"NEXT TO THEODOR HERZL… THE MOST REVERED FIGURE IN THE WHOLE AMERICAN ZIONIST PANTHEON": FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF LOUIS D. BRANDEIS' ADDRESS, JEWISH RIGHTS AND THE CONGRESS, DELIVERED AT CARNEGIE HALL ON JANUARY 24, 1916
BRANDEIS, Louis D. Jewish Rights and the Congress. Address Delivered at Carnegie Hall, New York City, January 24, 1916. New York: Jewish Congress Organization Committee, 1916. Slim octavo, original printed cream self-wrappers, staple-bound as issued; pp. (1-2), 3-11 (1).
First edition in English, issued simultaneously in Yiddish, of Brandeis' "keynote address" supporting an American Jewish Congress, delivered in New York mere days before his nomination to the Supreme Court, calling on "the great Jewish inheritance and the great America inheritance" to declare "what is demanded of the Jewish people now is action," very scarce in original wrappers.
The first Jewish Supreme Court justice, Brandeis was nominated in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson and served as an associate justice until 1939. On turning toward Zionism in his 50s, his "formal leadership of the Zionist movement extended through seven memorable years, 1914-21," in which he "played a behind-the-scenes role in formulating and winning American acceptance of the Balfour Declaration (1917-18), helped author what became the official program of the American Zionist movement, the so-called Pittsburgh Program (1918)… and was elected honorary president of the World Zionist Organization (1920)… The key to Zionism's legitimacy, as he understood it, lay in its link to Americanism." Brandeis was, "next to Theodor Herzl,… the most revered figure in the whole American Zionist pantheon" (Sarna, Louis Brandeis, 23-27). "One of the Court's truly great Justices… he authored enduring opinions that have shaped our understanding of the nature, role and limits of federal judicial power" (Purcell, Judicial Legacy, 5-9).
In late 1914, "as momentum picked up for an American Jewish Congress," leaders turned to Brandeis, who felt "it would embody his ideas of how a community should be organized and respond to issues… [and] would be a great ally in striving for the Zionist goal of legal recognition of a homeland in Palestine… At a rally in Carnegie Hall on January 24, 1916—just four days before his nomination to the Court—Brandeis gave the keynote address, Jewish Rights and the Congress. In a masterly summation of the main arguments… he emphasized that only if the Jews of America united in a democratic and representative alliance could they hope to demand and achieve equal rights for their brethren in Europe after the war." That March, "with Brandeis sequestered in Boston during the confirmation fight, 367 delegates from 83 cities and 28 states, representing more than one million Jews, met at an organizing convention in Philadelphia." Jewish leaders had worried that Brandeis, "at the time of his confirmation… might resign from Zionist and Congress activities." When he ultimately did resign his office in the Jewish Congress Organizing Committee and other key organizations, he noted this had "not come until after the triumph of the Congress movement had been assured, and the desired unity of the Jews of America had been made possible" (Urofsky, Louis D. Brandeis, 490-93). This "important speech… printed and distributed by the Jewish Congress Organization Committee… was a ringing plea for the creation of a Jewish Congress on the democratic principle. Such a Congress, he argued, would be the only possible way for Jews to deliberate, educate and take steps to implement their decisions" (Letters of Louis D. Brandeis, Vol. IV, 12).
Only faintest toning, scant soiling to fragile wrappers. A fine copy.