ca 1860s. Item #41718
Large, albumen carte-de-visite photograph. 2.25 x 3.5 inch (photograph) on 3 x 5 inch period CDV card. Photographer’s copyprint below: “PECK / 78 Water St. / Newburgh, N.Y.” New York, c., 1860’s. (printed after Noah's Death)This larger format carte-de-visite of an elderly Mordecai Manuel Noah, is similar to both known images of him as an older man (one a painting, one a daguerreotype). Noah’s life spanned from 1785-1851, hence photographs of him are naturally, so very scarce. Only one surviving photograph of Noah is known; a daguerreotype, currently located in the Houghton Library, Harvard University, see https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/ids:262348$1i. The present unrecorded photograph is very similar to the painting of Noah as reproduced in the 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia. Indeed it is possible that our CDV was the basis for this well-known painting. See https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11573-noah-mordecai-manuel.The photograph records the photographer’s name: Peck, of Newburgh, NY. Regarding Noah’s presence in the Newburgh area, located on the Hudson River just north of Yonkers: Noah was Sheriff and Surveyor of the Port of New York, he had also purchased a church building in Buffalo to set up a Jewish community - hence he certainly would have reason to travel through Newburgh. In the course of researching this photograph, Noah’s biographer, Jonathan Sarna, told me, “I placed all known images of Noah into my [book].” See Sarna, Jacksonian Jew: The Two Worlds of Mordecai Noah (New York, 1981). THE PRESENT PHOTOGRAPH DOES NOT APPEAR IN SARNA’S VOLUMINOUS STUDY. Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851) "was an American sheriff, playwright, diplomat, journalist, and utopian....He was the most important Jewish lay leader in New York in the early 19th century, and the first Jew born in the United States to reach national prominence.....In 1811, he was appointed by President James Madison as consul at Riga, then part of Imperial Russia, but declined, and, in 1813, was nominated Consul to the Kingdom of Tunis, where he rescued American citizens kept as slaves by Moroccan slave owners. In 1815, Noah was removed from his position; in the words of U.S. Secretary of State James Monroe, his religion was 'an obstacle to the exercise of [his] Consular function.' The incident caused outrage among Jews and non-Jews alike....Noah protested and gained letters from John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison supporting church-state separation and tolerance for Jews. Prominent Jewish leader Isaac Harby, a forerunner of Reform Judaism, was moved to write, in a letter to Monroe,'[Jews] are by no means to be considered as a religious sect, tolerated by the government. They constitute a portion of the People. They are, in every respect, woven in and compacted with the citizens of the Republic.' Noah moved to New York, where he founded and edited The National Advocate, The New York Enquirer (later merged into the New York Courier and Enquirer), The Evening Star, and The Sunday Times newspapers....In 1819, Noah's most successful play, She Would Be a Soldier, was produced. That play has since established Noah as America's first important Jewish writer. She Would Be a Soldier is now included in college level anthologies.In 1825, with virtually no support from anyone — not even his fellow Jews — in a precursor to modern Zionism, he tried to found a Jewish 'refuge' at Grand Island in the Niagara River, to be called 'Ararat,' after Mount Ararat, the Biblical resting place of Noah's Ark. He purchased land on Grand Island for $4.38 per acre to build a refuge for Jews of all nations....From 1827 to 1828, Noah led New York City's Tammany Hall political machine" (Wikipedia). Almost certainly a unique surviving image, only the second known photo of Noah. Provenance: Kestenbaum & Co, Sale 85, Lot 18 https://www.kestenbaum.net/auction/lot/Auction-85/085-018/.