Straus, Oscar Solomon

Straus, Oscar Solomon

(1850–1926) diplomat, author; born in Otterberg, Germany (brother of Isidor and Nathan Straus). His mother Sara brought the family to join her husband Lazarus in Georgia in 1854. After they moved to New York City in 1866, Oscar studied and practiced law until he joined the family's crockery and glassware firm, L. Straus & Sons, in 1881. In 1887, at the suggestion of Henry Ward Beecher, President Grover Cleveland appointed him ambassador to Turkey (1887–89), a post he returned to twice (1898–1900, 1909–10). He was appointed a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in 1902, and was reappointed in 1908, 1912, and 1920. President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him secretary of commerce and labor (1906–09). He headed the Progressive ticket as the unsuccessful candidate for governor of New York (1912). He spoke out consistently for the safety of Russian and European Jews, backed the Zionist movement, and supported President Wilson in his efforts for the League of Nations at Versailles. He gave generously to Jewish charitable and cultural causes. He wrote many books including Roger Williams, The Pioneer of Religious Liberty (1894) and his own memoirs, Under Four Administrations: From Cleveland to Taft (1922).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.