Persecution of the Jews in the East

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THE 27th OF AUGUST, 1840.




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IN pursuance of public notice, a very numerous and respectable
meeting of the Israelites resident at Philadelphia was held at the
Portuguese Synagogue, on Thursday evening, 28th day of Ab, 5600,
(27th August, 1840,)
to express their sympathy for their suffering
brethren in Damascus, and to co-operate with their brethren in other
parts of the world to ameliorate their situation. The Evening Service
having been read, the meeting was called to order by Hyman Gratz,
who nominated the following gentlemen for officers:

JOHN MOSS, President.




MYER ARNOLD,Vice-Presidents.




Z. A. DAVIS,Secretaries.



The meeting was opened by Mr. Abraham Hart, as follows:


As one of the individuals who recommended a meeting of the
Israelites to be held this evening, I beg to state the objects for which
we have assembled.

It is for the purpose of expressing our views relative to the base
calumny invented against our nation, and to devise a plan of co-opera-
tion with our brethren in Europe, for the relief of our persecuted and
unhappy fellow-creatures in Damascus, and to express our sentiments

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of sympathy for the late unwarranted, cruel, and barbarous massacre.
Also, to request our Consul, residing in the Pacha of Egypt's dominions,
to exert all his influence, in conjunction with the representatives from
the Old World, in affording them a trial before an unprejudiced

It is due to the Jews residing in Philadelphia to state, that a meet-
ing was intended to be held on this subject at a much earlier date,
but owing to the absence from the city of the worthy and highly
respected presiding officer of this synagogue, it was postponed till this
evening; and I think I can assert, that from the numerous assemblage
which I see convened in this house of devotion, that their sympathies
for our oppressed brethren have increased, rather than suffered any
diminution, from the delay.

I beg to offer a few remarks, Mr. Chairman, relative to the foul
accusations against our people, which have recently been revived in
Damascus and Rhodes. Letters have been received by our brethren
in England, via Constantinople, giving full particulars of the outrages,
cruelties, and barbarous tortures to which the Jews have been sub-
jected, one of which I now hold in my hand, together with a detailed
and heart-rending statement from the Rev. Mr. Peiritz, a clergyman
attached to the mission of Jerusalem, dated Alexandria, the 13th of
, both of which, with your permission, Mr. President, I will read,
as there are many persons now present who have not had an oppor-
tunity of perusing their contents.

Permission having been granted, the following letters were read:—


“RESPECTED SIRS—Independently of the tie which so strongly binds
together the whole Jewish community, of which you, gentlemen, are
distinguished ornaments, having always stood forward most promi-
nently in assisting our distressed brethren, whose appeals to you are
not unfrequent, your beneficent hearts cannot but be greatly moved to
sympathize with two numerous Jewish communities—viz., that of
Damascus, under the Egyptian jurisdiction, and that of Rhodes, one of
the Ottoman states, oppressed by the tyrannies of the Pachas who
govern them. These persecutions have originated in calumnies which
the oppressors have themselves invented, and which have been long
brooding in their hearts, to the prejudice of the Jewish community.

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Our brethren are accused of being accomplices in murder, in order to
make, with the blood of murdered men, their Passover-cakes, a thing
in itself incredible, as being forbidden by our holy religion. This
report has, however, found credence with the governing Pachas of
Damascus and Rhodes, and they oppressed and incarcerated not only
several old men and rabbins, but even a number of children, putting
them to tortures which it makes one shudder to hear. Such is the
afflicting picture drawn in the letters of our persecuted brethren, of
which letters, with deep regret, we hand you copies.


To Messrs. Aram Cornorte and Aaron Cohen.

“Expressing my best wishes for your health, to my deep regret I
address you these few lines, to inform you of the continued state of
misery in which our brethren, inhabitants of Damascus, still remain,
as communicated to you in my letter of the 17th of Adar (February,)
by the steam packet. I had hoped to advise in this letter, that the cir-
cumstances of the murder respecting which they were calumniated had
been ascertained, but in this hope I have been sadly disappointed; I
will, therefore, now repeat every thing in detail, and it is thus:—

“On Wednesday, the 1st day of the month Adar (February,) there
disappeared from Damascus a priest, who, with his servant, had dwelt
for forty years in this city; he exercised the profession of a physician,
and visited the houses of Catholics, Jews, and Armenians, for the pur-
pose of vaccination.

“The day following (Thursday,) there came people into the quarter
of the Jews to look for him, stating that they had seen both him and
his servant on the previous day (Wednesday) in that quarter. In order
to put in execution their conspiracy, they seized a Jewish barber, tell-
ing him he must know all about the matter, and thence they imme-
diately carried him before the Governor, before whom they accused
him, and he instantly received five hundred stripes, and he was also
subjected to other cruelties. During the intervals between these inflic-
tions he was urged to accuse all the Jews as accomplices, and he, think-
ing by these means to relieve himself, accused Messrs. David Arari,
Isaac Arari, Aaron Arari, Joseph Laguado, Moses Aboulafia, Moses
Bonar Juda
, and Joseph Arari, as instigating accomplices, who had
offered him three hundred piastres to murder the above-mentioned
priest, inasmuch as, the Passover-holydays approaching, they required
blood for their cakes; that he did not, however, give ear to their

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instigations while at the same time he knew not what might have
happened to the priest and his servant. Upon this the Pacha caused
the aforesaid traduced persons to be arrested as instigators, and punished
with blows and other torments of the most cruel nature; but as they
were innocent, they could not confirm as true that which was a
calumny, and therefore, in contradiction, they asserted their innocence,
appealing to the sacred writings, which strictly prohibit the Jews feed-
ing upon blood, much more that of a fellow-creature, a thing totally
repugnant to nature. Nevertheless, they were imprisoned, and daily,
with chains around their necks, there were inflicted on them the most
severe beatings and cruelties, and they were compelled to stand with-
out food of any kind for fifty hours together.

“Subsequently to this the Hebrew butchers were cited to appear;
they were put in chains, together with the rabbins. Messrs. Jacob An-
, Solomon Arari, and Asaria Jalfon; and they, too, were beaten to
such an extreme that their flesh hung in pieces upon them; and these
atrocities perpetrated in order to induce them to confess whether or not
they used blood in the Passover-cakes, to which they replied, that, if
such had been the case, many Jewish proselytes would have published
the fact. This, however, was not sufficient. Subsequently to this,
the same Governor went to the college of the boys; he had them carried
to prison, loaded them with chains, and forbade the mothers to visit
their imprisoned children, to whom only ten drachms of bread and a
cup of water per day were allowed, the Governor expecting that the
fathers, for the sake of liberating their children, would confess the truth
of the matter.

“After this, the Jew, who was still at liberty, presented himself be-
fore the Governor, stating that the calumny, that we make use of blood
for our Passover-cakes, had been discussed before all the powers, who,
after consulting their divines, had declared the falsehood of such a
calumny; and he added, that either others had killed the priest and his
servant, or that they had clandestinely absented themselves from the
country, and that the barber, to save himself from persecution, had
stated that which was not true.

“Upon this the Governor replied, that as he had accused other per-
sons of killing them, he must know who were the murderers; and in
order that he should confess, he was beaten to such an extreme that he
expired under the blows.

“After this, the Governor, with a body of six hundred men, pro-
ceeded to demolish the houses of his Jewish subjects, hoping to find the
bodies of the dead; but not finding any thing, he returned, and again
inflicted on his victims further castigations and torments, some of them

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too cruel and disgusting to be described. Incapable of bearing further
anguish, they preferred death, and confessed that the calumny was true.

“The Governor, hearing the confession, asked them where they had
secreted the blood of the murdered man, to which one of them replied
that it had been put into a bottle, and delivered to Mr. Moses Aboulafia,
who declared he knew nothing of it, and in order that he should confess
he received one thousand stripes; but this infliction not extorting his
confession, he was subjected to other insupportable torments, which at
length compelled him to declare that the bottle was at home in a chest
of drawers. Upon this the Governor ordered that he should be carried
on the shoulders of four men, (for he could not walk,) that he might
open the bureau. This was opened, but nothing was found in it, except
a quantity of money, which the Governor seized, asking him, at the
same time, where was the blood; whereupon the said Aboulafia replied,
that he made that statement in order that the Governor should see the
money in the bureau, trusting by these means to save himself from the
calumny. Upon this, the torments were repeated, and Aboulafia, to
save himself, embraced Mahometanism.

“It is thus that they treated the whole; they have now been for one
month in this misery. In Beirout (sic), and much more in Damascus, the
Jews are not at liberty to go out.

“After this, an individual came forward and stated that, by means
of astrology, he had discovered and ascertained that the seven indivi-
duals above named assassinated the priest, and that the servant was
killed by Raphael Farhi, Nathan Levi, Aaron Levi, Mordecai Farhi,
and Asser, of Lisbon. The two first of these were immediately ar-
rested, the others, it appears, sought safety in flight.

“You will judge from this, dear friends, what sort of justice is ad-
ministered by means of astrology, and how such justice is adminis-
tered. And there is no one who is moved to compassion in favour of
the unfortunate victims of oppression. Even Mr. Bekor Negri, the
Governor's banker, unable to bear these afflictions, became a Mussul-

“Read, dearest friends, this letter to Messrs. Camondo, Hatteri, and
Carmonna, in order that they may do what they may deem most fit-


“When we, therefore, the mission of Jerusalem, to which I have
the honour to belong, heard of the calumnious charge so often brought
against our nation, especially in the 13th century, and even Jews and

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Christians, by the heathens of the first three centuries, under which the
Jews of Damascus were now suffering even around us, and the bane-
ful effects which this report had produced among an ignorant and
bigoted population, it was immediately resolved amongst the members
of our mission, especially our worthy and revered superintendant (sic), Mr.
John Nicolayson
, that I should forthwith go to Damascus, in order, if
supported by the European consuls there, that I might give my testi-
mony that the Jewish religion, so far from requiring murder and the
use of blood, expressly forbids both; and to this fact I am prepared to
repeat in addition, in my own name, the famous oath of your illustrious
Manasseh Ben Israel. Whether the Jews had committed murder or
not, we could not decide at a distance; but what we wished to do was
to prevent the crime of one, or some, being made a national crime. I
was fixed on for this mission, as I was born a Jew, and was trained up
for the Rabbinical profession, and therefore best qualified, and as a
Christian, and by no means a friend to, or advocate of Rabbinism,
reasonably accepted as a witness in such a case. I will not describe
what my feelings were when at Damascus. I found the whole charge
against them a fabrication, and that all means and right of legal
defence (sic) were denied them, while the most cruel tortures were employed
to extort from them false confessions of guilt, which some were cowards
enough to make. You are now in possession of the result of my
labours in Damascus, and know also what steps I am now taking in
Alexandria, and intend to take in the case. The following is a list of
the tortures applied:—

  1. Flogging.
  2. Soaking persons in large tanks of cold water in their clothes.
  3. The head-machine, by which the eyes are pressed out of their
  4. Tying up parts of the body, and ordering sailors to twist and
    horridly to dispose them into such contortions that the poor sufferers
    grow almost mad from pain.
  5. Standing upright for three days, without being allowed any
    other posture, not even to lean against the walls; and when they would
    fall down, aroused up by the by-standing sentinels with their bayonets.
  6. Being dragged about in a large court by the ears until the
    blood gushed out.
  7. Having thorns driven in between their nails and the flesh of the
    fingers and toes.
  8. Having fire set to their beards, till their faces are singed.
  9. Having candles held under their noses, so that the flame arises
    up into the nostrils.


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Let it not be supposed that the letter I have just read is a fancied
picture, a mere imagination of the brain—no sir, it is PERSECUTION as
it NOW EXISTS IN THE EAST. But will it stop there, unless by exertions
of this and other meetings the facts be disproved; unless it be shown
that these accusations are not true, cannot be true, such things being
incompatible with our sacred and holy religion?

If such a calumny is not nipped in the bud, its effect will not be limited
to any particular place, but will be extended to every part of the globe.

In Mr. Peiritz's letter he remarks, some were cowards enough to make
false confessions of guilt
, which I cannot in justice pass by unnoticed.

It would not, sir, have surprised me, if all had made false confessions
of the improbable crimes imputed to them, after suffering the cruelties
of their inhuman tormentors; but it is to be wondered at, that so many,
or indeed any, should have endured unflinchingly; maintaining their
innocence notwithstanding their almost insufferable anguish; an in-
stance of which is cited in the reply from the chief Rabbi of the Jews
in Damascus, which is extracted from a letter dated 18th of June:

“The chief Rabbi being requested to sign a confession of the murder,
said—'When you smote me with five hundred stripes all over my
body I would not confess to a lie; when you plunged me into a pool
of cold water for three hours on a winter's day, a drawn sword over
my head so that I could not raise it, I lied not; and when you inflicted
a hundred and seventy stripes on my hand, I would not utter a false-
hood; and when you drove the bones which you placed round my head
into my eyes to blind me, I still lied not, and spoke not this falsehood;
and now shall I sign to a lie?”

The writer adds, “the Rabbi was then sent back to prison to await
his trial.”

This, sir, does not look much like cowardice.

Who, I would ask, in this community, after hearing the outrages
committed upon an innocent and unoffending people, but will sympa-
thize for their sufferings? It is unnecessary for me to say any thing
in refutation of the charge of “Jews using the blood of Christians to
mix with their Passover-bread” to my brethren here assembled, or in
any part of the known world, or to the enlightened and educated of
other religions. But to disabuse the minds of the credulous and unin-
formed in our laws, who give credence to the statement, I would
merely refer them to our sacred records, The Five Books of Moses, in
which the use of blood is strictly forbidden, as stated in chap. vii. 26Th
and 27th verses, of Leviticus—“Moreover ye shall eat no blood, what-
soever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be
cut off from his people.


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Again in verses 16 and 23 of chap. xii. of Deuteronomy, is written,
Only ye shall not eat the blood, ye shall pour it upon the earth as
water; be sure thou eat not the blood, for the blood is the life.

The educated and well-informed Christians know from Holy Writ
the falsehood of the charge, and many of the most respectable in Eu-
have untied with the Jews in expressing their abhorrence of the
cruelties practised (sic) on them, and their sympathies for their suffering;
and are using their best endeavours to stay the hand of violence, and
obtain for the persecuted ample justice from their oppressors.

It gives me pleasure to perceive from many of the public journals,
that this humane and sympathetic feeling is finding its way to the
bosoms of the worthy Christians of this enlightened and happy land.

It is well known that during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the
Jews were accused in Europe of crimes equally as atrocious as that
now brought against the Jews of Damascus, and from similar motives,
a desire to possess their estates, and a hatred to their religion from
. In such times it was not to be wondered at; but it is almost in-
credible that in these enlightened times, a man who represents the French
nation in the East, should be found guilty of having the innocent Jews
subjected to the torture, and that too without any evidence. Had he
not lent his aid, these barbarous cruelties would never have been in-
flicted on our brethren.—It has been asked by many what benefit can
we in America bestow on our brethren who are suffering at such a dis-
tance from us? Can there be any one who doubts or disbelieves that
the free expression of opinion and outpouring of sympathy, from those
who reside in a country where every one acts and speaks as his judg-
ment and conscience dictates, will tend greatly to inspire confidence in
the sufferers, and to strike terror into their persecutors? Tyrants are
ever cowards, and though the evils we are now noticing may not be
wholly suppressed, yet let us hope, and we may do so with confidence,
that the expressions of disgust and horror which have proceeded from
every portion of the civilized world, and particularly from the United
, the only land of entire freedom, will operate, AS IT OUGHT,

The Rev. Isaac Leeser then addressed the meeting:


The gentlemen who has preceded me has stated to you the reason
of our assembling at this unusual time at the house of God. We, the
inhabitants of a land where a benevolent Providence causes to prevail
an equality of rights and an entire freedom in religious pursuits, have

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met for the purpose of publicly expressing our sympathy for those of
our brothers who, living where the “bond of slavery twineth,” have
lately been subjected to persecutions at which the blood runs cold, and
this for the sake of false accusations brought against them, not as men,
but as members of the Jewish community. Were it that they only
suffered unjustly, even if the charge did not touch our ancient system
of faith, still, as sons of Israel, we ourselves would feel the wrong that
they have unjustly to bear. But now we have an additional incentive
to rouse our every feeling of commiseration and regret, since the
religion, which we profess in common with them, has been stigmatized
as authorizing the shedding of human blood at the recurrence of the
annual Passover. You may perhaps smile that such an absurd accu-
sation should at all be made! you may feel contempt at the ignorance
which could give credence to such superannuated folly! but our smile
of derision, our hearty contempt, do not affect the mass who regard not
with kindness the remnant of Israel, and will not disarm the malice of
those who are only glad of every opportunity to send new sorrows to
our bosoms.—It is not the first time that it has been said and believed
that the Jews are commanded to slay their Christian neighbours; and
at a time when the pestilence raged over almost the whole known
world, our people were accused of causing the great destruction of
human life by poisoning the wells, simply because in proportion to
numbers less Jews died than Christians. The consequence was that
multitudes of the accused were butchered without pity, and those whom
the black death had spared fell a prey to the fury of an excited popu-
lace, rendered lawless by the prevalence of a fatal disorder, which daily
hurried thousands to the tomb. And whenever superstition and rapa-
city wished to glut themselves in the destruction of our defenceless (sic)
race, the charge of murder for our religious rites was raised, and, as
was the case lately, it was made the pretext for unsheathing the sword
and dooming countless numbers of innocent victims to merciless
slaughter. O! then were times of sorrow and affliction; we wept, but
no one pitied, our gore rendered turbid the streams, but all passed
carelessly by; they heeded not our cries, they regarded us aliens to
the rights of man, outcasts from Divine favour. Those were indeed
times when our harps were hung upon the willows; when the voice of
wailing was heard in every home; when the houses of prayer were
filled, not with living worshippers (sic), but with the bodies of those slain
by the unpitying persecutor. Whither then could we fly? We were
shunned as murderers, as those unclean with leprosy, as banished
from the pale of the laws; and every land almost forbade us its bounda-
ries, every city almost shut its gates against our fugitives, and where

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we were permitted to rest awhile we had to purchase at a high price
the protection of some powerful chieftain, whether civil or ecclesias-
tical; and then we had to suffer ourselves to be confined to narrow and
unwholesome quarters, and to be marked in our garments as sons of
Jacob. Well might a noble poet, who, had he always acted as he at
times felt, would have been the glory of human nature, thus speak of
the sorrowing nation descended from Abraham:

“Oh! weep for those that wept by Babel's stream,

Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream;

Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell;

Mourn—where their God hath dwelt the godless dwell!

And where shall Israel lave her bleeding feet?

And when shall Zion's songs again seem sweet?

And Judah's melody once more rejoice

The hearts that leaped before its heavenly voice?

Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,

How shall ye flee away and be at rest!

The wild-dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,

Mankind their country—Israel but the grave!”

This was literally true for centuries, our homes were not safe from
invasion, our sanctuaries ever open to the spoiler, and our sons and
daughters constantly the object of derision, or food for the sword.
Mankind had conspired against us, and death alone was viewed as an
inassailable (sic) refuge against the ills that accumulated over our heads.
And even where permission to dwell was granted us, we were yet
excluded from a share in equal rights, and tolerated merely as excres-
cences on the body politic; condemned to low pursuits,—prohibited the
exercise of mechanic arts and the study of ennobling professions, and
continually subjected to exactions and rapine.

In those days of affliction, contempt and scorn were our universal
portion; and Turk, and Pagan, and Christian, alike contributed to pour
the bitterness of gall into our cup of life. Yet had through us the
world been greatly blessed since the latter days of the first temple.
Our views of the Deity, of the exalted attributes of the Creator, had by
degrees been infused into the philosophy of the heathen, and they had
learned a new source of joy by looking unto a state of pure enjoyment
after the life of the body had become extinct, and to regard the idols
which they worshipped (sic) in their true light of creatures of the imagina-
tion.—At a later period there arose one of our own community, who,

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be the accounts related of him false or true, was nevertheless the means
of the spread of a system analogous to our own over a large portion of
the pagan world; he became, though doubtlessly without himself
dreaming of such a result, the messenger of better things to many who
knew not God. Still was he a son of Abraham, a professor of the
same religion we profess at this very hour; and he enjoined, if there be
any truth in the books said to contain an account of his life, an
adherence to the law as it existed at his day; at the same time all the
injunctions of brotherly love which he is said to have promulgated, are
clearly referable to the Law of Moses, and the sayings of our blessed
Rabbins.—After his death, and centuries after his religion had begun
to spread, there appeared another claiming affinity with our race, and
pronounced himself inspired to teach better things to mankind; and he
too founded his doctrines upon the Law of Moses, even so far as to
recognise (sic), in addition to the unity of God, a weekly day of rest and the
prohibition of certain articles of food, besides the fundamental covenant
of Abraham. Speedily persuasion and the sword banished, under his
guidance and that of his immediate successors, the worship of idols
from Arabia, Iran, Tartary, and the far India; even Ethiopia, the
coasts of Africa, and Spain, nay, the very distant lands of the Eastern
, and the countries beyond the great desert, yet inaccessible
almost to the European's foot, acknowledged the sway of the Koran,
and the Islam became the law of as large a portion of mankind as then
acknowledged the Christian Gospels.—Yet, take it as we will, these
two mighty revolutions in opinion were the effect of the religion of the
Jews, an adoption of an essential part, with the rejection of the cere-
monial laws, by many and powerful nations. In this manner then
were civilization and an enlightened philosophy indebted to the Jews,
or rather the code they then obeyed, and to this day obey, for much,
if not all their progress; and whatever of equality of rights, of mercy,
and benevolence, is now prevalent, we may freely say, has its founda-
tion in the Pentateuch, the law of the Jews. Does now the Christian
religion recommend human sacrifice? does the Koran command a
victim to be slain at the great festival of the Moslems? We know the
answer must be in the negative; nothing but ignorance, wilful (sic) igno-
rance, could charge the Monotheists who are not Jews with the com-
mission of a crime so foreign to their belief. But does the Jewish law,
less than that of Christians or Mahomedans, demand the exercise of
mercy, forbid the commission of murder? We have yet to learn that
it does; for he who has no mercy is no son of Israel, and he who
pollutes his hands with human blood becomes a prey to the sword of
the avenger. We know of no difference between the Israelite and the

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stranger; we are bound to assist every one in distress, and our neigh-
bour is he who, like us, bears the stamp of the human face divine, be
his opinions what they may; be he our friend or our enemy!

And yet, how much had we to suffer, because of the accusation that
we employed human blood, the blood of our Christian fellow-men, in
the celebration of the birth of our people! We ask, Where is the his-
torical evidence that such a thing ever took place? we demand, Where
is the permission to be discovered, I will not say in the Pentateuch, but
in any of our writings? To eat of the blood, nay, in the smallest
quantity, of a brute animal, is most energetically interdicted; and can
reason be so blinded as to suppose that we would mix human blood in
the unleavened bread, over which we call down the blessings of the Lord,
and return thanks for his manifold mercies to his people Israel?—We
will admit, that at a period when the rights of the subject were but im-
perfectly understood, when a pontiff could dispose of crowns as of eccle-
siastical benefices, when a mighty effort was made to enforce a uniform-
ity of opinions, when the iron-clad barons were not able to sign their
names, when might made right, and the dictum of one man could not
be disputed, except at the risk of life: it might have been supposed pos-
sible for the multitude to be deluded by the persuasion of those whose lead they followed, to believe any absurdity with regard to the Jews
who lived among them as outcasts from human rights, and whose sup-
posed wealth was always an object to be coveted by the lords no less
than by the rabble. But it surpasses belief, that with the progress of
enlightened principles, this absurd idea should have survived in its odious
deformity; at a time, too, when Spain, once the slave at the feet of an
inquisition, demands a free constitution, and when the new Sultan of
the Osmalins gives a new charter to his people, who will doubtlessly in
future ages revere the name of Abdul Meschid, whatever his fate now
may be in those mutations, from which thrones are not exempt.—We
cannot be too much astonished at the folly or effrontery which, at the
present day, pretends to lend credence to a foul calumny which the bet-
ter disposed, during even the dark ages, refused to entertain. But so
it is, the mass is ever ready to put faith in the marvellous (sic) and the ex-
traordinary, no matter if their absurdity should be apparent on the very
surface; and all we can say is, that with the progress of civilization
many have fallen behind the march of intellect in others, and that hu-
man nature is prone to err, and this is an aggravated degree, at all
ages of the world. Were any proof of this wanting, the recent tragic
scenes in Damascus and Rhodes would give ample confirmation. You
must know, Mr. Chairman, that not every where have our rights been
acknowledged as in this happy land, happy for the Israelite, because

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here no one can demand of him a test-oath to testify to that which he
inwardly disbelieves, before he is permitted to fill a station for which
his talents qualify him. Yet, in many lands we are tolerated merely,
and constitute not a part of the state, as we do here and in a few other
enlightened countries. So, too, in the dominions of the Pacha of Egypt,
the renowned Mehemet Ali, are we left unprotected by any law, save
the will of the ruling chief, or those who administer the government in
his name; add to which that in the lands of the East, human life is not
held sacred, but is ever at the mercy of the despot, and the possession
of wealth is often the passport to destruction.

Now it so happened, as you already know, that an old man disap-
peared; whether murdered or not no one has clearly shown; and if
murdered, it has not yet been proved, as far as our knowledge extends,
who his murderers are. But our brothers in Damascus are wealthy,
they are subject, at the best of times, to great cruelties and grinding
exactions; and do you think that so favourable an opportunity for
pillage would be suffered to pass? Little would you know the spirit of
despotism, if you were to think so; for though ever ready to oppress, it
greedily seizes every opportunity to give some colouring of justice to
its exactions. The result has been what might naturally have been
expected. One humble individual at first arrested upon the vaguest
suspicion, was beaten till his tormentors could not do otherwise than
cease in the infliction; he was taken back to prison, and there tampered
with to induce him to accuse, not those of a low degree like himself,
but the first in wealth and learning which the city could furnish.
They were seized and tortured; some died under the excruciating pain
they had to endure; others accused themselves guilty of the crime of
murdering the missing individual; one adopted the Mussulman religion;
whilst others, patiently enduring the most intense suffering, still clung
to the truth, and refused making any confession of guilt in themselves
or others, of which they were guiltless. The name of one of these
noble martyrs has reached me, it is Mussa Salonikli, who adhered to
the protestation of his innocence, when the endurance of others was
broken down. Such a man deserves to be held in honourable remem-
brance for future ages, as an example of a true Israelite, who exhibited
a filial confidence in his God under the greatest trials to which poor
mortality can be subjected.—But with the seizure of the first accused
the persecution did not stop; others of the best and noblest were bar-
barously maltreated, and many children were thrown into prison, and
kept upon miserable food, to induce their parents to come forward and
accuse persons acceptable to the monster Sheriff Pacha, who, if report
speaks true, must have known, from the recantation of one who had

[Page 16]


embraced Moslemism, that the charge of murder against our brothers
was no less false than foul.

You may ask, Why did not the Jews rise against their oppressors?
But, Mr. Chairman, ages of suffering deaden the spirit; and they
render powerless the hands of those who otherwise might strike for
their own liberation; faint-heartedness has long, therefore, been the lot
of our brothers who languish under oppression, and many have become
passive even under every cruelty. We who, under different circum-
stances, feel so very differently, must not, in the knowledge of our
security, despise those whom adverse fortunes have so bowed down;
on the contrary, let us admire their patient endurances, for having
remained true to our faith under every trial they had to undergo.

Let us from the midst of our thankfulness to God for having blessed
us so much more than we deserve, express our sympathy for those who
suffer elsewhere; those who, with us, are descended from the stock of
the Patriarchs. But what need is there for this appeal? Around me
are those who have assembled for no other purpose than to express, in
language not to be misunderstood, that they feel for their brothers who
languish under the cruel bondage of oppression; that every cry of
anguish uttered by their fellow-believers elsewhere, touches a sympa-
thetic chord in their own hearts.—O, this is a soothing reflection! we
have no country of our own; we have no longer a united government,
under the shadow of which we can live securely; but we have a tie
yet holier than a fatherland, a patriotism stronger than the community
of one government; our tie is a sincere brotherly love, our patriotism
is the affection which unites the Israelite of one land to that of another.
As citizens, we belong to the country we live in; but as believers in
one God, as the faithful adorers of the Creator, as the inheritors of the
law, the Jews of England, and Russia, and Sweden, are no aliens
among us, and we hail the Israelite as a brother, no matter if his home
be the torrid zone, or where the poles encircle the earth with the impene-
trable fetters of icy coldness. We have therefore met for the purpose
of expressing our abhorrence of the calumny cast on our religion in
another part of the world, and to offer our aid, in conjunction with our
brothers in other towns both of this country and elsewhere, to those who
have been subjected to such unmerited barbarities. Perhaps the united
voice of all the professors of our blessed religion may reach the ears of
the potentates of the earth; perhaps public attention may be roused to
the wrongs we have so long suffered, and all acknowledge that our sys-
tem is one of love and peace, and that it is an essential point with us to
do our duty to the state no less than to observe the divine commands.
If this should be the case, if those differing from us would grant us

[Page 17]


everywhere an equality of rights not as apostates from, but as adherents
to, our ancient religion: then indeed will the martyrs at Damascus not
have suffered in vain, for their sorrows would then bring peace to
Israel.—Now, Mr. Chairman, is this hoping for too much? I hardly
think so. Already the transaction which we deplore has raised up
advocates for us among our Christian friends; and if the name of Rat-
will live in the disgrace which he so well merits, the generous
Mr. Merlato at Damascus, and Mr. Laurin at Alexandria, who there
represent the Emperor of Austria, will be remembered with gratitude
for their unsolicited exertions in our behalf.—In England, too, the sub-
ject has awakened attention, and one of its great minds, who formerly
opposed our admission to equal rights, the renowned Sir Robert Peel,
has already thought proper to mention the case of the sufferers in par-
liament, with every demonstration that he too feels that a great wrong
has been done to an innocent people. There too has been an O'Connell,
a Noel, a Thompson, and many others, to speak in our behalf; and
doubtlessly in this land too, perhaps in this city, men will step forward
to vindicate the rights of man outraged in the persons of the Jews at
Damascus. Perhaps a voice too loud to remain unheeded may be raised
against the use of torture in trials, and that the Pacha of Egypt, in
whose dominions are Damascus and Jerusalem, may be induced to
abolish it altogether; and so not we alone, but all the inhabitants of
the earth, may have cause to rejoice at the present movement in which
we are engaged, though sorrow was its first promoter. And why
should the case of the Jews be less attended to than that of the Greeks?
When the sons of ancient Hellas broke the chains of the Ottoman
power, all Europe and America were awakened in their behalf; but
have they any greater claim upon the sympathy of the world than we
have? We admit that the Greeks may have been the fathers of archi-
tecture, of painting, of sculpture, and of tragic poetry; but the world is
indebted to us far more, for a gift far nobler, for the possession of the
Decalogue, for the word of God, the holy and precious Bible, the book
more venerable than all books, the parent of a pure belief, the founda-
tion of true human happiness, of religion without bigotry, of liberty
without licentiousness.

Another happy effect has already resulted from the same cause; it
has awakened anew the spirit of brotherly love among us, and we have
had an opportunity of experiencing that oceans may intervene between
our dispersed remnants, that mountains may divide us, but that yet the
Israelite is ever alive to the welfare of his distant brother, and sorrows
with his sorrow, and rejoices in his joy. The times also have pro-
duced spirits adequate to the emergency, and a Cremieux of Paris, and a
Montefiore of London will be long remembered as the generous, active


[Page 18]


friends of their people, who nobly volunteered to plead the cause of
their brothers in distant lands. Let us trust that the Lord may pros-
per their way, and bring them back to their families after the happy
termination of their mission of love.

It is now, Mr. Chairman, as ever it was; although banished and scat-
tered over every land for our manifold transgression, we are not cast
off nor utterly forsaken by our God. He has been our shield, as He
was the shield of our forefathers; and as out of every evil He always
caused good to spring unto Israel, so let us hope that this present occa-
sion may not pass away without a proportionate benefit accruing unto
us and the world at large, under the dispensation of His Providence. I
say “unto us and the world at large;” for our cause is not the cause
of faction, and when we prosper it is not for the oppression of any
human being, for never yet were our people persecutors for opinion's
sake, for the law of God was always a code of toleration and benevo-
lence; and then, the more the knowledge of the truth spreads, the more
it is understood, the stronger will be the feeling of attachment which
will unite all the inhabitants of the earth as a nation of brothers.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I will repeat the words of the wise
Solomon, invoking the blessing of our heavenly Father upon us and
our undertaking: “The Lord our God be with us, as He was with
our fathers; O may He not leave, nor forsake us; may He incline
our hearts towards Him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his com-
mandments, his statutes and judgments which He commanded our

With your permission, I will now offer a preamble and a series of
resolutions for the approval of this meeting:


THE Israelites residing in Philadelphia, in common with those of
other places, have heard with the deepest sorrow, that in this enlight-
ened age the absurd charge of their requiring human blood, at the
celebration of their Passover, has been revived, and that an accusation
of this nature having been brought against their brethren at Damascus
and the Island of Rhodes, has been the cause of a most cruel persecu-
tion being waged against them, by order of the Mussulman authorities,
instigated, as it is feared, by one or more of the European residents.

The have learned also, with unfeigned horror, that several prominent
men at Damascus have been seized by their ruthless persecutors, and
tortured till some confessed themselves guilty of a crime which they
never committed; and others died under the most exquisite barbarities,
which ignorant bigotry, urged by the love of plunder and hatred of the
Jewish name, could invent.

[Page 19]


Although the Israelites of Philadelphia, living in a land where, under
the blessing of Providence, equality of civil and religious rights so emi-
nently prevails, are not in any danger of persecution for opinion's sake:
still they cannot rest while so foul a blot is cast upon their ancient and
sacred faith, a faith on which both the Christian and Mahomedan reli-
gions are founded, and which is essentially a law of justice, of mercy,
and benevolence; and they would deem themselves traitors to brotherly
love and the rights of outraged humanity, were they to withhold their
expression of sympathy for their suffering brethren, who writhe under
unmerited tortures, and languish in loathsome dungeons, and to offer
their aid, if practicable, to have impartial justice administered to them
upon the present and any future occasion. The Israelites of Philadel-
have therefore met in public meeting, and

Resolved, That they experience the deepest emotions of sympathy
for the sufferings endured by their fellows in faith at Damascus and
Rhodes, under the tortures and injuries inflicted upon them by merci-
less and savage persecutors; and that, while they mourn for those
upon whom such cruel enormities have been heaped, they cannot but
admire the fortitude evinced by many of the sufferers, who preferred
enduring every torture rather than subscribing to the falsehoods dictated
by their vindictive enemies.

Resolved, That the crime charged upon the Israelites at Damas-
, of using Christian blood for their festival of redemption from
Egypt, is utterly at variance with the express injunction of the Deca-
logue and other parts of the Pentateuch, and incompatible with the
principles inculcated by the religion they profess, which enjoins them
to “love their neighbor as themselves,” and “to do justice, love
mercy, and walk humbly before God.”

Resolved, That they will co-operate with their brethren elsewhere
in affording pecuniary aid, if required, to relieve the victims of this
unholy persecution, and to unite in such other measures as may be
devised to mitigate their sufferings.

Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting be accorded to the
consuls of those European powers, who made efforts to stay the arm of
persecution, and who by this deed deserve well of the cause of suffering

Resolved, That this meeting highly appreciates the prompt and
energetic measures adopted by our brethren in Europe, and elsewhere,
for the promotion of the object of this meeting, and the noble under-
taking of Monsieur Cremieux and Sir Moses Montefiore, in coming for-
ward not only as the champions of the oppressed, but also as the
defenders of the Jewish nation; and this meeting expresses the hope

[Page 20]


that the God of Israel will shield and protect them, and restore them to
their families in the enjoyment of unimpaired health.

The foregoing preamble and resolutions having been read, were
unanimously adopted.

The following letter from the Rev. Dr. Ducachet, directed to one of
the Committee, ws then presented to the meeting by Hyman Gratz,
who said: I hold in my hand a letter from one of the reverend
clergy of our city, which is alike creditable to himself and our Chris-
tian friends, and calls for an expression of gratitude from this meeting,
for the liberal manner in which he tenders his services to co-operate
with us for the relief of our suffering brethren.

Philadelphia, August 21, 1840.


I learn from the papers of this morning, that a meeting of your
people is to be held at the Synagogue, next week, to take into consi-
deration the sufferings of the unhappy Israelites in the East. As the
call is intended for none but Israelites, there will of course be no
Christians there. Had it been general, I have no doubt their attend-
ance would have been very large. However, perhaps it is best that
the first movement in the matter should be made among yourselves.
As I shall not be present when you meet, I write this to assure you of
my deep sympathy in the sufferings of your persecuted brethren, and
of my hearty wishes for the speedy termination of their calamities.

I can speak for myself only with certainty; but I feel persuaded that
the Christian community generally, and the Christian clergy especially,
will gladly and generously co-operate with you in any plan you may
adopt for their relief. As it regards myself, allow me to say, that if it
should be thought by you necessary to resort to any aid beyond what
you yourselves can give, I will most cheerfully bring the case before
my congregation, plead their cause before that kind-hearted and gene-
rous people, and obtain from them all the assistance which they can
give. I would not have obtruded this communication upon you, but
that I thought it possible you might have some delicacy about applying
to your Christian friends for their co-operation, unless some intimation
were given that your appeal would be gladly and promptly responded
to by some at least. It is not, sir, the cause of the Jews only you are
about to espouse: it is the cause of humanity. And, in reference as
well to their deliverance from almost unheard of sufferings, as to their
spiritual condition, I, as a Christian, can truly adopt the language of
one of the noblest of the apostles of your faith, and say, “My heart's
desire and prayers to God for Israel, is, that they might be saved.”

[Page 21]


With assurances of my sincere interest in the case of the afflicted
descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (a noble ancestry), and
with the offering of my personal consideration for yourself and the
other gentlemen of your Committee,

I am, sir, very respectfully,

Your friend and servant,


Rector of St. Stephen's Church.


On motion of Hyman Gratz, Esq., the following resolution was unan-
imously adopted:

Resolved, That the unfeigned thanks of this meeting be conveyed to
the Rev. Dr. Ducachet for the very kind expression of his sympathy
for the persecuted Israelites at Damascus and Rhodes, and for the feel-
ing and handsome manner in which the offer of his co-operation has
been tendered; and that the same be accepted.

L. Allen, Esq., then offered the following resolution, which was

Resolved, That, in conjunction with our brethren in other cities, a
letter be addressed to the President of the United States, respectfully
requesting him to instruct the representative of the United States at
Constantinople, and the United States' Consul in the dominions of the
Pacha of Egypt, to co-operate with the Ambassadors and Consuls of
other powers to procure for our accused brethren at Damascus and
elsewhere an impartial trial; and to urge upon the Emperor of Turkey
and the Pacha of Egypt to prohibit the use of torture in their judicial
proceedings; and further that he be requested to instruct the represen-
tatives of this country to urge the governments to which they are ac-
credited, to exert their influence for the same purpose.

On motion of Mr. Alfred A. Moss the following resolution was adopted:

Resolved, That the Chairman appoint a Committee of Correspond-
ence of five, to carry out the above resolution, and to correspond with
other Committees in this country and Europe.

The President then named the following gentlemen, composing the
Committee of Correspondence:—




A. Hart, Esq., then offered the following resolution, which was unani-
mously adopted.

Resolved, That we invite our brethren of Damascus to leave the land

[Page 22]


of persecution and torture, and to seek an asylum in this free and hap-
py land, where all religions are alike tolerated—where every man is
allowed to enjoy his own opinion—where industry prospers, and where
integrity is sure to meet its just reward!

Lewis Allen, Esq., laid before the meeting letters accompanying
a copy of the proceedings of the meeting of our brethren in New York
and Richmond, Virginia, which were referred to the Committee of Cor-
respondence, with instructions to furnish a copy of the proceedings of
this meeting to every Jewish Congregation in the United States.

John D. Jackson, Esq., then offered the following resolution, which
was adopted:

Resolved, That the editors of the daily papers be requested to
publish these proceedings.

Upon its being intimated that there were present several clergymen of
other denominations who might have a wish to address the meeting, the
President stated, that although this meeting had been called for Israelites
exclusively, he would be pleased if any of the gentlemen present were
to address them; that he felt confident they would be listened to with the
greatest pleasure, and afford a high gratification to this numerous as-
sembly; that, although the meeting had been called in behalf of our
persecuted brethren, we were engaged in the holy cause of humanity,
without distinction of religion, and that the cause we had espoused, he
trusted, might ameliorate the condition of Israelites, as well as Christians
in the Mussulman dominions.

The Rev. Dr. Ducachet (Pastor of St. Stephen's Church,) then arose
and addressed the meeting in a strain of fervid eloquence; and it is to be
regretted that no copy of his remarks can be procured, being entirely
impromptu, and his speaking wholly unpremeditated by him. The Rev.
gentleman commenced by stating that he stood in a situation for which
modern times offered no parallel; in ancient times, the Jewish syna-
gogues were, as he thought, used for religious disputations, but now, for
the first time for centuries, was a Christian minister addressing a reli-
gious assemblage in a Jewish Synagogue, a spectacle at once sublime
and pleasing to humanity. Dr. D. then noticed the barbarities prac-
tised (sic) in the East, and said, in the spirit of prophecy, that relief would
come, “the oppressors arm would be broken and the oppressed go
free.” He cited instances of Divine vengeance against those who had
pursued a similar course of conduct, and concluded by proferring the
kind sympathies, the pecuniary assistance, and moral influence of the
Christian community, to aid in the worthy cause for which the Israelites
had called this meeting.

His remarks were wholly extempore, and the foregoing sketch does
him but little justice.

[Page 23]


He was followed by the Rev. Mr. Ramsay, of the Presbyterian
Church, who said,

Mr. President, I gladly embrace your kind invitation to express, thus
publicly, my sympathy for the Jewish people, in whose behalf you
are now met. I fully concur with the Rev. Dr. Ducachet, who has
preceded me, in the remarks he has made, and in the feelings he has
expressed. My object in rising is not to detain you by any protracted
remarks that I have to make, but merely to express for myself, how
sincerely I sympathize with you in your affliction. I feel persuaded,
however, that the same feeling pervades the breasts of all of my Chris-
tian brethren in this city.

Sir, I feel for the Jewish people. I love them, and have strong rea-
sons for so doing. In the providence of God I have been permitted to
mingle among them in the East, and have always found them kind and
obliging. When frowned upon by the haughty Mohammedan, and
treated with scorn by the heathen, I have always found the door of the
Jews open for my reception, and have found a shelter under his hospita-
ble roof. I love them also for their Father's sake, for they are the
children of the faithful Abraham; yea, I love them, for they are my

As to the calumnies alleged against those in Damascus, no candid
mind, I think, could for a moment entertain the idea that they are true.
They cannot be. I have, however, seen enough of Mohammedan inso-
lence and oppression, to know that the mere expression of our sympa-
thies, or that any interference on our part, cannot reach the case of the
oppressed, or awe their oppressors. Something more powerful is
needed. My only hope is in the Lord God of Abraham. Your own pro-
phet, Ezekiel, and ours, (for we hold to the same word of God,) speaking
by inspiration of God and promising blessings to Israel, says, “Yet, for
this will I be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.” I
would, therefore, affectionately urge upon all present to unite with our
brethren, Jews and Christians, in looking up to the God of Israel for
aid. Let us unite in prayer, that God would break the oppressor's
arm so that the oppressed may go free. Yea, that He would banish
tyranny and oppression from the earth, and that the whole family of
man may become, as they ought to be, one brotherhood.

You have, Sir, I repeat it, my sincere sympathy in this matter, and
aid so far as I can yield it.

After the Rev. Mr. Kennedy had in a short address adverted to the
usual fate of oppressors, instancing Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and
Napoleon, and expressing a hope for the speedy punishment of the
present agents of cruelty:—

Henry M. Phillips, Esq., said, He had come to the meeting deter-

[Page 24]


mined to be a silent listener, nor would he now obtrude himself or his
remarks upon its attention, had any one else risen at this time for such
purpose; but little able at any time to do justice to the matter, he was
peculiarly unfit just now, suffering, as he was, from the debility inci-
dent to protracted indisposition; but (said Mr. P.) the occasion seemed
to me to call for something in conclusion from one of our nation, and
therefore he had now risen. He continued: the meeting was our own, but
we were gratified that the privilege of introduction had been embraced
so as to introduce to our acquaintance the reverend gentleman who had
so liberally and kindly expressed their sympathies for our unhappy and
suffering brethren, and who had promised assistance from sources
where it could not have been expected nor looked for, and was there-
fore the more gladly accepted, since it was offered voluntarily, dis-
interestedly; nor can I permit myself to doubt that the benevolent feel-
ings avowed here, are felt as sincerely as professed. The business of
the meeting was our own. One of ourselves (Mr. Hart) had eloquently
unfolded its objects at the opening of the meeting, and our reverend
pastor (Mr. Leeser) had followed in detail of the barbarous cruelties
and outrages, the recital of which could not fail to arouse every
virtuous indignation. He had also expounded to them the Holy Law,
exhibiting the entire falsehood of the charges alleged against the
wretched victims at Damascus. The expressions of sympathy con-
tained in the resolutions, at once kindled the warm feelings of the gen-
tlemen, who, though the advocates of other religious tenets, can feel
for their fellow-creatures, and they had outpoured their promises, their
feelings, and their hopes, and it would be amiss were we to permit our
meeting to be here dissolved, unless one of our own nation, in some
measure at least, responded to the remarks which had been so unex-
pectedly, though gratifyingly, made to us. And most peculiarly does
this seem to be a duty, being, as we are, in a country where the enjoy-
ment of full liberty is real and not theoretical.

It is not my intention, (said Mr. P.) to go over the ground which
has been so well covered already, I merely wish to remind those whom
I see assembled around me, of the occasion which calls us here, and
the results which ought to, and will follow our assemblage. We are
not here for ostentation or any vain purposes; we are not here for the
purpose of mere self-respect; but we are convened as Israelites and as
men, to express freely our views and sentiments, in relation to matters
in which our religious feelings and our humanity are alike interested.
Is there one here who believes that the oppressors are punishing for
the causes which they allege? An aged priest disappeared from
Damascus! How, is not known; whether in voluntary exile, hidden,
or murdered, is alike in the dark, and a nation, a whole community, is

[Page 25]


accused of the murder of this man—a man, too, advanced in life, tot-
tering on the brink of the grave, whose lamp of life might have been
extinguished by a child, and yet a whole nation of men, women, and
children, are suspected of actual participation in the murder of one
individual, and the insincerity of the accusers can be at once known
by the fact that the punishments are not such as are awarded to mur-
derers, nor was even a murderer's trial granted to their poor victims,
but they were hurried to tortures; the hearts of mothers were wrung
by the agonies of their helpless and unoffending children, the tyrants
thus showing that their object is to obtain the worldly possessions of
their victims, and to annihilate (so far as they can,) what we have
been taught to believe are the doctrines of the true faith.

We may do much good from our assemblage of to-night: we may
heretofore have expressed our sympathies, and freely unfolded our feel-
ings to our wives and our children, but we have here to-night associated
ourselves, our feelings, and our sympathies, and have, all of us, spoken
in one voice, and such as will make itself heard, even in Damascus.
Pecuniary assistance is of no value; rather would it tend to aggravate
their sufferings, since it would be with avidity seized upon by their
persecutors, and a new imaginary offence (sic) alleged as a pretext for
seizing it, and subjecting its owners to new, perhaps newly discovered,
and refinedly cruel tortures. Nor do we seek even sympathy; such
as flows of its own accord, and is volunteered to us, cannot fail to be
received with gratification, but we would spurn and despise those who
could listen unmoved to a narration of these atrocities, and await
invitation before their sympathies could be enlisted.

Mr. Chairman, the expression of public opinion will be heard even in
the land of the barbarians; there are nations where public opinion is
moulded upon the will of the monarch, and the opinion of such is not,
of course, as valued as the expression of free and untrammelled (sic)
sentiments; but in this happy country where every man is a monarch,
where it is known that every man says what he thinks and feels, the
utterance of public opinion is every where known to be sincere, and
elsewhere it cannot fail to command universal respect.

We have every assurance that throughout the whole United States,
from its northern to its southern boundary, public opinion will be
unanimously accordant with our resolutions, and take the word of a
young man for it, when it reaches the land of the haughty Pacha, it
will be listened to and regarded with respect and fear.

I have, I fear, intruded too long upon your time and attention; as I
before said, I came with a fixed determination to be quiet, but the


[Page 26]


“spirit moved me,” and I had to say these few words; and I can only
add that, thankful for the indulgent attention with which you have
listened to me, I beg you to continue the good work which you have
listened to me, I beg you to continue the good work which you have
this night so well commenced, and the holy justice of our cause will
command success.

A solemn hymn was then sung, when John Moss, Esq. returned
thanks, in a neat and appropriate speech, for the honour conferred on
him in the appointment of President to this assembly.

When, on motion, the meeting adjourned.

JOHN MOSS, President.



HENRY COHEN,Secretaries.



Philadelphia, 31st August, 1840.

To His Excellency the President of the United States,

SIR—The subscribers were appointed a committee of correspond-
ence, on behalf of the Jewish inhabitants of Philadelphia, at a meeting
convened for the purpose of taking into consideration the persecution
of the Jews in the East, on the evening of the 27th instant. In further-
ance of this appointment, it has become their duty to address to your
Excellency the following resolution adopted at the said meeting:

Resolved, That in conjunction with our brethren of other cities, a
letter be addressed to the President of the United States, respectfully
requesting him to instruct the representative of the United States at
Constantinople, and the United States' Consul in the dominions of the
Pacha of Egypt, to co-operate with the Ambassadors and Consuls of
other powers, to procure for our accused brethren at Damascus and
elsewhere an impartial trial; and to urge upon the Emperor of Turkey
and the Pacha of Egypt to prohibit the use of torture in their judicial
proceedings; and further, that he be requested to instruct the repre-

[Page 27]


sentatives of this country to urge the governments to which they are
accredited, to exert their influence for the same purpose.

“In adopting this resolution, the idea was entertained, that the moral
influence of the Chief Magistrate of the United States would be, under
Heaven, the best aid we could invoke for the protection of our perse-
cuted brethren under the Mohammedan dominion, and we hasten, there-
fore, to seize the first possible moment after our appointment, to present
the above to your consideration, not doubting that your own sense of
humanity will impel you to comply with our requests.

With sentiments of regard, and cordial wishes for your health and
happiness, we subscribe ourselves,

Your Excellency's most humble and obedient servants,

JOHN MOSS, Chairman.



J. L. MOSS,Committee of Correspondence.




JOHN MOSS, Chairman.






The President having referred to this Department your communica-
tion of the 31st ultimo, containing a resolution adopted at a meeting of
the Jewish inhabitants of Philadelphia, requesting him to instruct the
representatives of the United States, to co-operate with those of other
powers in behalf of their accused brethren at Damascus, and elsewhere,
&c., I have the honour to refer you to the accompanying correspon-
dence with a Committee of the Israelites of New York. I deem it pro-
per to add in reference to that portion of the resolution which you have
communicated, relating to the use of torture, that particular instructions
were given to our Minister at Constantinople, to direct his efforts

[Page 28]


against the employment of such barbarous means to extort the confes-
sion of imputed guilt. I have the honour to be,

Gentlemen, very respectfully, your obedient servant,




SIR—At a meeting of the Israelites of the city of New York, held on
the 19th instant, for the purpose of uniting in an expression of senti-
ment on the subject of the persecution of their brethren in Damascus
the following resolution was unanimously adopted.

“Resolved, That a letter be addressed to his Excellency, the Presi-
of the United States, respectfully requesting that he will direct the
Consuls of the United States, in the dominions of the Pacha of Egypt,
to co-operate with the Consuls or other agents accredited to the Pacha,
in endeavouring to obtain a fair and impartial trial for our brethren in

In transmitting the same to your Excellency, we beg leave to ex-
press what we are persuaded is the unanimous opinion of the Israelites
throughout the Union, that you will cheerfully use every possible effort
to induce the Pacha of Egypt to manifest more liberal treatment towards
his Jewish subjects, not only from the dictates of humanity, but from
the obvious policy and justice by which such a course is recommended
by the tolerant spirit of the age in which we live.

The liberal and enlightened views in relation to matters of faith, which
have distinguished our government from its very inception to the pre-
sent time, have secured the sincere gratitude and kind regard of the
members of all religious denominations, and we trust that the efforts of
your Excellency in this behalf will serve to render yet more grateful,
and to impress more fully on the minds of the citizens of the United
, the kindness and liberality of that government under which
they live.

With the best wishes of those in whose behalf we address you—for
your health and happiness, and for the glory and honour of our com-
mon country,

We have the honour to be

Your Excellency's obedient servants,

(Signed)J. B. KURSHECDT, Chairman, &c.

THEODORE J. SEIXAS, Secretary, &c.

Dated, New York, August 24th, 1840.

[Page 29]





Messrs. J. B. Kurshecdt, Chairman, and Theodore J. Seixas, Secre-
tary, &c.

GENTLEMEN—The President has referred to this Department your
letter of the 24th instant, communicating a resolution unanimously
adopted at a meeting of Israelites in the city of New York, held for the
purpose of uniting in an expression of sentiment on the subject of the
persecution of their brethren in Damascus. By his directions I have
the honour to inform you, that the heart-rending scenes which took
place at Damascus had previously been brought to the notice of the
President by a communication from our Consul at that place, and that,
in consequence thereof, a letter of instructions was immediately written
to our Consul at Alexandria, a copy of which is herewith transmitted
for your satisfaction. About the same time, our Chargé d'Affaires at
Constantinople was instructed to interpose his good office in behalf of
the oppressed and persecuted race of the Jews in the Ottoman do-
minions, among whose kindred rare found some of the most worthy and
patriotic of our own citizens, and the whole subject, which appeals so
strongly to the universal sentiments of justice and humanity, was ear-
nestly recommended to his zeal and discretion.

I have the honour to be, gentlemen, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,





John Gliddon, Esquire, U. S. Consul, at Alexandria, Egypt.

SIR—In common with all civilized nations, the people of the United
have learned with horror the atrocious crimes imputed to the Jews
of Damascus, and the cruelties of which they have been the victims. The
President fully participates in the public feeling, and he cannot refrain
from expressing equal surprise and pain that, in this advanced age,
such unnatural practices should be ascribed to any portion of the reli-
gious world, and such barbarous measures be resorted to in order to