Am. Soc. for Mel. Cond. of Jews
F I R S T R E P O R T
A M E R I C A N S O C I E T Y
Meliorating the Condition of the Jews.
PRESENTED MAY 9, 1823:
PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY BY GRAY AND BUNCE.
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By Order of the Committee,
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By Order of the Committee,
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to a race of men, who for centuries have been followed by the bitterest scorn and the most unrelenting persecution by almost the whole world, and to confer upon them the rights of freemen, is an object which cannot but meet the approbation and secure the good wishes of every true philanthropist. To place within the reach of Gospel light and knowledge, that people, now in ignorance of the truth and in alienation from God, who were once his peculiar people; who were intrusted with the keeping of the holy oracles; have faithfully handed down this precious treasure unimpaired to us; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, is a design which must enlist the favour and assistance of every sincere Christian. Now these are the object end design of the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews, and this institution cannot fail, therefore, we have the prayers and efforts for its prosperity and success, of all who are acquainted with its views, and who love God and their fellow-men They who send their aid to bring the ancient Israel of Jehovah, to the knowledge of the true Messiah, are 'workers together with God,' who has promised that the Jews shall be brought in with the fulness of the Gentiles, and who doubtless designs to accomplish this promise through the instrumentality of human means. Let us persevere then in this good work, 'in nothing moved' by the opposition of 'the adversary,' confident that 'if it be of God,' none can overthrow it.
M. CAMPBELL, Secretary.
From the report of the Board of Directors of the Georgetown Aux. Soc. D. C. the following is extracted.
" The Directors, however, deemed it due to the magnitude and importance of the cause, in which the American Society for meliorating the condition of the Jews, has engaged -- a cause which every Auxiliary Society makes its own -- to present to the members of this society, the reason why they conceive it their duty to encourage and animate them to perseverance in this good work, and to call upon them and others to contribute cheerfully for an object, the accomplishment of which will constitute so important an era in the history of the church of Christ, and eventually prove so glorious in the triumphs of the Redeemer's kingdom They, therefore, appointed a member of their Board to deliver an address at this meeting -- to explain the views of the parent society --to show the necessity of some plan like that adopted by it, in order to give success to the efforts, which are making to promote the knowledge of Christianity among the Jews, and to unfold the blessings to be derived by the Gentile Christians from their conversion to the religion of Jesus.
"'Be ye the followers of me, even as I also am of Christ,' is an exhortation to us all, of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, who was himself 'of the seed of Abraham,' 'a Hebrew of the Hebrews' -- a Jew. -- The fruits of whose unparalleled missionary labours, we are this day so richly enjoying through the goodness of merciful God. -- May we imitate him, in labours of love, in disinterestedness, and in zeal for the glory of our divine Master, by devising and executing plans for communicating the knowledge of Christianity to every nation under heaven."
We are happy in being enabled to lay before the Christian public, the following Report of the Committee of Ways and Means, by which it will be perceived, that the object adverted to in the 4th position of our report, the importance of founding a colony for converted Jews, is about being carried into immediate execution.
"The committee of ways and means appointed at the last meeting of the board, beg leave to make the following Report, That they have devoted as much of their time and attention as they could spare, to the subjects committed to their consideration, and have weighed those subjects, they trust, under a sense of their great importance to the objects and interests of the board. The novelty of the duty which has devolved on your committee, the intrinsic difficulties attending the establishment of a Christian Jewish colony, and the great variety of incidents involved in such an undertaking, have all conspired to embarrass your committee, and compelled them to proceed with caution in their deliberations; and the conclusions to which they have arrived, though the results of the best judgment of
your committee, yet are advanced by no means with confidence, and must claim from the board that indulgence to which the peculiar circumstances under which they have been formed entitle them.
"It will be recollected by the board, that the late President, Mr. Boudinot, with that liberality which has so nobly distinguished his character bequeathed to 'the American Society for meliorating the condition of the Jews;' four thousand acres of land in the state of Pennsylvania, or at the option of the society one thousand dollars in cash, the society to make their election within two years -- to the bequest of the land is annexed the condition, that if the society elect to accept of the same, it must be used and occupied by them as a settlement for the Jews, with the allotment of fifty acres to each family who may become a settler under the direction of the board; this condition of course renders the land of no other value to the society than that which may arise from the advantages which it presents for the establishment of the colony contemplated by the board; if it were ever so valuable in itself, it is by this condition put beyond the power of the board to convert it into money if they accept of it, it must be used for the purpose of a colony. Your committee regret that they have not been able to procure as particular information respecting these 4000 acres as they could wish; they find, however, that it is part of a large tract lying in the county of Warren, on the waters of the Brokenstraw, creek, and other creeks emptying into the Alleghany river, the main body of which is situated south of Brokenstraw creek. Warren county is in the northwestern part of the state, and is bounded on the north by the New-York state line, where it joins on to part of the counties of Chataque and Cattaragus. It is a new county and but very partially settled. Your former committee addressed a letter on the subject of these lands to Mr. Heildeksper, the agent of Mr. Boudinot, residing in the adjoining county of Crawford, in reply to which he says, 'I am unable to tell what specific portion of these lands (meaning a tract of 43,000 acres which belonged to Mr. Boudinot) has been bequeathed to you; but even if I knew, the information which I could give you would still be imperfect and unsatisfactory, for though the lands have been for a number of years under my agency, yet as they are situated at a distance of about 60 miles from this place, I have no particular knowledge of the quality of the several tracts, I shall therefore give you such information as I possess respecting this body of lands. Though there are some very good lands among them, yet taken as a body, they are by no means equal to the general quality of the lands in this part of Pennsylvania, which is extraordinarily fine The lands are in general well watered, and covered with a heavy growth of timber; the county is remarkably wholesome, and though it would be heavy to clear, yet when once cleared, it would well repay the labour of the husbandman, especially for grazing farms, they being well calculated for that species of husbandry.' In another part of his letter he says -- 'As to the actual value of these lands I can say nothing, because wild lands can hardly be said to have any value so long as there is no demand for them, ad there has not hitherto been for these land.' Your committee have not been able to obtain any better information than this respecting the lands bequeathed by Mr. Boudinot; but they feel warranted in saying, that its inconvenient location -- the indifferent quality of the tract of which it forms a part -- its inadequacy in point of quantity to the wants of the board -- its distance and difficulty of access from the city of New-York, labour, money, and time, which must necessarily be consumed, to put it in a situation fit for the occupation of such settlers as the board would send upon it, render it the interest of the society to accept of the $1000, and surrender their claim to the land; and your committee are inclined to believe that Mr. Boudinot himself, whose judgment would be entitled to great weight. was, from the fact of the option which he has given to the society, undecided in his own mind as to the suitableness of the land --they therefore advise, if the board should concur with them in opinion that the corresponding secretary be requested immediately to communicate the election of the board to the executors of Mr. Boudinot's will, and that the treasurer be instructed to apply for and receive the $1000.
"Your committee are unanimous in the opinion that the colony should be established in the state of New-York -- they believe that as good and as cheap land can be procured here as in any other state, whilst the superior advantages of [this in] point of resources and importance; the greater stability and ascertained value of
landed property -- the spirit which pervades agricultural pursuits -- our internal improvements -- the advantages of our markets for the sale of produce, and the general and increasing propensity of every kind of business, present inducements which are not probably united in any other part of the Union -- besides, the city of New York will be the centre of operations of the board, and they will be enabled to exercise a far more beneficial superintendence over the concerns of the colony, by having it situated as it were under their eye, and to avail themselves of a greater economy in the transportation of settlers which our facilities of navigation afford, than by having it at a distance, where the means of communication would be likely to he irregular and uncertain, and the difficulties of access become a burdensome expense to the board -- to this last consideration your committee attach much importance, believing, that wherever the colony is located, the transportation from the sea board of families and their effects will form no inconsiderable charge. -- As to the particular situation of the colony, your committee have directed their attention to the lands in the Holland purchase, and one or two tracts in other parts of the state, which have come to their knowledge -- the lands in the Holland purchase they find embarrassed at present by a contemplated sale of a great part of them to a company in Albany -- but your committee have not had the opportunity for a selection of a proper tract which the subject requires, they have, therefore, determined to recommend to the board the propriety and expediency of bringing into competition the landholders in the state and propose, if it shall meet the views of the board, to advertise in some of the principal papers for a tract of land for the purpose of a colony -- this will bring before them at once such tracts as are for sale, and give your committee the privilege of choosing from the number that will be probably offered, one best suited in all respects to the wants of the board.
"As to the quantity of land, which it will be advisable for the board to purchase, your committee have found a great difficulty in coming to a decision -- the novelty of the undertaking, and the infancy of the society, afford them no rule by which to guide their deliberations -- it must be a matter of experiment -- they agree, however, that it will be for the interest of the board to purchase as much as their funds will admit, being satisfied, that if the settlement of the colony is effected with the success and rapidity, which under the blessing of God they fondly cherish the hope of, the value of the lands in its neighbourhood will be greatly enhanced, and the board be compelled, if they should find it necessary to extend the limits of the colony, to pay a much higher price for the land than it can be now procured for, and if on experiment they should find themselves in possession of a greater quantity than they require, it will be no difficult matter to dispose of the surplus without a sacrifice -- your committee believe, however, that the probabilities are much in favour of a rapid settlement, and they therefore recommend that the board go to the utmost limit of their resources; what those resources are, or are likely to be, it is impossible to tell with any degree of certainty; yet the very flattering prospects of the society -- the success which has attended the labours of Mr. Frey in the collection of donations, and the formation of auxiliaries, and the general spirit and zeal which is excited throughout the country in behalf of the Jews, manifested in the approval of the objects of the board, and the support given to them, will warrant your committee, they think, in advertising for fifteen or twenty thousand acres.
"In the choice of the land, care should be had to select such a tract as will embrace not only the advantages before mentioned, but as may be best adapted to the peculiar necessities and circumstances of those who are to take possession of it A great part of these will probably be men of families, whose subsistence must depend on the labour of their hands, and who will become a source of incalculable expense to the board, unless immediately on their arrival here they can be furnished with the facilities of obtaining that subsistence, while others who will perhaps bring with them some capital, will equally require to be placed in a situation where they can earn a support at once, without encroaching too much on their stock; to attain these desirable ends, and to guard against those discouragements and despondencies which are so frequently the unfortunate attendants of strangers in a strange land, will require all the wisdom of the board. The undertaking on which they have entered is fraught not only with interest but with difficulties which can only be surmounted by prudent care and wise deliberation.
Your committee are decidedly of opinion, that it will operate against the usefulness of the society, and indeed defeat the benevolent intentions of the board, to place those Jews, who shall come to them, on land in its wild state. A part of each farm should be cleared, ready at their hands, and capable of immediate use and cultivation; and your committee are apprehensive of considerable difficulty and expense in procuring a tract already cleared, according to their wants, they are therefore inclined to believe, that it will be found the most economical and safe course to purchase a tract of good wild land, and immediately employ a sufficient number of persons accustomed to the business, to clear such parts as would be necessary -- this your committee think might be effected with a comparative trifling expense to the board, either of time or money. This, however, will depend entirely upon the tracts that shall be offered, and your committee throw out these views now, in order to direct the attention of the board to a subject of such vital importance to the society. At every step your committee have advanced, they have become more impressed with a sense of the magnitude of the work in which the board are engaged, and of the imperative necessity lying upon them, to bring forth all their strength, activity and zeal. The eyes of friends and enemies, are fixed upon us with a peculiar degree of interest and anxiety, and we have a large and increasing number of auxiliaries, through whom to infuse a spirit of life and zeal, which we cannot do unless we ourselves possess those essential requisites to the prosperity of a work like this -- an efficiency in the adaptation of our means to the end, will secure to us the good opinion and co-operation of many who now look upon our plans as premature, and the blessing of God, which we trust will follow our labours for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom, will convince the most unbelieving, that the time has arrived, when the long lost descendants of Abraham are to be gathered into the fold of Christ, the great Shepherd.
"Your committee have of course turned their attention to the state of the society's funds and resources. At the last meeting of the board, an estimate was presented, which shows that the annual income from the auxiliaries, which up to that time were recognized by the board, amounted to $5000. There is now in the treasury $1500, which with the $1000 from Mr. Boudinot's executors, and $1000 about to be remitted by Mr. Frey, will increase the sum to $3,500, and this will be greatly augmented by the semi-annual payments from the auxiliaries, which fall due the ensuing month. The donations have been considerable, and are still increasing, together with the number of auxiliaries, so that there is an encouraging prospect, that with proper exertion on the part of the board, there will be a sufficiency of funds to meet the payments for the land, which may undoubtedly be procured on such a credit as to relieve the board from any burdensome pressure on that account. But a fair calculation may be made, that some of the resources will fail; that some of the auxiliaries will grow cold and indifferent. To remedy this evil, new ones must be formed, and those that exist be animated and encouraged. As a means of augmenting the funds, your committee advise, that measures be taken by the publishing committee to procure an extensive subscription to the paper published by the board. If this shall be accomplished, a considerable revenue will be secured directly under the control of the board, which from that fact, will be likely to be permanent, and a feeling be created on behalf of the society, from which it cannot fail to derive strength and support
"Your committee will only add, that much is to be done by every member of the board, and after all, their exertions will be of no avail, without the smiles of the Lord upon them, and they trust that for so desirable a blessing all will unite in approaching the throne of divine grace, frequently and with faith.
"In behalf of the Committee.
"R. MILFORD BLATCHFORD, Chairman.
"New-York, March 25, 1823."
The report of the Board of Directors, page 19, states that "the question," viz. whether the time for the ingathering of Israel has come? "so far as it can be settled in anticipation of the event, depends upon the blended evidence of the prophecies, and of the signs of the times." To the evidence arriving from the
AS is mentioned in the body of this Report, The American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews was organized in New York City on Feb. 8, 1820. A petition for its incorporation was submitted to the New York Legislature, which, on April 14, 1820, granted the incorporation of the society. What the text does not reveal, however, is that the group (largely composed of Protestant ministers) that gathered together on Feb. 8th were previously organized under the name of the "Society for Evangelizing the Jews," in 1816. In 1820, after a few years of feeble existence, the would-be evangelizers were reconstituted with the famed statesman and author, Elias Boudinot, as their first president. The revitalized group met in New York City on Jan. 25, 1820 and added to its previous lackluster evangelizing mission the additional goal of "colonizing the Jews." Probably this secondary purpose was suggested by Boudinot himself, as he was interested in "gathering scattered Israel" in anticipation of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies. Whether or not the group meeting in 1820 shared Boudinot's belief in the American Indians being Israelites, history has left no record (for Boudinot's beliefs concerning the Indians see his 1816 book, A Star in the West..
In deference to the prominent New York City Jewish journalist and politician, Mordecai M. Noah, the Legislature changed the society's name when it approved its incorporation (see M. M. Noah's editorial in the May 13, 1826 issue of his newspaper, The National Advocate). In fact, only a few weeks previous to the group's organization, this same Jewish journalist and politician had submitted his own petition to the Legislature, with the intention of establishing a gathering place for "Israelites" on Grand Island, in the Niagara River, not far from Buffalo. Thus, from its very inception, the shadow of Major Mordecai M. Noah fell over the colonization and proselyting efforts of the so-called "American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews." Its activities during the 1820s are best understood when Noah's own colonization efforts are placed in view alongside the activities of the society.
When Elias Boudinot died in 1821 his will provided the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews with 4000 acres of land, to establish a colony for converted Jews near Pittsfield, Warren Co., Pennsylvania (about 15 miles south of Jamestown, Chautauqua Co., New York). The society's officers gave up their claim for this remote and undeveloped acreage in exchange for $1000 from Boudinot's executors. During the first months of 1823, a committee of the society was shopping about for a suitable location in western New York, at which to establish Boudinot's planned colony for the Christianized Jews. This was apparently the "negotiation" mentioned in the Richmond Family Visitor and reprinted in the Apr. 5, 1823 issue of Niles National Register. Those sources mention the "Genesee country," while the 1823 Report is a bit more specific, speaking of a spot "easily accessible on the streams of nature or of art" in the "Holland Purchase" (roughly, the land between the Genesee and Niagara rivers). By 1823 the Erie Canal (a stream "of art") had been completed as far westward as Rochester and the next year it reached Newport (now Albion) and Lockport. Probably the tract in the Holland Purchase that the committee was looking seriously at in 1823 was located somewhere between Lockport and Rochester, on or near the partially dug canal. References: George A. Boyd's 1952 book, Elias Boudinot, pp. 261-262; Jonathan D. Sarna's 1981 book, Jacksonian Jew, The Two Worlds of Mordecai Noah, pp. 56-57; ASMCJ Report No. 3, 1823
The Society Establishes Its Jewish Colony
Although the society had a sizable amount of money to invest in its Jewish colony its officers were slow to make the final land purchase decision. Before 1823 ended they apparently had given up in their quest to locate a suitable site in western New York and were focusing their attention on making a purchase closer to Albany or even New York City itself. A June 1823 news report in the Plattsburgh Republican indicated that the society might "purchase 20,000 acres... about 25 miles west of Plattsburgh" near the border of Clinton and Franklin counties. This speculative deal never materialized. In 1824 the society's officers finally decided to buy some land in New Paltz twp., Ulster Co., New York. Various events delayed progress on this decision and it was not until 1826 that the society finally decided to use its money to buy a 500 acre farm -- a far cry from the 4000 acres Elias Boudinot had originally intended be dedicated to the project -- Boudinot's plan would have allowed for 80 farms of 50 acres each; while the land decided upon only allowed for 10 such family plots. As things turned out the farm only had 400 acres and minuscule colony was not located at New Platz, but in Harrison, Westchester Co., practically a rural suburb of White Plains. By 1827 the Harrison colony was an admitted failure: the society could not even induce half a dozen converted Jews to take up residence there.
In the meanwhile Major M. M. Noah's widely publicized scheme -- for an Israelite gathering on Grand Island -- had come and gone. Thwarted primarily by lack of cooperation from the European rabbis, Noah's grandiose colony (for faithful Jews, "Israelite" Indians, and cooperating Gentiles) died stillborn in the eastern drawing-rooms and in the masonic lodge at Buffalo. There would be no swarms of Jewish colonists descending by the boatload upon Grand Island. Major Noah attended the 1826 annual meeting of the American Society for Meliorating the condition of the Jews but he apparently felt little sympathy for the apethetic results of the Christians' parallel plans for establishing an American refuge for their own Jews.
In the end both the Noah plan and the Meliorating Society's plan disintegrated. Noah's dreams depended upon thousands of European Jews flocking to New York with their rabbi's blessings -- a fantasy that even Noah must have known was not a very practical one. Perhaps he felt that the Gentiles would build up Grand Island, while waiting for the anticipated arrival of Jews and Indians. Instead, they poured their resources into Buffalo, a place where at least a few urban Jews did eventually take up residence. The Christians' scheme was hopelessly flawed from the very beginning. There was little hope that they could ever convert Jews in the kinds of numbers necessary to establish a Christian Zion in New York. The ministers' self-constructed mirage of the coming millennial reign of Christ was beyond the vision of faithful Jews and beyond the capacity of converted Jews to leverage into happening. The old biblical prophecies about reclaiming the scattered of Israel and the dispersed of Judah would have to be forgotten for the next few decades. When the time came to resurrect the Zionist plans the goal again became the age old one of Jerusalem and the American gathering became a secular, not sectarian, phenomenon. That is, except for a small band of fanatics with the improbable name of "Mormonites." For them the failed dreams of the Meliorating Society and of Major Noah would be recast as latter day prophecy for a "New Jerusalem" in the west, among those elusive American Indian Israelites.
Boudinot, Elias, 1740-1821.
Constitution of the American Society for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews, with an address from the Hon. Elias Boudinot.
"Delivered before the society at their first annual meeting, May 12, 1820 and the act of incorporation granted by the legislature of the State of New-York." "Address" p. 2-18. "An act to incorporate the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews"
New York : Printed by Abraham Paul, 1820.
Yale University Library: Bg19 Am46m
American Society for Ameliorating the Condition of the Jews
(Minor Publications of the Society: Annual Reports, etc.)
SML, Judaica Collection: Bg19 Am46m
Elias Boudinot Delegate and a Representative from New Jersey; born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 2, 1740; received a classical education; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1760 and commenced practice in Elizabethtown, N.J.; member of the board of trustees of Princeton College 1772-1821; member of the committee of safety in 1775; commissary general of prisoners in the Revolutionary Army 1776-1779; Member of the Continental Congress in 1778, 1781, 1782 and 1783, serving as President in 1782 and 1783, and signing the treaty of peace with England; resumed the practice of law; elected to the First, Second, and Third Congresses (March 4, 1789-March 3, 1795); was not a candidate for renomination in 1794 to the Fourth Congress; Director of the Mint from October 1795 to July 1805, when he resigned; elected first president of the American Bible Society, in 1816; died in Burlington, Burlington County, N.J., October 24, 1821; interment in St. Mary’s Protestant Episcopal Church Cemetery.
Virtualology's Revolutionary War Hall:
President of the United States in Congress Assembled
November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783
BOUDINOT, Elias, philanthropist, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2 May 1740; died in Burlington, New Jersey, 24 October 1821. His great-grandfather, Elias, was a French Huguenot, who fled to this country after the revocation of the edict of Nantes. After receiving a classical education, he studied law with Richard Stockton, and became eminent in his profession, practicing in New Jersey. He was devoted to the patriot cause, in 1777 appointed commissary-general of prisoners, and in the same year elected a delegate to congress from New Jersey, serving from 1778 till 1779, and again from 1781 till 1784. He was chosen president of congress on 4 November 1782, and in that capacity signed the treaty of peace with England. He then resumed the practice of law, but, after the adoption of the constitution, was elected to the 1st, 2d, and 3d congresses, serving from 4 March 1789, till 3 March 1795. He was appointed by Washington in 1795 to succeed Rittenhouse as director of the mint at Philadelphia, and held the office till July 1805, when he resigned, and passed the rest of his life at Burlington, New Jersey, devoted to the study of biblical literature. He had an ample fortune, and gave liberally. He was a trustee of Princeton College, and in 1805 endowed it with a cabinet of natural history, valued at $3,000. In 1812 he was chosen a member of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions, to which he gave £100 in 1813. He assisted in founding the American Bible society in 1816, was its first president, and gave it $10,000. He was interested in attempts to educate the Indians, and when three Cherokee youth were brought to the foreign mission school in 1818, he allowed one of them to take his name. This boy became afterward a man of influence in his tribe, and was murdered on 10 June 1839, by Indians west of the Mississippi. Dr. Boudinot was also interested in the instruction of deaf-mutes, the education of young men for the ministry, and efforts for the relief of the poor. He bequeathed his property to his only daughter, Mrs. Bradford, and to charitable uses. Among his bequests were one of $200 to buy spectacles for the aged poor, another of 13,000 acres of land to the mayor and corporation of Philadelphia, that the poor might be supplied with wood at low prices, and another of 3,000 acres to the Philadelphia hospital for the benefit of foreigners. Dr. Boudinot published "The Age-of Revelation," a reply to Paine (1790); an oration before the Society of the Cincinnati (1793); "Second Advent of the Messiah" (Trenton, 1815); and "Star in the West, or An Attempt to Discover the Long-lost Tribes of Israel" (1816), in which he concurs with James Adair in the opinion that the Indians are the lost tribes. He also wrote, in "The Evangelical Intelligencer" of 1806, an anonymous memoir of the Rev. William Tennent.
hen the members of the Continental Congress gathered together to choose a president, they elected Elias Boudinot as the new chief executive (President of the United States in Congress Assembled) on 4 November 1782. Thus he was, in effect, the first president of the United States.
The Millennium, the Conversion of the Jews and the Lost Tribes
One portent signifying the coming of the millennium was generally regarded as the possibility of converting the Jews to Christianity. What interest was shown in converting the Jews in the Hartlib circle? The question of 'the lost tribe' of Jews was of particular importance because it related to the Indians of the New World. There was a particular problem in the perception of world history as generally perceived in the seventeenth century which was raised by the existence of the Indians. All the nations and races of the world could be demonstrated to have descended (to most people's satisfaction at any rate) from Noah after the Flood. But what about the Indians? It stretched credibility to imagine that they had descended from Noah, swam all the way across to America and promptly forgotten that they were part of God's elect. Yet the alternative possibility, that they were, in some way, descended from before Adam was even more frought with danger. Perhaps, though, they were somehow descended from a lost tribe of Jews sometimes after the Flood and still retained some remnants of their Jewishness. The possibilities raised by their conversion were intriguing and some efforts were made to convert them by Dury and others. See the chapter by Richard Popkin in Greengrass, Leslie and Raylor, Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation. Also Gantz (on reading list)
With the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, British millennialists began to preach that, not only was the time ripe for the onset of the millennium, but that man could move events along rather than await divine intervention.
The arrival of Joseph Frey, a Jewish convert from Franconia to London in 1801 marks the beginning of the history of the London Society. Baptized in 1798, Frey had received a traditional Jewish education and earned his living as a ritual slaughterer and cantor when he entered a seminary in Berlin and subsequently converted to Christianity. In London, he worked for the London Missionary Society and became the first of many Ashkenazi converts in England to work among the Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, among the 20,000 Jews who lived in England, two-thirds of them in London who were more accessible than the wealthier, inaccessible Sephardim. 14 Poor, speaking little English, and unemployed, these Jews were Frey's target . He composed Hebrew tracts, directed a charity school, and preached the Gospel to them. After a prohibition against his missionary work was announced in the synagogue, most Jews stopped visiting him and refused to send their children to the Free School he had set up. Receiving little financial support from the London Missionary Society, in 1809, he and others formed the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. In 1815, the society came under the sole auspices of the Church of England, and the following year, after a short but colorful career, Frey was dismissed for adultery and sexual misconduct.