According to an interview given by Orthodox Rabbi Lody van de Kamp to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency newspaper on December 26, 2013:“Money was earned by Jewish communities in South America, partly through slavery, and went to Holland, where Jewish bankers handled it….In one area of what used to be Dutch Guyana, 40 Jewish-owned plantations were home to a total population of at least 5,000 slaves,” he says. “Known as the Jodensavanne, or Jewish Savannah, the area had a Jewish community of several hundred before its destruction in a slave uprising in 1832. Nearly all of them immigrated to Holland, bringing their accumulated wealth with them.”
They came with ships carrying African blacks to be sold as slaves. The traffic in slaves was a royal monopoly, and the Jews were often appointed as agents for the Crown in their sale. They were the largest ship chandlers in the entire Caribbean region, where the shipping business was mainly a Jewish enterprise. The ships were not only owned by Jews, but were manned by Jewish crews and sailed under the command of Jewish captains
On the Caribbean island of Curacao, Dutch Jews may have accounted for the resale of at least 15,000 slaves landed by Dutch transatlantic traders, according to Seymour Drescher, a Jewish historian at the University of Pittsburgh. Jews were so influential in those colonies that slave auctions scheduled to take place on Jewish holidays often were postponed, according to Marc Lee Raphael, a professor of Judaic studies at the College of William & Mary.
It was not until 1655 that slavery for life became a legally sanctioned institution in the North American colonies however. In that year, Anthony Johnson, a free black Angolian who had been brought to Virginia as an indentured servant and who had worked off his term of indenture years earlier, went to court over the ownership of a black servant named John Casor, who Johnson claimed ownership of saying that Casor had been sold to him as his slave for life. Corroborating testimony in the case was provided by a Jewish merchant named Capt. Samuel Goldsmith, with the court deciding in Johnson’s favor, legally recognizing John Casor as his slave for life, setting the precedent for lifetime slave ownership in the colonies of North America; a peculiar institution that Jewish sea-faring merchants and traders soon found extremely profitable.
By the time of the American Revolution, over 30 Jewish families could be found in Newport, Rhode Island, alone, bearing family names such as Lopez, Levy, Rivera, Seixas, deToro (Touro), Gomez and Hays. In the New World, the Jews continued to engage in their long established careers as merchants and money lenders, manufacturers and sellers of alcoholic beverages, and were leaders in the forefront of the slave trade, amassing vast fortunes by importing and selling African slaves to the colonial plantations.
Some of the Jews of Newport and Charleston who were engaged in the distillery or slavery trade, or both, were: Isaac Gomez, Hayman Levy, Jacob Malhado, Naphtaly Myers, David Hart, Joseph Jacobs, Moses Ben Franks, Moses Gomez, Isaac Dias, Benjamin Levy, David Jeshuvum, Jacob Pinto, Jacob Turk, Daniel Gomez, James Lucana, Jan de Sweevts, Felix (cha-cha) de Souza (known as the ‘Prince of Slavers’ and second only to Aaron Lopez), Simeon Potter, Isaac Elizer, Jacob Rod, Jacob Rodriguez Rivera, Haym Isaac Carregal, Abraham Touro, Moses Hays, Moses Lopez, Judah Touro, Abraham Mendes and Abraham All.
The following is a partial list of the slave ships owned by Jews:
‘Abigail’ owned by Aaron Lopez, Moses Levy and Jacob Franks.
Slave-runners, also owned by Jews, were the ‘La Fortuna’, the ‘Hannah’, the ‘Sally’, and the ‘Venue’.
Samson Levy, a Jewish merchant living in Philadelphia, led a boycott in November, 1765, against the importation of goods from England to the colonies by signing a resolution along with six other Philadelphia Jewish merchants in protest against the tax known as the Stamp Act.
In 1747 Isaac de Costa, a Sephardic Jew born in London, arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, where he established himself as a merchant, shipping-agent, and slave-trader, who built a considerable fortune bringing hundreds of black slaves overseas from Africa. Isaac da Costa had been initiated into Freemasonry and appointed a Masonic Deputy Inspector General by fellow Jew Moses Michael Hayes and went on to establish the Sublime Grand Masonic Lodge of Perfection in Charleston prior to his death in 1783.
Also arriving in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1756, was Moses Lindo’s twenty year old indentured servant, Jonas Phillips, who had been born Jonah Feibush in Frankfurt, Germany. After serving his term of indenture, Phillips moved first to Albany, New York in 1759, and then to New York City, where he became a merchant and dealer in slaves. By 1760 Phillips had joined the New York Lodge of Freemasons, and served as shohet (ritual slaughterer) and bodek (examiner of meat) for Shearith Israel. Settling in Philadelphia just before the American Revolution, Phillips was a staunch advocate of the Non-Importation Agreement, and by the beginning of the Revolutionary War he supported the cause of American Independence and in 1778 he enlisted in the Philadelphia militia. By the year 1782 was the second wealthiest Jew in the city. He and his wife Rebecca Mendes Machado maintained their South Carolina ties through several of their 21 children.
In his 1865 biography of John Wilkes Booth, George Alfred Townsend writes of Junius Brutus Booth: “The elder Booth in every land was a sojourner, as all his fathers were of Hebrew descent, and by a line of actors, he united in himself that.strong Jewish physiognomy which, in its nobler phases, makes all that is dark and beautiful, and the combined vagrancy of all men of genius and all men of the stage. Fitful, powerful,- passionate, his life was a succession of vices and triumphs.” Following Lincoln’s assassination, Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland, eventually making his way to a farm in rural northern Virginia 12 days later, where he was tracked down. Booth’s companion gave himself up, but Booth refused and was shot by a Union soldier after the barn in which he was hiding was set ablaze. Eight other conspirators or suspects were tried and convicted, and four were hanged shortly thereafter.
Writing in the journal of his travels throughout the South in the mid 19th century, author Fredrick Law Olmsted noted: “There is a considerable population of foreign origin, generally of the least valuable class; very dirty German Jews, especially, abound, and their characteristic shops (with their characteristic smells, quite as bad as in Cologne) are thickly set in the narrowest and meanest streets, which seem otherwise to be mainly inhabited by negroes……A swarm of Jews has, within the last ten years, settled in every Southern town, many of them men of no character, opening cheap clothing and trinket shops, ruining or driving out of business many of the old retailers, and engaging in an unlawful trade with the simple Negroes, which is found very profitable.” Similarly, Mark Twain commented: “In the U. S. cotton states, after the war, the Jew came down in force, set up shop on the plantation, supplied all the negroes’ wants on credit, and at the end of the season was the proprietor of the negro’s share of the present crop and part of the next one. Before long the whites detested the Jew.”
Following his dismissal by the Methodist Episcopal Church for his “ineffective ministry”, William J. Simmons made his living by selling memberships in fraternal societies such as the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, the Free Masons, etc. In 1915, while recovering from having been struck by an automobile walking door to door selling memberships in fraternal orders, Simmons had read Thomas Dixon’s 1905 best-selling historical romance novel The Clansman which was based on the Civil War and the events that led to the founding of the original Ku KluxKlan.
Dixon’s novel was such a sensation that D.W. Griffith, an early motion picture producer and director, decided to make a movie based on The Clansman which was eventually renamed The Birth of a Nation, set to debut in Atlanta, Georgia, on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Griffith’s movie hit the theaters at a time when many white Southerners were beginning to feel a deep resentment toward the Jewish community in America, which was growing increasingly progressive in their views regarding African Americans who were being manipulated to desegregate American society by wealthy Jewish business owners such as Julius Rosenwald, who in 1908 became the president and CEO of Sears Roebuck Co., and used his millions to build schools for blacks throughout the South.
The Birth of a Nation proved to be a box-office sensation, and by timing the founding of his new Ku Klux Klan fraternal society to coincide with the release of Griffith’s film; Simmons capitalized on the opportunity to attract charter members to his new organization, and rode the wave of popularity of the movie, welcoming an audience who were eager to become Ku Klux Klan members just as they had seen portrayed in the theater.
By 1920 membership in Simmon’s Klan grew to number in the thousands, however he was eventually overthrown as leader of the KKK after Jewish-controlled newspapers launched a smear campaign against the Klan in an attempt to crush it following the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank. The fact that many of those who formed the lynch mod which hung Leo Frank were among the charter members of Simmons’ new Klan fraternal order led to Simmons being brought before Congress who eventually exonerated the Klan after determining that it was a patriotic American institution