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PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF TWO NEW JERSEY FAMILIES

George A. Weeden (1778-1850)
PAIR OF PORTRAITS: MR. MORDECAI MANUEL NOAH (1785-1851) AND MRS. REBECCA JACKSON NOAH (1810-1866)
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 16,250 USD
JUMP TO LOT
245

PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF TWO NEW JERSEY FAMILIES

George A. Weeden (1778-1850)
PAIR OF PORTRAITS: MR. MORDECAI MANUEL NOAH (1785-1851) AND MRS. REBECCA JACKSON NOAH (1810-1866)
Estimate
15,00025,000
LOT SOLD. 16,250 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

|
New York

George A. Weeden (1778-1850)
PAIR OF PORTRAITS: MR. MORDECAI MANUEL NOAH (1785-1851) AND MRS. REBECCA JACKSON NOAH (1810-1866)
the gentleman additionally inscribed Yes, Gentlemen, I am speaking of mechanical powers and say with a distinguished individual of certain days Arcimedas give me a plan to stand upon, and I will raise the world.
Pen and ink on paper
Each: 8 by 6 1/2 in.
circa 1828
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Literature

Richard Brilliant, Facing the New World: Jewish Portraits in Colonial and Federal America, (New York: The Jewish Museum, 1997), pp. 66 & 67, figs. 47 & 48.

Catalogue Note

The reverse of Mrs. Noah inscribed, "Rebecca Jackson Noah married Mordecai Noah December 29th 18.. these pictures have been drawn during a visit at a later date, perhaps after the 28 restoration of the Synagogue," and Mr. Noah's portrait is inscribed "Mordecai Manuel Noah drawn by George A. Weeden - a native of Newport. It was the custom of members of Shearith, Israel who retain title to the Newport Synagogue to visit there in order to retain title. Republished register from the Christian Register titled "Jews in Newport" (this article was included in my paper in the Truro Synagogue published in the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Society publication p. 59. In the interest in brevity "It is expected that a member of the Jewish Society will assemble in Newport, and perform worship at the Synagogue during the summer, for the purpose of holding possession of the building it is expect that M.M. Noah, Esq. of New York will deliver an address to those who meet on that occasion."

Mordecai Manuel Noah was the best-known Jew before the Civil War. First a clerk and reporter in Philadelphia, he went on to Charleston and then to New York. He became outstanding in each city, as an editor of newspapers, a playwright, a politician, a consul, a judge, an honorary major, and a spokesman of the Jewish People. 

President Madison appointed Noah as Consul to Tunis in North Africa. The pirates of the Barbary States often stole ships and took passengers from them to hold for ransom. It was Mordecai Noah’s job to deal with these tough pirates, and pay the ransoms if necessary, and do all he could to free captured American citizens. He became a friend of the Bey of Tunis, as the ruler of the Barbary States was called, and during the two years he was there, he succeeded in getting the release of a number of captives.

All Americans who landed in Tunis would visit the American Consulate. One day, a ship’s captain brought a note in a sealed envelope, from the Secretary of State in Washington.

Noah thought it was a routine matter, and opened the envelope while the ship’s captain waited. His face grew pale as he read, but he hid his feelings from the visitor. Without warning, the note told him that he was dismissed from his post, and that he was to return to America. He was shocked to read that the Secretary of State had decided that Noah’s religion “would form an obstacle” to his being a good consul. The note also suggested that his money accounts were not in order. Noah returned to America and fought back.

He published a pamphlet defending himself. He demanded that the government clear his name and got a statement saying that his accounts were clear and that he was honest. However, the attack on him as a Jew made him even angrier. “I find my own government insulting the religious feelings of a whole nation. O, shame, shame!” he wrote. Proud of his family’s loyalty to America – he claimed Dr. Samuel Nunez as an ancestor, and his grandfather, Jonas Phillips, was a revolutionary patriot – he was equally proud of being a Jew.1

Mordecai Manuel Noah was elected High Sheriff of New York City in 1822. In 1825, Noah attempted to establish a Jewish Colony in Ararat, near Buffalo, New York; the colony is dedicated with great fanfare and pageantry, but no actual settlement takes place.2

In 1827, Mordecai married Rebecca Esther Jackson, from Portsmouth, England.  As prominent members of Shearith Israel, which oversaw the Tuoro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, they frequently visited Newport during the summer when Mordecai would address the assembled congregation.

Little is known about George Weeden, the artist who worked up these sketches, except that he was probably a local Newport man commenting on the fashionable summer visitors from New York.3 

1Deborah Karp, Heroes of American Jewish History, (New York: KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 1972), p. 68-70.
2Allon Schoener, [et al], The American Jewish Experience: From 1654 to the Present, (Philadelphia: Museum of American Jewish History, 1981), pp. 20-21.
3Richard Brilliant, Facing the New World: Jewish Portraits in Colonial and Federal America, (New York: The Jewish Museum, 1997), pp. 66 & 67, figs. 47 & 48.

 

Important Americana

|
New York