Concerning jews, Clemens Samuel

Concerning The Jews
Mark Twain

Some months ago I published a magazine article ^*
descriptive of a remarkable scene in the Imperial Parliament in
Vienna. Since then I have received from Jews in America several
letters of inquiry. They were difficult letters to answer, for
they were not very definite. But at last I have received a
definite one. It is from a lawyer, and he really asks the
questions which the other writers probably believed they were
asking. By help of this text I will do the best I can to
publicly answer this correspondent, and also the others – at the
same time apologizing for having failed to reply privately. The
lawyer’s letter reads as follows:

[Footnote *: See Harper’s Magazine for March, 1898.]

“I have read ‘Stirring Times in Austria.’ One point in
particular is of vital import to not a few thousand people,
including myself, being a point about which I have often wanted
to address a question to some disinterested person. The show of
military force in the Austrian Parliament, which precipitated
the riots, was not introduced by any Jew. No Jew was a member
of that body. No Jewish question was involved in the Ausgleich
or in the language proposition. No Jew was insulting anybody.
In short, no Jew was doing any mischief toward anybody
whatsoever. In fact, the Jews were the only ones of the
nineteen different races in Austria which did not have a party –
they are absolutely non-participants. Yet in your article you
say that in the rioting which followed, all classes of people
were unanimous only on one thing, viz., in being against the
Jews. Now will you kindly tell me why, in your judgment, the
Jews have thus ever been, and are even now, in these days of
supposed intelligence, the butt of baseless, vicious
animosities? I dare say that for centuries there has been no
more quiet, undisturbing, and well-behaving citizen, as a class,
than that same Jew. It seems to me that ignorance and
fanaticism cannot alone account for these horrible and unjust

“Tell me, therefore, from your vantage-point of cold view,
what in your mind is the cause. Can American Jews do anything
to correct it either in America or abroad? Will it ever come to
an end? Will a Jew be permitted to live honestly, decently, and
peaceably like the rest of mankind? What has become of the
Golden Rule?”

I will begin by saying that if I thought myself prejudiced
against the Jew, I should hold it fairest to leave this subject
to a person not crippled in that way. But I think I have no
such prejudice. A few years ago a Jew observed to me that there
was no uncourteous reference to his people in my books, and
asked how it happened. It happened because the disposition was
lacking. I am quite sure that (bar one) I have no race
prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices nor caste
prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed, I know it. I can stand
any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human
being – that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse. I have no
special regard for Satan; but I can at least claim that I have
no prejudice against him. It may even be that I lean a little
his way, on account of his not having a fair show. All
religions issue bibles against him, and say the most injurious
things about him, but we never hear his side. We have none but
the evidence for the prosecution, and yet we have rendered the
verdict. To my mind, this is irregular. It is un-English; it
is un-American; it is French. Without this precedent Dreyfus
could not have been condemned. Of course Satan has some kind of
a case, it goes without saying. It may be a poor one, but that
is nothing; that can be said about any of us. As soon as I can
get at the facts I will undertake his rehabilitation myself, if
I can find an unpolitic publisher. It is a thing which we ought
to be willing to do for any one who is under a cloud. We may
not pay him reverence, for that would be indiscreet, but we can
at least respect his talents. A person who has for untold
centuries maintained the imposing position of spiritual head of
four-fifths of the human race, and political head of the whole
of it, must be granted the possession of executive abilities of
the loftiest order. In his large presence the other popes and
politicians shrink to midges for the microscope. I would like to
see him. I would rather see him and shake him by the tail than
any other member of the European Concert. In the present paper
I shall allow myself to use the word Jew as if it stood for both
religion and race. It is handy; and, besides, that is what the
term means to the general world.

In the above letter one notes these points:

1. The Jew is a well-behaved citizen.

2. Can ignorance and fanaticism alone account for his
unjust treatment?

3. Can Jews do anything to improve the situation?

4. The Jews have no party; they are non-participants.

5. Will the persecution ever come to an end?

6. What has become of the Golden Rule?

Point No. 1.

We must grant proposition No. 1 for several sufficient
reasons. The Jew is not a disturber of the peace of any
country. Even his enemies will concede that. He is not a
loafer, he is not a sot, he is not noisy, he is not a brawler
nor a rioter, he is not quarrelsome. In the statistics of crime
his presence is conspicuously rare – in all countries. With
murder and other crimes of violence he has but little to do: he
is a stranger to the hangman. In the police court’s daily long
roll of “assaults” and “drunk and disorderlies” his name seldom
appears. That the Jewish home is a home in the truest sense is
a fact which no one will dispute. The family is knitted
together by the strongest affections; its members show each
other every due respect; and reverence for the elders is an
inviolate law of the house. The Jew is not a burden on the
charities of the state nor of the city; these could cease from
their functions without affecting him. When he is well enough,
he works; when he is incapacitated, his own people take care of
him. And not in a poor and stingy way, but with a fine and
large benevolence. His race is entitled to be called the most
benevolent of all the races of men. A Jewish beggar is not
impossible, perhaps; such a thing may exist, but there are few
men that can say they have seen that spectacle. The Jew has been
staged in many uncomplimentary forms, but, so far as I know, no
dramatist has done him the injustice to stage him as a beggar.
Whenever a Jew has real need to beg, his people save him from
the necessity of doing it. The charitable institutions of the
Jews are supported by Jewish money, and amply. The Jews make no
noise about it; it is done quietly; they do not nag and pester
and harass us for contributions; they give us peace, and set us
an example – an example which we have not found ourselves able
to follow; for by nature we are not free givers, and have to be
patiently and persistently hunted down in the interest of the

These facts are all on the credit side of the proposition
that the Jew is a good and orderly citizen. Summed up, they
certify that he is quiet, peaceable, industrious, unaddicted to
high crimes and brutal dispositions; that his family life is
commendable; that he is not a burden upon public charities; that
he is not a beggar; that in benevolence he is above the reach of
competition. These are the very quint-essentials of good
citizenship. If you can add that he is as honest as the average
of his neighbors – But I think that question is affirmatively
answered by the fact that he is a successful business man. The
basis of successful business is honesty; a business cannot
thrive where the parties to it cannot trust each other. In the
matter of numbers of the Jew counts for little in the
overwhelming population of New York; but that his honesty counts
for much is guaranteed by the fact that the immense wholesale
business houses of Broadway, from the Battery to Union Square,
is substantially in his hands.

I suppose that the most picturesque example in history of a
trader’s trust in his fellow-trader was one where it was not
Christian trusting Christian, but Christian trusting Jew. That
Hessian Duke who used to sell his subjects to George III. to
fight George Washington with got rich at it; and by-and-by, when
the wars engendered by the French Revolution made his throne too
warm for him, he was obliged to fly the country. He was in a
hurry, and had to leave his earnings behind – $9,000,000. He
had to risk the money with some one without security. He did
not select a Christian, but a Jew – a Jew of only modest means,
but of high character; a character so high that it left him
lonesome – Rothschild of Frankfort. Thirty years later, when
Europe had become quiet and safe again, the Duke came back from
overseas, and the Jew returned the loan, with interest added. ^*

[Footnote *: Here is another piece of picturesque history; and
it reminds us that shabbiness and dishonesty are not the
monopoly of any race or creed, but are merely human:

“Congress has passed a bill to pay $379.56 to Moses
Pendergrass, of Libertyville, Missouri. The story of the reason
of this liberality is pathetically interesting, and shows the
sort of pickle that an honest man may get into who undertakes to
do an honest job of work for Uncle Sam. In 1886 Moses
Pendergrass put in a bid for the contract to carry the mail on
the route from Knob Lick to Libertyville and Coffman, thirty
miles a day, from July 1, 1887, for one year. He got the
postmaster at Knob Lick to write the letter for him, and while
Moses intended that his bid should be $400, his scribe
carelessly made it $4. Moses got the contract, and did not find
out about the mistake until the end of the first quarter, when
he got his first pay. When he found at what rate he was working
he was sorely cast down, and opened communication with the
Post-Office Department. The department informed him that he
must either carry out his contract or throw it up, and that if
he threw it up his bondsmen would have to pay the government
$1459.85 damages. So Moses carried out his contract, walked
thirty miles every week-day for a year, and carried the mail,
and received for his labor $4 – or, to be accurate, $6.84; for,
the route being extended after his bid was accepted, the pay was
proportionately increased. Now, after ten years, a bill was
finally passed to pay to Moses the difference between what he
earned in that unlucky year and what he received.”

The Sun, which tells the above story, says that bills were
introduced in three or four Congresses for Moses’ relief, and
that committees repeatedly investigated his claim.

It took six Congresses, containing in their persons the
compressed virtues of 70,000,000 of people, and cautiously and
carefully giving expression to those virtues in the fear of God
and the next election, eleven years to find out some way to
cheat a fellow-Christian out of about $13 on his honestly
executed contract, and out of nearly $300 due him on its
enlarged terms. And they succeeded. During the same time they
paid out $1,000,000,000 in pensions – a third of it unearned and
undeserved. This indicates a splendid all-around competency in
theft, for it starts with farthings, and works its industries
all the way up to ship-loads. It may be possible that the Jews
can beat this, but the man that bets on it is taking chances.]

The Jew has his other side. He has some discreditable
ways, though he has not a monopoly of them, because he cannot
get entirely rid of vexatious Christian competition. We have
seen that he seldom transgresses the laws against crimes of
violence. Indeed, his dealings with courts are almost
restricted to matters connected with commerce. He has a
reputation for various small forms of cheating, and for
practising oppressive usury, and for burning himself out to get
the insurance, and for arranging cunning contracts which leave
him an exit but lock the other man in, and for smart evasions
which find him safe and comfortable just within the strict
letter of the law, when court and jury know very well that he
has violated the spirit of it. He is a frequent and faithful and
capable officer in the civil service, but he is charged with an
unpatriotic disinclination to stand by the flag as a soldier –
like the Christian Quaker.

Now if you offset these discreditable features by the
creditable ones summarized in a preceding paragraph beginning
with the words, “These facts are all on the credit side,” and
strike a balance, what must the verdict be? This, I think: that,
the merits and demerits being fairly weighed and measured on
both sides, the Christian can claim no superiority over the Jew
in the matter of good citizenship.

Yet in all countries, from the dawn of history, the Jew has
been persistently and implacably hated, and with frequency

Point No. 2.

“Can fanaticism alone account for this?”

Years ago I used to think that it was responsible for
nearly all of it, but latterly I have come to think that this
was an error. Indeed, it is now my conviction that it is
responsible for hardly any of it.

In this connection I call to mind Genesis, chapter xlvii.

We have all thoughtfully – or unthoughtfully – read the
pathetic story of the years of plenty and the years of famine in
Egypt, and how Joseph, with that opportunity, made a corner in
broken hearts, and the crusts of the poor, and human liberty – a
corner whereby he took a nation’s money all away, to the last
penny; took a nation’s livestock all away, to the last hoof;
took a nation’s land away, to the last acre; then took the
nation itself, buying it for bread, man by man, woman by woman,
child by child, till all were slaves; a corner which took
everything, left nothing; a corner so stupendous that, by
comparison with it, the most gigantic corners in subsequent
history are but baby things, for it dealt in hundreds of
millions of bushels, and its profits were reckonable by hundreds
of millions of dollars, and it was a disaster so crushing that
its effects have not wholly disappeared from Egypt to-day, more
than three thousand years after the event.

Is it presumable that the eye of Egypt was upon Joseph the
foreign Jew all this time? I think it likely. Was it
friendly? We must doubt it. Was Joseph establishing a
character for his race which would survive long in Egypt? and
in time would his name come to be familiarly used to express
that character – like Shylock’s? It is hardly to be doubted.
Let us remember that this was centuries before the crucifixion.

I wish to come down eighteen hundred years later and refer
to a remark made by one of the Latin historians. I read it in a
translation many years ago, and it comes back to me now with
force. It was alluding to a time when people were still living
who could have seen the Savior in the flesh. Christianity was so
new that the people of Rome had hardly heard of it, and had but
confused notions of what it was. The substance of the remark
was this: Some Christians were persecuted in Rome through error,
they being “mistaken for Jews.”

The meaning seems plain. These pagans had nothing against
Christians, but they were quite ready to persecute Jews. For
some reason or other they hated a Jew before they even knew what
a Christian was. May I not assume, then, that the persecution
of Jews is a thing which antedates Christianity and was not born
of Christianity? I think so. What was the origin of the

When I was a boy, in the back settlements of the
Mississippi Valley, where a gracious and beautiful Sunday-school
simplicity and unpracticality prevailed, the “Yankee” (citizen
of the New England States) was hated with a splendid energy.
But religion had nothing to do with it. In a trade, the Yankee
was held to be about five times the match of the Westerner. His
shrewdness, his insight, his judgment, his knowledge, his
enterprise, and his formidable cleverness in applying these
forces were frankly confessed, and most competently cursed.

In the cotton States, after the war, the simple and
ignorant negroes made the crops for the white planter on
shares. The Jew came down in force, set up shop on the
plantation, supplied all the negro’s wants on credit, and at the
end of the season was proprietor of the negro’s share of the
present crop and of part of his share of the next one. Before
long, the whites detested the Jew, and it is doubtful if the
negro loved him.

The Jew is being legislated out of Russia. The reason is
not concealed. The movement was instituted because the Christian
peasant and villager stood no chance against his commercial
abilities. He was always ready to lend money on a crop, and
sell vodka and other necessaries of life on credit while the
crop was growing. When settlement day came he owned the crop;
and next year or year after he owned the farm, like Joseph.

In the dull and ignorant England of John’s time everybody
got into debt to the Jew. He gathered all lucrative enterprises
into his hands; he was the king of commerce; he was ready to be
helpful in all profitable ways; he even financed crusades for
the rescue of the Sepulchre. To wipe out his account with the
nation and restore business to its natural and incompetent
channels he had to be banished the realm.

For the like reasons Spain had to banish him four hundred
years ago, and Austria about a couple of centuries later.

In all the ages Christian Europe has been obliged to
curtail his activities. If he entered upon a mechanical trade,
the Christian had to retire from it. If he set up as a doctor,
he was the best one, and he took the business. If he exploited
agriculture, the other farmers had to get at something else.
Since there was no way to successfully compete with him in any
vocation, the law had to step in and save the Christian from the
poor-house. Trade after trade was taken away from the Jew by
statute till practically none was left. He was forbidden to
engage in agriculture; he was forbidden to practise law; he was
forbidden to practise medicine, except among Jews; he was
forbidden the handicrafts. Even the seats of learning and the
schools of science had to be closed against this tremendous
antagonist. Still, almost bereft of employments, he found ways
to make money, even ways to get rich. Also ways to invest his
takings well, for usury was not denied him. In the hard
conditions suggested, the Jew without brains could not survive,
and the Jew with brains had to keep them in good training and
well sharpened up, or starve. Ages of restriction to the one
tool which the law was not able to take from him – his brain –
have made that tool singularly competent; ages of compulsory
disuse of his hands have atrophied them, and he never uses them
now. This history has a very, very commercial look, a most
sordid and practical commercial look, the business aspect of a
Chinese cheap-labor crusade. Religious prejudices may account
for one part of it, but not for the other nine.

Protestants have persecuted Catholics, but they did not
take their livelihoods away from them. The Catholics have
persecuted the Protestants with bloody and awful bitterness, but
they never closed agriculture and the handicrafts against them.
Why was that? That has the candid look of genuine religious
persecution, not a trade-union boycott in a religious disguise.

The Jews are harried and obstructed in Austria and Germany,
and lately in France; but England and America give them an open
field and yet survive. Scotland offers them an unembarrassed
field too, but there are not many takers. There are a few Jews
in Glasgow, and one in Aberdeen; but that is because they can’t
earn enough to get away. The Scotch pay themselves that
compliment, but it is authentic.

I feel convinced that the Crucifixion has not much to do
with the world’s attitude towards the Jew; that the reasons for
it are older than that event, as suggested by Egypt’s experience
and by Rome’s regret for having persecuted an unknown quantity
called a Christian, under the mistaken impression that she was
merely persecuting a Jew. Merely a Jew – a skinned eel who was
used to it, presumably. I am persuaded that in Russia, Austria,
and Germany nine-tenths of the hostility to the Jew comes from
the average Christian’s inability to compete successfully with
the average Jew in business – in either straight business or the
questionable sort.

In Berlin, a few years ago, I read a speech which frankly
urged the expulsion of the Jews from Germany; and the agitator’s
reason was as frank as his proposition. It was this: that
eighty-five per cent. of the successful lawyers of Berlin were
Jews, and that about the same percentage of the great and
lucrative businesses of all sorts in Germany were in the hands
of the Jewish race! Isn’t it an amazing confession? It was but
another way of saying that in a population of 48,000,000, of
whom only 500,000 were registered as Jews, eight-five per cent.
of the brains and honesty of the whole was lodged in the Jews.
I must insist upon the honesty – it is an essential of
successful business, taken by and large. Of course it does not
rule out rascals entirely, even among Christians, but it is a
good working rule, nevertheless. The speaker’s figures may have
been inexact, but the motive of persecution stands out as clear
as day.

The man claimed that in Berlin the banks, the newspapers,
the theatres, the great mercantile, shipping, mining, and
manufacturing interests, the big army and city contracts, the
tramways, and pretty much all other properties of high value,
and also the small businesses, were in the hands of the Jews. He
said the Jew was pushing the Christian to the wall all along the
line; that it was all a Christian could do to scrape together a
living; and that the Jew must be banished, and soon – there was
no other way of saving the Christian. Here in Vienna, last
autumn, an agitator said that all these disastrous details were
true of Austria-Hungary also; and in fierce language he demanded
the expulsion of the Jews. When politicians come out without a
blush and read the baby act in this frank way, unrebuked, it is
a very good indication that they have a market back of them, and
know where to fish for votes.

You note the crucial point of the mentioned agitation; the
argument is that the Christian cannot compete with the Jew, and
that hence his very bread is in peril. To human beings this is
a much more hate-inspiring thing than is any detail connected
with religion. With most people, of a necessity, bread and meat
take first rank, religion second. I am convinced that the
persecution of the Jew is not due in any large degree to
religious prejudice.

No, the Jew is a money-getter; and in getting his money he
is a very serious obstruction to less capable neighbors who are
on the same quest. I think that that is the trouble. In
estimating worldly values the Jew is not shallow, but deep.
With precocious wisdom he found out in the morning of time that
some men worship rank, some worship heroes, some worship power,
some worship God, and that over these ideals they dispute and
cannot unite – but that they all worship money; so he made it
the end and aim of his life to get it. He was at it in Egypt
thirty-six centuries ago; he was at it in Rome when that
Christian got persecuted by mistake for him; he has been at it
ever since. The cost to him has been heavy; his success has
made the whole human race his enemy – but it has paid, for it
has brought him envy, and that is the only thing which men will
sell both soul and body to get. He long ago observed that a
millionaire commands respect, a two-millionaire homage, a
multi-millionaire the deepest deeps of adoration. We all know
that feeling; we have seen it express itself. We have noticed
that when the average man mentions the name of a
multi-millionaire he does it with that mixture in his voice of
awe and reverence and lust which burns in a Frenchman’s eye when
it falls on another man’s centime.

Point No. 4.

“The Jews have no party; they are non-participants.”

Perhaps you have let the secret out and given yourself
away. It seems hardly a credit to the race that it is able to
say that; or to you, sir, that you can say it without remorse;
more than you should offer it as a plea against maltreatment,
injustice, and oppression. Who gives the Jew the right, who
gives any race the right, to sit still, in a free country, and
let somebody else look after its safety? The oppressed Jew was
entitled to all pity in the former times under brutal
autocracies, for he was weak and friendless, and had no way to
help his case. But he has ways now, and he has had them for a
century, but I do not see that he has tried to make serious use
of them. When the Revolution set him free in France it was an
act of grace – the grace of other people; he does not appear in
it as a helper. I do not know that he helped when England set
him free. Among the Twelve Sane Men of France who have stepped
forward with great Zola at their head to fight (and win, I hope
and believe ^*) the battle for the most infamously misused Jew
of modern times, do you find a great or rich or illustrious Jew
helping? In the United States he was created free in the
beginning – he did not need to help, of course. In Austria and
Germany and France he has a vote, but of what considerable use
is it to him? He doesn’t seem to know how to apply it to the
best effect. With all his splendid capacities and all his fat
wealth he is to-day not politically important in any country.
In America, as early as 1854, the ignorant Irish hod-carrier,
who had a spirit of his own and a way of exposing it to the
weather, made it apparent to all that he must be politically
reckoned with; yet fifteen years before that we hardly knew what
an Irishman looked like. As an intelligent force and
numerically, he has always been away down, but he has governed
the country just the same. It was because he was organized. It
made his vote valuable – in fact, essential.

[Footnote *: The article was written in the summer of 1898. – Ed.]

You will say the Jew is everywhere numerically feeble.
That is nothing to the point – with the Irishman’s history for
an object-lesson. But I am coming to your numerical feebleness
presently. In all parliamentary countries you could no doubt
elect Jews to the legislatures – and even one member in such a
body is sometimes a force which counts. How deeply have you
concerned yourselves about this in Austria, France, and
Germany? Or even in America, for that matter? You remark that
the Jews were not to blame for the riots in this Reichsrath
here, and you add with satisfaction that there wasn’t one in
that body. That is not strictly correct; if it were, would it
not be in order for you to explain it and apologize for it, not
try to make a merit of it? But I think that the Jew was by no
means in as large force there as he ought to have been, with his
chances. Austria opens the suffrage to him on fairly liberal
terms, and it must surely be his own fault that he is so much in
the background politically.

As to your numerical weakness. I mentioned some figures
awhile ago – 500,000 – as the Jewish population of Germany. I
will add some more – 6,000,000 in Russia, 5,000,000 in Austria,
250,000 in the United States. I take them from memory; I read
them in the Cyclopaedia Britannica ten or twelve years ago.
Still, I am entirely sure of them. If those statistics are
correct, my argument is not as strong as it ought to be as
concerns America, but it still has strength. It is plenty
strong enough as concerns Austria, for ten years ago 5,000,000
was nine per cent. of the empire’s population. The Irish would
govern the Kingdom of Heaven if they had a strength there like

I have some suspicions; I got them at second-hand, but they
have remained with me these ten or twelve years. When I read in
the C. B. that the Jewish population of the United States was
250,000, I wrote the editor, and explained to him that I was
personally acquainted with more Jews than that in my country,
and that his figures were without a doubt a misprint for
25,000,000. I also added that I was personally acquainted with
that many there; but that was only to raise his confidence in
me, for it was not true. His answer miscarried, and I never got
it; but I went around talking about the matter, and people told
me they had reason to suspect that for business reasons many
Jews whose dealings were mainly with the Christians did not
report themselves as Jews in the census. It looked plausible;
it looks plausible yet. Look at the city of New York; and look
at Boston, and Philadelphia, and New Orleans, and Chicago, and
Cincinnati, and San Francisco – how your race swarms in those
places! – and everywhere else in America, down to the least
little village. Read the signs on the marts of commerce and on
the shops; Goldstein (gold stone), Edelstein (precious stone),
Blumenthal (flower-vale), Rosenthal (rose-vale), Veilchenduft
(violet odor), Singvogel (song-bird), Rosenzweig (rose branch),
and all the amazing list of beautiful and enviable names which
Prussia and Austria glorified you with so long ago. It is
another instance of Europe’s coarse and cruel persecution of
your race; not that it was coarse and cruel to outfit it with
pretty and poetical names like those, but that it was coarse and
cruel to make it pay for them or else take such hideous and
often indecent names that to-day their owners never use them;
or, if they do, only on official papers. And it was the many,
not the few, who got the odious names, they being too poor to
bribe the officials to grant them better ones.

Now why was the race renamed? I have been told that in
Prussia it was given to using fictitious names, and often
changing them, so as to beat the tax-gatherer, escape military
service, and so on; and that finally the idea was hit upon of
furnishing all the inmates of a house with one and the same
surname, and then holding the house responsible right along for
those inmates, and accountable for any disappearances that might
occur; it made the Jews keep track of each other, for
self-interest’s sake, and saved the government the trouble. ^*

[Footnote *: In Austria the renaming was merely done because the
Jews in some newly acquired regions had no surnames, but were
mostly named Abraham and Moses, and therefore the tax-gatherer
could not tell t’other from which, and was likely to lose his
reason over the matter. The renaming was put into the hands of
the War Department, and a charming mess the graceless young
lieutenants made of it. To them a Jew was of no sort of
consequence, and they labelled the race in a way to make the
angels weep. As an example, take these two: Abraham Bellyache
and Schmul Godbedamned. – Culled from “Namens Studien,” by Karl
Emil Franzos.]

If that explanation of how the Jews of Prussia came to be
renamed is correct, if it is true that they fictitiously
registered themselves to gain certain advantages, it may
possibly be true that in America they refrain from registering
themselves as Jews to fend off the damaging prejudices of the
Christian customer. I have no way of knowing whether this
notion is well founded or not. There may be other and better
ways of explaining why only that poor little 250,000 of our Jews
got into the Cyclopaedia. I may, of course, be mistaken, but I
am strongly of the opinion that we have an immense Jewish
population in America.

Point No. 3.

“Can Jews do anything to improve the situation?”

I think so. If I may make a suggestion without seeming to
be trying to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs, I will offer
it. In our days we have learned the value of combination. We
apply it everywhere – in railway systems, in trusts, in trade
unions, in Salvation Armies, in minor politics, in major
politics, in European Concerts. Whatever our strength may be,
big or little, we organize it. We have found out that that is
the only way to get the most out of it that is in it. We know
the weakness of individual sticks, and the strength of the
concentrated fagot. Suppose you try a scheme like this, for
instance. In England and America put every Jew on the
census-book as a Jew (in case you have not been doing that).
Get up volunteer regiments composed of Jews solely, and, when
the drum beats, fall in and go to the front, so as to remove the
reproach that you have few Massenas among you, and that you feed
on a country but don’t like to fight for it. Next, in politics,
organize you strength, band together, and deliver the casting
vote where you can, and, where you can’t, compel as good terms
as possible. You huddle to yourselves already in all countries,
but you huddle to no sufficient purpose, politically speaking.
You do not seem to be organized, except for your charities.
There you are omnipotent; there you compel your due of
recognition – you do not have to beg for it. It shows what you
can do when you band together for a definite purpose.

And then from America and England you can encourage your
race in Austria, France, and Germany, and materially help it.
It was a pathetic tale that was told by a poor Jew in Galicia a
fortnight ago during the riots, after he had been raided by the
Christian peasantry and despoiled of everything he had. He said
his vote was of no value to him, and he wished he could be
excused from casting it, for, indeed, casting it was a sure
damage to him, since no matter which party he voted for, the
other party would come straight and take its revenge out of
him. Nine per cent. of the population of the empire, these
Jews, and apparently they cannot put a plank into any
candidate’s platform! If you will send our Irish lads over here
I think they will organize your race and change the aspect of
the Reichsrath.

You seem to think that the Jews take no hand in politics
here, that they are “absolutely non-participants.” I am assured
by men competent to speak that this is a very large error, that
the Jews are exceedingly active in politics all over the empire,
but that they scatter their work and their votes among the
numerous parties, and thus lose the advantages to be had by
concentration. I think that in America they scatter too, but you
know more about that than I do.

Speaking of concentration, Dr. Herzl has a clear insight
into the value of that. Have you heard of his plan? He wishes
to gather the Jews of the world together in Palestine, with a
government of their own – under the suzerainty of the Sultan, I
suppose. At the Convention of Berne, last year, there were
delegates from everywhere, and the proposal was received with
decided favor. I am not the Sultan, and I am not objecting; but
if that concentration of the cunningest brains in the world were
going to be made in a free country (bar Scotland), I think it
would be politic to stop it. It will not be well to let the
race find out its strength. If the horses knew theirs, we
should not ride any more.

Point No. 5.

“Will the persecution of the Jews ever come to an end?”

On the score of religion, I think it has already come to an
end. On the score of race prejudice and trade, I have the idea
that it will continue. That is, here and there in spots about
the world, where a barbarous ignorance and a sort of mere animal
civilization prevail; but I do not think that elsewhere the Jew
need now stand in any fear of being robbed and raided. Among the
high civilizations he seems to be very comfortably situated
indeed, and to have more than his proportionate share of the
prosperities going. It has that look in Vienna. I suppose the
race prejudice cannot be removed; but he can stand that; it is
no particular matter. By his make and ways he is substantially
a foreigner wherever he may be, and even the angels dislike a
foreigner. I am using this word foreigner in the German sense –
stranger. Nearly all of us have an antipathy to a stranger, even
of our own nationality. We pile gripsacks in a vacant seat to
keep him from getting it; and a dog goes further, and does as a
savage would – challenges him on the spot. The German
dictionary seems to make no distinction between a stranger and a
foreigner; in its view a stranger is a foreigner – a sound
position, I think. You will always be by ways and habits and
predilections substantially strangers – foreigners – wherever
you are, and that will probably keep the race prejudice against
you alive.

But you were the favorites of Heaven originally, and your
manifold and unfair prosperities convince me that you have
crowded back into that snug place again. Here is an incident
that is significant. Last week in Vienna a hailstorm struck the
prodigious Central Cemetery and made wasteful destruction
there. In the Christian part of it, according to the official
figures, 621 window-panes were broken; more than 900
singing-birds were killed; five great trees and many small ones
were torn to shreds and the shreds scattered far and wide by the
wind; the ornamental plants and other decorations of the graves
were ruined, and more than a hundred tomb-lanterns shattered;
and it took the cemetery’s whole force of 300 laborers more than
three days to clear away the storm’s wreckage. In the report
occurs this remark – and in its italics you can hear it grit its
Christian teeth “. . . lediglich die israelitische Abtheilung
des Friedhofes vom Hagelwetter ganzlich verschont worden war.”
Not a hailstone hit the Jewish reservation! Such nepotism makes
me tired.

Point No. 6.

“What has become of the Golden Rule?”

It exists, it continues to sparkle, and is well taken care
of. It is Exhibit A in the Church’s assets, and we pull it out
every Sunday and give it an airing. But you are not permitted
to try to smuggle it into this discussion, where it is
irrelevant and would not feel at home. It is strictly religious
furniture, like an acolyte, or a contribution-plate, or any of
those things. It has never been intruded into business; and
Jewish persecution is not a religious passion, it is a business

To conclude. – If the statistics are right, the Jews
constitute but one per cent. of the human race. It suggests a
nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky
Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is
heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the
planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is
extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.
His contributions to the world’s list of great names in
literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse
learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his
numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in this world, in all
the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He
could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian,
the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with
sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away;
the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and
they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch
high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight
now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and
is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no
infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his
energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All
things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he
remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

The Jew As Soldier

When I published the above article in Harper’s Monthly, I
was ignorant – like the rest of the Christian world – of the
fact that the Jew had a record as a soldier. I have since seen
the official statistics, and I find that he furnished soldiers
and high officers to the Revolution, the War of 1812, and the
Mexican War. In the Civil War he was represented in the armies
and navies of both the North and the South by 10 per cent. of
his numerical strength – the same percentage that was furnished
by the Christian populations of the two sections. This large
fact means more than it seems to mean; for it means that the
Jew’s patriotism was not merely level with the Christian’s, but
overpassed it. When the Christian volunteer arrived in camp he
got a welcome and applause, but as a rule the Jew got a snub.
His company was not desired, and he was made to feel it. That
he nevertheless conquered his wounded pride and sacrificed both
that and his blood for his flag raises the average and quality
of his patriotism above the Christian’s. His record for
capacity, for fidelity, and for gallant soldiership in the field
is as good as any one’s. This is true of the Jewish private
soldiers and the Jewish generals alike. Major-General O. O.
Howard speaks of one of his Jewish staff-officers as being “of
the bravest and best”; of another – killed at Chancellorsville –
as being “a true friend and a brave officer”; he highly praises
two of his Jewish brigadier-generals; finally, he uses these
strong words: “Intrinsically there are no more patriotic men to
be found in the country than those who claim to be of Hebrew
descent, and who served with me in parallel commands or more
directly under my instructions.”

Fourteen Jewish Confederate and Union families contributed,
between them, fifty-one soldiers to the war. Among these, a
father and three sons; and another, a father and four sons.

In the above article I was not able to endorse the common
reproach that the Jew is willing to feed upon a country but not
to fight for it, because I did not know whether it was true or
false. I supposed it to be true, but it is not allowable to
endorse wandering maxims upon supposition – except when one is
trying to make out a case. That slur upon the Jew cannot hold
up its head in presence of the figures of the War Department.
It has done its work, and done it long and faithfully, and with
high approval: it ought to be pensioned off now, and retired
from active service.

Last-Modified: 1997/01/10