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The Immigrant Jew in America

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LIVING IN AMERICA: THE JEWISH EXPERIENCE  HEALTH AND SANITATION 

The Russian Jew in Chicago*
VIII. POLITICS
by Elijah N. Zoline, Member Chicago Bar

* - From "The Immigrant Jew in America"-- issued by the National Liberal Immigration League, New York City, 1907.
Also included in earlier 1905 edition of "The Russian Jew in the United States."

While honor is said to be the underlying principle in an aristocracy and fear in a despotic monarchy, civic virtue is fundamental in a republic. The citizen who is fully conscious of his civic duties towards his government and his country, who is willing to lay aside his personal interest for the greatest good of the greatest number of his fellow citizens, is the citizen who preserves our freedom and institutions, and so long as there is a majority of citizens endowed with that sterling quality of civic virtue, so long there will be no danger as to the stability of our republican institutions. Our naturalized citizens, coming now as they do, mostly from countries where either despotism or pretended "honor" is the basic principle of government, very quickly, upon becoming citizens here, realize their new responsibilities, which inspire them with loyalty to the country of their adoption. They are grateful for the confidence reposed in them, in giving them a share in the administration of our government.

To all of this, the Russian Jew is no exception. Having no civil rights in Russia, he seizes the opportunity given him by our laws, and becomes a citizen of the United States. No one can, on the average, be more depended upon to vote rightly on all public questions than the Russian Jew. Whereas the average naturalized citizen leaves behind him a country where his race predominates, and to which he could return in safety in case of adversity, the Russian Jew is not so situated. He comes here to stay. To him this is almost the only country that offers relief and shelter.

The Russian Jew in America is well pleased with the freedom granted him and has not looked to any considerable extent for public office as a means for a livelihood or promotion. In the city of Chicago, and county of Cook, with a Russian Jewish population of about 75,000 and comprising not less than 18,000 voters, only a handful hold public offices, most of them unimportant. An exception is that of Mr. Abel Davis, a Russian Jew, who was elected recorder of deeds in the election of November, 1904. His nomination was brought about by Russian Jewish Republican clubs. Mr. Davis was a lieutenant in the Spanish-American war, and saw actual service in Cuba. He was for one term a member of the Illinois legislature. Other officials include deputy health inspector, deputy clerks of the court and recorder, and assistant state's attorney.

There is good prospect that in the future the Russian Jews will participate at the primary election of both parties; they will endeavor to elect their own delegates.

The Russian Jews, as a whole, are for personal liberty in the fullest sense of the word. Believing that the Democratic party can be more trusted in safeguarding the personal liberty of the people, and fearing a revival of the Blue Laws in Chicago, they generally vote the Democratic ticket. This is not, however, the general rule in congressional and presidential elections. The following is a table of the votes in the Ninth Ward, the majority of which have been cast by Russian Jews since the year 1900.1

City Election, April 4, 1899: For Mayor--Carter, Republican, 2316; Harrison, Democrat, 3130; Altgeld, Independent, 750; Keroin, Prohibitionist, 12.
Presidential Election, November 6th, 1900--McKinley, 3034; Bryan, 3591.
City Election, April 2, 1901: For Mayor--Henecy, 3088; Harrison, 3991.
Congressional and County Election, November 4, 1902: For State Treasurer--Busze, Republican, 2853; Duddleson, Democrat, 2946.

At the city election, which took place on April 7th, 1903, Mayor Harrison, Democrat, carried the ward by 1679 majority over Stewart, Republican.

At the election of November, 1902, a very notable event took place in the 17th Senatorial District, largely populated by Russian Jews, when Clarence S. Darrow, chief counsel for the miners' union before the Anthracite Coal Commission at Philadelphia, was elected to the legislature by a majority of 6000 on an independent ticket.

In the November, 1904, election, the most representative Russian Jewish ward, the Ninth, was carried for Roosevelt by about 900 majority.

Socialism does not flourish to any considerable extent among the Russian Jews in Chicago. Of all the Russian Jewish voters throughout the city only about 500 cast Socialist votes.

The new generation of the Russian Jews will be the Jews of America. They will lead in thought and morals. As to politics, I believe they will safeguard the interests of. the people, and will have in time considerable influence in the government of our country.
 


1 The Russian Jewish settlement embraces the Ninth Ward, part of Tenth, part of Eleventh. part of Nineteenth. Dart of Fourteenth. Fifteenth. Sixteenth.

 

 


 



 

 


 











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