General Cass' Friendship With Jewish Pioneers
by IRVING I. KATZ
came to Illinois in the 1780s as an Wisconsin) appointed John
agent of a Canadian firm. About Lawe, a Jew, as associate jus-
1793 he settled in CahoXia, St. tice.
This year marks the centennial Clair County, Illinois, as an in-
Lawe was born in Montreal
of the death of General Lewis Cass. dependent fur trader. having Dec. 6, 1779. His mother was a
distinguished American statesman served in the milita of St. Clair sister of Jacob Franks, nephew of
whose outstanding monument is County beginning 1790. His land the well-known Col. David Salis-
the State of Michigan. His mem- warrant payment for his military bury Franks, a notable figure in
ory was honored recently at a service enabled him to purchase the American Revolution who was
graveside ceremony at Elmwood 100 acres of land, and he farmed a personal friend of George Wash-
this land successfully. He held ington and participated in his in-
The story of Lewis Cass is part numerous public offices.
auguration as President of the
For many years he was post- United States. Lawe's father, a
of the record of America's early
years. Cass was born in Exeter, master in Cahokia. From 1798 to non-Jew, was a captain in the
N. H., in 1782. In 1806 he became 1818 he was Sheriff of St. Clair British Army.
a member of Ohio's legislature, County. He was Collector of Inter-
Lawe was educated in Quebec.
where he attracted President Jef- nal Revenue for the Indian Terri- In 1797 he joined his uncle, Jacob
ferson's attention with a paper on tory beginning 1814. In 1821, he Franks, in Green Bay, Wis. where
the Col. Aaron Burr Conspiracy. was appointed Indian Agent at Franks came in 1792 as the agent
Burr, ruined financially, in a plot Fort Wayne (Indiana).
of a Montreal trading firm, and in
As Indian agent, Hays' imme- 1797 established his own trading
to recoup his fortunes, planned to
detach the Western States and the diate superior was Lewis Cass, post. Franks carried on an exten-
vited to Jewish balls and banquets
Your community is hallowed by many
newly acquired Louisiana Territory acting ex-officio as Commission- sive trade with the Indians.
sacred recollections, by many impres-
where funds were raised. These sive
from the Union and set himself er of Indian Affairs. On Oct. 11,
associations. To your people, in the
In 1805 he erected a grist and
upon the throne of a vast new em-
1820, Cass wrote from Detroit saw mill on Devil River. At first Christians spoke appreciatively of days of the Prophets and Patriarchs,
committed the oracles of the true
pire as Emperor Aaron I. His to Hays in Cahokia, giving him a Lawe worked for his uncle at his Jewish philanthropy and the Amer- and living
God, and your separate ex-
complete failure was due in large number of instructions regard- trading post in Green Bay. As icanism of Jews. In 1854, Senator istence through ages of calamities and
persecutions, is one of those perpetual
part to Cass' disclosure of the ing the handling of certain af- early as 1805, both John Lowe and
miracles which prove the truth of your
vited to be the guest speaker at a history—and that the. end is not yet.
fairs with the Indians.
Jacob Franks are mentioned as fund-raising dinner of the Jewish Driven
from your own promised land,
For the next 60 years Cass al-
Beginning 1824, Hays was Re- residents of Michilimackinac
Providence has provided you with an-
to the host that went
most constantly occupied a public ceiver of Public Moneys at Jack- (Mackinaw City, Mich.), then an
forth out of Egypt; not a land of
lowing is the text of his warm and refuge
office, playing an important part son, Missouri.
merely, but of enjoyment, the
important northern outpost in the friendly reply:
enjoyment of social, political and re-
in the country's development on
Hays married, in 1801. Louise fur trade. In that year Franks sold
ligious equality; and where, though
many fronts: As a major general Brouillet — "a lady of excellent to Lawe his equipped farm near
Washington, Jan'y 21, 1854. you do not cease to be children of Is:
rael, you become Americans, proud of
in the War of 1812, as Territorial family"—in Vincennes, Ind., and Michilimackinac. During the War Gentlemen:
The necessity of attending to my
home, and attached by all those
Governor of Michigan for 18 years they had three daughters. Hays of 1812, both Lawe and Franks public duties here deprives me of the their
ties of gratitude and affection which
of accepting your invitation bind men to their country. Order, in-
(1813-1831), twice as a cabinet apparently retained his sense of fought with the British forces that pleasure
to attend the second dinner in aid of dustry, obedience to the law, the per,
member, as Ambassador to France, Jewish affiliation, although his defended Michilimackinic against Hebrew charities, to be given on the formance,
indeed, of all the duties of
2d of February next.
Senator from Michigan, and once wife was not Jewish and his daugh- the Americans.
faithful citizens, have marked your
I should be much gratified to be community, and I thank God with you,
as unsuccessful Democratic candi- ters married non-Jews. He died
present on that occasion, and to partic- that you are in the land where all the
Following the War, the Amer- ipate
in the duties of the day. They avenues of distinction and prosperity
date for the Presidency. He died in Cahokia in 1836.
icans regarded Franks as a dan- will form a glorious commentary on our are
equally open to all.
The Hays family had its begin- gerous enemy and his home in institutions in their operation; and
I am, gentlemen, very respectfully,
Of special interest to Illinois, nings in the United States some Michilimackinac was "wantonly by performing the task you have as- your obedient servant,
Wisconsin and Michigan Jewish 250 years ago, when six brothers pillaged" by them. Fearing fur- signed to me, that of responding to the
which proclaims our country to be rvl
history is the discovery by the came here from Holland. Some of ther reprisals, Franks left for toast
"the stronghold of liberty", and that
To A. Hart, L. J. Leberman, M. A.
writer of this article, after many the descendants, relatives of John Montreal where he became an "her gates shall never be closed to the Dropsie, Esqs., Committee, etc., etc.
oppressed of other lands." Never, in-
years of research, of Cass' rela- Hays, became distinguished Amer- army purveyor and where he deed.
Oppression drove our fathers
Expressions of friendship like
tionship, during his governorship icans and occupy an honored place married 'Mary (Polly) Solomons, here, and the lesson will not be for-
by their sons, to the 50th and Cass' helped immigrant Jews to ad-
of the Michigan Territory, with in the history of the American Jew- daughter of Lucius Levy and the 100th
just to life in the United States.
two pioneer Jews, and his friend- ish community.
Rebecca Franks Solomons. He
- ly reply to an invitation to ad-
David Hays of Bedford, N.Y.,
died in Montreal in 1823, at the
and his son Jacob, fought in
dress a fund-raising dinner of
age of 57.
various battles during the War
the Jewish Charities of Phila-
John Lawe returned after the
delphia, during his service as
for Independence. Arthur Hays war to Green Bay and took charge
Senator from Michigan.
Sulzberger of the New York of the extensive property of his
If a book were to be judged by non-Jew were to write it, might he
In 1818, when Illinois became a Times, son of Cyrus Sulzberger uncle, Jacob Franks, as well as
State, the population of the United and Rachel Peixotto Hays, is a the care of a half-breed Indian its title, one, "The Last Jew in not be called an anti-Semite?
States was about 9,000,000, which great-great grandson of Jacob woman, whom Franks married in America" by Leslie A. Fiedler,
He may not have a second edi :
included an estimated 3,000 Jews, Hays.
Green Bay, and her children. He published by Stein and Day (7 E. tion to his last Jew, else we would
mostly Sephardim (Spanish and
was Green Bay's agent for John 48th NY17), could at once intro- suggest the inclusion between the
Portguese) whose forebearers had was secretary pro tem at a meet- Jacob Astor's American Fur Com- duce irritation. Why the last Jew two words of the word renegade.
come to America between 1654 ing of Congregation Mikveh Israel pany. He learned the Indian tongue anywhere? Perhaps Fiedler meant
and 1750. Ashkenazic Jews, mostly of Philadelphia in 1790 at which and was commissioned a lieuten: the last renegade Jew? After all,
Then there is' the second story
from Germany, began to arrive in it was decided to join the Jewish ant in the Indian Department by in his story, he deals with the in the book, also dealing with an
the United States early in the Congregation in New York, the British.
elderly gentlemen who are strug- episode—in what is described as
19th Century, when the westward Charleston and Richmond in one
Lewis Cass named him associate gling for a return, to observe Yom an American Western community,
letter of congratulations to George
migration was in full progress.
justice in 'the first court held in Kippur; with the dying element Lewis and Clark City. "The Last
While some of the older Jewish Washington on his accession to the Brown County. In 1835 he was that had become unaffiliated with WASP in the World" is the story
communities in the U.S. in the Presidency of the United States. elected a member of the first Leg- Jewry, who had intermarried, who of a wedding, a Jewish wedding,
1820s were in decay, like Newport, The letter was delivered to Wash- islative Council of Wisconsin Ter- couldn't be an asset to Jewry un- where the poet Vincent Hazel-
R. I., or entering a period of de- ington in person by Manuel Joseph. ritory. He was an organizer and der any circumstances.
baker, the non-Jew, creates dis-
cline, like Charleston, S. C., a few son, an uncle of Samuel Hays.
Fiedler is a brilliant writer. He turbances, at which the bride and
Dr. Isaac Hays (1796-1879) of one of the largest stockholders of possesses a fine style. He tells good the mother of the bride and a
isolated Jews were pioneering on
the Fox River Hydraulic Company,
the western frontier. These men Philadelphia was one of the fore- formed in 1836 to build a dam stories. (There are three narra- number of other men and women
were the advance guard of the most ophthalmologists in the coun- across the Fox River.
tives in "The Last Jew in Ameri- are involved—the mother having
large Jewish communities that try and served as the first presi-
ca."). But there are the negatives been one of Vin's mistresses, the
were later to develop in the Middle dent of the Ophthamological Soci- what is now the State of Wiscon- in his approach that compel the question arising whether the bride
ety of Philadelphia. He was one of
query: why write us all off? Aren't herself is his daughter.
the two men who wrote the Code sin, had a general religious inter- there millions of Jews who refuse
It's a sexy story, Vin's wife
The first known Jew to settle in of Ethics for the American Medical
to say die, most of whom will be being witness to some of the
what is now the State of Illinois Association of which he was a
of Christ Church, the first Prot- in their synagogue pews in a boasts to the exposition of Vin's
was John Hays, son of a distin- founder, and he was known as an
estant Episcopal Church in Green couple of weeks, many of whose filthy character, to the entire
guished Dutch-Jewish family which outstanding editor of and author
incorporated in 1829. He was sons and daughters, even if they loathsome scene of lust and - over-
emigrated to New York City early in the medical sciences. Hays'
in 1831, of the first are displaying an indifference, sexed literary narration.
in the 18th Century. His grand- Journal, founded and edited by Temperance Society west of the nevertheless retain a certain loy-
Is this contemporary literature?
father, Solomon Hays, was one of Isaac, was considered for more Great Lakes.
alty to ancestry, to heritage, to Then we witness continuation of
six brothers who came to this than 50 years "the best American
the debate whether it is so pretty.
Lawe married Theresa Rankin, the associations of their parents?
country from Holland. His father, medical monthly".
"The Last Jew in America" is
In his third story, Fiedler mere-
Moses Michael Hays (1739-1805)
Baruch (or Barak) Hays, came to
the story about a chap who seeks ly introduced a Hebe, tells about
New York City about 1763. Unlike of Boston is well known in the
a minyan for Yom Kippur for hiS "a little sheeny with a shoe-clerk's
the many members of his family, Masonic world as an early pro- children. He died in Green Bay friend who is believed to be dying. moustache, a big fat queer who
Baruch maintained his loyalty to moter of Masonry in the colonies
The last Jew could be meant as a struck it rich." The ,story itself is
The publication in 1854 of the
the British during the American and states. He was a founder of
pun. But a title in itself becomes about a Negro who had an affair
Revolution. As a known partisan the Harvard Medical School and
with a white woman who died the
(he had served as an officer of was one of the petitioners for a
Is it satire, or is it ridicule and night of the affair and the body
scouts), he found it advisable to mutual life insurance company in thropic pioneer, revealed that mockery? In either case it could of the white man whom she mar-
leave the United States after the Boston in 1798. His son, Judah, was there was an informal union of be insult.
ried that day is dragged into the
* * S
war. Influenced no doubt by the a founder of the Boston Athenae- American Jews which then num-
bed to indicate that it was he who
fact that his brother, Andrew, was um, first library association in the
There is no doubt that Fiedler had the power, not the Negro,
an established merchant in Mont- United States, and the first Jew wealth was almost legendary. He knows his background. He calls to whose role remains a secret.
real, Canada, Baruch fled across in Boston to be elected to public bequeathed a half million dol- witness in dealing with the "last
It is an introduction to miscege-
lars to dozens of organizations
the border. There he became a office, as fire warden, in 1805.
Jew" myth the prayerbook, the nation, a tale about Indians and
merchant and auctioneer. He was
dredel, Eban and Weizmann manu- Negroes and whites in an era of
an early member of Montreal's Michael Hays, married Rev. Isaac Protestant and Jewish.
scripts, the menora, with the com- civil rights. It is an excellently
Touro was the first American ment: "Pitiful enough, this jetsam
first Spanish and Portuguese Con- Touro, Hazan and Minister of New.
written story—again with lots of
gregation, Shearith Israel, founded port's Congregation Jeshuat Israel. Jew to be respected and acclaimed left by the ebbing of a great faith, sex which apparently is what read-
in 1768. Baruch was married twice
the death of a heroic people . . ." ers want and therefore what writ-
and had a son (John) by his first was one of the great philanthrop- American affairs and in Jewish
It isn't that easy, Mr. Fiedler, to ers produce. That's the product of
life. Psychologically, he helped
marriage, and three children by ists of the 19th Century.
write off faith and people, since Fiedler who introduces a last Jew
When the first court of every Jew, to take courage in the the people and its faith is undying,
his second marriage (Kitty, Jacob
but does not indicate that there
and Joseph). He died in the West Brown County (Wisconsin) was task of being a Jew. He helped to no matter how one views Jewry's
established in 1822, Lewis Cass, make America a warmer home for role in the world. Frankly, if a probably never will be a last Jew.
Indies, April 13, 1845.
Baruch's son, John, was horn as Governor of the Michigan his fellow Jews.
in New York City in 1770. He Territory (which then included
Prominent Christians were in- 40 Friday September 2, 1966
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Executive Secretary, Temple Beth Et
Historiographer of the Jews of Michigan
Copyright by Irving I. Katz
Jew in America':
Taking Issue With Author's Views