Sir Moses Montefiore: The Forgotten Legend of the 19th Century

| | February 19, 2024

The nineteenth century is full of forgotten heroes. Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885)—once the most famous Jew in the world—is merely one among many. For a major public figure, he has been astonishingly neglected. There is as yet no scholarly biography, and there have been no attempts to locate his activities in a wider, non-Jewish environment.[1] In the context of nineteenth-century historiography, however, this neglect appears less than surprising. Ultimately, the scholarship on Montefiore reflects the segmentation that predominates in the historiography of nineteenth-century religion. Yet closer analysis reveals that his multifaceted role and broad resonance as a public figure could provide a useful corrective to the simplistic categories and “idealist” oppositions too readily applied to the history of the nineteenth century.

Montefiore has long been recognized as a towering figure in the history of nineteenth-century Jewry, but his importance in the non-Jewish world remains unexplored. In fact, Montefiore was far from being the peripheral, ghettoized figure that this lack of interest implies. He mixed freely with the elite of British society and, rather more intimately, with evangelical and dissenting middle-class reformers. His quasi-diplomatic interventions on behalf of oppressed Jewry attracted international press coverage, bringing him into contact with foreign rulers such as Napoleon III and Tsar Nicholas I, as well as a host of lesser officials. Montefiore was a man of national importance and international renown. He is therefore an excellent example of a figure who was closely associated with a particular religious and cultural world—in his case that of British and European Jewry—but who negotiated a whole range of different spheres and contexts: Jewish, Christian, even Muslim; local, national, and international. His appeal transcended national and religious divides, but his symbolic function and meaning varied in the process, enabling us to explore the cultural interchange between these contexts in ways that undercut more traditional interpretations of the European nineteenth century.

Until recently, historians saw this period through the prism of modernization theory. According to this model, industrialization and the emergence of capitalist economies drove the transition from the particularized, traditional societies of the early modern era to the democratic nation-states of the late twentieth century. The “modernization” that characterized nineteenth-century Europe was a process of massive social change, which in turn generated an essentially normative series of political transformations. Viewed from this perspective, class and nation emerged as crucial categories of historical analysis, and the development of collective class-based and national identities at the expense of older local, regional, or religious ones became a major focus of historical inquiry.

The certainties of modernization theory have long since been overtaken by an appreciation of the complexities of nineteenth-century reality. Revisionism does not deny the importance of the socioeconomic and political trends that characterize the modernization model. Instead, it reconceptualizes the interaction between these “modern” trends and more “traditional” elements of the nineteenth-century world, shifting from a model in which the former displace the latter to an awareness of the coexistence of old and new. In practice, “modernity” has proved most useful to the historian in describing trends present within an “ideal-type” society, rather than as a value-laden term associated with Western models of development. For the concerns of this article, two aspects of this revisionist critique are of central importance: a tendency to question the primacy of the nation-state as a tool for understanding the nineteenth century, and a growing recognition of the centrality of religion in the culture and politics of the period.

First, the traditional historical emphasis on popular nationalism and the nation-state has been undercut—both by those who emphasize the persistence of local and regional loyalties, and by those who see the nineteenth century as an era of globalization. On the one hand, recent work on Germany and France has shown the extent to which regionalism coexisted with an emergent sense of national identity focused on the state.[2] In this new historiography, regionalism is no longer tarred with the brush of antimodernism but is itself seen as a product of “modernity.”[3] On the other hand, historians have begun to emphasize the importance of transnational and international contexts and patterns, focusing particularly on cultural transfer and the emergence of a transnational public sphere.[4] Only very recently, however, have historians begun to link all three levels of analysis—local, national, and international—and to examine the interplay between them.[5] In particular, we have little sense of how individual figures such as Montefiore moved between these different spheres. While it has become a commonplace that nineteenth-century individuals could, and did, juggle many different identities at the same time, we need to know more about how they actually negotiated these boundaries.

Second, the “secularization thesis” has increasingly given way to recognition of the continued importance of religion. If anything, religion is emerging as more important than class as a category of identification and analysis for much of the nineteenth century.[6] Olaf Blaschke has gone so far as to argue that the period from 1820 to 1970 was a second Confessional Age.[7] This claim reflects a historiography that focuses primarily on conflictual confessional relationships. The conflict between science and religion, the conflict between liberalism and ultramontane Catholicism, militant anti-Catholic Protestantism, the growth of popular and violent antisemitism—all these have received due scholarly attention. Apart from this focus on religious and cultural conflict, however, there is a marked tendency for the historiographies of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews to remain separate fields.[8] It is no surprise that the first challenges to these deeply rooted tendencies have emerged in German historiography, since Germany remained confessionally mixed to a degree unknown in other parts of Europe.[9] This approach could fruitfully be applied to the historiography of other countries. In Britain, for instance, historians are aware of the slippage between the Catholic revival and Tractarianism, symbolized by a few high-profile conversions from the Church of England to Catholicism; of the common preoccupations of Evangelicals and Tractarians; and even of the extent to which British Reform Judaism was influenced by Anglicanism.[10] Yet the focus has been on dogma, not culture. The interplay between the different religions of Victorian Britain as subcultures, capable of deploying publicly shared language, symbols, and figures in more culturally specific lives, rituals, and narratives, remains to be explored. It is here that study of a specific figure such as Montefiore can prove particularly illuminating.

There are obvious points of contact between antinational and religious critiques of modernization. Religion, like local and regionally based particularisms, has traditionally been seen as a remnant of the premodern world. Like regional particularism, however, religion is now being reclaimed as both shaped by and constitutive of modernity.[11] There are affinities, too, between religion and internationalism, in that religions such as Judaism and Catholicism—even, to a lesser extent, Protestantism—were inherently international phenomena.

Yet the religious and international nature of the Jewish community did not prevent old-style Zionist historians from applying a historical model that drew heavily on the twin themes of secularization and nationalism. Thus the Jerusalem School saw modern Jewish history in terms of the catastrophic impact of the nation-state on traditional Jewish communal and religious structures, as a result of emancipation, assimilation, and their by-product, secularization.[12] The ways in which Jews sought to integrate into different national communities in turn provoked new, secularized forms of antisemitism. This, alongside the outstanding preoccupation with emancipation, contributed to the birth of a specifically “Jewish” politics and led eventually to the emergence of Zionism. The underlying assumption was that emancipation in the West brought about so thorough a transformation of Jewish society that only Jews in the East remained guardians of traditional religious culture.

This version of Jewish history has been attacked both for its reliance on a German model of Jewish development and for the way in which it homogenizes a wide range of experiences and contexts. Three landmark collections of essays—bringing together the work of a whole generation of revisionist historians—have sought to rethink the idea of a common Jewish encounter with modernity in terms of plurality and diversity.[13] Contributors to these collections stress the importance of national context and the ways in which Western Jewry retained an authentic Jewishness. Emancipation may have brought integration, but it did not necessarily equate with radical assimilation or the loss of Jewish identity. Likewise, the supposedly “traditional” Jewish world of Eastern Europe has emerged as less cohesive, more politicized, and more responsive to change than the Zionist school of historians assumed.[14] Montefiore’s complex relationship with a wide variety of contexts and publics—Jewish and non-Jewish alike—reinforces this critique. At the same time, the international and transdenominational nature of his philanthropic activities merits further consderation.

Much has been written on the transformation of European philanthropy in the nineteenth century. Once again this historiography relies heavily on the modernization paradigm. Historians have emphasized the relationship between the rise of capitalism and “scientific” approaches to philanthropy, which prioritized self-help and the “deserving poor” over the injunction to give for religious reasons alone.[15] This interpretive framework requires modification to reflect a growing recognition of the role of religion and belief as motivating forces in nineteenth-century politics and society. Nowhere was this motivation more apparent than in the largely overlooked international dimension of nineteenth-century philanthropy.

Moses Haim Montefiore was the son of a second-generation Italian Jewish immigrant living in London. He was born in Livorno, Italy, in 1784, but grew up in London, where he made his fortune on the Stock Exchange. When he died in 1885, he left nearly £375,000.[16] Montefiore was also well connected. He married Judith Barent Cohen, whose sister Hannah was married to Nathan Rothschild. Ties of blood and marriage linked him with the other leading Jewish business dynasties: the Mocattas, the Goldsmids, the Cohens, and the Salomonses.

Montefiore made his name when, like many Victorian businessmen, he scaled down his business interests and devoted himself to philanthropy and communal politics.[17] After his return from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1827, during which he reverted to strict Jewish orthodoxy, he was elected to the Board of Deputies, the representative body of Anglo-Jewry. In the 1830s, he spearheaded the campaign for Jewish emancipation alongside Nathan Rothschild, Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, and David Salomons. On a more personal level, he sought to shore up his social status in the non-Jewish world. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, joined the exclusive Athenaeum club, purchased a landed estate at Ramsgate, and was the second Jew to be appointed Sheriff of the City of London—which brought him a knighthood in Victoria’s coronation year.[18] Montefiore finally came into his own during the Damascus Affair of 1840.[19] In response to blood libel accusations in the East, he traveled to Alexandria with his French Jewish counterpart Adolphe Crémieux, where they obtained the release of Jews accused of the ritual murder of a missing Catholic priest. Montefiore continued to Constantinople, where the sultan issued a decree, publicly declaring the blood libel to be a calumny and promising the Jews “the same advantages and … the same privileges as … other nations who submit to our authority.”[20] Thenceforth, although Montefiore remained president of the Board of Deputies for some forty years, foreign Jewry became his prime preoccupation.[21]

The Damascus Affair was the first of many spectacular international missions on behalf of persecuted Jews, all but one of which appeared to contemporaries to be crowned with success. In 1846, Montefiore traveled to Russia to alleviate the conditions of Russian Jewry, who were threatened by forced assimilation and expulsion from a swath of border territory. In 1858, he traveled to Rome, where he failed to obtain the release of Edgardo Mortara, a Jewish child who had been secretly baptized and seized by the papal police to ensure that he would be brought up a good Catholic. In 1863, Montefiore traveled to Morocco, where he freed Jews falsely accused of murder and obtained a decree from the sultan promising just treatment of the country’s Jewish and Christian subjects. In 1867, Montefiore traveled to Romania after a series of high-profile anti-Jewish outrages, obtaining promises from Prince Carol that Jews there would be well treated in the future. Finally, in 1872, he traveled again to St. Petersburg. In addition, Montefiore visited the Holy Land seven times and fostered the development of pre-Zionist Palestine. Paradoxically, he sought to render the Jewish community there less dependent on diaspora charity by promoting education, health care, agriculture, and industry, at the same time that he was raising funds on their behalf. Montefiore was instrumental in establishing the first Jewish settlement outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, and in building the windmill that has become one of the symbols of the state of Israel.[22]

Montefiore’s high-profile activities meant that his centennial birthday celebrations in 1883 and 1884 attracted unprecedented excitement in the Jewish world. Testifying to their importance, the Zionist and Montefiore enthusiast Paul Goodman claimed:

the centenary of Sir Moses Montefiore and his death are among the most vivid memories of [my] childhood. These were events that struck the Jewish imagination to an extent hardly realized in the present age. The impression they produced on the most outlying portions of the Jewish Diaspora were only equaled about a decade subsequently by the meteoric appearance on the Jewish horizon of the Messianic figure of Theodor Herzl.[23]

Montefiore’s appeal as a Jewish symbol has been explored by Israel Bartal, who argues that Montefiore captured the Jewish imagination because of his ability to be all things to all men.[24] To modernizers, Montefiore represented the achievements of emancipated Western Jewry through his wealth, his social status and Western dress, and his endorsement of education in the vernacular. To traditionalists, he represented the triumph of religious values, since he was famous for his religious observance. Bartal argues that Montefiore was at home in neither camp. His strict orthodoxy prompted an uncompromising stand toward Reform Judaism, and he prioritized religious tradition over civil and political equality in England. In Palestine, too, he was unwilling to impose change in the face of orthodox opposition. Nevertheless, Montefiore had no real understanding of the traditional Jewish world—and must have appeared foreign indeed to the Jews of Russia when he turned up in Western dress without a beard. Politically, Bartal argues that Montefiore was a transitional figure, caught between the era of international Jewish organizations such as the Alliance Israélite Universelle, and the traditional mediating role of the shtadlan—the individual “court Jew” whose personal prestige enabled him to intercede on behalf of the wider Jewish community.

Bartal’s analysis highlights the customary opposition between traditional and modernizing camps, which has emerged as one of the central dividing lines within specific religious cultures such as Judaism, and within European culture at large. Yet the combination of personal attributes that enabled Montefiore to please such different audiences underlines the difficulty of regarding either “traditionalism” or “modernity” as a homogeneous category. Montefiore’s clean-shaven appearance did not exclude him from the world of traditional Judaism in his own Western European context. To be, as Montefiore was, an “orthodox” Jew in London was not the same as being “orthodox” in the Pale, where cultural traditions had always been different. Moreover, although both Protestant Britain and Orthodox Russia remained highly religious societies, they were religious in fundamentally different ways. The contrasting values attributed to Montefiore by both camps actually demonstrate the extent to which “modern” and “traditional” Jews continued to draw on shared experiences and symbols, although their widely differing culture and lifestyles meant that they interpreted them in radically different ways. The emergence of an international Jewish press, containing both Orthodox and Reform voices, added an extra dimension to this common pool of experience.

If, however, we want to unpack the assumptions about religion and nationality underlying the historiography of the nineteenth century and traditional interpretations of Montefiore’s life, we need to examine Montefiore’s appeal beyond the Jewish world. This has been completely ignored by historians, reflecting both the ghettoization of Jewish historiography and the failure of national historical traditions to integrate the Jewish experience in their own particular country. Yet Montefiore’s appeal in the non-Jewish world remains one of the most persistent themes in the articles, sermons, and congratulatory addresses produced in the Jewish world to mark his centennial birthdays and to commemorate his death. A typical article in the German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Presse declared proudly:

But not only we, not only the Jews, celebrate him; no, all the adherents of other religions, in whose breast the pained cry of misery and wretchedness finds an echo, all those who can value selfless achievement and efforts in the service of suffering humanity without jealousy, they all respect and love him, a son of our tribe [Stamm].[25]

In keeping with this emphasis on Montefiore’s supradenominational appeal, Jewish authors stressed the way Montefiore’s generosity transcended religious difference. Addressing Montefiore on the occasion of his 100th birthday, for instance, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Board of Delegates on Civil and Religious Rights declared: “Not for Israel alone have you labored. Whenever the cry of distress reached your ears, you opened wide the hand of relief without stint or question, regarding the needy and the poor of all sects and creeds as brethren.”[26]

Public statements such as this one reflected the desire of Jewish communities to feel appreciated rather than rejected by the dominant culture at a time of increased political vulnerability. Earlier tributes to Montefiore placed less emphasis on his transdenominational activity. Even so, an address from Ancona to mark Montefiore’s return from Morocco in 1864 refers to his securing rights “not solely for your religious brethren, but for all inhabitants of Morocco who do not profess the Mahomettan religion.” It concludes that in so doing, he provided the world with “new proof … of the universal humanitarian principles of the religion of which you are such a brave champion.”[27] Nevertheless, references to a growing climate of antisemitism indicate that this aspect of Montefiore’s activities appeared peculiarly relevant in the 1880s.

Extensive press coverage of and popular engagement in Montefiore’s birthday celebrations indicate that Jewish pride in his transdenominational appeal was more than wishful thinking. In October 1883, a public meeting was held in Ramsgate to establish a Montefiore commemorative committee. Speakers included the vicar of Ramsgate, a leading local Catholic, a local Oddfellow, four Anglican clergymen, and the mayor of Margate. Dignitaries willing to join the committee included Lord Grenville, Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Lord Sydney, Lord Shaftesbury, Sir Erasmus Wilson, the M.P.s for Kent, the deans of Canterbury and Windsor, the lord mayor-elect of London, and the mayors of Canterbury, Dover, and Margate.[28] Clearly there was a local aspect to this initiative. Montefiore was Ramsgate’s leading notable and gave generously to its charities. Yet the Ramsgate initiative was taken up at a national level, with plans for a grand public meeting to be held in the Mansion House. Speakers included Lord Shaftesbury, the bishop of Bedford, the Hon. C. W. Freemantle, Cardinal Manning, Rabbi Herman Adler, Sir John Lubbock, M.P., the Reverend G. E. Banks, Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, and Arthur Cohen, M.P.[29] The meeting was canceled at the last minute, in accordance with Montefiore’s express wishes: modestly, he claimed that he did not want so much fuss.[30] Even so, the venue and the list of those scheduled to speak testify to his resonance as a genuinely national figure. This is borne out by the fact that Britain’s foremost newspaper, the Times, marked both Montefiore’s 99th and 100th birthdays with leading articles.[31] In the latter, the Times declared: “Englishmen without distinction of creeds contemplate Sir Moses Montefiore’s career with as much pleasure as his co-religionists.”[32]

This enthusiasm was not, in fact, restricted to “Englishmen.” Among those who sent congratulatory addresses to Montefiore to mark his 100th birthday were groups as far-flung as the Freemasons of Chile and the Annual Convention of the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union in West Virginia.[33] Press coverage of his centennial celebrations was similarly international. The Jewish Chronicle reported that in Russia, “The leading journals in St. Petersburg, even the anti-Jewish Nowoje Wremja, have dwelt at length, and in favourable terms, on the universal celebration of the Montefiore centenary.”[34] When he died, the Vienna Allgemeine, the Vossische Zeitung, the Nationalzeitung, and the Tagblatt all commented favorably on his life and works.[35]

The celebrations prompted widespread interest in the non-Jewish world because Montefiore was already a well-known public figure. Events such as the Damascus and Mortara affairs had generated reams of newspaper coverage—not to mention civic action. The persecution of the Jews of Russia in the 1840s and Romania in the 1860s and 1870s was a staple of foreign news reporting. Montefiore’s interventions received due attention as part of the wider picture. These activities did not usually attract leading articles and comment pieces. When they did, such articles were almost invariably reproduced in the Jewish press—favorable or otherwise. Nevertheless, a steady diet of correspondence pieces—enriched by occasional letters from Montefiore in the Times, press releases from the Board of Deputies, and Montefiore’s sponsorship of fund-raising appeals—ensured his place in the public eye. The Montefiore centenary celebrations amplified existing tendencies in the public sphere and crystallized a view of Montefiore that was inherent in earlier press coverage.

In seeking to explain Montefiore’s supradenominational popularity, three elements appear particularly striking. The first is his age. In the nineteenth century, it was extraordinary to reach the age of 100 at all; this was clearly one reason why Montefiore’s 99th and 100th birthdays attracted so much attention. The makers of Richmond Gem Tobacco picked up on this theme in an advertisement published in the Illustrated London News and the Jewish Chronicle, proclaiming, “All may not reach Sir Moses Montefiore’s great age, but all may prolong their lives and add to their enjoyment by smoking Allen & Ginter’s absolutely pure Cigarettes.”[36]

READ MORE: Who Invented the Cigarette? A History of Tobacco Smoking and Cigarettes

Undoubtedly, too, Montefiore’s age added romance to his foreign missions. On his return from Morocco, The Daily Telegraph praised:

What one good old man had done to wipe away tears from streaming eyes and cause oppression to cease … His last of many such noble works is his greatest, and cannot fail to be followed by justice and amity along the shores of Africa … Honour to the good grey hairs of the aged baronet![37]

This quotation highlights a second aspect of the gentile Montefiore myth, namely the idea of Montefiore as a bearer of European and specifically British civilization to the East. The Graphic published an obituary of Montefiore in August 1885, illustrated with scenes from his life.[38] About half the illustrations accompanying this article related to his foreign missions. In two-thirds of these, Montefiore appears in Western dress—usually in uniform—surrounded by colorful “Oriental” characters wearing flowing robes and turbans. He looks dashing and improbably youthful; yet he would have been at least fifty-five years old then. This vision of Montefiore as a romantic imperial adventurer is confirmed elsewhere.[39] The Britishness of Montefiore’s appeal was underlined in the Times leading article marking his 100th birthday in 1884: “he has been the victorious defender of persecuted Jews because he was the perfect English gentleman.”[40] Here, the Times explicitly acknowledged the inherently British nature of Montefiore’s mission.

There is an undeniable irony in this depiction of a Jew as ambassador of British culture and values abroad, given the halting progress of Anglo-Jewish emancipation at home. After all, Montefiore was past seventy by the time that Lionel de Rothschild took his seat in the Commons in 1858, and the Rothschilds did not enter the Lords until just before Montefiore died. In the eyes of many, Jews remained indelibly associated with the Oriental—an association Disraeli actively encouraged. This irony is the more profound because in many ways Montefiore’s Jewishness remained central to his appeal. In exploring this third aspect of his popularity in the gentile world, the contrast between images of Montefiore as a “young” man on his missions abroad and as an old man is particularly instructive. In the former, he is very much the English gentleman, but in the latter, he is a biblical patriarch—wearing his trademark black skullcap, not his city uniform.[41] Montefiore was not merely a figure who managed to appear both enlightened and religious to the Jewish world. He also appeared both “one of us” and “foreign” to a non-Jewish audience. This tension is best encapsulated by the Times:

In his own person he has solved once for all the problem of the competence of the most faithful Jews to be not the less a complete Englishman … Both as Jew and as Englishman he demanded abatement of his kinsmen’s grievances of Emperors, Sultans, Pashas, and Parliaments. None could dispute the union in him of this double claim.[42]

Ultimately, however, it was Montefiore’s Jewishness—not his Englishness—that captured the wider imagination. There were many imperial adventurers, but as a quasi-biblical figure, Montefiore was unique. His contemporaries loved to imagine themselves in the presence of biblical history made flesh. Two Scottish missionaries who came across Montefiore’s camp in Palestine in 1839 described how “[it] called up to our minds the events of other days, when Israel were not strangers in their own land.”[43] Similarly, the German scholar Professor Max Müller visited Montefiore on the Feast of Tabernacles, when observant Jews traditionally spend a week living in a temporary shelter known as a Succah.[44] Müller described how “sitting in the tabernacle at the table with Sir Moses Montefiore, I can fancy myself in the presence of the Patriarch Abraham, sitting in his tent.”[45] Contemporaries found the image of Montefiore in his tent so appealing that the Illustrated London News even carried a picture of his Succah.[46]

These responses to Montefiore’s Jewishness reflected the strong British tradition of Protestant philosemitism. Certainly, Montefiore appealed to this audience, as is indicated by his role in heading many of the fund-raising campaigns highlighted in the Rubinsteins’ study of philosemitism.[47] Indeed, he had close links with such pillars of the Evangelical establishment as Sir Culling Eardley and Lord Shaftesbury. There are indications that he actively cultivated these ties, based on a common appreciation of the Old Testament and the Bible lands. In 1871, he sent the future Sir Charles Hunt a pair of cups carved in Jerusalem, as a memento of Hunt’s late sister. In his letter of thanks, Hunt noted, “you spoke to her I believe with strong affection for the Book of Zechariah, & in a Bible she latterly used, she read that book with great care.”[48] Yet the Evangelical preoccupation with Judaism was motivated above all by conversionism. David Feldman has demonstrated that even apparently philosemitic conversionists were highly critical of the kind of traditional Jewish culture upheld by Montefiore.[49] Equally, not all Evangelicals were philosemites or Restorationists. Indeed, Eitan Bar Yosef has argued that Restorationism represented the lunatic fringe of Evangelical culture.[50] In this context, Montefiore’s popular appeal as an Orthodox Jew, strongly resistant to both Reform and conversionism, should not be taken for granted.

Montefiore’s popularity is especially striking when we consider both its international scope and how late it comes in the nineteenth century. In Germany, the 1870s and early 1880s are associated with the emergence of political antisemitism.[51] In Russia, both the government and the press evinced progressively greater hostility toward Jews in the 1870s, which culminated in the 1881–1882 pogroms.[52] In Britain, the 1870s saw anti-Jewish feeling reemerge into the mainstream.[53] For both Jews and non-Jews alike, Montefiore presented a proudly Jewish face to the world at a time when to do so was increasingly difficult.

It would be easy to dismiss the enthusiastic response to Montefiore’s centenary in the non-Jewish world as an exceptional case. Favorable coverage of the occasion by newspapers such as Nowoje Wremja certainly did not prevent the very same publications from printing anti-Jewish articles. Arguably, presenting a positive view of the Montefiore centenary gave such newspapers greater latitude when pursuing an antisemitic agenda. Such an interpretation is too simplistic. Studies of the Russian press testify to a sea change in attitudes toward Jews in the 1870s; they do not indicate that “judeophobe” newspapers such as Nowoje Wremja were in any way embarrassed about antisemitism.[54] Moreover, Montefiore’s international activities on behalf of oppressed Jewry, particularly in the East, rendered him vulnerable to antisemitic attacks. David Feldman argues that the Bulgarian atrocities and the Congress of Berlin were central to the emergence of a new British antisemitism, which criticized Disraeli for pursuing a “Jewish” foreign policy in the East and drew on racial arguments to demonstrate that the Jews were inherently unassimilable.[55] Feldman cites O’Connor’s description of Disraeli’s reception by a ninety-five-year-old Montefiore on the former’s return from Berlin: “By that small scene the meaning of this apotheosis of Lord Beaconsfield by a Christian people is written in letters of light. That day represented the triumph, not of England, not of an English policy, not of an Englishman. It was the triumph of Judea, a Jewish policy, a Jew.”[56] Disraeli is the main target here, but Montefiore appears as shorthand for Jewish self-interest and Jewish politics. Unsurprisingly, the “Manifesto to the Governments and Populations of the Christian States Oppressed by Judaism,” produced by the Dresden Antisemitic Congress of 1882, portrayed Montefiore as a leading figure in the international Jewish conspiracy.[57]

This context renders the unanimous celebrations of the Montefiore centenary particularly remarkable. The extent to which Jews were influenced by the culture of European “host societies” has long been acknowledged; the ability of a proudly Jewish symbol such as Montefiore to percolate into the non-Jewish public sphere in a positive way has been overlooked.

Closer examination of Montefiore’s philanthropic activity may help to explain the phenomenon. Montefiore’s Jewish contemporaries assumed that he was motivated by a pious concern for both his fellow Jews and fellow men.[58] In one letter from Jerusalem, for instance, Montefiore is enjoined “to make many mitzvot.”[59] The signatories express their belief that he “will stand courageous to make a tikkun to the sons of the city.” Reflecting their traditional world view, the authors understood Montefiore’s generosity to the Jews of Palestine in terms of fulfilling religious commandments (mitzvot—in particular, the concepts of tikkun olam (repairing the world through social action) and pikuach nefesh (saving life).[60] Another supplicant stated: “he who saved one soul from Israel has saved the entire world, and in that made himself a partner to the creator. And this mitzvah is multiplied if he saved us and our sons so that they grow up, learn Torah, get married, and make mitzvot themselves.”[61] In keeping with this interpretation of Montefiore’s philanthropy, groups of Jews regularly promised to dedicate study sessions to Montefiore and his wife, to name religious academies or yeshivot in their honor, and to pray for them and their companions. More generally, correspondents assured Montefiore, “your reward will be great and G-d will lengthen your days with happiness and goodness and you will be granted to see the rebuilding of Zion and Jerusalem.”[62]

This naive interpretation of Montefiore’s philanthropic motivation sits awkwardly with the functionalist approach taken by recent historiography. The anthropologist Marcel Mauss emphasized the reciprocity of giving and the role of philanthropy in enhancing social status.[63] Historians have developed this idea in two ways. First, they have stressed the role of philanthropy as a form of social control, a source of social power, and a forerunner of the modern welfare state.[64] Thus the transition from “traditional” to “modern” forms of giving is linked to the emergence of capitalism and the need to assuage the tensions inherent in a class society. Second, historians have argued that philanthropy is another form of internal politics among social elites.[65] Studies of Jewish philanthropy reflect these preoccupations. Derek Penslar and Rainer Liedtke stress the importance of the non-Jewish environment in dictating the philanthropic concerns of Jewish elites—the desire to acculturate, the need to care for the Jewish poor within the community, and the impact this had on wider perceptions of the Jewish world.[66] According to historians such as Mordecai Rozin, Jewish giving reflected the socioeconomic needs of Jewish elites, not the Jewish poor.[67] This literature rejects the idea that Jewish religious preoccupations with tzedakah (charity) had anything to do with modern Jewish philanthropy.

This perspective is of limited use in understanding a figure such as Montefiore. On the one hand, it fails to address his genuine spirituality and the religious framework in which his Jewish contemporaries interpreted his actions. On the other hand, by focusing almost exclusively on the relationship between Jewish elites as givers and the Jewish poor as recipients, it does not do justice to the transdenominational dimension of Montefiore’s activities.

Montefiore was not given to introspection. Little in his diaries or his surviving correspondence explains his more mundane philanthropic activity. We know that he was philanthropically active by the 1820s, because in 1823 he presented the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in London with an estate of thirteen almshouses. Pious reflections in his diaries indicate that he was religiously inclined at this stage. His 1826 diary opens with a prayer: “Renew in me, O Lord, the right spirit.”[68] Nevertheless, his first pilgrimage to Jerusalem, in 1827, greatly enhanced these existing tendencies. On his birthday, which he spent on board ship, he wrote:

I humbly pray to the God of my forefathers, my God, the one only true God, to grant that I may henceforth become, a more righteous and better man, as well as better Jew, and that I may daily be more deserving of his abundant mercies; that I may, to the end of my days, be guarded and directed by His Almighty Providence, and when it pleases Him to take me from this world, May He graciously receive my soul, pardon & forgive my iniquities; support and comfort my dear dear wife. This day I begin a new era. I fully intend to dedicate much more time, towards the welfare of the poor, and to attend as regularly as possible on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday Synagogue.[69]

This vision of the twin pillars of philanthropy and nonphilanthropic religious observance as two sides of the same coin prompts a reconsideration of the relationship between “traditional” and “modern” forms of giving.

In practice, Montefiore’s philanthropy ranged from traditional forms of Jewish charity through more modern forms of Jewish philanthropy to non-Jewish philanthropic concerns. Some aspects of his giving reflected his traditional Jewish world view. On the anniversary of his father’s death in 1821, he “visited his tomb, distributing gifts to the poor and needy, and on my return passed the whole of the day in fasting and religious meditation.”[70] Likewise, Montefiore was, for most of his life, a lavador in the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation. This role entailed preparing the bodies of the dead for burial—an important (but unworldly) form of tzedakah. He was an active supporter of traditional Torah scholarship, subsidizing individuals, such as Rabbi Abraham Belais in London, and institutions, including the Yeshivat Ohel Moshe ve Yehudit in Hebron. He founded a center of traditional religious study at Ramsgate in memory of his wife, Judith, stipulating that the scholars were to pray regularly for her—and, in due course, for them both.

At the same time, Montefiore’s activity reflected contemporary philanthropic practices and ideas about poor relief. This is apparent from his description of a visit among London’s Jewish poor in 1830: “we … visited the rooms of about 112 persons. To 108 we gave cards to obtain relief from the General Committee on Thursday.”[71] Equally, his account of a visit to the almshouses that he founded in Jerusalem demonstrates a typically Victorian concern with hard work:

I satisfied myself that the inmates were fully deserving of the advantages they were enjoying … scrupulous attention is paid to the preservation of order and cleanliness, and the inmates are cheerful and happy, devoting a portion of their time to religious observances and study; but nevertheless not neglecting the following of industrial pursuits.[72]

In Russia and Turkey, Montefiore supported Jewish occupational restructuring and educational modernization, rather than defending the traditional way of life.

Montefiore was also an active supporter of non-Jewish causes, such as Lord Shaftesbury’s Ragged Schools. On a small scale, his transdenominational philanthropy is apparent in his role as the benefactor of Ramsgate.[73] More generally, a close reading of Loewe’s edition of the Montefiore diaries reveals numerous small donations to non-Jewish charities.[74] For Montefiore, giving to non-Jewish causes did not merely reflect a desire to become part of the host community, as Rozin has argued. It reflected the way he saw himself as already belonging to that community, manifested in a sense of social responsibility that stretched beyond the Jewish world. This sense of belonging to the host community manifested itself in Montefiore’s much-vaunted patriotism—patriotism so strong that on occasion it actually undercut his Jewish activism. In 1858, when Montefiore arrived in Rome to intercede on behalf of Eduardo Mortara, he refused to apply to the French ambassador at a time when the pope’s position depended on French military support, because he felt himself “so much of an Englishman that I prefer the English representation, and would only act in accordance with the advice of Mr. Russell.”[75]

Arguably, Montefiore, along with other Jewish figures such as Goldsmid and Crémieux, saw Jewish problems as part of a wider spectrum of social and political issues. It is therefore worth asking whether the distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish causes, implicit in the literature on Jewish philanthropy, was as significant for men like Montefiore as the distinction between “traditional” and more “modern” forms of giving.

This kind of crossover between Jewish and mainstream philanthropy has been underexplored by existing historiography. The Rubinsteins’ study of philosemitism mentions it but focuses on Christian donations to Jewish causes.[76] The work of Mordecai Rozin on Anglo-Jewish charity devotes considerable attention to the donations of Isaac Lyon Goldsmid to non-Jewish charities.[77] Yet Rozin’s approach to this problem is limited by his excessively functionalist view of philanthropy as an instrument of class control and interelite politics. In essence, Rozin sees Goldsmid’s philanthropy as a means of bolstering his position in the gentile world and furthering the cause of emancipation. But careful study of the subscription lists and accounts of fund-raising evenings that figure repeatedly in the Jewish Chronicle demonstrate a dense, interlocking network of Christian and Jewish philanthropic activity, in which prominent Christians patronized obviously Jewish charities and vice versa.[78] Rozin’s simplistic model cannot begin to explain this phenomenon.

As Alan Kidd has argued, a functionalist approach to philanthropy that emphasizes the implicit reciprocity of giving denigrates innumerable acts of compassion and generosity of spirit, which may bring meaning to individual lives in a wide variety of different ways.[79] Certainly, in Montefiore’s case, functionalism manifestly fails to explain the more traditional aspects of his religious philanthropy. Equally, it does not do justice to his strong English identity. The functionalist interpretation reveals important truths about philanthropic motivation, but we need a more multidimensional understanding of why men such as Montefiore gave.

Montefiore’s “modern” philanthropic engagement can be understood in terms of a continuity of vision and purpose that transcended the religious divide, as is borne out by an analysis of his higher-profile political activities. Both his interventions on behalf of distressed Jewry abroad and his involvement in the campaign for Jewish emancipation can be placed within a wider spectrum of activity that included the non-Jewish world. In this context, his activities in the 1830s merit special attention.

Montefiore is usually seen as a half-hearted supporter of Jewish emancipation, principally because of his statement in 1837 that he was “most firmly resolved not to give up the smallest part of our religious forms and privileges to obtain civil rights.”[80] Likewise, historians have made much of Goldsmid’s criticism of the Board of Deputies’ lack of action over emancipation under Montefiore’s leadership.[81] Yet Montefiore’s diaries make it clear that he was very active in lobbying for emancipation during the 1830s. Indeed, Goldsmid himself recognized Montefiore’s contribution to the early stages of the emancipation campaign when he wrote to the Board in 1848, suggesting that it should rally the forces of civil society in the Jewish cause through petitions and mass meetings. In a cover letter to Montefiore, Goldsmid noted that in the past, “you & I co-operated together in pursuing the system & were convinced of, and experienced its beneficial effects.”[82] Goldsmid thereby acknowledges Montefiore’s engagement with a more populist politics during the 1830s.

This acknowledgment is important because the methods described by Goldsmid were deployed over a wide range of issues in the early 1830s—most famously parliamentary reform, but also the antislavery movement and reform of the Poor Law. Often, those who mobilized to support one such campaign also supported others. Thus David Turley locates antislavery within the wider context of what he terms “the middle class reform complex.”[83] Turley notes the links between antislavery activists and other causes such as parliamentary reform, penal reform, and education, as well as issues relating to religious freedom for dissenters, Catholics, and Jews. This complex reflected deep anxieties about the social and political order, and a desire to effect the moral renovation of the world.

It is relatively uncontroversial to link Jewish emancipation with this wider Reform complex from the perspective of non-Jewish activists. Emancipation was supported by figures such as Daniel O’Connell, Elizabeth Fry, and Robert Owen, as well as pillars of the Whig establishment, including Lord Holland.[84] This was not a one-way relationship. Goldsmid’s involvement with leading Whigs and Radicals and his commitment to less explicitly Jewish causes, such as the founding of University College London, have always been acknowledged. In many ways, the same was true of Montefiore. Writing to Lord John Russell in 1838, Montefiore underlined his commitment to the reforming Whig administration of the 1830s:

I feel the deepest gratitude to that Government by whose Energy the Reform was effected, and by whose prudence it has been consolidated and brought into beneficial operation, and as far as my Influence extends (and it’s sphere is not very contracted) it will be steadily exerted in the support of the existing Ministry, and in maintenance of the Principles held by them.[85]

Such principles were very much in keeping with Montefiore’s social circle. His diaries in the 1830s list endless social engagements at which he encountered prominent Whig and Radical politicians. Similarly, his business network reached beyond his Jewish relatives. As a director of the Alliance Assurance Company and the Imperial Continental Gas Association, he also had close links with prominent dissenting families, including the Gurneys and the Attwoods. Figures such as Sam Gurney and Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, M.P., who founded the Alliance with Montefiore in the 1820s, were leading antislavery campaigners, as was Montefiore’s close friend Thomas Hodgkin. And during the 1830s, Montefiore himself became actively involved in the antislavery campaign, as well as in exclusively Jewish politics.

Popular biographies of Montefiore often note in passing that his last major business transaction was as joint contractor with Nathan Rothschild for the £20 million loan for compensation to owners of freed slaves, which enabled the British government to pass the Slave Emancipation Act in 1835. This loan merits closer consideration. The fact that Montefiore underwrote it ten years after he had nominally retired from business should attract our attention. Clearly it testified to his personal commitment to the antislavery cause. Montefiore’s diaries, which were heavily edited by his secretary Louis Loewe, refer to his attending at least one public antislavery meeting.[86] Montefiore’s engagement with the flagship issue of antislavery enables us to locate him and his activities on behalf of Jewish emancipation, like Goldsmid and Rothschild, within Turley’s wider middle-class reform complex.

The link between Jewish issues and Montefiore’s wider philanthropic concerns in the 1830s, notably antislavery, remains apparent in his subsequent activities. Tellingly, when he went to Alexandria in 1840, he did not restrict himself to obtaining the release of the Jewish prisoners in Damascus. During his first meeting with Mehmet Ali, he was accompanied by Dr. Madden, who presented a petition of thanks to Mehmet Ali from the London Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in recognition of the pasha’s recent abolition of slavery.[87] Mehmet Ali discussed the matter with Montefiore at some length, a conversation that, according to Montefiore’s diaries, “led Sir Moses to hope that a heart which could be thus moved by humane sentiments, would surely not sanction such tortures and sufferings as the Damascus prisoners had been made to endure.”[88] The link between Montefiore’s commitment to the cause of oppressed Jewry and his antislavery activity is clearly demonstrated here. Unquestionably, the plight of his coreligionists abroad fitted within a wider spectrum of his concern for humanitarian issues.

For Montefiore, the link between persecuted Jewry and wider humanitarian concerns remained very much alive in subsequent decades, just as his contacts with the world of dissenting reform and evangelical Christianity persisted alongside his deepening involvement in the world of traditional Judaism. It would be naive to assume that this link was entirely disinterested. As Montefiore became an increasingly public figure, he became more self-conscious in his attempts to link the condition of Jews in the Muslim world, in particular, with wider issues of religious toleration and civil rights. He made considerable efforts to demonstrate that his commitment to these issues transcended religious loyalties—hence the claim that his generosity was unbounded.

In 1860, Montefiore provided the impetus behind a campaign to raise funds for destitute Christian refugees in Syria, after thousands had been massacred by the Druze. That he and Crémieux independently launched identical fund-raising initiatives on the very same day highlights the close interplay between international Jewish politics and the wider humanitarian agenda. The cause raised more than £30,000 from Britain, Europe, and the United States, and attracted cross-denominational support from evangelicals, such as Sir Culling Eardley and Lord Shaftesbury; from politicians, such as Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell; and from Jewish leaders, including Montefiore, Crémieux, and the Rothschilds.

Similarly, during his mission to Morocco in 1863, Montefiore did not merely obtain the freedom of several Jews accused of murder, he also interceded on behalf of a Muslim who had been unjustly imprisoned for the murder of a Jew. On his arrival in Marrakesh, he appealed to the sultan of Morocco for fairer treatment of both Christians and Jews. This aspect of Montefiore’s mission to Morocco was appreciated in Britain. On his return, a public meeting unanimously adopted a motion proposed by Sir Anthony de Rothschild and seconded by Gladstone, stating that “by his successful representations … on behalf of all non-Mahometan subjects,” Montefiore had “rendered an important service to the cause of humanity.”[89] In keeping with this stance, when Montefiore received news of famine in the Holy Land in 1870, he promptly gave £100 to the Jews, £100 for relief of the Christian poor, and £100 for relief of the Muslim community.[90] On hearing of the famine in Persia in 1871, he responded in an ostentatiously nonsectarian way, sending £50 to the Jews, £25 to the Christians, and £25 for relief of the Muslim population.[91] Once again, his generosity received due acknowledgment in the gentile world, prompting a leading article in the London Mirror. On both occasions, Montefiore’s engagement with these causes prompted large-scale transdenominational and international fund-raising efforts, which brought in significant sums of money.

The images of Montefiore prevalent in the non-Jewish world reflected both the narrowly Jewish and the wider humanitarian aspects of his activities. Upon his death, the Church Times commented bitterly that, “Having been an earnest philo-Judaean, he has been mistaken by the public for a great philanthropist.”[92] This lone critical voice in a sea of adulation testifies to Montefiore’s success in projecting an image of his activities as transcending narrowly sectarian interests and of himself as a representative of both Jewish and British values.

It is tempting to dismiss Montefiore’s navigation of the boundaries between religious and national identities, and between local, national, and international worlds, as an exceptional case. Yet this view overlooks the underlying structures and trends that enabled him to function in this way. Montefiore’s activities and resonance as a public figure were paradigmatic of a particular kind of transnational humanitarian activity, very much of its age—both in terms of the sentiments evoked and in terms of the means deployed. As a Jewish figure whose activities reflected and exploited these wider currents, Montefiore undoubtedly achieved exceptional public resonance. But the nature of his interaction with these wider philanthropic environs was not, in itself, unique. Instead, he was successful in projecting an image of himself as a universal philanthropist, rather than a specifically Jewish figure, precisely because of the popular appeal of international and humanitarian philanthropy at the time. Historians of the nineteenth century have overlooked the scale and importance of international humanitarian activity because it fits awkwardly with traditional historiographical preoccupations, which have focused on the growth of nationalism and on religious conflict rather than on transdenominational cooperation.

Religious conflict was a central strand in nineteenth-century European history, just as it was in Montefiore’s own lifetime, but this conflict took place in a context that did not exclude transdenominational collaboration. Admittedly, international institutions such as the Red Cross and the Alliance Israélite Universelle have attracted historical attention, but historians have seen them in isolation, rather than as part of a wider internationalist movement.[93] In fact, there were tacit connections between these movements and the figures that inspired them. Henry Dunant, one of the founders of the Red Cross, was a supporter of Jewish colonization in Palestine, a cause espoused by the Alliance Israélite Universelle.[94] Equally, the Alliance Israélite itself was modeled on the Protestant Evangelical Alliance. Montefiore collaborated closely over the Mortara Affair and the appeal on behalf of the Syrian Christians with Sir Culling Eardley, who dominated the Evangelical Alliance. The Evangelical Alliance is generally seen as a militantly Protestant organization with a strongly anti-Catholic and implicitly conversionist agenda. Yet it is worth noting that shortly before it took up the cause of Edgardo Mortara against the papacy in 1858–1859, it appealed to the king of Sweden in the name of religious liberty on behalf of a handful of Swedish women who had converted to Catholicism and lost their citizenship as a result.[95] For all its partisanship, the Evangelical Alliance thereby demonstrated a genuine commitment to more universal principles of human rights.

This activity acquired a strikingly political character in the aftermath of the Mortara Affair. In November 1859, Sir Culling Eardley led a deputation to the British foreign secretary, Lord John Russell, urging him to raise the case of Edgardo Mortara at a congress intended to resolve the Italian question. The Jewish Chronicle saw this initiative as the basis for a new international politics, in which such interference was justified in terms of universal moral principles, deploying something very close to the modern language of international human rights: “[t]he only means we see for preventing the recurrence of any such crime is to memorialize the Foreign Secretary to press upon the attention of the approaching Congress the expediency of establishing liberty of conscience … as an international law of the civilized world.”[96]

The Rubinsteins’ recent work on philosemitism has drawn attention to this kind of humanitarian activity, insofar as it was espoused by Anglo-Saxon Christians on behalf of persecuted Jewry.[97] Yet the Rubinsteins fail to set this activity in a wider context of humanitarian philanthropy. There were appeals on behalf of massacred Eastern Christians as well as Jewish victims of Russian pogroms. There were appeals on behalf of the starving in Persia, China, and India, as well as in Palestine. Evidence in the Jewish Chronicle indicates that Jews subscribed generously to these international humanitarian appeals.[98] That Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, Sir Albert Sasson, and Baron de Stern were all members of the Mansion House Indian Famine Relief Fund committee underlines the extent to which Montefiore’s international humanitarian activity was part of a wider phenomenon.[99] Protestant Anglo-Saxon philosemitism may have been part of the picture, but it cannot explain other kinds of humanitarian activity or, indeed, Montefiore’s positive profile in less famously philosemitic countries and the international scope of his fund-raising activities.

Ultimately, Montefiore operated as a public figure within local, national, and international public spheres. As a stockbroker and one-time Sheriff of London and Middlesex, he was an important figure in the City. As the owner of a large estate, he was the leading local notable in Ramsgate. We can therefore situate him within two specific local communities, one urban and one rural, in which he fulfilled very different roles. He also moved within two contrasting national frameworks. He was a preeminently Jewish figure, and by the end of his life he had acquired the status of a “national” hero in this emergent national community. At the same time, he was an important player within the Victorian establishment, and his close connections with the Foreign Office lent a specifically “British” tinge to his foreign missions. Both Jewish and British to the core, he was the quintessential Victorian Jew. Yet Montefiore also transcended the “national” worlds of Victorian Britain and nineteenth-century Jewry, functioning in an international public and diplomatic sphere. His foreign interventions were reported extensively in the European and American press, and his activities relied heavily on international networks—both Jewish and non-Jewish. His ability to move seamlessly between local, national, and international worlds reveals the interplay between these different arenas at a time when the twin processes of nation-building and globalization were undercutting traditional particularisms.

Montefiore’s interventions in the Damascus and Mortara affairs, just like his fund-raising initiatives on behalf of Moroccan Jewish refugees in Gibraltar in 1860 or the starving Jews of Palestine and Persia, combined local, national, and international activity. First, these efforts rested on the voluntarist forces of civil society at a local level. Second, they often appealed to particular religious or national communities—most obviously through encouraging a sense of Jewish solidarity, but also through fostering British ideas of the civilizing mission, or Christian Restorationist hopes for a return of the Jews to Palestine. Finally, they were consciously conceived of as international, reaching beyond a narrowly British or Jewish community through appeals to foreign organizations and advertisements published in the international press. This internationalism explains the universalist and humanitarian language deployed.

Paradoxically, efforts on behalf of suffering “humanity” were successful not least because they appealed to a wide variety of different constituencies, often for quite contradictory reasons, and in arguments couched specifically in religious and national terms. An article that appeared in the Irish Times in connection with the Palestinian famine of 1870 gives an excellent sense of how this worked in practice:

There is again, as of old, a great “famine in the land” of Judea, and there is no part of the Christian world that is not bound by obligations of religion and humanity to come to the rescue of the sufferers. Ireland is a comparatively poor country, but out of her poverty she can minister to the necessities of those that are poorer still; and every pound she contributes will evoke ten from richer nations by the influence of a spirited example … In mosque and synagogue, in Greek and Latin Church, the voice of supplication is heard crying for aid against a foe that is only too familiar and dire a visitor to some portions of this island. As the East is from the West, still further from the Irish heart be the inhumanity that would leave that well-known cry unanswered.[100]

The language here is avowedly transnational and interdenominational. The Irish Times hopes that the Irish contribution to the appeal will spark other, “richer nations” to contribute; it talks about the sufferers in mosque, synagogue, and church and the obligations of “humanity.” Yet the appeal is also couched in self-consciously religious and national terms, with its mention of the “Christian world,” talk of the “Irish heart,” and reference to the Irish potato famine and the vision it sets forth of poor but generous Ireland inspiring the rest of the world.

This combination of particularism and universalism was central to Montefiore’s own sense of public mission, and also to his unique public resonance. In practice, the humanitarian internationalism of the nineteenth century rested on religious identity, national loyalties, and local activity, while apparently undercutting religious and national distinctions. It was Montefiore’s particular achievement to locate specifically Jewish concerns at the heart of this wider universalist and humanitarian agenda.

There is a distinction between diffuse humanitarianism of this kind and the more focused concerns of the human rights movement in the twentieth century. In this sense, Kenneth Cmiel was right to open a recent review article with this statement: “Prior to the 1940s, the term [‘human rights’] was rarely used. There was no sustained international movement in its name.”[101] Nevertheless, the transdenominational humanitarian campaigns of men such as Montefiore, Eardley, and Crémieux should cause us to rethink the origins of modern human rights activity. Hitherto, historians have located these long-term origins in the shifting emphasis from “duties” to “rights” among eighteenth-century philosophers, culminating in the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man.[102] In the context of nineteenth-century politics, however, this inevitably prompts an association with the forces of democratization, secularization, and political change traditionally highlighted by modernization theory. Yet support for international humanitarian activity was not motivated primarily by abstract concerns with a secular theory of human rights. Nor did it particularly engage secular “radical” currents, whether liberal internationalist or socialist in character. Instead, international humanitarian activity tended to be motivated at some level by religious concerns.

The religious agenda demonstrated itself above all in the battle for religious and civil liberty. Jews such as Montefiore and Christians such as Eardley were united behind a common political agenda that aimed, above all, at establishing freedom of conscience the world over. The Hatt-i Humayün of 1856, which granted equality to Jews and Christians in the Ottoman Empire, and the Congress of Berlin, which made Jewish emancipation a precondition of Serbian and Romanian independence in 1878, were both examples of this agenda in action. Often, it fundamentally undermined the existing relationship between religion and polity in countries as diverse as the Papal States and the Ottoman Empire. Paradoxically, in the long term this promoted secularization and the privatization of belief.

Christian emancipation in the Ottoman Empire was inevitably a particular concern for religious Christians. Likewise, Jewish leaders lobbied hard behind the scenes to obtain international guarantees on behalf of their coreligionists. Yet men such as Montefiore, Eardley, and Crémieux genuinely accepted the underlying principle of civil liberty—even when, as with the Swedish Catholics, it counteracted their natural inclinations. Similarly, Jewish and Christian religious sentiment favored fund-raising appeals that focused on Jewish suffering and the Holy Land, but the many who gave on behalf of the starving in India and China demonstrated a less partisan awareness of the common human condition. That they did so reflected a growing ability to transcend the particular and draw links between their own specific experiences and wider human concerns. In this regard, international humanitarian activity reflects the kind of transformation of moral consciousness outlined in Thomas Haskell’s critique of the functionalist, class-based historiography on antislavery.[103]

Religious activists such as Montefiore deployed new communications and the local forces of civil society in promoting an international agenda that drew on secular ideas about human rights and civil liberties. They thereby encouraged the exportation of a “modern” Western model of the relationship between religion and state, demonstrating clearly the importance of religion as an international force in the evolution of what we now consider to be modernity.

Publication of this article was made possible by the generous support of the British Academy, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and Oxford University. I would also like to thank Dr. Peter Claus, Dr. Ruth Harris, and Dr. David Rechter for their helpful comments on various drafts of this article, and Robert and Anita Sebag-Montefiore for their kind hospitality when I consulted the family archives in Switzerland.


1 On Montefiore, see Lucien Wolf, Sir Moses Montefiore: A Centennial Biography, with Extracts from Letters and Journals (London, 1884); Paul Goodman, Moses Montefiore (London, 1925); and Umberto Nahon, Sir Moses Montefiore, Leghorn 1784-Ramsgate 1885: A Life in the Service of Jewry (Jerusalem, 1965). Wolf’s authorized work is essentially a primary source; the other two are to some extent pieces of Zionist propaganda. Two more recent works, Myrtle Franklin and Martin Bor, Sir Moses Montefiore, 1784–1885 (London, 1984), and George Collard, Moses, the Victorian Jew (Oxford, 1990), are based on relatively little primary research. Of more academic interest are the following collections of articles, published in the years surrounding Montefiore’s bicentenary in 1984–1985: Vivian D. Lipman, ed., Sir Moses Montefiore: A Symposium (Oxford, 1982); Sonia Lipman and Vivian D. Lipman, eds., The Century of Moses Montefiore (Oxford, 1985); Israel Bartal, ed., The Age of Moses Montefiore: A Collection of Essays (Jerusalem, 1987) [Hebrew and English]; and special issues of Pe’amim 20 (1984) and Cathedra 33 (1984). The gist of this historiography is well reflected in the title of Moshe Montefiori, Metsiut ve’Agada (Jerusalem, 1989).

2 For an overview of recent literature on regionalism in Europe, see Celia Applegate, “A Europe of Regions: Reflections on the Historiography of Sub-national Places in Modern Times,” AHR 104, no. 4 (1999): 1157–82. For a comparative study of regionalism and nation-building in France, Germany, and Italy, see Abigail Green, “How Did German Federalism Shape Unification?” in Ronald Speirs and John Breuilly, eds., Germany’s Two Unifications: Anticipations, Experiences, Responses (Basingstoke, 2005). More specifically, on cultural regionalism in Germany, see Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, Calif., 1990), and Alon Confino, The Nation as a Local Metaphor: Württemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871–1918 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1997). For recent work on cultural regionalism in France, see Anne-Marie Thiesse, “L’invention du régionalisme à la Belle Époque,” Le Mouvement Social 160 (July–September 1992): 11–32, and work on the Félibrige, for instance, Philippe Martel, “Le Félibrige,” in Pierre Nora, ed., Les lieux de mémoire, vol. III: Les Frances, pt. 2: Traditions (Paris, 1992), 567–611.

3 See, for instance, Abigail Green, Fatherlands: State-Building and Nationhood in Nineteenth Century Germany (Cambridge, 2001); William H. Rollins, A Greener Vision of Home: Cultural Politics and Environmental Reform in the German Heimatschutz Movement, 1904–1918 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1997); and Julian Wright, The Regionalist Movement in France, 1890–1914: Jean 4.Charles-Brun and French Political Thought (Oxford, 2003).

4 For an example of the new emphasis on the development of global uniformities in the nineteenth century, see C. A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914 (Oxford, 2004). For a stimulating reinterpretation of national political and cultural developments in a European context, see Christopher Clark and Wolfram Kaiser, eds., Culture Wars: Secular-Catholic Conflict in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Cambridge, 2003). On the emergence of a European public sphere, see Jörg Requate and Martin Schulze Wessel, eds., Europaïsche Öfffentlichkeit: Transnationale Kommunikation seit dem 18. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt, 2002). Studies of European causes célèbres such as the Damascus Affair (1840) and the Mortara Affair (1858) have developed this perspective. See Jonathan Frankel, The Damascus Affair: “Ritual Murder,” Politics and the Jews in 1840 (Cambridge, 1997), and David I. Kertzer, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (London, 1997).

5 See, for instance, Maiken Umbach, “The Vernacular International: Heimat, Modernism and the Global Market in Early Twentieth Century Germany,” National Identities 4, no. 1 (2002): 45–68.

6 See, for instance, the interpretations of nineteenth-century British politics given by John Parry, Democracy and Religion: Gladstone and the Liberal Party, 1867–1875 (Cambridge, 1986), and Boyd Hilton, The Age of Atonement: The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785–1865 (Oxford, 1988).

7 For an elaboration of this thesis, see Olaf Blaschke, “Der ‘Dämon des Konfessionalismus’: Einführende Überlegungen,” in Olaf Blaschke, ed., Konfessionen im Konflikt, Deutschland zwischen 1800 und 1970: Ein zweites konfessionelles Zeitalter (Göttingen, 2001), 13–70.

8 This argument is well made in Helmut Walser Smith and Christopher Clark, “The Fate of Nathan,” in Helmut Walser Smith, ed., Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800–1914 (Oxford, 2001), 3–32.

9 See the essays collected in Smith, Protestants, Catholics and Jews, which explore the coexistence and cultural interchange between Catholics, Protestants, and Jews in Germany, as well as the clashes and collisions between these groups.

10 On this last, see David Feldman, Englishmen and Jews: Social Relations and Political Culture, 1840–1914 (New Haven, Conn., 1994), 48–65.

11 For a recent example, see Christopher Clark, “The New Catholicism and the European Culture Wars,” in Clark and Kaiser, Culture Wars, 11–46.

12 David Vital, A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789–1939 (Oxford, 1999), is a good recent example of this phenomenon. For an analysis of the Jerusalem School, see David N. Myers, Re-inventing the Jewish Past : European Jewish Intellectuals and the Zionist Return to History (Oxford, 1995).

13 Jacob Katz, ed., Toward Modernity: The European Jewish Model (New York, 1987); Pierre Birnbaum and Ira Katznelson, eds., Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States and Citizenship (Princeton, N.J., 1995); Jonathan Frankel and Steven J. Zipperstein, eds., Assimilation and Community: The Jews in Nineteenth Century Europe (Cambridge, 1992). Some of the contributors to these collections have elaborated these arguments in their work on different national Jewries. See, for instance, Todd Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714–1830: Tradition and Change in a Liberal Society (Philadelphia, 1979); Eli Lederhendler, The Road to Modern Jewish Politics: Political Tradition and Political Reconstruction in the Jewish Community of Tsarist Russia (Oxford, 1989); and Steven J. Zipperstein, The Jews of Odessa: A Cultural History, 1794–1881 (Stanford, Calif., 1985).

14 See Benjamin Nathans, Beyond the Pale: The Jewish Encounter with Late Imperial Russia (Berkeley, Calif., 2002); Michael Stanislawski, Tsar Nicholas I and the Jews: The Transformation of Jewish Society in Russia, 1825–1855 (Philadelphia, 1983); Michael Stanislawski, For Whom Do I Toil? Judah Leib Gordon and the Crisis of Russian Jewry (Oxford, 1988); and Gershon David Hundert, Jews in Poland-Lithuania in the Eighteenth Century: A Genealogy of Modernity (Berkeley, Calif., 2004).

15 On the intellectual basis for this shift in attitude, see Gertrude Himmelfarb, The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age (London, 1984). For an interesting analysis of the interplay between traditional religious approaches and modern philanthropy, see Adele Lindenmeyr, Poverty Is Not a Vice: Charity, Society and the State in Imperial Russia (Princeton, N.J., 1996).

16 Montefiore’s brother and business partner Abraham left £500,000 when he died in 1825. See William Rubinstein, “Jewish Top Wealth-Holders in Britain, 1809–1909,” Jewish Historical Studies: Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 37 (2001): 133–62, especially 146 for details of Sir Moses Montefiore’s wealth on his death, and 138 for Abraham. On Sir Moses Montefiore’s business career more generally, see P. L. Cottrell, “The Business Man and the Financier,” in Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 23–44.

17 On the life cycle of the Victorian businessman, see R. J. Morris, “The Middle-Class and the Property Cycle during the Industrial Revolution,” in T. C. Smout, ed., The Search for Wealth and Stability: Essays in Economic and Social History Presented to M. W. Flinn (London, 1979), 91–113.

18 On Montefiore’s gentrification, see Sonia L. Lipman, “The First Half of Montefiore’s Biography,” in Bartal, The Age of Moses Montefiore, xxxv–xlii, and Sonia L. Lipman, “The Making of a Victorian Gentleman,” in Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 3–22.

19 For an excellent analysis of this episode, see Frankel, Damascus Affair.

20 Cited after Dr. Louis Loewe, ed., Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, Comprising Their Life and Work as Recorded in Their Diaries from 1812 to 1883 (London, 1983; facsimile of the two-volume 1890 ed.), 1: 279.

21 On Montefiore’s engagement with the Board of Deputies, see Israel Finestein, “The Uneasy Victorian: Montefiore as Communal Leader,” in Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 45–70.

22 On the Montefiore windmill, see Saul Sapir, “From Canterbury to Jerusalem: New Disclosures about the English Windmill in Jerusalem,” Cathedra 81 (1996): 35–60.

23 D. A. Jessurun Cardozo and Paul Goodman, Think and Thank: The Montefiore Synagogue and College, Ramsgate, 1833–1933 (Oxford, 1933), 91. Besides contributing to this history of the Montefiore Synagogue, Goodman was also the author of a biography of Montefiore; see Goodman, Moses Montefiore.

24 Israel Bartal, “The First Nationalist or a Belated Shtadlan? Thoughts on the Works of Moses Montefiore,” in Bartal, The Age of Sir Moses Montefiore, 5–24; Israel Bartal, “Between Two Worlds: Reconsidering Sir Moses Montefiore,” paper presented at the conference “Britain and the Holy Land 1800–1914,” May 1989, University College London, Institute of Jewish Studies.

25 “Zum Achten Marcheschwan, Berlin, 22 Oktober—us der ‘Jüdische Presse,'” in Joseph Fiebermann, ed., Internationales Montefiore-Album (Frankfurt am Main, 1880–1889), 60.

26 Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Board of Delegates on Civil and Religious Rights, New York, October 1884, to Sir Moses Montefiore, Mocatta Library, Montefiore Testimonials, Room 101.

27 Università Israelitica d’Ancona, May 27, 1864, to Sir Moses Montefiore, Mocatta Library, Montefiore Testimonials, Room 101 (464).

28 “Supplement to the Jewish Chronicle: Ramsgate,” Jewish Chronicle, October 26, 1883, 7.

29 Sir Moses Montefiore Memorial, Announcement of public meeting to be held at the Egyptian Hall, Mansion House, 22 January, 1884, JM 2002/27 (43), Letters of Sir Moses Montefiore, 1869–83, Jewish Museum, London.

30 N. M. de Rothschild, Chairman, Sir Moses Montefiore Memorial, New Court, 21 January, 1884, JM 2002/27 (44), Letters of Sir Moses Montefiore, 1869–83, Jewish Museum, London.

31 Reproduced in Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 362–68.

32 Times, leading article, October 23, 1884. Cited after Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 368.

33 Address of the Freemasons of Chile, Mocatta Library, Montefiore Miscellaneous (as yet uncatalogued) B17, Resolutions of the Annual Convention of the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union, Wheeling, West Virginia, in honour of Sir Moses Montefiore, 24 September, 1884, Mocatta Library, Montefiore Testimonials, Room 101.

34 “Sir Moses Montefiore: St. Petersburg,” Jewish Chronicle, November 14, 1884, 9.

35 “Supplement to the Jewish Chronicle: The Press,” Jewish Chronicle, July 31, 1885, 7.

36 “Richmond Straight Cut No. 1 Are the Best; Richmond Gem Always Reliable,” Jewish Chronicle, October 31, 1884, 12. Reproduced in Anne and Roger Cowen, Victorian Jews through British Eyes (London, 1998), 74.

37 Cited after David Littman, “Mission to Morocco,” in Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 171–229, 192.

38 Graphic, August 15, 1885. This article is reproduced in full in Cowen and Cowen, Victorian Jews, 75–79.

39 See, for instance, the illustrations accompanying the article “Sir Moses Montefiore,” Illustrated London News, November 3, 1883, reproduced in full in Cowen and Cowen, Victorian Jews, 67–70.

40 Times, leading article, October 23, 1884. Cited after Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 367.

41 Images of the elderly Montefiore as lieutenant of the City of London did exist, but they were not reproduced in the popular press. See, for instance, Franklin and Bor, Sir Moses Montefiore, facing 32.

42 Times, leading article, October 23, 1884. Cited after Lipman and Lipman, The Century of Moses Montefiore, 367–68.

43 K. Bonar and R. M. Mac Cheyne, Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839 (Edinburgh, 1842), 190.

44 On Müller, see G. Beckerlegge, “Professor Friedrich Max Müller and the Missionary Cause,” in Religion in Victorian Britain, vol. 5: Culture and Empire, ed. John Wolffe (Manchester, 1997), 178–219.

45 Cited after Goodman, Moses Montefiore, 225–26.

46 Illustrated London News, November 3, 1883. Reproduced in full in Cowen and Cowen, Victorian Jews, 70.

47 William D. Rubinstein and Hilary L. Rubinstein, Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840–1939 (Basingstoke, 1999).

48 Charles Hunt, October 24, 1871, to Sir Moses Montefiore, Cambridge University Library, MS Add.8331/2.

49 Feldman, Englishmen and Jews, 53–57.

50 Eitan Bar-Yosef, “Christian Zionism and Victorian Culture,” Israel Studies 8, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 18–44. For the classic example of the contrary view, see Nahum Sokolow, History of Zionism, 1600–1918 (London, 1919).

51 See, for instance, Richard S. Levy, The Downfall of the Anti-Semitic Political Parties in Imperial Germany (London, 1975).

52 See John Doyle Klier, Imperial Russia’s Jewish Question, 1855–1881 (Cambridge, 1995). See also, for instance, Shmuel Ettinger and Israel Bartal, “The First Aliyah: Ideological Roots and Practical Accomplishments,” in Jehuda Reinharz and Anita Shapira, eds., Essential Papers on Zionism (London, 1996), 63–93.

53 Feldman, Englishmen and Jews, 89–120.

54 Klier, Imperial Russia’s Jewish Question, especially pt. 3.

55 Feldman, Englishmen and Jews, 97–120.

56 Ibid., 118.

57 “The Anti-Semitic Agitation,” Jewish Chronicle, December 29, 1882, 7.

58 See Montefiore Manuscripts Collection, Montefioriana Miscellaneous MSS, vols. 575 and 577.

59 Shmuel Nehamiah Yitzhak Mizrachi, Shlomo Parnass, Moshe Yehudah Mizrachi, Yehudah Borla, Yossef Avraham Peretz, Jerusalem, Ellul 1849, to Sir Moses Montefiore and Lady Judith, Montefiore Manuscripts Collection, Montefioriana Miscellaneous MSS, vol. 577.

60 Tikkun olam is one of the traditional categories of tzedakah (righteousness and justice). The word tikkun first appears in the book of Ecclesiastes (1:5; 7:13; 12:9), where it means “setting straight” or “setting in order.” The most notable early rabbinic source for the phrase tikkun olam is the Aleinu prayer, in which the phrase expresses the hope of repairing the world through the establishment of the kingdom of God.

61 Yoel Blach, Shmuel Segal, my wife Rivka, my son Yossef, and my son Shmuel, [1849], to Sir Moses Montefiore, Montefiore Manuscripts Collection, Montefioriana Miscellaneous MSS, vol. 577.

62 Kollel Vehlin, Holy Community of Ashkenazi Hasidim, Jerusalem, 1849, to Sir Moses Montefiore and Lady Judith Montefiore, Montefiore Manuscripts Collection, Montefioriana Miscellaneous MSS, vol. 577.

63 Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies (London, 1954).

64 See, for instance, the following collections of essays: Jonathan Barry and Colin Jones, eds., Medicine and Charity before the Welfare State (London, 1991); Peter Mandler, ed., The Uses of Charity: The Poor on Relief in the Nineteenth-Century Metropolis (Philadelphia, 1990); and Hugh Cunningham and Joanna Innes, eds., Charity, Philanthropy and Reform: From the 1690s to 1850 (Basingstoke, 1998).

65 Sandra Cavallo, “The Motivations of Benefactors: An Overview of Approaches to the Study of Charity,” in Barry and Jones, Medicine and Charity before the Welfare State, 46–62.

66 See, for instance, Derek Penslar, Shylock’s Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (Berkeley, Calif., 2001), 90–123; Nancy L. Green, “To Give and to Receive: Philanthropy and Collective Responsibility among Jews in Paris, 1880–1914,” in Mandler, The Uses of Charity, 197–226; and Rainer Liedtke, Jewish Welfare in Hamburg and Manchester, c. 1850–1914 (Oxford, 1998). Penslar also emphasizes the function of philanthropy in constructing an international Jewish community in the context of the nineteenth-century world—clearly something of particular relevance to Montefiore; see Shylock’s Children, 105–07.

67 Mordechai Rozin, The Rich and the Poor: Jewish Philanthropy and Social Control in Nineteenth-Century London (Brighton, 1999). Rozin’s introduction provides an extensive discussion of the literature on Jewish philanthropy and tzedakah.

68 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 32.

69 Wednesday October 24th, [1827], At Sea, Journal of Sir Moses Montefiore 1827–1828, Heirloom, Fair Copy, Montefiore Family Papers.

70 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 26.

71 Ibid., 80.

72 Moses Montefiore Grosvenor Gate, August 28, 5626–1866, to J. M. Montefiore, Esq., President pro tem of the Board of Deputies, 3rd Half Yearly Report, Ellul 5626-Sept 1866, London Metropolitan Archives Acc/3121/A/010 (facing fol. 127).

73 See the various accounts of his generosity to Ramsgate charities in the Jewish Chronicle, for instance, “Sir Moses Montefiore,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, September 15, 1876, 879.

74 A random selection of these references is listed here: Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 114 (£200 cholera relief in Naples), 135 (£44 given at a dinner for the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy), 138 (£10 given to a charitable meeting presided over by the Bishop of Winchester), 144 (some £20 to an appeal for the erection of a public monument in honor of Lord Nelson); 2: 19 (£100 toward the Great Exhibition), 36 (£200 to the Patriotic Fund to support widows and orphans of British soldiers, sailors, and marines who died in the Crimean War), 225 (several donations to Lord Shaftesbury’s Ragged Schools).

75 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 2: 88.

76 Rubinstein and Rubinstein, Philosemitism.

77 Rozin, The Rich and the Poor, 77–79.

78 Rubinstein and Rubinstein, Philosemitism, especially chapters 1 and 2, deploy this material to some extent but focus primarily on international causes. There is room for much interesting further research on this topic.

79 Alan Kidd, “Philanthropy and the ‘Social History’ Paradigm,” Social History 21, no. 2 (May 1996): 180–92.

80 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 111.

81 See, for instance, M. C. N. Salbstein, The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain: The Question of the Admission of Jews to Parliament, 1828–1860 (London, 1982), 91–94.

82 Baron Isaac Lyon de Goldsmid, January 2, 1848, to Moses Montefiore, given in Minutes of meeting of the Board of Deputies held January 2, 1848, Moses Montefiore in the chair, London Metropolitan Archives Acc/3121/A/006 (fols. 101–06).

83 David Turley, The Culture of English Antislavery, 1780–1860 (London, 1991), 108–51.

84 See the correspondence collected in Lionel Abrahams, “Sir I. L. Goldsmid and the Admission of the Jews of England to Parliament,” Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 4 (1903): 106–76.

85 Sir Moses Montefiore, Grosvenor Gate, Park Lane, April 25, 1838, to Lord John Russell, Montefiore Family Papers, Grey File: VERY IMPORTANT Papers, Documents Etc.

86 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 135.

87 For more on the abolitionist aspect of this journey, see Dr. Richard Robert Madden, Egypt and Mohammed Ali: Illustrative of the Condition of His Slaves and Subjects (London, 1841).

88 Loewe, Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1: 249.

89 Ibid., 2: 158.

90 “Famine at Tiberias,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, March 25, 1870, 3.

91 “Famine in Persia,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, August 4, 1871, 2.

92 “The Late Sir Moses Montefiore,” Jewish Chronicle, August 21, 1885, 6.

93 On the Red Cross, see John F. Hutchinson, Champions of Charity: War and the Rise of the Red Cross (Boulder, Colo., 1996); on the Alliance Israélite Universelle, see André Chouraqui, Cent Ans d’Histoire: L’Alliance Israélite Universelle et la Renaissance Juive Contemporaine (1860–1960) (Paris, 1965); Aron Rodrigue, French Jews, Turkish Jews: The Alliance Israélite Universelle and the Politics of Jewish Schooling in Turkey, 1860–1925 (Bloomington, Ind., 1990); and Georges Weill, Emancipation et Progrès: L’Alliance Israélite Universelle et les Droits de l’Homme (Paris, 2000).

94 See reference in “The Projected Jewish Colonisation of Palestine,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, March 1, 1867, 2.

95 “01/08/1858: Transactions—Address to the Swedish Minister on the Banishment of the Six Roman Catholic Women, from Evangelical Alliance to His Excellency, Count Platen, Swedish Ambassador,” Evangelical Christendom: Its State and Prospects XII (1858): 257–60.

96 “The Deputation to Lord John Russell,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, November 18, 1859, 2

97 Rubinstein and Rubinstein, Philosemitism.

98 For details on Jewish contributions on behalf of famine victims in China, see “China Famine Relief Fund,” Jewish Chronicle, April 26, 1878, 2.

99 N. M. Rothschild subscribed £1,000, Messrs de Stern £500, Messrs R. Raphael and Sons £200, and Sir Francis and Lady Goldsmid £125. For further details, see “Town and Table Talk,” Jewish Chronicle, August 24, 1877, 13.

100 “The Jerusalem Relief Fund,” Jewish Chronicle and Hebrew Observer, March 25, 1870, 9.

101 Kenneth Cmiel, “The Recent History of Human Rights,” AHR 109, no. 1 (2004): 117–35. // (30 Nov. 2004).

102 See ibid. for a good analysis of this literature.

103 Thomas Haskell, “Capitalism and the Origins of Humanitarian Sensibility,” AHR 90, no. 2 and 90, no. 3 (1985): 339–61, 547–661. The most powerful statement of the “capitalist” explanation is David Brion-Davis’s classic work The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1973). For Davis’s riposte to Haskell, see David Brion-Davis, “Reflections on Abolitionism and Ideological Hegemony,” AHR 92, no. 4 (1987): 797–812.


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