Many of the earlier settlers came from England. When Abraham C. Labatt arrived in Velasco in 1831 he found that several other Jews had preceded him. Between 1832 and 1840 quite a number of Jews settled in the Nacogdoches district, serving the government in civil and military capacities. An unusually large number of Jews were attracted by the stirring events which preceded the annexation of Texas to the Union, and many took part in the military expeditions. Several were with Sam Houston's army in the Mexican war, and were present at the storming of the Alamo in Dec., 1835. A number received land and property for services rendered to the short-lived republic. Jacob de Cordova , a native of Jamaica, came to Galveston from New Orleans in 1837, and during the next thirty years was prominently identified with the development of the country. The real-estate operations in which he engaged in the early days became known far and wide. He published a newspaper, introduced the Order of Odd Fellows, was elected to the legislature from Harris county in 1847, and in 1849 laid out the city of Waco. Another of the prominent early pioneers was Henry Castro, a native of France, who had seen service in the French army and had gone to the United States in 1827. He lived for a time in Rhode Island, but went to Texas about 1840. In 1842 he made a contract with Sam Houston to settle a colony west of the Medina. Between 1843 and 1846 he sent 5,000 emigrants from the Rhenish provinces to Texas— a remarkably organized emigration for that early period. Castroville and Castro county, in northwest Texas, serve to perpetuate his name. On the admission of Texas into the Union David S. Kauffman, a Jew, was elected a member of Congress and served until his death in 1851. The first congregation was established at Houston as early as 1854, and others followed in Galveston and San Antonio shortly thereafter. Other important communities are at Dallas and Waco. Capt. L. C. Harby played a prominent part in the defense of Galveston during the Civil war. There are at present at least twelve other congregations within the state, whose Jewish population now numbers about 17,500.

Though no congregation was established in Michigan until 1850, a number of individual Jews played a prominent part in the settlement and early history of the territory as Indian traders. The principal settlement has been at Detroit, where the first arrivals were from Germany. Since 1882 there has been a large influx of Russians, who have grown to be an important element of the community. In 1883 a colony of Russian Jews was established near Bad Axe, which met with some success. Eleven towns have regularly organized congregations, and there are small communities in many other towns. After Detroit, the principal settlements are at Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Bay City, and Alpina. It is estimated that the Jewish population of the state Numbers 16,000 .

The first Jewish settler in the territory now comprised within the state of Wisconsin was Jacob Franks, who went to Green Bay from Canada as early as 1792, and who two years later was granted by the Indians a tract of land on Devil River, about four miles from Fox River. He carried on an extensive trade with the Indians. In 1805 he was known far and wide among them, and established a high reputation for integrity, fair dealing, and hospitality he erected the first saw- and grist-mill ever put up in that region, and returned to Canada in the same year. Other traders followed in his wake, but none came in sufficient numbers to establish any congregation until shortly before the middle of the nineteenth century. The principal settlement was made in Milwaukee, where a congregation was organized in 1855. In 1900 there were congregations in ten other cities, and in 1905 the total Jewish population of the state is estimated at 15,000.

The important community of Cincinnati , in Ohio, is the oldest west of the Alleghany Mountains. From the middle of the nineteenth century its Jewish community has played a significant part in Jewish affairs in the United States. The Jewish pioneer of the Ohio Valley was Joseph Jonas, who went to Cincinnati from England in March, 1817. He attracted others from his native country a few years thereafter, and in 1819 they held the first Jewish service in the western portion of the United States. Previous to 1830 considerable additions to the community came from England, and in 1824 the first congregation was formed. Beginning with 1830, a large number of German Jews made their way to Cincinnati, and the first synagogue was erected in 1836. The community was of significance as early as 1850, and contained capable and public-spirited members. Isaac M. Wise , who went to Cincinnati in 1854, and Max Lilienthal , who arrived in 1855, helped materially to enable Cincinnati to impress indelibly its individuality upon Judaism in America. These two men aided in making Cincinnati a center of Jewish culture, and assisted in the development of a number of movements that were national in scope. Cincinnati is the seat of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of the Reform Rabbis of American Judaism, and the Hebrew Union College, and its graduates occupy many pulpits throughout the country. The Jews of Cincinnati have always shown great public spirit and have filled many local positions of trust, as well as state, judicial, and governmental offices. At the present time (1905) Julius Fleischman is the mayor of the city. Next in importance to Cincinnati is the community of Cleveland, where Jews settled as early as 1837, and established a congregation in 1839. The history of the Jews in Ohio during the first half of the nineteenth century is confined to the cities just mentioned. After that date congregations grew up throughout the state. There are at the present time congregations in twenty other towns. About 1,000 Jews of Ohio saw service during the Civil war a number only exceeded by the Jewish contingent from New York. The present population of Ohio is given as 50,000.

The largest community of Jews in America, outside of New York and Philadelphia, is to be found in Chicago. It is probable that there were Jewish settlers in the Illinois territory when that country was still under French control. John Hays seems to have been the earliest Jewish pioneer, and he held the office of sheriff of St. Clair county from 1798 to 1818, and was appointed collector of internal revenue for the territory by President Madison in 1814, but no Jews appear to have followed in his footsteps until twenty years later. Considerable numbers of Jews found their way to the rising city Chicago previous to 1850, and the first congregation was organized in 1847. In 1842 a Jewish Colonization Society of New York sent Henry Meyer to select a tract in the vicinity of Chicago for a Jewish colony. He succeeded in attracting a considerable number of settlers, though only a few became farmers, the remainder removing for the most part to Chicago. After Chicago the next town to be settled by Jews was Peoria, and after the middle of the nineteenth century they settled in considerable numbers in most of the important towns in the state. Through the endeavors of B. Felsenthal, who went to Chicago in 1858, the Reform Congregation Sinai was established in 1861. He played an important part in the history of the development of the community. After the great fire of 1871 the community grew rapidly, and it has become one of the most prosperous in the country, its members being actively interested in the political life of the city and state. There are over fifty Jewish congregations in the city, and the population is estimated at 80,000. Some of the most important manufactories of the state are controlled by Jews. Samuel Altschuler of Aurora was a Democratic nominee for governor in 1900. The Jewish community of Chicago has many notable educational establishments and relief institutions, and has furnished distinguished members to the legal profession, as well as renowned architects and musicians. Among its prominent rabbis, besides B. Felsenthal, have been Liebmann Adler and Emil G. Hirsch. The Jewish population of the state is estimated at 100,000.

In the southern and northwestern group of states Missouri stands out in special prominence. Between Chicago and San Francisco there is no city in which Jews have settled where they have formed so prosperous a community as in St. Louis. The pioneer Jewish settler in the state was Wolf Bloch, a native of Bohemia, who is reported to have reached St. Louis as early as 1816. A few others followed shortly thereafter, but their identity has been lost. They were not in sufficient numbers to hold services until 1836, and in the following year the first congregation was established. Two other congregations were organized before 1870. During the Civil war Isidore Bush attained prominence as a delegate on the "Unconditional Union Ticket" to the convention which decided that Missouri should remain in the Union. St. Louis harbored a number of refugees from Chicago after the fire of 1871, and since that time has grown rapidly in numbers and wealth. Representatives of the community have attained distinction politically and commercially. Moses N. Sale has been judge of the circuit court, and Nathan Frank was elected to the Fifty-first Congress. Next in importance to the community of St. Louis, whose numbers aggregate about 40,000, is that of Kansas City. The Jewish residents of the city number about 5,500. At St. Joseph Jews began to settle as early as 1850, and a congregation was organized nine years later. The Jewish population Numbers 1,200 . There are congregations in eight other cities of the state, whose Jewish population, however, is estimated at 50,000.

The first Jewish congregation in Kansas was established at Leavenworth in 1859 another was organized at Kansas City in 1870. Jews to the number of 3,000 are to be found in at least nine other towns of the state.

The first Jewish settlement made in Nebraska was on the site of the present city of Omaha in 1856, but it was not until ten years later that the first congregation was organized. There is also a congregation at Lincoln, and communities in several smaller cities. The great bulk of the 3,800 Jews of the state live in Omaha.

Jews are recorded as having lived in the river towns of Iowa, especially at Dubuque and Mc-Gregor, as early as 1847-48. These were the main shipping- and stopping-points for the far West, and attracted settlers on this account. As the population moved westward small Jewish communities also found their way to Davenport, Burlington, and Keokuk. The first congregation was established at Davenport in 1861, another at Keokuk in 1863, and that at Des Moines in 1873. The largest Jewish community is in the last-named city. There are Jewish communities in eleven other towns of the state, whose total Jewish population, however, does not exceed 5,000.

Solomon Heydenfeldt.
The gold discoveries of 1849 on the Pacific Coast proved not less attractive to some Jews than to other adventurous spirits, and to such an extent that as early as 1850 two congregations were organized in San Francisco. A striking characteristic of California Jewish migration is the cosmopolitan nature of its early Jewish population. Every country, even Australia, was represented among these pioneers. Another significant feature of the early settlement in California was the number of congregations which were organized in the fifties, when the gold fever was at its height, and which soon dwindled to insignificance, and during the course of the next ten or fifteen years passed out of existence. Noteworthy also is the high character of these early settlers, and the leading part they played in consequence in the political as well as the commercial development of this new country. Among the most distinguished was Solomon Heydenfeldt , who had gained prominence in Alabama before he came to California, where he attained the rare distinction of being elected chief justice of the state, a position which he held until his resignation in 1857. Subsequently he took a leading part in the politics of the state. Henry A. Lyons was one of the first three justices of the Supreme Court of California. A number of other Jews have occupied prominent political office in the commercial world the Jews have been among the pioneers in the development of the state. Some of the leading Jewish bankers of New York came from San Francisco, where Jews are still a decided power in financial and commercial undertakings. Nor have they failed to develop on cultural lines and the name of Peixotto is one of distinction in art and scholarship. Emma Wolf is a distinguished authoress. M. H. De Young is proprietor of the "San Francisco Chronicle," and Max C. Sloss is prominent as one of the judges of the Superior Court of San Francisco. Julius Kahn represents the San Francisco district in Congress.

The two congregations already mentioned grew rapidly at the present time (1905) there are fourteen congregations in all, and the Jewish population of the city is estimated at 17,000. There are other congregations at Sacramento, Los Angeles, and many other towns, making up a Jewish population for the state of 28,000.

The overflow from California made its way into Oregon, where Jews were to be found as early as 1850 the first congregation was established in Po


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'United States'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tje/u/united-states.html. 1901.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
ADVERTISEMENT
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
 or 
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

 
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology