Adolph Lewisohn Portait

Adolph Lewisohn Portait

Adolph Lewisohn


Adolph Lewisohn was a Hamburg-born German-American businessman who, together with his brother Leonard, once led one of the most important and profitable copper companies in the United States


Adolph Lewisohn (born May 27, 1849 in Hamburg; died August 17, 1938 in Upper Saranac Lake, NY) was a Hamburg-born German-American businessman who, together with his brother Leonard (1847-1902), once led one of the most important and profitable copper companies in the United States. In the 1880s, their company, Lewisohn Bros., broke new ground in the electrolytic proceessing of copper and helped a whole industrial process take root in the American copper industry. Through their involvement in the Butte & Boston Consolidated Mining Company (B&B), the Lewisohns increased their stake in the industry and managed to accumulate a significant fortune in the brief period between 1887 and 1900. After Leonard’s death in 1902, Adolph Lewisohn managed the business on his own. In the following years, however, he began to devote more of his time and efforts to philanthropy, and he put his considerable riches in the service of an enormous range of social, cultural, and educational initiatives. His charitable giving focused primarily on institutions in New York City, where he lived for seventy years. Given the extent of his philanthropic contributions to the city, some considered Lewisohn “New York’s most useful citizen.”[1]

Family Background

Adolph Lewisohn was born in Hamburg on May 27, 1849. He came from an old and well-established Jewish family whose connection to mercantile affairs formed part of that city’s history.[2] The Lewisohns traced their roots in Germany back to 1609, the year in which their ancestors had migrated from Holland. At the time of Adolph’s birth, the Jewish community in Hamburg numbered approximately 11,000, and the Lewisohns were an important part of it. The family’s high standing among their co-religionists is evidenced by the fact that one of Adolph’s great-grandfathers, Raphael Samuel Haarbleicher, had served as a ritual officer [Kultusvorsteher] of the city’s Israelite community. Adolph’s father, Samuel Lewisohn (1809-1872), was the eldest son of Lion Phillip Lewisohn (ca. 1783-1841) and Fanny Haarbleicher (1786-1857). He was a successful merchant who dealt in wool, bristles, hair, quills, bedding, and ostrich feathers; his business had been in the family since 1740.[3]

On September 7, 1836, Samuel Lewisohn, then age twenty-seven, wed twenty-four year-old Julie (Guta) Nathan, the daughter of Israel Nathan and Nannette (née Cohn) Nathan. A native of Braunschweig, Julie Nathan came from a Reform Jewish family. The couple went on to have seven children, Adolph being the youngest. His six older siblings included four sisters (Friederike, born 1838; Louise, born 1840; Selly, born 1841; and Henriette, born 1844) and two brothers (Julius, born 1843; and Leonhard, born 1847). Sadly, Adolph’s mother died in 1856, at the age of thirty-four. Four years later, Samuel Lewisohn, then fifty-one, married twenty-two year-old Pauline Jessel of Hamburg. The marriage produced four sons (Philip, born 1861; Raphael, 1863-1923; Joseph John, born 1864; and Nachmann Albert, 1865-1911).

Samuel Lewisohn was fairly wealthy and was held in high esteem, both by his business partners and by the community at large. The fact that he subscribed to the democratic Freischütz and the Hamburger Nachrichten suggests that he had politically liberal views. When it came to religion, however, Samuel Lewisohn was conservative and strictly observant. Within the family, it was he who ensured his children’s adherence to religious precepts. Later in life, Adolph Lewisohn described his paternal family tree as an unbroken line of pious Jews “of the strictest orthodoxy in the matter of old traditional ritualistic customs.”[4] Samuel Lewisohn demanded that his children attend synagogue on a daily basis.

Adolph began Hebrew lessons at age five. From ages six to eleven, he attended one of Hamburg’s numerous private Christian schools. Upon turning eleven, in 1860, he transferred to the Höhere Bürgerschule (Secondary School), a new private school guided by Jewish religious rules. Founded by Dr. Placzek in 1858, the school received financial support from Adolph’s uncle, Sally Lewisohn (1812-1896), and from other wealthy orthodox Jews. In addition to conventional subjects, the school taught Hebrew as well as Jewish religion and literature. One of its teachers, Solomon H. Sonnenschein, went on to become a rabbi in New York and St. Louis.[5]

Business Development

Adolph Lewisohn started working at his father’s business in 1865; he was fifteen at the time. By then, his two older brothers, Julius and Leonhard, had already moved to New York, where they were running a branch of the family business under the name Lewisohn Bros. In 1867, after completing his apprenticeship, Adolph convinced his father to let him move to New York to assist his brothers. It appears that Lewisohn’s decision to travel to the U.S. was at least partially motivated by the desire for greater personal freedom.

The New York branch office of Samuel Lewisohn’s business had been established in 1858 by two of his employees, Messieurs Magnus and Israel, who also gave their names to the business at first. In 1866, Leonard (the spelling he used in the U.S.) and Julius Lewisohn took over the office. The two brothers imported and exported the same raw materials that their father did in Hamburg (i.e., wool, bristles, hair, and feathers), but they also dealt in metals, which was extremely important for the later development of the business.

Unfortunately, we know little about Adolph’s decision to sail to New York. It is unclear, for instance, whether he planned to emigrate or to remain in the country only temporarily. One thing is certain, however – Adolph Lewisohn was by no means a typical emigrant. He went from comfortable circumstances to comfortable circumstances; his move was not prompted by necessity, nor was it made in the certain knowledge that he was leaving his homeland forever. And he did not cross the Atlantic as a passenger in steerage or on the orlop deck; rather, he traveled “First Cabin.” He made no mention of inconveniences during the journey, even though ship food often posed problems for orthodox Jews, who were unable to observe their dietary laws.

Adolph arrived in New York in the middle of August of 1867. He and his two brothers lived with a Jewish family in an apartment on Broadway near Bleecker Street. The family provided strictly kosher board for $55.00 a week (approximately $836.00 in 2010)[6]. From the apartment, it was not far to the Lewisohns’ office, which was located at 100 John Street.

After 1869, the trade in bristles took on greater importance in the Lewisohns’ company, and the brothers began cooperating with the emerging meat-processing industry, specifically with Philip Armour (Armour & Co.). The Lewisohns noted that the industry treated bristles as waste, and they encouraged their utilization as a by-product: “My brother and I . . . made an important industry of American bristles.”[7] At around the same time, the brothers also became more involved in horsehair processing. Shortly after Adolph arrived in the U.S., they acquired a stake in the Pawtucket Hair Cloth Company, which was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The company was owned by the Littlefield family, which had done business with Samuel Lewisohn in Hamburg. In the interest of improving the company’s productivity, the Lewisohn brothers acquired the patent to a new horse-hair processing machine and introduced it into the company’s production process. Through technical innovation, they increased productivity without sacrificing quality and made the company’s products more competitive. Since Pawtucket Hair Cloth already benefitted from protective tariffs that strengthened its position vis-à-vis European competitors, the brothers’ improvements put the company in a doubly attractive position. And finally, since the Lewisohns had acquired the patent to the horse-hair machine, they profited greatly when firms in England started using it as well. As part of another successful joint enterprise with the Littlefields, the Lewisohns began processing short horsehair (into mattress stuffing, etc.) in a new factory, the American Curled Hair Cloth Company. Here, the Lewisohns’ involvement in the processing of bristles and horsehair shows that they were moving away from European imports and toward U.S.-based production.

When Samuel Lewisohn died on December 27, 1872, Julius, his oldest son, returned to Hamburg to take over the family business. (He had been a partner in it since 1865.[8]) Like all of Samuel’s children from his first marriage, Adolph Lewisohn inherited a little over 82,500 marks. Though not a fortune, it was solid amount of capital that could be used for future enterprises.

Economic prospects may not have prompted Adolph and Leonard Lewisohn to sail to the U.S. back in the 1860s, but they certainly caused them to stay. Even during their earliest years in New York, the brothers realized that importing and trading bristles and feathers was not the most lucrative opportunity America had to offer. More importantly, they could see that the meat industry was offering more competition in the processing of animal by-products, and they realized that demand for some of their other products (i.e., feathers) was dependent on fashion. Additionally, there was always the danger that some of their products would be replaced by other materials. Thus, they began to focus their attention on what had originally been a secondary focus of their father’s business, the trade in metals, lead, zinc, and copper. By the time the Lewisohns stepped up their trade in copper they were already experienced merchants. But mining and metal processing were entirely new to them. Their decision to venture into these unknown fields was evidence of the flexibility and adaptability that would eventually prove essential in the creation of their fortune. Whereas their involvement in bristle production was limited to certain regions (e.g., New York and Rhode Island), their involvement in copper production was national from the outset, and their involvement in copper trading was even international in scope (though their trade in bristles had been as well).

Copper, which was used to make cheap coins and objects of daily use, was long regarded as a utilitarian metal of no particular value. But this changed dramatically with the dawn of the “electric age,” which witnessed a huge spike in the demand for this material. Highly conductive and resistant to corrosion (compared to iron), copper allowed for flexible processing and enabled the transmission of power across large distances. At the time, the demand for copper was such that enormous sums could be made with it. Copper was used in energy generating products, such as dynamos and electric motors, and in transfer (lines), too, but it was used, above all, for street lights and in telecommunications (i.e., the budding telegraphy and telephony industries).

The Lewisohns’ success in the copper business was primarily attributable to a pronounced and sustained rise in demand. At first, the depression of 1873 hampered the reorientation of their business, but by 1878 the Lewisohns were earning earned most of their money in the copper trade. In 1879, they acquired their first copper mine in Butte, Montana. Founded as a settlement of gold miners, Butte soon became famous for its enormous quantities of copper. Known as “the richest hill on earth,” Butte flooded the U.S. market with copper in the following decades. The first claim the Lewisohns acquired there was called “Colusa;” its previous owner was Charles T. Meader. To work the claim, they founded the Montana Copper Company with start-up capital totaling $75,000 (approximately $1,690,000 in 2010). While the purchase price was attractively low, the risks and problems lay elsewhere. First, Butte had no railroad connection. The closest connection (which was operated by Union Pacific) was in Ogden, Utah, 250 miles away. Thus, bringing materials in and transporting ore out was so expensive and time-consuming that it only made sense for ores with a very high copper content. Second, copper from Montana was too rich in arsenic for use in the electric industry, which mostly relied on copper from the region around Lake Superior.

To solve the transportation problem, copper producers in Butte prevailed upon Union Pacific to build a railroad connection from Ogden to Butte. The first train reached Butte at the end of December 1881. This, of course, was good news for the producers, but since Union Pacific now had a monopoly on the line, their costs still remained high. Fortunately, in 1884, Northern Pacific built a connection to Butte as part of a new line that stretched between Helena, Montana, and the West Coast. The second line created competition and drove down prices, and also made it possible to move freight to San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

The Lewisohns negotiated with Northern Pacific to secure a favorable transport rate. The downside, however, was that this rate was contingent upon their guarantee of a large volume of freight. They realized that they could only generate the necessary volume by utilizing the less copper-rich ore that their mine was producing in large quantities. So while they endeavored to deliver the volume needed to uphold their deal with Northern Pacific, they also worked another angle and tried to persuade James J. Hill of Great Northern Railway to build a line to Butte as well. They ultimately succeeded, and Great Northern reached Butte in 1888. The Lewisohns were able to negotiate even lower rates with Great Northern, but Hill also demanded high volume guarantees. That was no problem for the Lewisohns, who had stockpiled large quantities of ore, which they then transported on the new line. From Butte, the Great Northern line travelled past Great Falls, Montana, a newly founded city on the Missouri River. The city was ripe for industrial development, and the Lewisohns built a modern smelter and reduction work that harnessed the enormous hydropower available there. For a time, they had thought of building a facility on the Missouri River near Helena. But Hill, who was among the most powerful landowners in Great Falls, helped make their decision by giving them 1,500 shares in the Great Falls Townsite Company.[9]

The building of this smelter works allowed the Lewisohns to process their lesser-quality ores and helped them guarantee prices that were competitive with the Anaconda Copper Company in Butte and with the Lake Superior mines that generated high-quality output (e.g. Calumet and Hecla). Additionally, the rising global demand for copper meant more good news for the brothers, since it even created a market for lesser-quality ores, above all in England. The construction of the second and third railways lines to Butte made it possible for them to transport large quantities of these lesser-quality ores at good rates to ports on the West Coast and to ship them – cheaply – as ballast on freight ships around Cape Horn via New York to Liverpool. The venture was profitable because the Lewisohns were able to secure reduced freight rates based on the sheer volume of their ores. The foundation of their considerable fortune had thus been laid.

In the 1880s, Butte experienced a tremendous boom. Before 1880, the mines on Lake Superior had an 80 percent market share of the U.S. copper industry. By 1883, however, their share had dropped below 53 percent. By that time, Butte’s market share was already more than 21 percent; and mines in Arizona had a 20 percent share. In September 1887, Adolph and Leonard Lewisohn, and the New York branch of the Lewisohn company split from the Hamburg parent company and its London offshoot. Fifteen years after the death of their father, fifteen years after their brother Julius’ return to Hamburg, and nine years after the acquisition of the “Colusa Mine,” Adolph and Leonard Lewisohn made their business independent. The move was apparently undertaken in agreement with their family back in Germany; nothing is known about payments to them.

As senior director of the newly formed company, Leonard Lewisohn emerged as the dominant figure in Lewisohn Bros., a role he retained until his untimely death in 1902. “Under his management, Lewisohn Bros. developed into the largest firm in the United States engaged in supplying the markets of the world with American Copper.”[10] Leonard, who was two years older than Adolph, was said to be “cultivated, domineering, exceptionally shrewd and tough.” The brothers’ personalities gave rise to a division of labor that served the company well: Leonard “concerned himself largely with the initiation of projects and their financing, while Adolph, more cautious, was the business-getter who carried ideas into actual operation.”[11]

By that time, the brothers had solved their transportation problems in Butte, but one big problem still remained: the high arsenic content of the local copper. Given that the long-term market for copper was in the electric industry, this problem had to be dealt with. First, the Lewisohns needed to produce copper with the necessary electrical conductivity; second, they needed to do so under conditions that would allow their copper to remain competitive with the higher-quality ore from Lake Superior. The Lewisohns’ conventional refinery in Connecticut, the Ansonia Copper Refining Company, was not up to the task. Since the only solution was to extract pure copper through electrolysis, the Lewisohns set up a small electrolysis refining operation in Central Falls, Rhode Island, just north of Pawtucket. They called it the New England Electrolytic Copper Refining Company. But before taking further steps, Adolph Lewisohn wanted to learn more about extraction techniques in Germany. During his next trip home, he made a point of visiting Goslar in the Harz region, where ore mining had begun in the Middle Ages. His purpose was to gather information about the extraction of arsenic from ore at a state-run electrolysis plant: “The Germans were the leaders of the world in chemical research as applied to manufacturing, but they had not the American genius for replacing hand labor with machinery or for large scale production.”[12] What Lewisohn saw in Goslar made him even more committed to the path that he and his brother had chosen. Although Lewisohn succeeded in learning about German technology, his original plan to persuade the head of the Goslar plant and a few employees to immigrate to the U.S. was thwarted by a subsequent economic crisis.[13]

The Lewisohns’ next step was to erect a large electrolytic refinery in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The construction of Raritan Cooper Works required an investment of roughly $1.5 million (more than $37 million in 2010); it eventually developed into one of the world’s largest refineries. The Raritan Cooper Works also became the model for the modernization of the Lewisohns’ Great Falls facility, which was converted into an electrolytic refinery by 1893. It was only the second plant of its type in all of Montana. Thanks to hydropower, the Great Falls plant could count on unlimited quantities of electricity, and the Lewisohns were able “to compete with the world.”[14] In their new facilities, ore containing a mere 0.75 percent copper could be processed profitably and at the quality level desired by customers. Production costs declined to five cents per pound. Adolph Lewisohn emphasized that these successes were achieved not “by following other people…, but by breaking the path for ourselves.”[15] But in breaking new ground for themselves, they also helped a whole industrial process – the electrolytic processing of copper – take root in the U.S.

The Lewisohns were successful as copper producers but above all as copper traders. All three of their business activities – mining, processing, and trade – developed in tandem. As early as 1885, they were active as sales agents of the “Tamarack,” “Osceola,” and “Kearage” mines on Lake Superior. In 1887, they entered into a partnership with the mines’ owners, Joseph W. Clark and Albert S. Bigelow of Boston, and set up the Boston & Montana Consolidated Copper and Silver Mining Company (B&M), as well as a small subsidiary, the Butte & Boston Consolidated Mining Company (B&B). Lewisohns (Leonard, Adolph, and their half-brother Philip) were active in both companies, and the partnership offered financial securities for the building of the smelting works at Great Falls.

Thanks to its superb management and solid financial reserves, B&M became the largest company in Butte alongside Anaconda. More than that, however, it also became one of the largest copper companies in the world – one that was above all highly profitable. In time, B&M achieved the highest profits per pound of produced copper, and in 1902 the authoritativeCopper Handbook called it the best business in Montana, despite Anaconda’s more extensive development and production.[16] In 1895, B&M and B&B produced more than 86 million pounds of refined copper annually, or 23 percent of U.S. production; by 1899, their production had already risen to nearly 109 million pounds.

By incorporating their Montana Copper Company into B&B, the Lewisohns became part owners of the company, and Leonard became one of its directors. Even more importantly, it was agreed that while production would be managed from Boston, copper marketing and mine marketing for both B&M and B&B would left to the Lewisohns. Before long, the bulk of all copper produced in the U.S. passed through the Lewisohns’ hands in one way or another; by 1889, the share was already 55 percent.[17] This being the case, it is easy to see how they managed to accumulate a significant fortune in the brief period between 1887 and 1900.

Soon after the Lewisohns got into the business, the price of copper began to fall as a result of overproduction, especially because of enormous growth in the Butte region. As early as 1885, the brothers had suggested that all of the members of the industry band together to reduce their output, but their efforts came to nothing. The copper price only rebounded after two fires in the Calumet and Hecla mines in 1887 led to a strong downturn in production.

By that time, however, the drop in prices had already brought other actors onto the scene. Hyacinthe Secretan, Secretary of the Société Industrielle et Commerciale des Métaux, which was among the largest copper customers in Europe, set up the “French Syndicate” in February 1887, with the goal of securing global copper production over the next three years. This ambitious monopoly campaign was financially supported by the London and Paris Rothschilds, Crédit Lyonnaise, and the Banque de Paris et Pays-Bas. France’s largest private bank, Comptoir d’Escompte, functioned as the guarantor. By the middle of 1888, thirty-seven leading copper producers – representing 80-85 percent of global production – had already announced their participation in the syndicate.

The ultimate failure of the attempt was attributable to a variety of causes. Still, it had an important effect on the Lewisohns’ business and reputation. All of the American copper producers had been content with the security of the Comptoir d’Escompte – except for the brothers. The Lewisohns had demanded the additional guarantee of a financially strong American or English bank, and in the fall of 1887 they received that guarantee from Baring Brothers, London. Not only did the Barings stand by their guarantee when push came to shove; they also commissioned the Lewisohns to sell 14,000 tons of copper, which they had taken as collateral within the context of the monopoly campaign. The Lewisohns emerged from Secretan’s failed quest with a profit of $1.5 million (approximately $35.5 million in 2010).

The banks in France and England that had covered the syndicate sat on enormous amounts of copper, however – a total of 179,000 tons. If these quantities made it onto the markets in an unregulated way, a catastrophic price collapse was bound to follow. Therefore, the sensible thing was to reach an agreement on its sale – an agreement that had to include the copper producers as well. Adolph Lewisohn (as the representative of B&M) traveled to Europe together with the presidents of Calumet and Hecla, Livermore, and Anaconda to represent the interests of the U.S. copper industry. For months, he commuted back and forth between Paris and London to work on the agreement. The Lewisohns’ involvement in these negotiations brought them considerable prestige. Within the industry, they were now part of a global elite that negotiated directly with Baron de Hirsch and the Rothschilds. From this point on, Leonard and Adolph left the bristle, feather, and hair business to their younger half-brothers Philip and Albert, who continued it under the name Lewisohn Importing & Trading Co., Ltd. Adolph and Leonard’s company retained the original Lewisohn Bros. name. Over the years, family networks played a more important role in the rise of the Lewisohns’ business than ethnic networks (e.g., connections within the German-Jewish community). Members of the second generation, those born in the U.S., eventually took on active roles in the company.

Apart from Montana, the Lewisohns also invested in the copper business in Tennessee, where they set up the Tennessee Copper Mining Company. Since Tennessee ores were known for their high sulfur content, the company began producing sulfuric acid as a by-product, and soon enough the Lewisohns were making more money with this than with copper production itself. After World War I, the Lewisohns also got involved in the production of fertilizer, and they changed the name of their business to the Tennessee Copper & Chemical Company.

In Arizona, the Lewisohns had been involved in the Old Dominion Copper Mining & Smelting Company since 1888. In 1906, Adolph Lewisohn also founded the General Development Company, which was supposed to identity promising ore deposits and then invest in their exploitation. That venture was not very successful but others were. For instance, in 1907, he paid approximately $100,000 (about $2.4 million in 2010) for a claim near Globe, Arizona. There, he set up the Miami Copper Company and invested $5 million dollars in its development. After overcoming some initial problems, the mine generated good returns: in the following twenty-five years, the company, according to information provided by Lewisohn himself, paid more than $35 million in dividends. In addition, the Lewisohns also had a stake in the Isle Royale Consolidated Mining Company at Lake Superior (the only profitable company among a group of six new companies established around the turn of the century) and in the Santa Fe Gold & Copper Mining Company. Additionally, Adolph became president of the South American Gold & Platinum Company, which owned mines in Columbia.

A profound change in the structure of the American economy and of American business around the turn of the century – the rise of Big Business – spurred attempts at large mergers in copper production and in copper processing and trade. During this period, a variety of factors, including a general economic upswing, the ongoing formation of a national market, and various technological innovations, sparked cutthroat competition and an unprecedented wave of mergers. This trend was further reinforced by state laws on corporation formation that led to the rise of trusts and holding companies. Between 1897 and 1904, more than 4,200 businesses combined into 257 conglomerates; thereafter, a mere four percent of American companies produced more than half of all industrial goods made in the United States. Older industrial giants, like John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company with its quasi-monopoly on the petroleum business, were joined by newer giants, such as J. P. Morgan’s United States Steel Corporation, a paragon of vertical integration.

The move toward greater concentration also had an effect on the Lewisohn brothers’ businesses. The founding of the Amalgamated Copper Company, for example, largely pushed the Lewisohns out of the copper production business. William G. Rockefeller (1844-1922) and Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) were the driving forces behind this new company, which enjoyed the financial backing of James Stillman (1850-1918) and National City Bank. As two of the principals in Standard Oil, Rockefeller and Rogers were determined to bring that model to the copper industry. Although the leadership of Amalgamated Copper was recruited from the leadership of Standard Oil, it had no organizational ties to the latter.

The Amalgamated Copper Company was a securities-holding corporation whose financing became the subject of intense criticism. In 1905, businessman and author Thomas W. Lawson published a widely read account of the formation of the company. Entitled Frenzied Finance: The Crime of Amalgamated, this muckraking classic described the “numerous adventurous and audacious promotions” of the Standard Oil Gang in lively detail. Before writing the book, Lawson had been the chief broker in the new company’s initial public offering.[18]

Initially, Rockefeller, Rogers, and their group had prevailed upon Marcus Daly and James Ben Ali Haggin of Anaconda Copper to bring their company into Amalgamated. While Haggin opted to liquidate his shares, Daly decided to invest in the new corporation. According to the agreement, Daly received $39 million (more than $1 billion in 2010) for bringing Anaconda into Amalgamated. Payment was issued in the form of a National City Bank check, which he was to deposit for a time without cashing. The Rogers group then set up Amalgamated Copper with a number of Standard Oil employees who functioned as straw men with directorships. The group transferred the property of Anaconda to Amalgamated for $75 million (more than $2 billion in 2010) in shares. The Standard Oil Group presented these shares to National City Bank and borrowed $39 million against them – and then used that to pay Daly’s check. In the next step, shares of the company were offered to the public – the funds generated in this way repaid the loan to the bank.

Lawson, who had excellent contacts with Wall Street, was given the task of preparing the market for the shares. In a virtuosic campaign, he praised them as a safe and profitable investment – with spectacular success. When the shares of Amalgamated were brought to market in April 1899, they were oversubscribed within days. In essence, though, it was only the Anaconda that was being offered for purchase to the public under a new name. Within a few weeks, the price of the dubious security rose to $130 (about $3,500 in 2010). But this precipitous rise was short-lived, as the Rogers group now began to go after its own investors: the group began to sell, and the price dropped to $75 dollars ($2,030 in 2010). Many investors tried to get rid of their shares at a loss. Not so the Rogers group: it changed course once again and bought all the shares it could get its hands on. The price rose again.

Then came the next coup: the incorporation of Boston & Montana. Since there was no documented purchase, it is unclear how the Lewisohns ended up in Amalgamated. In all likelihood, Rogers hinted to the Lewisohns that Amalgamated, which had already begun to absorb the client mines of Lewisohn Bros., would cut the brothers off from copper shipments if they refused to join.

When Boston & Montana became part of Amalgamated Copper in 1901, the company’s capital, with no consideration of the true value of the incorporated firms, rose to $155 million ($4.1 billion in 2010). It was described as “the largest stock subscription Wall Street had ever seen.”[19] Once again, Lawson launched a campaign, and once again it was successful: investors paid substantially more for the stock than it was worth. The Rogers group then sold enormous quantities of shares on the market and drove the price down to $33 ($873 in 2010). This spelled ruin for many smaller investors. The Lewisohns, who were deeply disappointed and embarrassed, both by these practices and by the development of the company, more or less withdrew, and by 1904 they only held 125 shares in Amalgamated.

After the consolidation of the mines within Amalgamated, Rogers also planned a trust in copper processing – probably at the suggestion of the Lewisohns, who were also interested in consolidated structures in copper processing. In 1899, at their urging, the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) was founded. To secure the issuance of shares, Rogers solicited the participation of the company of John Moore and Grant Schley (Moore & Schley), the preferred brokerage house of J. P. Morgan and the Rockefellers. Rogers, the Lewisohns, and Moore & Schley succeeded in bringing together a large number of independent smelters and refineries in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Utah, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, though not the ones owned by the Guggenheim family. The Guggenheims regarded their smelting works as the core of their enterprise, and they were unwilling to sell them, despite a lucrative offer of $11 million in shares in the planned trust. But the Lewisohns took a special interest in precisely these smelters, since they allowed the Guggenheims to export to the European market without the Lewisohns’ involvement.

On March 7, 1899, the 650,000 shares of ASARCO – with a founding capital of $65 million ($1.76 billion in 2010) – were brought to market. Rogers, Moore, and Lewisohn, who sat on the board, each received 19,750 shares as “promoters’ share.” Within two weeks, all the securities were sold. But the crisis was not long in coming. First, the crisis was partly created by internal problems, since many of the formerly independent smelters did not cooperate well. Second, the Guggenheims were expanding into Mexico and began to compete with the trust. Since the trust did not control prices, as investors had expected, the stock price came under pressure. Third, and this became decisive, a labor strike to push through the eight-hour day lasted until mid-August 1899, idling the ASARCO plants. For months, the Guggenheims, who accepted the new working hours, had the only smelters able to process extracted ores. Their plants were running around the clock. In the end, the Guggenheims, who had only a quarter of the mines and smelting works under the control of the trust, presented a better profit for the year. ASARCO’s stock price slumped. In December 1900, the corporation was forced to enter into renewed negotiations with the Guggenheims about bringing them into the trust. In April 1901, it agreed to purchase most of their smelter and refining works for $45.2 million ($1.2 billion in 2010) in ASARCO shares. The Guggenheims now held 51 percent of the stocks and also secured important positions within the corporation. Rogers and the Lewisohns had lost control over ASARCO.

This unexpected development almost affected the Lewisohns’ highly profitable trade in copper, which is what had attracted Roger’s attention to the copper sector in the first place. According to his estimates, during the ten to twelve years before the founding of Amalgamated, the Lewisohns had earned about $50 million in the production and, above all, the trade in copper. With a mixture of pressure and accommodation, Rogers was able to prevail upon the Lewisohns to participate in a new trading company, the United Metals Selling Company (UMSC), of which 51 percent was held by Rogers and his consortium partners, and 49 percent by the Lewisohns.

Founded in January 1900, the company took over the copper and metal selling agency of Lewisohn Bros., which operated as a separate corporation, as well as the Raritan Copper Company, which operated the Perth Amboy refinery; it became the selling agent for the Amalgamated Copper Company and other producers, and refined the products of Amalgamated and various independent companies. The founding capital was $5 million ($134 million in 2010); the directors, alongside William Rockefeller and Henry H. Rogers, were Leonard and Adolph Lewisohn. As the sales arm of ASARCO, the UMSC traded 95,000 tons of copper per year, 70 percent of U.S. production.

Once the Guggenheims had gained control over ASARCO, they demanded that its products be distributed through their own trading company and no longer through UMSC, arguing that this would make it possible to lower costs. The result was a bitter legal fight and stock market competition between the two parties, which could be resolved only after months through a settlement: Leonard Lewisohn and Rogers left the board of ASARCO, but sales continued to go through UMSC. Later, UMSC was taken over by the newly founded Anaconda, for $12 million ($284 million in 2010) in cash.

Even though the Lewisohns were largely pushed out of copper production, they were thus able to partially preserve the trade in copper for themselves. Adolph Lewisohn remained president of the USMC until 1913; in addition, he was president of the General Development Company, as well as vice president of the Utah Consolidated Mining Company. Lewisohn was one of the directors of the Crocker Wheeler Company, the Importers & Traders National Bank, the Lawyers Title Insurance & Trust Company, and the International Smelting & Refining Company. He was also vice president of the New York Metal Exchange until 1907. As a copper expert, his opinion was in demand in the daily press. After 1903, he seems to have invested increasingly in real estate, especially in New York. Leonard Lewisohn died on March 5, 1902. It is conceivable that the businesses of Amalgamated, which went against his own business principles, took a toll on his health.[20]

Social Status and Personality

Adolph Lewisohn’s marriage to Emma M. Cahn on June 26, 1878, was already proof of his social advancement. The daughter of Abraham and Theresa Cahn, Emma was related to the Cahns of J. S. Bache and Co., who, in turn, were related to the Baches themselves. Lewisohn established himself as a member of the German-Jewish New York upper class described by Stephen Birmingham in his book Our Crowd.

The couple had five children, first three daughters, Florence (1878 or 1879-1907), Clara (1880-1927), and Adele (1882-1965), then two sons, Samuel (1884-1951), who was known as Sam, and Julius, about whom we know the least. In 1901, Adele married banker Arthur Lehman, the son of Mayer Lehman and Babette (née Neugass) Lehman, and the brother of Herbert H. and Irving Lehman. In 1918, Sam married Margaret V. Seligman (1895-1945), the daughter of Isaac N. Seligman and his wife Guta (née Loeb) of the Kuhn, Loeb family. With his marriage to Margaret, Sam Lewisohn allied his family to one of the most renowned German-Jewish banking families in the world: Guta’s sister was Nina Loeb, the wife of Paul Warburg; and Paul’s brother Felix Warburg was married to Frieda Schiff, the daughter of German-Jewish banker Jacob H. Schiff.

Adolph Lewisohn spent more than seventy years living in the U.S. – all of them in New York. His family started off at West 45th Street, and then moved to 9 West 57th Street. Then, in 1908, Lewisohn purchased a house at 881 5th Avenue from the wife of railroad magnate E. H. Harriman for $800,000 ($19.6 million in 2010). In addition, he owned three country estates: “Adelawn,” known as one of the most beautiful homes in the coastal resort town of Elberon, New Jersey; “Heatherdell Farm,” a 400-acre estate in Ardsley-on-Hudson, in Westchester, New York; and “Prospect Point,” a camp on Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks.

Even as a young man, Lewisohn had strayed from the practices of his orthodox faith. On the one hand, his father’s intense religiosity remained an example to him throughout his life; on the other hand, he could never understand his father’s bitterness about Reform Judaism. In the U.S., Adolph Lewisohn became part of that movement, which was dominant among German immigrants, and which was supposed to facilitate their integration into the majority society and its economic, social, and political life. At the same time, the need to adjust to certain realities also caused Lewisohn’s devotion to wane: “The only thing I can conceive of is some Unknown Force that helps us until we learn to use our brains and make the best of our condition; in other words, that we are here to work out our own destiny.” Starting from an Enlightenment-style critique of religion, he articulated the faith of a self-made man, who once said about himself: “I was not a believer in religious forces.”[21] Along the way, Lewisohn was remarkably unfazed by anti-Semitism. For example, in reference to the Hilton-Seligman affair,[22] he once remarked: “These things adjust themselves.”[23]

For many German Jews, it seemed clear that the majority society did not regard them as very “American,” and for this and other reasons, they remained attached to their homeland. Generally speaking, the more they felt excluded as Jews, the more they asserted their German versus their Jewish heritage. The size of the German-Jewish community and the social status attained by a select group within that community also helped strengthen their attachment to their country of origin. Lewisohn, who apparently spoke English with a heavy German accent, was a member of the German Press Club, the German Society, and the Harmonie Club. Founded in 1852 by a group of prominent German Jews, the Harmonie Club, which still exists today, is the second oldest private social club in New York City. It was established as an exclusive gentleman’s club for the German-Jewish elite. Its official language was German, and a portrait of the Kaiser hung in its hall. German-Jewish networks were of far greater importance to the Lewisohns socially than professionally.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the composition of the American Jewish community began to change profoundly on account of massive immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, and this posed problems for Americanized German Jews, not least with respect to how Jews, in general, were perceived by the majority society. In response, certain members of the established Jewish population in the U.S. called for restrictions on immigration. Adolph Lewisohn, however, opposed these restrictions and came out against the introduction of the Illiteracy Clause. He even went so far as to take his concerns to President Woodrow Wilson in person. Additionally, he also became active on behalf of Jews who were being persecuted in Czarist Russia. Sensitized by his father’s contacts with “Polish Jews” and by his own experiences during a trip to Russia in 1887,[24] Lewisohn traveled to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1905 as part of a delegation of prominent Jewish industrialists and financiers. There, they met with Russian negotiator, Minister President Sergei Witte (1849-1915), on the sidelines of the conference that ended the Russo-Japanese War. At the time, Czarist Russia was interested securing the goodwill of the American financial industry. During a three-hour meeting, however, the delegation made it clear to Witte that the prerequisite for any sort of accommodation was the immediate and comprehensive amelioration of the unbearable legal situation of the Jews in Russia. Above all, the delegation demanded that Russian Jews be protected from the kind of pogroms that had occurred in Kishinev, Moldavia, in 1903.[25]

Lewisohn, who was described as a “short, animated man with a shrewd, philosophical air,”[26] was acquainted with several U.S. presidents, who solicited his advice on various matters. In 1908, he had a long conference with Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), “as a result of which he [Roosevelt] called a conference at the White House for discussion of the proper care of delinquent children” on January 25-26, 1909. Lewisohn once said of Roosevelt: “I came to know [him] intimately – a real friendship existed between us.”[27] Of William Howard Taft (1857-1830) he wrote: “A sincere friendship existed between us for twenty years. While he was president, he talked over many matters of importance with me and during the last year of his administration, he appointed me a member of the newly created United States Commission on Industrial Relations.” Unfortunately, the appointment failed to materialize after the Evening Post raised questions about Lewisohn’s qualifications. After the end of his presidency, Taft supported Lewisohn’s philanthropic projects.[28] The strength of their relationship was evidenced by Taft’s contribution to a special edition of the journal American Hebrew that was published in 1917 on the 50th anniversary of Lewisohn’s arrival in the U.S. Describing Lewisohn’s life and legacy, Taft wrote: “This country is far better off for Mr. Lewisohn’s coming. He has been very successful as a businessman and has helped the community by his forethought, his enterprise and the practice of sound business principles. The great field, however, in which he has shown his highest civic usefulness is (…) by devoting his great wealth to aiding his fellowmen. (…) He has deserved well of his country.”[29] The anniversary volume also featured texts by Jacob Schiff, Daniel Guggenheim, John P. Mitchel, and Senator Dwight W. Morrow. Lewisohn also had a personal relationship with Taft’s successor, Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924). Among other topics, Lewisohn and Wilson discussed a federal law against child labor, and during the First World War, “when free labor was so much needed for war purposes,” they conferred about “prison labor and the management of prisons.”[30] Lewisohn described his relationships with Calvin Coolidge (1871-1933) and Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) as friendlier, on a personal level, but less intense politically. After Coolidge left the presidency, he and his wife were guests at Lewisohn’s camp in the Adirondacks. As early as 1908, Lewisohn took an automobile trip through England with Hoover; later, Lewisohn admired Hoover’s “splendid work for Belgian Relief.”[31]

The Republican Lewisohn evidently bestowed his sympathies irrespective of party affiliation. He spent comparatively minor sums on election campaigns.[32] The political positions he advocated can only be sketched out. As a member of the New York Peace Society, he presumably placed his hopes in the American government’s attempts to mediate between warring parties. Later, he solicited aid within the U.S. in order to help the young German republic deal with the economic burdens of the First World War. His philanthropic activities show that his contacts with Germany continued beyond World War I. Lewisohn was opposed to the creation of a Jewish state: his aim was the integration of the Jews, not another exile and their concentration in the “Promised Land.” Still, in 1917 he welcomed the Balfour Declaration.[33]

For decades, Lewisohn worked against child labor and was a member of the National Child Labor Committee. One political issue that occupied him throughout his life was prison reform. Lewisohn aimed for better prison management and labor programs and for incarceration that aimed at rehabilitation. Beginning around 1900, Lewisohn invested more and more time and energy to this issue, writing numerous articles in The Century Magazine, The Review of Reviews, The Atlantic Monthly, and the daily press. He not only spoke and wrote about prison reform, but also used his wealth to advance the cause. Lewisohn was a jury member of the Society for the Prevention of Crime and of the Mutual Welfare League in Sing Sing. Most importantly, he was the chairman of the National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor and of the Prison Survey Committee of New York. On his seventieth birthday, representatives of the National Committee presented him with $30,000 dollars ($378,000 in 2010) in support of the work of the Prison Survey Commission, virtually its entire budget. The commission enlisted experts to study the prisons in Sing Sing and Auburn, New York, in December 1919; its findings were included in a report and published.

Lewisohn’s interest in literature, theater, and fine arts was cultivated early on, above all his love for classical music and opera. Around 1920, he began to collect “new art,” especially French Impressionism. Unlike many of his wealthy peers, Lewisohn did not buy mostly Old Masters. Moreover, art was not just another investment for him; rather, he gifted many of his best works, especially to the Brooklyn Museum. In addition to his important collection of paintings, Lewisohn owned an extensive book collection that included Hebrew manuscripts, thirteenth-century manuscripts, incunabula, early editions from the fifteenth century, early Bibles, first editions of Goethe’sFaust and Lessing’s Nathan, and autographs, including ones from George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Adolph Lewisohn did not simply want to preserve his wealth; instead, his intention was “to bring about improvement for the general public and to be directly or indirectly a factor in the development of this country.”[34] Around the time that he was being pushed out of important areas of business, that is, after the turn of the century, philanthropy started to become a focal point of his life. Lewisohn’s philanthropy was motivated by religious traditions, but also by personal example – for example, that of his father or his uncle Sally, who had supported Jewish institutions in Hamburg. For the most part, Lewisohn donated money for specific purposes, namely in the fields of art, education, science, medicine, and research. He also gave money to Jewish welfare organizations, though he did not explicitly limit himself to them: “My interest in people is not confined to any race, religion, or country.”[35] But while ethnic background and religion (and even specific value systems) had no apparent influence on Lewisohn’s success in business, those factors did play a noticeable role in his endowments when it came to their motivation (zedaka), substantive focus (education, science, welfare), and geographic location (New York and Hamburg). Lewisohn supported welfare organizations that sought to improve the material condition of the needy through self-help; these included the Hebrew Free Loan Society. He also backed the National Thrift Movement and the United Hebrew Charities, an organization founded in 1874 by five German-Jewish associations to support Eastern European immigrants. In September 1924, he became one of the founders of “The Ort,” a philanthropic organization that aimed to establish European-based trade and agricultural training schools for Jews who had become impoverished by World War I. And on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, Lewisohn donated $150,000 dollars ($1.9 million in 2010) to the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City.

From about 1900 on, he was actively involved in the care of orphans. Lewisohn became president (and later honorary president) of the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society. Advised by social workers such as Lee K. Fraenkel and Homer Folks, he supported reforms in the housing of orphans; the result was “Pleasantville” in Westchester Country, New York. Over the course of his life, Lewisohn gave the society at least $250,000. For forty years, from 1898 to 1938, he was also a trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital. In 1904, he financed a modern pathology lab there, and the sum total of his gifts to Mount Sinai over the years amounted to $400,000 dollars (about $10 million in 2010). On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, he endowed a fellowship at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins University in the amount of $30,000 ($382,000 in 2010). His support for the ophthalmological institute also related to his membership on the Committee for Lighthouses for the Blind.

But above all, Lewisohn promoted educational projects, especially institutions that worked to educate young women. For more than twenty-five years he held leading board positions at the Hebrew Technical School for Girls, to which he gave more than $140,000 in donations. In 1913, he gave New York City’s Hunter College a German library, and he financed a temporary lectureship on Jewish literature at Yale University. In 1904, he donated $300,000 (nearly $7.6 million in 2010) to Columbia University to build a School of Mines. Lewisohn Hall, which originally housed the School of Mines, is now home to the School of General Studies and the School of Continuing Education. Today, the School of General Studies holds in its collection a sketch of Lewisohn by composer George Gershwin (1898-1937). The sketch was donated by George’s brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin (1896-1983), who was a student at the school. In 1916, Lewisohn was the recipient of the gold medal of the National Institute of Social Sciences.

One of Lewisohn’s largest gifts to the city of New York was Lewisohn Stadium, a large amphitheater built on the campus of the City College of New York. The stadium, which opened in 1915, occupied the space between Amsterdam and Convent Avenues and West 136th and West 138th Streets. Built according to plans by Arnold W. Brunner, the semi-oval amphitheater, which was made of reinforced concrete, offered seating for 6,000 and standing room for another 1,500 spectators. From the beginning, it served both cultural and athletic purposes. It became known for the affordable open-air music concerts that it hosted every summer starting in 1918. These concerts were an expression of Lewisohn’s wish to make cultural experiences accessible to as many people as possible. He was involved in financing these “Stadium Concerts” right up to his death in 1938. The concerts took place until 1966; and the entire venue was demolished in 1973. Lewisohn’s love for music also found expression in the numerous concerts that he organized in his own home. In 1934, for example, Albert Einstein played the violin there at a benefit event for “Berliner Freunde in Not” [Berlin Friends in Need]. The concert marked Einstein’s debut as a “musician” in the U.S.[36]

Adolph Lewisohn was active as a donor in Europe as well. In 1890, the four New York-based Lewisohn brothers – Leonard, Adolph, Philip, and Albert – established the Samuel Lewisohn Foundation in memory of their father. Located at Kleiner Schäferkamp 32 in Hamburg, the four-story house offered free accommodations to needy Jewish families from Hamburg. Leonard Lewisohn served as the foundation’s first patron, and Adolph took over after his brother’s death in 1902. At the end of 1906, the capital of the foundation (not counting its property) amounted to 102,952 marks. When the house ran into financial troubles after World War I, Adolph donated 50,000 marks to the home to ensure that the residents could continue to live there rent free.

In 1901, when Paul Warburg was treasurer of the Israelite Hospital in Hamburg, Leonard, Adolph, Philip, and Albert Lewisohn donated 130,000 marks to build and equip two new pavilions there. Lastly, in 1907, Adolph Lewisohn was among the founding donors of the Hamburgische Wissenschaftliche Stiftung [Hamburg Scientific Foundation], the germ cell of the University of Hamburg. He donated $25,000 (i.e., 100,000 marks, or approximately $625,000 in 2010 U.S. dollars), which made him one of the seven most generous donors. It is likely that the donation came at Warburg’s suggestion.

Adolph Lewisohn lived to the ripe age of eighty-nine. Still, the heart attack that he suffered on August 17, 1938, at his camp on Lake Saranac came as a surprise. Lewisohn’s death was reported on the first page of the New York Times, which announced, “Adolph Lewisohn Dies at Age of 89.” The lead read, “Banker, Donor of the Stadium Named for Him, Aided Great Variety of Charities.” His memorial service took place at Temple Emanu-El, and he was laid to rest in the family mausoleum in Salem Fields Cemetery in Brooklyn. Lewisohn left $3 million to his heirs (approximately $46 million in 2010). The size of his estate, which would have been comparatively modest within his milieu, reflects the extent of his philanthropic activities. But it also reflects his expensive lifestyle and his support for a growing (and financially dependent) entourage. Lewisohn’s chief heir and successor was his son Sam. That the Lewisohn family continued to enjoy a place within the highest echelons of the American upper class can be seen in the marriages of Adolph Lewisohn’s grandchildren. His daughter Adele had three daughters, all of whom married bankers: Dorothy (1903-1969) wed Richard J. Bernhard (partner of Wertheim & Co.) in 1923; Helen (1905-1989) married Benjamin J. Buttenwieser (of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.); and Frances became the wife of John Loeb (1902-1996) in 1926. The trading house of the Lewisohns existed until at least 1974 and continued to sell the products of its subsidiaries in Tennessee and Arizona. The seat of the “Sales Agency” was located at 61 Broadway.


In 1867, at the age of eighteen, Adolph Lewisohn left Hamburg and travelled to the United States, where he joined his older brothers, Julius and Leonard, in running their family’s traditional business in the bristle and brush trade. It was not long, however, before he and Leonard changed directions and got into the copper business. In the 1870s, the Lewisohns began trading in copper, and in 1879, they bought their first mine in Butte, Montana. Within two decades, they created a fortune worth millions and earned a place for themselves among the industry’s global elite. Their success in the industry was attributable to many factors, including their willingness to explore and embrace technological innovation, their readiness to negotiate freight contracts with the emerging railroad industry, and their tendency to turn perceived weaknesses – be it masses of low-grade ores or copper with too much sulfur – into strengths. Throughout the years, flexibility and adaptability proved the cornerstones of their success. Within the industry, Adolph Lewisohn’s sound judgment and integrity earned him the esteem of his peers, not least during the failure of the “French Syndicate” and the subsequent negotiations in which he was involved. After the turn of the century, when the era of mergers, monopolies, cutthroat competition, and Big Business called for different qualities, Adolph Lewisohn slowly lost his stake in the industry and began focusing his attention on philanthropy. In the remaining decades of his life, he devoted himself to an astounding variety of causes, from education to prison reform to cultural life. His donations to charitable causes were so extensive that the author of Lewisohn’s lengthy New York Times obituary dedicated more than ten paragraphs to them.

Although Lewisohn remained loyal to his German-Jewish roots and to certain aspects of his cultural heritage – his lifelong love of classical music, for example – he fully identified as an American. For him, it seemed that there was no contradiction between being a German and being an American. In his memoirs, The Citizenship of Adolph Lewisohn, he wrote plainly of this dual allegiance: “Sixty years and more in America have made me a good American citizen, but of course I never lost my love for The Fatherland (Vaterland) or my interest in its welfare. Nevertheless I am what they call ‘100%’ American. I have felt an affectionate pride in seeing my country grow, and perhaps, a little personal pride in thinking that our business has contributed somewhat to the wealth and upbuilding of the United States.”[37]


[1] “Lewisohn, Adolph,” in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 33 (Ann Arbor, MI, 1967), 428.

[2] “Adolph Lewisohn,” in Mitchell C. Harrison, Prominent and Progressive Americans: An Encylcopaedia of Contemporaneous Biography, vol. 2 (New York, NY, 1904), 144.

[3] Adolph Lewisohn, The Citizenship of Adolph Lewisohn. An Autobiography, n.p., n.d. [ca. 1930], 2, 47. The firm was mentioned for the first time in the Hamburg address book in 1807.

[4] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 3.

[5] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 5-37.

[6] All current values (in 2010 USD) are based on Samuel H. Williamson, “Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present,” MeasuringWorth, 2011, using the Consumer Price Index.

[7] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 92.

[8] However, the business seems to have gotten progressively worse: the firm “Sam. Lewisohn, Jr.” existed only until 1889-90. It would appear that Julius’ children did not pursue trade professions.

[9] The Lewisohns’ first small smelting works stood in Butte since 1880.

[10] “Lewisohn, Leonard,” in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 27 (Ann Arbor, MI, 1967), 464f.

[11] Geoffrey T. Hellman, “Lewisohn, Adolph,” in Robert Livingston Schuyler and Edward T. James, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, vol. 22 (Suppl. II) (New York, NY, 1958), 383.

[12] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 126f.

[13] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 126f.

[14] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 130. In Perth Amboy, the Lewisohns were involved in the Raritan Terminal and Transportation Company, a short terminal railroad, a trolley car company, and the Perth Amboy Trust Company.

[15] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 127f.

[16] B&M primarily operated the mines “Colusa,” “Mountain View,” “West Colusa,” “Pennsylvania,” “Leonard,” “Liquidator,” “Comanche,” “Wandering Jew,” and “Badger State;” B&B operated “Mountain Chief,” “Silver Bow,” “Grey Cliff,” “LaPlata,” “Blue Jay,” and “Belle of Butte.”

[17] In 1889, Adolph Lewisohn met the president of the Arizona Copper Company, Jameson, on a trip to Europe. A Scottish group headquartered in Edinburgh had acquired a majority stake in the company. Jameson made the Lewisohns “general American selling agents.” Lewisohn, Citizenship, 107.

[18] Thomas W. Lawson, Frenzied Finance. The Crime of Amalgamated (London, 1906; first published New York, NY, 1905); Alvin F. Harlow, “Lawson, Thomas William,” in Dictionary of American Biography, ed. Dumas Malone, vol. 11 (New York, NY, 1933), 59-60, here 60.

[19] Michael P. Malone, The Battle for Butte. Mining and Politics on the Northern Frontier, 1864-1906 (Seattle, WA, and London, 1981), 138.

[20] On Leonard Lewisohn’s stakes in other companies, managerial posts, wealth, and social activities see The New York Times, March 6, 1902, and April 3, 1904; “Lewisohn, Leonard,” in The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, vol. 27, 464f.

[21] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 49 and 78.

[22] The Hilton-Seligman Affair of 1877 was the most famous anti-Semitic incident in America to date. It started when Judge Henry Hilton, the manager of the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York, barred Joseph Seligman and his family from the hotel because they were Jews.

[23] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 52.

[24] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 15f. and 83ff.

[25] The other partners were Isaac N. Seligman, Oscar S. Straus, and Adolf Kraus; they were led by Jacob H. Schiff, who had emphatically advocated financial support for Japan during the war; Cyrus Adler, Jacob H. Schiff: His Life and Letters, vol. II (Grosse Point, MI, 1968, first published Garden City, New York, 1928), 120f. and 128; Naomi W. Cohen, Jacob H. Schiff. A Study in American Jewish Leadership (Hanover, NH, and London, 1999), 134ff. and 137f.

[26] Geoffrey Hellman, “Lewisohn, Adolph,” 384.

[27] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 66f.

[28] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 67f. The campaign for the establishment of an “Industrial Relations Committee” was initiated by “settlement workers” who were close to the Progressive Party. Lewisohn supported them with 5,000 dollars. See Allen F. Davis, Spearheads for Reform. The Social Settlements and the Progressive Movement 1890-1914 (New York, NY, 1967), 208ff.

[29] Quoted from Lewisohn, Citizenship, 68.

[30] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 69f.

[31] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 70.

[32] Ferdinand Lundberg, America’s 60 Families, 6th ed. (New York, NY, 1937), 84, 129, 132, 154, and 181.

[33] Egmont Zechlin, Die deutsche Politik und die Juden im Ersten Weltkrieg (Göttingen, 1969), 477 and 513; The New York Times, April 28, 1917, and August 20, 1920, “Asks Helping Hands for New Germany.”

[34] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 171.

[35] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 186.

[36] The New York Times, January 6, 1934, and January 18, 1934.

[37] Lewisohn, Citizenship, 232f.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Adolph Lewisohn
  • Coverage 1849-1938
  • Author
  • Website Name Immigrant Entrepreneurship
  • URL
  • Access Date April 19, 2024
  • Publisher German Historical Institute
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2018