"Fiddler on the Roof,"
recounts the story of
Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe and Russia
President Abraham Lincoln, shortly after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, met with Canadian Christian Zionist, Henry Wentworth Monk regarding the
oppression of Russian and Turkish Jews.
Lincoln showed sympathy for Henry Wentworth Monk's plea of:
"restoring them to their national home in Palestine."
Lincoln noted this was "a noble dream and one shared by many Americans."
On May 22, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant wrote to Congress:
"In answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives ... requesting me to join the Italian Government in
a protest against the intolerant
cruel treatment of the Jews in Romania
, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State relative to the subject."
President Chester A. Arthur had stated, December 4, 1882:
"Our long-established friendliness with
... has prompted me to proffer the earnest counsels of this Government that measures be
adopted for suppressing the proscription which the Hebrew race in that country has lately suffered
pogroms incited by Czar Alexander III provoked an outcry
by many prominent Americans, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Speaker of the House.
Rev. William E. Blackstone and Cardinal James Gibbons presented a petition on behalf of the
persecuted Jews of Russia
to President Benjamin Harrison and Secretary of State James Blaine.
The petition was signed by notable leaders, including John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Cyrus McCormick, the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, D.L. Moody, A.T. Pierson, Philip Schaff, and future president William McKinley.
The petition stated:
"Why shall not the powers which under the treaty of Berlin, in 1878, gave Bulgaria to the Bulgarians and Serbia to the Serbians now
give Palestine back to the Jews? ...
These provinces, as well as Romania, Montenegro, and Greece, were wrested from the Turks and given to their natural owners.
Does not Israel as rightfully belong to the Jews?
Rev. William E. Blackstone's petition, which he also sent to Queen Victoria and Czar Alexander III, continued:
"We believe this is an appropriate time for all nations and especially the Christian nations of Europe to show kindness to Israel.
A million of exiles, by their terrible suffering, are piteously appealing to our sympathy, justice, and humanity.
Let us now restore to them the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors."
Rev. William E. Blackstone, who later corresponded with Theodor Herzl, called for the first international conference:
"to consider the Israelite claim to Palestine as their ancient home, and to promote in any other just and proper way the alleviation of their suffering condition."
President Benjamin Harrison wrote DECEMBER 9, 1891:
"This Government has found occasion to express ... to
the Government of the Czar
its serious concern because of
the harsh measures now being enforced against the Hebrews in Russia .
... By the revival of
long in abeyance,
great numbers of those unfortunate people have been constrained to abandon their homes
and leave the Empire by reason of
the impossibility of finding subsistence
within the pale to which it is sought to confine them ..."
President Harrison continued:
of these people to the United States--
many others countries being closed to them
- is largely increasing ...
It is estimated that
over 1,000,000 will be forced from Russia
within a few years ..."
Harrison went on:
The Hebrew is never a beggar
; he has
always kept the law
life by toil --often under severe and oppressive civil restrictions ...
It is also true that
, sect, or class
has more fully cared for its own than the Hebrew race ..."
President Harrison concluded:
"This consideration, as well as
the suggestion of humanity,
furnishes ample ground for the
remonstrances which we have presented to Russia
On December 2, 1895, President Grover Cleveland wrote to Congress:
"Correspondence is on foot touching
the practice of Russian consuls
... to interrogate citizens as to their race and religious faith, and upon ascertainment thereof
to deny to Jews authentication of passports of legal documents for use in Russia
... Such a proceeding
imposes a disability
... and ... is
an obnoxious invasion
... It has elicited
President Theodore Roosevelt addressed Congress, December 6, 1904:
"It is inevitable that such a nation should desire eagerly to give expression to its
on an occasion like that of the
Jews in Kishenef."
President Woodrow Wilson made a
plea for aid to stricken Jewish people
, January 11, 1916:
"Whereas in the various countries now engaged in war there are
nine millions of Jews
, the great majority of whom are
destitute of food, shelter, and clothing
driven from their homes without warning
, deprived of an opportunity to make provision for their most elementary wants,
causing starvation, disease and untold suffering; and
Whereas the people of the United States of America have
learned with sorrow of this terrible plight of millions of human beings
and have most generously responded to the cry for help ...
Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States ... do appoint and proclaim January 27, 1916, as a day upon which
the people of the United States
may make such contributions as they feel disposed for the aid of the stricken Jewish people
American Minute-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred