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Grégoire’s American Involvements

  • Richard H. Popkin
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 169)

Abstract

This paper will deal with ways in which the abbé Grégoire played a role in affairs of the new United States of America. One was in his discussion with John Carroll of Baltimore, the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States, about the importance of the separation of church and state. The other is the role Grégoire played in a strange attempt to found a Jewish homeland, a Jewish state, on an island off Buffalo, New York. Although the second episode occurred later, it may be better to treat it first, and indicate how Gregoire’s view of the importance of the separation of church and state played a role in both these affairs.

Keywords

United States Constitution French Revolution Religious Freedom Jewish State Jewish Question 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    See for instance the way Ararat is described in Jonathan D. Sarna, Jacksonian Jew: The Two Worlds of Mordecai Noah (New York and London: Holmes and Meier, 1981).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mordecai Noah, Travels in England, France, Spain and the Barbary Coast in the Years 1813, 1814 and 1815 (New York: Kirk and Mercian, 1819), p. 241.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Henri Grégoire, An Enquiry Concerning the Intellectual and Moral Faculties and literature of Negroes. Trans. D. B. Warden (Brooklyn, NY: Thomas Kirk, 1808; photo-reproduction College Park, MD: McGrath Publishing Co., 1967).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Ruth E. Necheles, The Abbé Grégoire 1787-1831. The Odyssey of an Egalitarian (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971), pp. 184-185.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Noah, Travels, p. 241.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Henri Grégoire, Histoire des Sectes religieuses, nouvelle édition, (Paris: Baudouin Frères, 1828), T. III, Livre v, chap. 11, “Etat des juifs en Amérique” and 3:424-429 on the current state of Judaism. This section ends with a strong statement of Grégoire’s millenarianism.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Richard H. Popkin, “La Peyrère, The Abbé Grégoire and the Jewish Question in the Eighteenth Century,” Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 4 (1975), pp. 209-222.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Journal de Paris, 29 août 1806, and Gazette de Paris, 28 août 1806. On La Peyrère’s messianic theory, see R. H. Popkin, Isaac La Peyrere (1596–1676). His Life, Work and Influence (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1987).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Henri Grégoire, Essai sur le régénération physique, morale et politique des Juifs (Metz, 1787), pp. 228-229.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Grégoire’s secretary, de Rondeau, compiled notes on what was being written about La Peyrère and the recall of the Jews in the newspapers, biographical works and bibliographical works. He also wrote out a summary of La Peyrère’s Du Rappel des Juifs, a summary of the answers the Assembly of Jewish Notables gave to Napoleon in August 1806. These items are in two files on “Rappel des Juifs” in the Bibliothèque de Port-Royal in Paris.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    The notes on the Assembly of Jewish Notables referred to in the previous note indicate Grégoire was giving advice to the Jewish members.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    In the beginning of the 1828 edition.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The instructions for the celebration of Napoleon’s birthday at the Paris Synagogue appear in Transactions of the Parisian Sanhédrin, translated from the original published by Diogène Tama, with a preface and illustrative notes by F. D. Kirwan (London, 1807), pp. 191-192. The description of the actual ceremony appears on pp. 212-213.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    The text of Rabbi Sinzheim’s sermon is given in Transactions, pp. 221-229.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Others, including Kirwan, in his introduction to the Transactions of the Paris Sanhédrin, surmised that Napoleon had some dark purpose. George Stanley Faber, a proto-fundamentalist of the period, saw Napoleon as the head of the Anti-Christian Confederacy. See his Prophecies relative to the Conversion, Restoration, Union, and Future Houses of judah and Israel (London, 1809), 1:13-227.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hannah Adams, The History of the Jews from the Destruction of the Temple to the Present Time (London, 1818). She was the leader of the conversionist group.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    In her Memoirs she mentions various items she got from Grégoire. In A Memoir from Mrs. Hannah Adams (Boston, 1832), p. 415, she says that the material on Jews in present day France in her book comes from a letter Grégoire sent her in 1819. He mentions her in Histoire des sectes religieuses, 3:375. See further R. H. Popkin, “Mordecai Noah, the abbé Grégoire and the Paris Sanhédrin,” Modern Jewish Review 2 (1982), pp. 131-132.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kirwan, introduction to Transactions, passim.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    The first printing of this work was in the original Spanish: Jose Josefat Ben-Ezra (Pseud.), Venida del Mesias en Gloria y Magiestad, Spain, 1810 or 1811.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Grégoire mentions Lacunza’s work, and how he happened to receive it, in Histoire des sectes religieuses, first ed. 1814 (Paris: Potey, 1814), 1:201 and note. Grégoire had a Latin translation rather than the original Spanish. On the fortuna of Lacunza’s work, see Alfred-Félix Vaucher, Une célébrité oublié. Le P. Manuel de Lacunza y Diaz (1731–1801) (Collonges-sous-Salève: Imprimerie Fides, 1968).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Vaucher, Lacunza, 25, sec. 17.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    The letter of dismissal states, “Sir, at the time of your appointment as Consul in Tunis, it was not known that the RELIGION which you profess would form any obstacle to the exercise of your Consular functions. Recent information, however on which entire reliance may be placed, proves that it would produce a very unfavorable effect. IN CONSEQUENCE OF WHICH, the President has deemed it expedient to revoke your commission. On receipt of this letter, therefore, you will consider yourself no longer in the public service. … Your obedient servant, James Monroe.” The letter is published in Noah, Travels, pp. 376-377. The original has not been found.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Noah, Travels, p. 241.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    The letters are printed in Noah, Travels, Appendix VI, pp. xxv-xxvi. On Noah’s reaction and his contacts with Adams, Jefferson and Madison, see Popkin, “Mordecai Noah, the abbé Henri Grégoire and the Paris Sanhédrin,” pp. 132-133.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    The speech given in April 1818 in a New York synagogue. It is reprinted in Joseph L. Blau and Salo W. Baron, The Jews of the United States. A Documentary History (New York and London, 1965), pp. 82-85.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Popkin, “Noah and the Sanhédrin,” p. 134.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mordecai Noah, “Address by Mordecai M. Noah, 24 September 1825,”, reprinted in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, No. 21, Lyons Collection, Vol. I (1913), pp. 230-252.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Noah, “Address”, pp. 248-251. Noah published a Discourse on the Evidence of the American Indians Being the Descendents of the Lost Tribes of Israel in 1837. This has been reprinted in Midstream 18 (May 1961), pp. 49-64.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    This all appears in Noah’s “Proclamation to the Jews,” of September 1825, published in Max J. Köhler, “Some Early American Zionist Projects,” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, No. 8, (1900), Appendix II, pp. 97-118.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    On Grégoire’s epistolary discussions with Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, see R. H. Popkin, “An Aspect of the Problem of Religious Freedom in the French and American Revolutions,” in The Third Force in Seventeenth-Century Thought (Leiden: Brill, 1992), pp. 308-324. There are some letters of Grégoire in the archives of the Baltimore Archdiocese.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Noah, “Proclamation,” p. 112.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Noah, “Address,” p. 241.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Noah, “Address,” pp. 250-251.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    The letter of Grand Rabbi Cologna first appeared as “Au Rédacteur,” in the Journal des Débats publiques et littéraires 18 November 1825, pp. 2-3. It later appeared in English in the New York National Advocate, 12 January 1826. and the Niles Register, 21 January 1836. On the rabbinical reactions and those of other Jewish groups, see Popkin, “Mordecai Noah and the Sanhédrin,” pp. 140-141.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Noah was also attacked by Samuel Harby, the reformed leader from South Carolina and by Benjamin Graetz of Philadelphia. On this, see Jonathan Sarna, Jacksonian Jew, pp. 72-73.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    The section on Jews in America runs from pp. 3:370-379. Noah and his project are discussed on pp. 3:376-379.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Grégoire, Histoire des sectes religeuses, 1828 ed., 3:376-378.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Grégoire, Histoire des sectes religeuses, 1828 ed., 3:379.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Noah, “Address,” pp. 232 and 248.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    On Grégoire’s ecclesiastical career, see Necheles, Grégoire. On the Constitutional Church see A. Aulard, Christianity and the French Revolution (London: Little Brown, 1927), ch. 2.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    On this episode, see Popkin, “The Problem of Religious Freedom,” pp. 311-312. Grégoire, in his Histoire des sectes religieuses, 1828 ed., T. I, ch. i, gives a detailed picture of the campaign against religion during the Reign of Terror. Grégoire’s speech, enlarged, was published as Discours sur la liberté des cultes, An III de la Revolution. Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    The law was proposed and quickly adopted in 1795.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Grégoire sent much material to Bishop Carroll in Baltimore, as well letters, discussing the French and American situations with regard to religious liberty. On this see Popkin, “The Problem of Religious Freedom,” pp. 318-322.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

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  • Richard H. Popkin

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