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Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the Shtadlanim

John Cooper

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 43, 2011 Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim* JOHN COOPER Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild, otherwise known as Natty, was born on 8 November 1840 and was privately educated before proceeding to Cambridge University. He married his cousin Emma Louisa in 1867 (the two of them were very much in love) and they set up home in London, but his father bought Tring Park, an estate in Hertfordshire bordering on Buckinghamshire, for the couple as their country residence in 1872. The country house was a magnificent example of Wren's architecture, which was altered so as to become a typical Victorian mansion. Although the size of the estate is often stated to be 15,000 acres, there is good reason to believe that its extent at its height was double this in acreage. At Tring Park, Natty and Emma brought up their three children, Walter, Charlotte and Charles, with a love of animals and of the countryside.1 Natty was much more embedded in the role of a country gentleman than his father Lionel, who had inherited a property at Gunnersbury within easy reach of the City by carriage. The younger man sat as the Liberal MP for Aylesbury in Buckingham? shire for twenty years from 1865 to 1885, while his father represented the City of London. Tring Park was near to 'Ascott, which was one of a network of Rothschild houses in Buckinghamshire - or "Rothschildshire" as it was sometimes dubbed'.2 Their rolling acres in the countryside of Buckinghamshire gave the Rothschild family tremendous political influ? ence. At first an ardent supporter of free trade and the Liberal party, Natty switched his allegiance to the Liberal Unionists, a break-away faction of Whig aristocrats led by the Marquess of Hartington, the heir to the Duke of Devonshire, as his style of life and sympathies were akin to theirs.3 In vain * I would like to acknowledge the helpful suggestions of Melanie Aspey, the director of the Rothschild Archive London, in preparing this article. 1 N. Ferguson, The World's Banker: The History of the House of Rothschild (London 1998) 748 and 1203. 2 S. Weintraub, Charlotte and Lionel: A Rothschild Love Story (New York 2003) 51. E. de Rothschild,^ Gilt-Edged Life (London 1998) 13. 3 Ferguson (see n. 1) 851-5. 125</page><page sequence="2">John Cooper Gladstone tried to keep Natty loyal to the Liberal party, by raising him to the peerage in 1885, making him the first Jew to be admitted into the House of Lords. Queen Victoria had earlier baulked at the suggestion, when Gladstone requested her to confer a peerage on Lionel. As a friend of the Prince of Wales, Natty was invited by Edward to join the Privy Council on the occasion of his coronation as King in 1902, thus confirming his influ? ence and status. 'The farms at Tring Park have long had a high reputation for the excellence of the general management, but it was the breeding of pure-bred stock cattle that Tring Park achieved the greatest distinction', declared The Times obituarist.4 On 6 May 1889 Lord Salisbury, the Conservative Prime Minister, wrote to Natty that he wished to appoint him Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in succession to the Duke of Buckingham. 'The proposal is naturally suggested by the position you occupy in the county: but I may add that it is made with the approval of Lord Hartington [the Liberal Unionist leader]: so that you will not be guilty of any dereliction of political allegiance in accepting it'. The Prince of Wales apologized to Lord Carrington, Natty's friend and neighbour, for overlooking his own claim to fill this vacancy, exclaiming: 'It would have been strange ten years ago, but times change. He is a good fellow and a man of business, and he and his family own half the County!'5 Rothschild was the first Jew to occupy this position; it was the premier rung in county society. One of his major duties was to appoint magistrates to sit on the bench, which he did with the assis? tance of an advisory committee. He was also involved in Church affairs. Among Lord Rothschild's correspondence is a letter from the Bishop of Oxford, declaring that he was writing to his Lord Lieutenants to become 'Vice Presidents of our Diocescan Sustentation [sustenance] Fund'. So too, as an estate owner, his brother Leopold responded to a request for financial help from a congregant of a church near his home, promising to contribute ?100 per annum towards the curate's salary.6 The two most enduring influences on Natty's life were Benjamin Disraeli and his own father. Disraeli struck up an intimate friendship with Natty's parents, Lionel and Charlotte de Rothschild, listening to the former's advice when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and flirting with Charlotte, as well as portraying the family in romantic terms in his novels. Paradoxically, the Anglican Disraeli not only stiffened Natty's pride in being Jewish, but led him to re-orientate his views on foreign policy, so that 4 The Times i April 1915, p. 11. 5 Lord Salisbury to Lord Rothschild 6 May 1889, Rothschild Archive London (hereafter RAL) 000/848/37. See also A. Alfrey, Edward VII and his Jewish Court (London 1991) 31-2. 6 Bishop of Oxford to Lord Rothschild 27 June 1897, RAL 000/848/37. See also C. Roth, The Magnificent Rothschilds (London 1939) 223-4. I2?</page><page sequence="3">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim like his mentor he became convinced that the Turkish empire had to stay intact as a bulwark against Russian expansion - a view that put him at odds with Gladstone and his fellow Liberal MPs. Natty, as a new MP, was highly partisan and critical of Disraeli, writing to his parents, 'From what I hear, . . . by fair means or foul, Dizzy will tide over this session'.7 After the Suez Canal episode in 1875, when Lionel advanced money for the British government to purchase shares in the Canal Company, the Rothschild family grew somewhat estranged from Gladstone and closer to Disraeli. In 1877 Natty assured Monty Corry, Disraeli's secretary, pro-'Turkish as I have always been, I am astonished at the Turkish feeling everywhere'. A year later he apologized for accidentally voting with his fellow Liberal MPs in a censure vote against the Conservative government, telling Corry, 'I write this to you although you know I wd. sooner have cut off my hands than do such a thing'.8 Disraeli had a much more positive view of the Jews' place in the modern world than his young protege and was more sceptical of claims that anti Semitism was provoked in large part by self-indulgent and provocative behaviour on their part. When Lionel was asked what he and Disraeli chat? ted about, he replied 'The Race as usual', and after the birth of Lionel's son Leopold in 1845, Disraeli congratulated him, adding: 'I hope he will prove worthy of his pure and sacred race'. Paul Smith has asserted that 'So far as there is a coherent principle in [Disraeli's novel] Tancred, it arises . . . from the spiritual ascendancy of an eastern race. "All is race there is no other truth", says Sidonia'. Disraeli regarded race rather than class as the prime motor in Western history.9 In the mid-1840s Disraeli was already proclaiming that 'the children of Israel. . . baffled the Pharaohs, the Assyrian kings &amp; the Roman Caesars; to say nothing of the Crusades &amp; the Inquisition'. More than three decades later his outlook remained unchanged, and if anything his racial identifica? tion with the Jews was even firmer, when referring to the Jews and himself. On 21 November 1880 the Earl of Beaconsfield, having stepped down as Prime Minister, wrote to Natty, 'What does Bleichroder [Bismarck's banker] say about the Jewish persecution [whipped up by Stoecker]? Or is he, &amp; his prosperity one of the causes of it? We have beaten the Pharaohs, the Assyrians, &amp; the Romans - &amp; even the Middle Ages - &amp; I have no fear they will ever extinguish us - but I foresee the chance of much misery and perhaps devastation. Plunder is at the bottom of it.'10 To this Natty 7 Ferguson (see n. i) 844. Weintraub (see n. 2) 221. 8 Nathaniel de Rothschild to Montagu Corry 31 August 1877, Oxford, Bodleian Library, dep. Hughenden 141/3 f. noandc. 1878, f. 160. 9 P. Smith, Disraeli (Cambridge 1999) 101-4. 10 Ibid. 102. Earl of Beaconsfield to Nathaniel de Rothschild 21 Nov. 1880, RAL 000/848/37. 127</page><page sequence="4">John Cooper responded by arguing, 'There is no doubt that Bleichroder himself is one of the causes of the Jewish persecution'. 'There are also a great many other reasons which we can discuss at full length when we meet again; among them the constant influx of Polish, Russian, and Rumanian Jews who arrive in a state of starvation and are socialists until they become rich'. In a magis? terial aside Fritz Stern claimed that the Rothschilds had 'a certain penchant for blaming Jews for anti-Semitism'. Disraeli did not agree with this analysis, seeing an uglier, greedier, irra? tional side to anti-Semitism. He wrote back to Natty that 'I am anxious &amp; disquieted about the German affair . . . When Hep was shouted in the Middle Ages, I doubt whether the Governments, dark as they were, favoured it at first. The value of the House of Israel was felt by all of them. It was the university students that set it [going] &amp; may again - the Govt. remaining frigid and indifferent'.11 Natty had somewhat ambivalent views on the causes of anti-Semitism and a strong sense of public duty, believing that Jewish bankers sometimes shirked their duties to the wider community, thus stirring anti-Semitic sentiments at large. '"Public life!" I almost remember the rasping vehe? mence with which Lord Rothschild conveyed to me his remedy for anti Semitism', recalled Israel Zangwill. 'He had been telling me about the rich Hungarian Jews, whose one thought was to hunt and shoot over their estates with the local nobility'. At the same time, even as a Cambridge undergraduate, Natty was utterly dismissive of William Paley's View of the Evidences of Christianity, calling it 'the most absurd conglomeration of words I ever broke my head over, so that there is no danger of my being converted, as many up here have prophesied'.12 The other more resolute side of Lord Rothschild on the question of anti-Semitism, his positive pride in being Jewish, can be seen in his conduct as the Jewish representative on the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration (1902), when almost alone he stoutly defended the rights of continued immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe to Britain. Natty was conscientious and dutiful and worked harder in the office of N. M. Rothschild &amp; Sons than his brothers, Alfred and Leopold. His math? ematical abilities were of a low order, though he had a retentive memory, and he left Cambridge without sitting his final examination because his chances of passing with honours were judged to be poor. He joined the bank soon after leaving university, eventually becoming a partner and senior partner on the death of his father in 1879. However, he displayed no natural aptitude for banking or entrepreneurial flair. Part of the reason for Natty's 11 Earl of Beaconsfield to Nathaniel de Rothschild i Dec. 1880, RAL 000/848/37. 12 Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 9 April 1915, p. 12. Ferguson (see n. 1) 778. 128</page><page sequence="5">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim limited success as a banker was that as a third-generation Rothschild in the London bank he was content to follow the business practices of his father. John Delane, the editor of The Times and a friend of Lionel, remarked in a tribute to him that he 'possessed these qualities [of acute judgement in matters of commercial exchange and politics] in a very eminent degree, and they combined to render him, not merely a successful manager of his great house, but a very considerable figure in the social and political world'.13 Nevertheless, Lionel's management style was flawed in certain respects. He relied on state loans as a principal source of business and was reluctant to seek new opportunities, failing to invest in railways in Britain and the fast-growing market in the United States. As the economic historian David Landes pointed out, 'The failure to make the United States an integral part of the family network was surely the Rothschilds' biggest strategic mistake', though many would question this assessment. Until the end of his career, Lionel micro-managed the bank, attending to every small detail and not allowing Natty to use his own initiative and acquire sufficient confidence in his own judgement. Just before his death, Lionel sent Natty to Paris on a business trip: Natty confessed to Disraeli that 'I was with him late on Friday night and during the whole of Saturday taking his instructions previous to my departure ... I admired and appreciated . . . the greatness of his judgement and the lucidity of his mind'.14 A man of almost forty, Natty was in awe of his father. With his immense wealth from banking and land, Natty not only domi? nated Anglo-Jewry but was also the most prestigious figure in world Jewry. Speaking in 1953, R. N. Salaman recalled that 'Until the close of the First War, the government of the [Anglo-Jewish] community might be described as a beneficent oligarchy. At its head stood the House of Rothschild, and in several dependent offices one or another member of the twenty odd leading families of the day'. Lord Rothschild was President of the United Synagogue, the premier Anglo-Jewish institution from 1879 until his death in 1915. As a keen foxhunter and a man with a mistress, Lady Gosford, the beautiful daughter of the Duchess of Manchester, Natty did not hold the usual qualifications to fill this position.15 In addition, he was the principal warden of the Great Synagogue, reading the section from the book of Jonah, in English, on Yom Kippur every year; he was President of the Jews' Free School; and Vice-President of the Anglo-Jewish Association, while the Board of Deputies would not make any important move without his prior 13 Ferguson (see n. i) 742, 744-5 and 739. 14 D. Landes, Dynasties (London 2008) 57. Nathaniel de Rothschild to Earl of Beaconsfield 7 June 1879, dep. Hughenden 141 /^ ff. 162-3. 15 D. Gutwein, The Divided Elite: Economics, Politics and Anglo-Jewry 1882-1917 (Leiden 1992) 5. R. Davis, The English Rothschilds (London 1983) 225-6. 129</page><page sequence="6">John Cooper approval.16 The only person with the financial means and political weight to challenge his leadership was Samuel Montagu, the first Lord Swaythling, who vied with him for control of Anglo-Jewry through his own organization, the Federation of Synagogues.17 As far as world Jewry was concerned, most of Lord Rothschild's inter? ventions were on behalf of Russian Jewry, but he also took important action to assist Moroccan and Romanian Jews. In 1893 Natty received a letter from the Foreign Office in reply to representations he had made, confirm? ing 'that the Sultan has reprimanded the Moorish Kaid accused of ill treat? ing the Jews of Morocco city and ordered him to treat them as favourably as the Mohammedans'.18 In 1902 the Romanian Parliament passed a law forbidding foreigners to practise a handicraft in Romania, unless the parent state of this group accorded similar privileges to Romanian citizens. If enforced, this act would have deprived Jewish artisans of employment, as Jews were classed as foreigners without a parent state. Already in June 1901, Lord Rothschild brought Romania's attempt to flout the provisions of the Treaty of Berlin (1878), which protected Jews, to the attention of Lord Lansdowne, the British Foreign Secretary, who tried to persuade the powers signing the treaty to intervene. Natty communicated his action to the leaders of American Jewry, the politician Oscar Straus and the banker Jacob Schiff, who secured the support of President Theodore Roosevelt for Lansdowne's initiative. In July 1902 John Hay, the Secretary of State, formulated a powerful indictment of the Romanian government's policies; three weeks later the American ambassadors in the key capitals were instructed to communicate this note to the governments to which they were accredited, in order to ascertain what action they proposed. No longer feel? ing unsupported, Lansdowne in September 1902 sent a circular to the Treaty Powers proposing combined representations at Bucharest on the infringement of the treaty, with the result that the Romanian government promptly withdrew the offending law.19 Without Jacob Schiffs powerful intervention, Lord Rothschild's efforts to stir the British Foreign Office into action would have been futile. There was a subtle realignment of the centres of Jewish power occurring in line with the growing financial and industrial strength of the United States. Jewish bankers led by Lord Rothschild refused to grant loans to the Russian government, as a means of putting pressure on the Tsarist regime 16 JC 2 April 1915 Special Memoir. D. Feldman, Englishmen and Jews: Social Relations and Political Culture 1840-1914 (New Haven 1994) 358. Roth (see n. 6) 266. 17 Gutwein (see n. 15) 151, 185, 215, 217, 273. 18 M. Rothschild, Dear Lord Rothschild: Birds, Butterflies and History (London 1983) 33. 19 L. Wolf, Notes on the Diplomatic History of the Jewish Question (London 1919) 36-43. N. W. Cohen, Jacob Schiff: A Study in American Jewish Leadership (Hanover, NH, 1999) 131. 130</page><page sequence="7">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim to end its discriminatory practices against its Jewish population and to curb pogroms. In 1903 the anti-Jewish violence at Easter in Kishinev shocked opinion in Western Europe and the United States. The following spring, Natty Rothschild contacted Lord Lansdowne again in order to persuade him to protest to the Russian government about the volatile situation in Odessa which could lead to further excesses akin to the rioting at Kishinev. Natty asked Jacob Schiff to ensure that the State Department made similar representations. He assured Schiff on 7 April 1904 that the London bank had not handled a Russian loan since 1875 and that Russia had no prospect of obtaining loans on the London market from other Jewish or non-Jewish firms. He was less hopeful about the Continent, but the Paris house of Rothschild remained anti-Russian.20 However, despite the efforts of Rothschild and Schiff to close the British and American money markets to Russia, the Bleichroders in Berlin, the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas and even the French Rothschilds took up Russian loans in October 1904 and in May 1905.21 Later in the summer of 1905, during talks in the United States to end the Russo-Japanese War, Schiff met Count Witte, the Russian Prime Minister, who recalled in his memoirs that he had 'never met such a Jew as Schiff. Proud, dignified, conscious of his power, he declared to me solemnly that so long as the Tsar's government would continue its anti-Jewish policy, he would exert every effort to make it impossible for Russia to get a kopeck in the United States. He banged the table with his fist and declared that a government, which indulged in massacres and in inhuman persecution on religious grounds, was not to be trusted.'22 In response to the Russian Revolution of 1905 there was a fresh wave of pogroms from mid-October to the end of November, in which nine hundred Jews were killed and between seven thousand and eight thousand were injured. On 6 November 1905 Natty induced the Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, who was a close friend and political ally, to make a protest to the Russian government through the British ambassador Sir Cecil Spring-Rice. Count Witte was told that the plundering of Jewish commu? nities, which were unprotected by the police, was creating an unfavourable impression, and that unless these outrages were checked Russia would lose the support of the press and British public opinion. He hoped this 'would have the effect of stimulating the Central Government to put an end to the atrocious attacks on the Jews'. A few days later Lord Rothschild, on behalf 20 Cohen (see n. 19) 135. C. Adler, Jacob H. Schiff: His Life and Letters II (New York 1928) 120-3. 21 A. J. Sherman, 'German-Jewish Bankers in World Polities: The Financing of the Russo Japanese War', Leo Baeck Year Book XXVIII (1983) 69. 22 Cohen (seen. 19) 138. i3i</page><page sequence="8">John Cooper of the Russo-Jewish Committee, was a signatory of a letter to The Times fulminating against 'the unspeakable calamities [which] have befallen the Jews in Russia'. Earlier, Lord Rothschild had urged Schiff to ensure that the United States government acted on parallel lines with the British government in exerting diplomatic pressure on Russia, and had arranged for British relief funds to be distributed through diplomatic agents.23 In London in mid-November 1905, within weeks of the October pogroms in Russia, a meeting of leading international Jewish philanthro? pists was held, called by Jacob Schiff and Paul Nathan of the Hilfsverein in Germany, but presided over by Lord Rothschild. They resolved to collect funds and to send a mission to Russia to assess what further action was needed to revive the stricken communities. They reiterated their commonly expressed opinion that emigration was not the solution for the Russian Jews. As Schiff had put it on an earlier occasion, 'Five million people cannot emigrate, and no matter how many Jews may leave Russia, five millions will always remain there. The weal of these people can only be obtained by equal opportunities, equal rights, and equal duties with the rest of the Russian population'. The London conference concluded that its goal was 'the prevention of migration so far as may be feasible; no charity, but rather the grant of prompt assistance to those who are in a position to take up their original economic activity, even if only on a modest scale'.24 By the end of 1905 Schiff was warning Count Witte that if his government failed to ameliorate the position of its Jews there would be a mass exodus. Although Lord Rothschild had been titular head of the conference, power was slip? ping away from him, as the Europeans increasingly looked to Jacob Schiff for leadership in relief operations. He worked closely with Rothschild and Montagu in London and Nathan in Berlin in the collection of funds, while the money raised was distributed in Russia through Baron Horace Guenzberg. He also set up a meeting between Dr Nathan and Count Witte as the representative of the international relief movement.25 In the summer of 1906 Natty went to see Edward Grey, the new Liberal Foreign Secretary, 'to ask him if international action cannot be taken, &amp; on this ground, [that] the continuance of this monstrous policy will send fugitives in hundreds if not in thousands to countries where they are not wanted, and where there are already many seeking work'. Intent on fostering an Anglo-Russian entente, Grey merely promised to make a verbal protest that 'a recurrence of these outrages would alienate public opinion &amp; prevent the good feeling which ought to exist between the two 23 Ferguson (see n. i) 923. Rothschild (see n. 18) 33. JC 24 Nov. 1905, pp. 22-3. 24 D. Vital, A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789-1939 (Oxford 1999) 599. Adler (see n. 20) II 122. 25 Cohen (see n. 19) 14.1-3.JC 24. Nov. 1905, p. 23 and 1 Dec. 1905, p. 23. 132</page><page sequence="9">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim countries'.26 Still, in September 1906 the Rothschilds approached 'the Russian Ambassador . . . who has telegraphed to his Government urging them to keep order', but Dr Nathan remained sceptical of the intentions of the new Russian Prime Minister Stolypin.27 The English Rothschilds persisted in their policy of a monetary boycott and diplomatic overtures to the Russians, despite the failure of their earlier attempts to halt the pogroms. Meeting his friend Edward VII at Epsom in June 1908, prior to his state visit to Russia, Leopold, who was a racing enthusiast, asked the King to intercede with the Tsar on behalf of its perse? cuted Jewish population. The three Rothschild brothers drafted a letter to the King, conceding that since the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War, there has been a consider? able revolutionary and anarchical movement in Russia, and were it not for the movement, which was widespread, and affected all classes, the Emperor of Russia would not have instituted a certain form of Constitutional Government . . . the Union of the Russian People and the Octoberists . . . were undoubtedly answerable for the outrages on the Jewish population and the horrors which ensued at Kishinev, Kiev, Odessa, and elsewhere.... thou? sands of innocent people were killed, many women violated and the property of thousands destroyed.... At that time, a very small number of the Union of Russian People and the Octoberists were punished, but of late their punish? ments have been remitted . . . The Jewish population is again terrified and naturally there are fears both in Russia and elsewhere that emigration may take place on a large and unprecedented scale, which would have the double effect of depriving Russia of industrious and sober workmen, and this extra influx of immigrants would certainly disorganise the position and condition of all workmen in many parts of the world. They conceded that since the Russo-Japanese War, a certain number of Jews had participated in the revolutionary movement, though the bulk of the Russian Jews remained loyal to the Tsar.28 Edward VII replied that it was not constitutionally correct for him to take up the matter with the Tsar, unless Sir Charles Hardinge and Sir Arthur Nicholson, the British ambas? sador to Russia, who were accompanying him on the visit so advised. Hardinge sent Lord Rothschild an extract from the reply of Stolypin when the question was raised with him. Stolypin asserted that he could not break down all the barriers of the Pale to place Jews on equal footing with Russians. 'Were, however, every Russian Jew permitted to roam and settle freely over the country, he would, by his superior intelligence over the 26 Ferguson (see n. 1)933-4. 27 Leopold de Rothschild to French cousins 17 Sept. 1906, RAL XI/130A/0. 28 Rothschild (see n. 18)34-5. 133</page><page sequence="10">John Cooper improvident and uneducated peasant rapidly bring nearly every village under his control, and "pogroms" throughout the land would be of daily occurrence which the authorities would be incapable of preventing'. He claimed that because 'the extreme revolutionary movement in Russia had been largely engineered and financed by Jews', he could not move quickly. He hoped next year or in the year after to introduce 'some measure which would at least give some satisfaction to the Jews and improve their posi? tion'.29 Writing to his French cousins on 15 June 1908, Natty remained unconvinced by Stolypin's assurances of 'very mild legislation' and ridiculed his contention 'that if the Jews had equal rights they would soon hold all the land in Russia and be masters of the country and that the pogroms in fact were risings of unfortunate debtors against modern Shylocks'. The King put a more positive gloss on the Russian assurances, though they amounted in fact to a diplomatic charade.30 Even the closure of the British and American money markets to Russia was breached by the loans of 1907 and 1909 taken up by the Barings and Sir Ernest Cassel, who was a cousin of Jacob Schiff. Cassel preferred a policy of 'friendly persuasion' towards the Tsarist regime, extending them loans and hoping for concessions as far as the Jewish population was concerned. There is evidence that in 1909 he wanted to approach the Tsar to discuss Russian policy on this issue but was rebuffed.31 Given the Anglo-Russian entente, Lord Rothschild could make little headway through diplomacy, and his policy of excluding Russia from the London money market had collapsed. Yet part of the blame for the failure of British policy must lie with Lord Rothschild, who in January 1906 withdrew financial support from Lucien Wolf for the continued publication of the Russian Correspondence, a free journal distributed through the post. Wolf told Lord Rothschild that 'In deference to your wishes I have lately abstained from criticizing Russian finances and have given more space to the constitutional than to the revolutionary movement. It seems to me that the paper is more than ever necessary now when almost the entire liberal press in Russia is gagged and the prisons are crowded with reformers accused of nothing except their liberalism'.32 Once it was clear that the movement for reform in Russia was in retreat and that Jewish emancipation would be deferred yet again, Jacob Schiff took the lead in organizing the flow of Jewish immigrants to the United States. He initiated a scheme known as the Galveston Plan to direct potential Jewish 29 Sir Charles Hardinge to Lord Rothschild 13 June 1908, RAL 000/848/37. 30 Ferguson (see n. 1)935. 31 Cohen (seen. 19) 141-3. 32 Z. Szajkowski, 'Paul Nathan, Lucien Wolf, Jacob H. Schiff and the Jewish Revolutionary Movements in Eastern Europe 1903-1917',^^?/* Social Studies XXIX (1967) 18-19. 134</page><page sequence="11">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim immigrants away from the port of New York, thereby relieving the conges? tion in the cities of the eastern seaboard. He estimated that the number of refugees seeking a home in the United States and Canada could run into millions. The Texas port of Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico was chosen because of the railway lines radiating out from there to locations west of the Mississippi and on the Pacific coast. Schiff pledged the sum of 500,000 dollars for the creation of an organization to assist in the diversion of immi? grants. The Hilfsverein and the Jewish Territorial Organization (ITO) in Britain were selected by Schiff to publicize the project and to enlist immi? grants in Europe.33 Israel Zangwill, the famous Anglo-Jewish novelist and playwright, had established the ITO in 1905, when the Zionist organization rejected Britain's offer of a territory in East Africa with the aim of founding ca new Self-governing [Jewish] Colony in the vast lands of the British Empire'. After Zangwill conferred with Lord Rothschild on 13 November 1906, Natty promised him that the Paris and London Rothschild houses would each give ?10,000 to an emigration fund, but reiterated that he could have no part in a scheme which would lead to the restoration of ca Jewish Kingdom with a Hebrew monarch'. As agreed by Natty, his brother Leopold became the treasurer of the ITO regulation department's fund, whose executive often met in the Rothschild offices at New Court.34 At the end of 1912 Lord Rothschild refused to subsidize the emigration fund any longer and he influenced Baron Edmond de Rothschild to halt his assistance. Throughout the operation of the Galveston Plan the Rothschild family played a subsidiary but helpful role. The scheme was under the overall management of Schiff; even so, Natty believed that the solution to the problems of Russian Jewry lay in Russia and there could not be a massive outflow of migrants. Moreover, 'after seven years of operation, the Galveston movement deflected no more than ten thousand immigrants (about 1.2 per cent) from the ports of the northeast' and in numerical terms was a limited success.35 Despite the growing shift of power in the Jewish world to the United States, and Lord Rothschild's waning influence, he still had an enviable network of contacts, which as yet were inaccessible to the new American Jewish leaders. Thus in 1899, when the Vatican newspaper the Osservatore Romano in referring to the Tisza Eszlar case had revived the charge of ritual murder against Jews, Lord Rothschild had asked the Duke of Norfolk, the 33 E. A. Brawley, 'When the Jews came to Galveston', Commentary (April 2009) 31-6. S.Joseph, History of the Baron de Hirsch Fund (Philadelphia 1935) 205-10; Cohen (see n. 19) 160-64. 34 D. Vital, Zionism: The Formative Years (Oxford 1982) 437-8. Lord Rothschild to French cousins 13 Nov. 1906, RAL XI/ 130A/0. 35 Israel Zangwill to Jacob Schiff 26 Dec. 1912 and 18 Jan. 1913, Zangwill Papers, Central Zionist Archives A120/37. Szajkowski (see n. 32) 21. Brawley (see n. 33) 35. 135</page><page sequence="12">John Cooper premier Catholic layman in Britain, to intervene with the papacy. The Vatican paper had ranted: 'Let certain insatiable people [Jews] be content with Christian money, but let them cease to shed and to suck Christian blood'. The Duke had informed Natty that he had 'written to Cardinal Rampolla strongly in the sense you wish. I sincerely hope the Pope may feel that the circumstances call for a pronouncement'. He added a postscript that 'I know that representations are being made to Rome by others as well as myself.36 Thus Lord Rothschild was called to intervene with the papacy once again in 1913 in connection with the Beilis case. There was a fresh upsurge of anti-Semitism in Russia when the body of a small boy, who had been murdered, was found in Kiev on 20 March 1911. A Jew, Mendel Beilis, was charged with the crime. Not convinced of the guilt of Beilis, a newspaper editor tracked down a gang of thieves who had committed the crime and drained the blood from the victim's body so as to make it look like a ritual murder and implicate Jews. Under pressure from Schiff, the United States cancelled a trade agreement with Russia to show their displeasure at the framing of Beilis on a ritual murder charge. The trial did not open until September 1913. Writing to the Chief Rabbi Dr J. H. Hertz, Natty's private secretary informed him that Baron Guenzberg had approached Lord Rothschild to take some action on behalf of Beilis prior to the trial. 'Though Lord Rothschild feels the gravity of the situation he thinks it would be diffi? cult before the trial actually takes place to stir the English people, through the newspapers, to a proper appreciation of the enormity'. He urged the Chief Rabbi to send him a protest note signed by all the Jewish ministers 'which he will endeavour to send through Sir Edward Grey to the proper quarter'. Dr Hertz agreed that while the case was sub judice it would be premature to take any action, however guarded. As the Conjoint Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Board of Deputies had already sent a protest note to the government, he wanted to gather the signatures of all the Jewish clergy without further consultations. Lord Rothschild was pleased that the Chief Rabbi's views coincided with his own. 'For the present', his private secretary explained, 'he will do nothing but he will let you know when he thinks the time has arrived for further intervention, or action'.37 The defence team acting for Beilis ascertained that a key prosecution witness, Father Pranaitis, intended to state that all the copies of papal bulls repudiating the blood libel were forgeries. They, therefore, requested Lord 36 Tablet 25 Nov. and 2 Dec. 1899. Duke of Norfolk to Lord Rothschild 27 Nov. 1899, RAL 000/848/37. 37 Lord Rothschild to the Rev. Dr J. H. Hertz 6 Aug. 1913, Hertz to Rothschild 8 Aug. 1913 and Rothschild to Hertz 11 Aug. 1913, Anglo-Jewish Archives MS 175/30/6. 136</page><page sequence="13">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim Rothschild through the Conjoint Committee to contact Cardinal Merry de Val, the Pontifical Secretary of State, to certify that they were authentic. After comparing the copies of the papal bulls with the originals in the papal archives, the Cardinal was able to confirm that they were accurate copies. The certified copies were reproduced in The Times and in all the principal European newspapers, but Nelidov, the Russian ambassador to the Vatican, deliberately held up the passage of the certified copies of the documents to the court, so that they were not placed before the jury. Accordingly the jury found that it been proved that the victim, Andrei Yushchinsky, had died in the Jewish surgical hospital with almost total loss of blood, thereby impli? cating Jews in his ritual murder. As to the second charge of murder against Beilis in collusion with others in a premeditated plan prompted by religious fanaticism, he was found not guilty. None the less, although the charges against Beilis were denounced by the liberal establishment in Britain at a big public demonstration, the French Catholic press, La Libre Parole, La Croix and UUnivers in a reprise of the Dreyfus Affair upheld these extrava? gant claims.38 Rothschild was forthright in his opposition to Zionism, writing in a robust manner to Theodore Herzl on 18 August 1902: I will tell you very frankly that I should view with horror the establishment of a Jewish Colony pure and simple ... it would be a Ghetto with the prejudices of the Ghetto; it would be a small petty Jewish State, orthodox and illiberal, excluding the Gentile and the Christian. And what would be the result; ten, fifteen or fifty thousand Jews would live in comparative happiness and ease, their habits and their example would be quoted and their co-religionists and brethfren] at home would be more oppressed and more ground down on the principle of'Do unto others as you would be done by'. . . . Find new homes for Jews, but let them live among their Christian breth[ren], by the streams of Babylon or elsewhere, but let one and all of us beware of the impossible.39 Once again, Rothschild did not fully comprehend the dimensions of the potential disaster in Russia and the necessity for the large-scale migration of Jews, running into millions, but still thought in terms of a small colony capable of absorbing tens of thousands. Herzl rejoined that he did not accept that a 'Jewish commonwealth' would have 'to be small, orthodox, and illiberal'. Despite the continuous support of Lord Rothschild, Herzl's alternative schemes for a Jewish colony 38 M. Samuel, Blood Accusation: The Strange History of the Beilis Case (New York 1966) 242 and 248-9. The Times 27, 28 and 29 Oct. 1913. L. Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitsim. Suicidal Europe, 1870-1933, IV (Oxford 1985) 127-34. S. Wilson, Ideology and Experience: Antisemitism in France at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair (London 1982) 552. 39 Vital (see n. 34) 141. 137</page><page sequence="14">John Cooper in the Sinai Peninsula or El Arish as a bridgehead for settlement in Palestine came to nothing. Rothschild would, however, have been happier with a Jewish colony in Cyprus, and was still equivocal about encouraging the break-up of Turkey.40 It was not until the beginning of the First World War that the question of Palestine was seriously discussed again. Herbert Samuel, a Cabinet Minister in the Liberal government, whose imagination had been stirred by Herzl, saw that the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire could provide an opportunity for the establishment of a Jewish state. In January 1915 he circulated a memorandum among his Cabinet colleagues, which opened in ecstatic terms. 'Already there is stirring among the twelve million Jews scat? tered throughout the countries of the world. A feeling is spreading with great rapidity that now, at last, some advance may be made, in some way, towards the fulfilment of the hope and desire, held with unshakeable tenac? ity for 1,800 years, for the restoration of the Jews to the land to which they are attached by ties almost as ancient as history itself. As the ninety thou? sand or a hundred thousand Jews were outnumbered by half a million Arabs in Palestine, Samuel was convinced that the time was not ripe for the setting up of an autonomous Jewish state. So the solution was to incorporate Palestine into the British Empire, thereby encouraging Jewish immigration. Thus 'in the course of time, the Jewish people, grown into a majority and settled in the land, may be conceded such a degree of self-government as the conditions of that day may justify'. Such a country would be able to sustain a population of three or four million and relieve the pressure in Russia.41 On 5 February 1915 Samuel wrote to Lord Rothschild that 'with the approval of Sir Edward Grey, I send you a memorandum I have written, which has been circulated to a few members of the Cabinet. I should be very grateful if you would give me an opportunity of consulting you on the subject with which it deals'. A few days later Samuel thanked him for his kind invitation to dine and sleep at Tring on Friday, 'and am grateful for the opportunity of discussing with you the subject' of the future of Palestine'.42 What happened when Samuel visited Tring? Isaiah Friedman suggested that Lord Rothschild and his brother Leopold were so convinced by Samuel's arguments that they supported his pleas for a British Protectorate in Palestine, but it is doubtful whether this extended to shar? ing Samuel's enthusiasm for a major Jewish settlement there. It is more 40 R. Patai (ed.) The Complete Diaries of Theodor HerzlW (New York i960) 1347, 1385-7 and 1409-11; A. Bein, Theodore Herzl: A Biography (Philadelphia 1945) 419, 428 and 433-7. 41 J. Bowie, Viscount Samuel: A Biography (London 1957) 170. I. Friedman, The Question of Palestine 1914-1918: British-Jewish-Arab-Relations (London 1973) 8-10. 42 Herbert Samuel to Lord Rothschild 5 and 9 Feb. 1915, RAL 000/848/37. 138</page><page sequence="15">Nathaniel Mayer Rothschild (1840-1915), the last of the shtadlanim likely that they shared Lucien Wolfs standpoint, that the Jews were to have equality with the native population of Palestine, freedom of cultural expres? sion, and open access for immigrants, nothing more. Under no illusions, Weizmann believed that the Rothschilds considered 'it their patriotic duty as Englishmen to desire that Great Britain should occupy Palestine. The Jewish side of the question is of secondary importance'. Furthermore, Weizmann recorded in his memoirs that 'Old Leopold de Rothschild . . . was, like his wife, furiously anti-Zionist, and remained so to the end'.43 Although the London Rothschild bank went into relative decline and the fortune Natty left at his death in 1915 could be equalled by other British millionaires, his management of the bank was steady and there was no crisis provoked by an unsteady hand on the tiller. He with Jacob Schiff belonged to the last generation of shtadlanim, intercessors on behalf of the Jewish people. During and following the First World War, power passed to new leaders, Zionist politicians and middle-class professional men, such as Weizmann, Louis Marshall and Lucien Wolf.44 43 Friedman (see n. 41) 13-14. C. Weizmann, Trial and Error (London 1949) 205. Leonard Stein (ed.) The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann, August 1914-November 1917. Vol. VII (London 1975) 148. 44 pergUSOn (see n j) 965-6, 968-9 and 1035. Lloyd George to Lord Rothschild 28 Aug. 1914 and George V and Queen Alexandra to Lord Rothschild 19 Feb. 1915, RAL 000/848/37. 139</page></plain_text>