Schiff, Jacob

Schiff, Jacob (Henry)

(1847–1920) financier, philanthropist; born in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. He came to New York City at age 18 and was licensed as a stockbroker in 1866; after working in a succession of brokerage houses, he joined the investment banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company in 1874, becoming its president by 1885. He amassed a great fortune, primarily in railroads and insurance companies. He participated in the struggle for control of the Northern Pacific Railroad that precipitated the stock market panic of 1901. He secured a $200-million loan for Japan in the Russo-Japanese War (1904), and then, as a founder of the American Jewish Committee (1906), he worked to abrogate the U.S.-Russian commercial treaty because of Russian treatment of Jews. He also promoted a loan for the Manchurian Railway in China (1911). One of the foremost figures in American Jewry of his day, he supported a wide range of philanthropies, both religious and secular; although not a Zionist, he supported educational institutions in Palestine; his many philanthropies included the Tuskegee Institute, the Henry Street Settlement House, the Red Cross, and Harvard and Cornell Universities.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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