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Book Notes: Search out the Land: Jews and the Growth of Equality in British Colonial America, 1740-1867, Sheldon and Judith Godfrey

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Search out the Land: Jews and the Growth of Equality in British Colo? nial America, 1740-1867, Sheldon and Judith Godfrey (Montreal &amp; Kingston, 1995) ISBN 0-7735-1201-1. This book, which was awarded the 1997 A. S. Diamond Prize by the Society, is a study by a Canadian lawyer and his wife of the progress of Jewish civil rights in Canada. The title is misleading, because it is about Canada and the important Jewish communities of New York, Philadelphia, Newport RI and Richmond, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, Carolina, are dealt with very cursorily. However, it is a solid piece of scholarship and legal history which cuts fresh ground, being based on refreshingly new research in primary sources which most previous Canadian Jewish histories have neglected. The opening chapters dealing with Britain are not too sound and contain mistakes such as the attribution of the 1290 expulsion to Edward III, and the assumption that the House of Commons in St Stephen's Chapel had a public gallery. It is also an error to assume that the Church of England was the established Church in all New England Colonies. From chapter 4 onwards, the book is excellent and conveys a great deal of fresh information about the activity of Jewish settlers in Canada as army sutlers, fur traders and in other roles. Having been taught at summer camp in Canada when I was fifteen how to fell a tree without having it fall on you, I was amused by the story of 336</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes Moses Jacobs of Falmouth - surely a kinsman of the late Alex Jacob - who applied for and was granted a plot of land in Ontario but was 'felled by a tree he was chopping down', having never learnt this basic lumberman's skill. The main concern of the book is with the legal status of Jews in Lower and Upper Canada and this history is examined in detail with scholarship, skill and clarity. Edgar Samuel</page></plain_text>