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Progress of the Jewish Emancipation since 1829

From the Jewish Chronicle


If any apology were required for any publication at present on the Jewish Question, the one supplied by the author of this little brochure, 3—and as to the manner in which they have at intervals been revised, not only by the two branches of the legislature, but by the most distinguished of our public men, <<461>>representing very different shades of opinion, both in the political and the religious world—that it has been deemed expedient to offer to the public a short summary of what has occurred, in this respect, since the first great parliamentary step to advance Jewish Emancipation was taken in 1830 by Mr. Huskisson, then leader of the friends of Mr. Canning.”

From this first mention of the question by Mr. Huskisson, in 1830, the pamphleteer proceeds to its formal introduction as a bill by the late Robert Grant, in the same year, its subsequent passing through all its stages in the Commons, and its rejection by the Lords on the second reading being moved, on the 1st of August, 1833. Undaunted by this defeat, Mr. Grant renewed his motion in the Commons early in the next session, which was carried through all its stages by large majorities, but was again rejected by the Lords, not, however, on the merits of the bill, but on account of—

“An unconstitutional agitation against the independence of the house of Lords, which had been encouraged for some time by an extreme section of the Liberty party, and at this moment particularly prevailed. The Lords were not unwilling to seize an early opportunity of asserting the free exercise of their legislative privileges.”

“Notwithstanding, however,” says the author, “this temporary check, the progress of Jewish Emancipation experienced in the course of the ensuing year a great and unprecedented advance. Towards  the end of the session of 1835, the Attorney-General, Sir John Campbell, introduced the ‘Sheriffs’ Declaration Bill’ into the House of Commons. This bill passed both Houses without opposition, and receiving the Royal assent on the 21st of August, 1835, became a law, by which a person professing the Jewish religion might fill the high and constitutional office of Sheriff of a county.”

“Encouraged by this success, Mr. Spring Rice, in 1836, introduced a bill similar to that of Mr. Grant, for the general removal of Jewish Civil Disabilities. It was read a first time on the 13th of June, and was carried by decisive majorities in all its stages: indeed, the noes on the second reading were only twenty-two.

“The bill was introduced into the Lords on the 19th of August, and read a first time; but on account of the lateness of the session, the Marquess of Westminster postponed its further progress.

“At the beginning of the session of 1841, after the presentation of a petition from Mr. David Salomons—who, in the interval, had been elected an Alderman of the City of London, but had been unable to take his seat in consequence of the declaration contained in the words, ‘On the true faith of a Christian,’—a ‘Bill for the relief of Persons of the Jewish Religion elected to Muncipal Office,’ was introduced into the House of Commons by Mr. Divett, and carried by a majority of 113. The bill was introduced into the lords by the Marquess of Bute; and, although opposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was carried on its second reading.

<<462>>“Notwithstanding this bill was lost in a later stage, opinion had become so favourably disposed towards the emancipation of the British Jews in 1845, that a similar bill was originated in the House of Lords itself, and carried without a division.

“Sir Robert Peel moved the first reading of the bill in the House of Commons, supported by Lord John Russell, and it went through all its stages by very decisive majorities, and received the Royal assent July 31st, 1845.”

The pamphlet then, after alluding to the “Religious Opinions Relief Bill,” which received the Royal assent on the 18th of August, 1846, concludes with the history of the reintroduction of the question during last year, consequent on the election of Baron Rothschild for the City of London; and we hope that the author will, in continuation of history, soon record its final triumph in the Commons and Lords, and the Royal assent thereto.

NOTE.—We extract the above from our London contemporary; and are sorry to add by way of Post Scriptum, that the editor’s prognostics singularly failed on the evening of the 25th of May last, when the Jew bill was thrown out on second reading by the House of Lords.—Ed. Oc.