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Louis Marshall and the Rise of Jewish Ethnicity in America

A Biography

by Matthew Silver

Publication Year: 2012

A milestone in modern Jewish history and American ethnic history, the sweeping influence of Louis Marshall’s career through the 1920s is unprecedented. A tireless advocate for and leader of an array of notable American Jewish organizations and institutions, Marshall also spear­headed civil rights campaigns for other ethnic groups, blazing the trail for the NAACP, Native American groups, and environmental protection causes in the early twentieth century. No comprehensive biography has been published that does justice to Marshall's rich;y diverse life as an impassioned defender of Jewish communal interests and as a prominent attorney who reportedly argued more cases before the Supreme Court than any other attorney of his era. Silver eloquently fills that gap, tracing Marshall’s career in detail to reveal how Jewish sub-groups of Eastern European immigrants and established Central European elites interacted in New York City and else­where to fuse distinctive communal perspectives on specific Jewish issues and broad American affairs. Through the chronicle of Marshall’s life Silver sheds light on immigration policies, Jewish organizational and social history, environmental activism, minority politics during World War I, and he bears witness to the rise of American Jewish ethnicity in pre- Holocaust America.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Cover

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pp. c-i

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ii-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xviii

The life of Louis Marshall (1856–1929) encapsulates the political history of the Jews in the United States during the fi rst three decades of the twentieth century, up to the Great Depression. Born in Syracuse to immigrant parents of middle European ancestry, Marshall made his mark in Upstate New York as a successful...

Part One From Upstate to Uptown

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1 Syracuse

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pp. 3-24

The first phase of Marshall’s life appears as an immigrant success story, featuring the rise of the child of struggling German Jewish immigrants in provincial Upstate New York and his transition to professional success in New York City. Compared to the voluminous records of Marshall’s subsequent career as a lawyer...

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2 Manhattan and Moral Reform

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pp. 25-76

In late 1893, Untermyer invited Marshall to join the Guggenheimer and Untermyer firm in New York City, and the Syracuse native moved to Manhattan in February 1894, staying for the first several weeks with the Untermyers.1 From the start, Untermyer treated Marshall as a junior, rather naïve, partner who was...

Part Two A National Organization for the Jews

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3 The Origins of Organized Activism

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pp. 79-134

The founding of the American Jewish Committee (AJC; also hereafter referred to as the committee) in 1906 marked a turning point in Marshall’s career and created new options for the organized life and identity of the American Jewish community. To be sure, habits and assumptions of the previous moral reform phase...

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4 Abrogation

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pp. 135-221

The immigration struggle was waged without public demonstrations. Marshall shunned publicity in this sphere, fearing that any trumpeting of gains could cause the restrictionists to dig in their heels. Preemptive in purpose, the lobbying was a protracted and often thankless process. Since their accomplishment was to stave...

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5 Avoiding the Guillotine of Immigration Restriction

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pp. 222-246

The year 1912 opened with a major change in Marshall’s professional life when his partner Samuel Untermyer left their firm. “This will keep me very busy,” Marshall wrote to his father, in laconic understatement.1 Samuel Untermyer was a complicated man. A corporate lawyer who built up a thriving business, Untermyer...

Part Three War and Peace

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6 World War I

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pp. 249-344

The eruption of the war caught Marshall by surprise. At the start of the summer, Florence suggested the family vacation in Europe, but fortunately the children insisted on staying at Knollwood.1 Marshall was conflicted. As Europe plunged clumsily and cataclysmically to war, he hoped vainly that the fighting....

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7 Paris and Haiti

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pp. 345-378

Some 335,000 Jewish Americans elected delegates to the American Jewish Congress on June 10, 1917. At the end of June, Stephen Wise met with President Wilson, who indicated sympathy with the congress’s purposes but urged that its convening be delayed on account of the “current pressure of general affairs.”...

Part Four Marshall Law

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8 Ford

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pp. 381-401

The term “Marshall law” was the English Jewish playwright Israel Zangwill’s epigrammatic tribute to the extraordinary authority enjoyed by Louis Marshall in American Jewish affairs, particularly in the 1920s, following the death of Jacob Schiff in 1920 and the termination of Louis Brandeis’s presidency of the Zionist...

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9 Jews and Birds

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pp. 402-443

In 1913, Congress enacted a statute protecting migratory birds from hunters. In Arkansas and Kansas, federal courts ruled the statute to be unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution does not ascribe to the federal government powers to regulate game hunting.1 The Justice Department acknowledged that these...

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10 Ethnic Affairs in the 1920s

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pp. 444-489

It is time to take a look at the man. Marshall had a bespectacled, studious but kindly face. Being noticeably rounder around the hips, his short, stocky frame contoured as a bowling pin. His dress was formal and deliberately obsolete. Marshall’s old-style starched shirts, made of fine linen, attracted attention, but one...

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11 Crimea and Eretz Israel

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pp. 490-525

On May 26, 1924, President Coolidge signed into law the Johnson-Reed immigration act, effectively closing the country’s doors to newcomers from Southern and Eastern Europe. Three weeks after America’s exit as a haven for indigent or persecuted East European Jews, the Joint Distribution Committee’s Executive...

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12 Epilogue

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pp. 526-536

By the end of the 1920s, the added weight of advancing years encumbered Marshall’s dealings with the distant Holy Land. Before his death, the end of his term of high influence in communal affairs was perceptible in his difficulty traversing physical space and ideological gaps in dealings with the Zionists. Yet the effects...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 537-540

Notes

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pp. 541-614

Bibliography

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pp. 615-628

Index

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pp. 629-646


E-ISBN-13: 9780815651987
E-ISBN-10: 0815651988
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815610007
Print-ISBN-10: 0815610009

Page Count: 616
Illustrations: 15 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Modern Jewsih History
Series Editor Byline: Henry Feingold