web analytics
April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


A Special Flag For Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln's use of the term'"four score and seven years ago' may have been borrowed from a rabbi's Fourth of July sermon

Abraham Lincoln's use of the term'"four score and seven years ago' may have been borrowed from a rabbi's Fourth of July sermon

In February 1861, Abraham Kohn, one of the founders of Chicago’s Congregation Kehilath Anshe Maariv and at the time the city clerk in the administration of Mayor John Wentworth, presented Abraham Lincoln with a unique American flag. In the white bars of the flag Kohn, in his own hand and in Hebrew, had inscribed verses 4 through 9 of Joshua I, namely:

Verse 4: From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border.

Verse 5: There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I   will be with thee; I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.

Verse 6: Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I swore unto their fathers to give them.

Verse 7: Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee; turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest.

Verse 8: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt have good success.

Verse 9: Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord they God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.[i]

Who was Abraham Kohn and how did he come to so admire Abraham Lincoln that he was motivated to make this presentation?

Kohn “was born in Bavaria in 1819 and came to America in 1842.Like many other German Jews beginning to feel the effects of repressive measures directed against them, he came to America, the land referred to in Germany as das gebentschte Land—the blessed land. Abraham Kohn and his brothers, Moses and Judas, engaged in perhaps the most common occupation of immigrant Jews of that time, peddling merchandise from house to house.”[ii]

Abraham remained a peddler in rural New England for a relatively short time and, less than two years after his arrival in America, was already living in Chicago as the proprietor of a store. Kohn kept a diary in German of his experiences as a peddler.

“Fortunately, the diary mirroring the heartaches and hardships that fell to his lot has been preserved. It is a valuable but hitherto unpublished document that furnishes insight into the life and emotions of a young man who set out to make his fortune overseas. It reveals clearly the sensibilities of the author. His fine Jewish background comes to the surface in a variety of Hebrew allusions used with the original German. There is a graphic picture of what it meant to cross Germany on foot from Bavarian to Bremen in the old days and what grim privations were endured on the Atlantic voyage.”[iii]

Abraham Kohn can perhaps be considered the quintessential Jew of an appreciably large class of Jews who had immigrated to America in the middle 1800s. After his early struggles he became successful in business, was devoted to his synagogue, and was active in public life.

“It was during the presidential campaign of 1860 that Abraham Kohn, City Clerk of Chicago, first met Lincoln, the acquaintance being formed in the store of Kohn, at that time a merchant. In politics Kohn was described by the Democratic press as ‘one of the blackest Republicans and Abolitionists.’ Kohn’s popularity and influence had probably been brought to Lincoln’s attention, and the latter, consummate politician as he was, recognized in Kohn, presumably, an ally whose acquaintance would prove a valuable asset in the pending election. Lincoln was introduced by Congressman Isaac N. Arnold who accompanied him and it was this meeting that inspired Kohn with a feeling of admiration for his visitor and a conviction that he was the destined Moses of the slaves and the saviour of his country. Thus says his daughter, Mrs. D. K. Adler, in a letter to the writer. Lincoln in the course of the conversation spoke of the Bible as their book and Kohn, being a devout Jew as well as an ardent patriot, conceived an intense admiration for Lincoln. This found expression in his sending to the President-elect before his departure for Washington a silk flag, the work of his own hands, painted in colors, its folds bearing Hebrew characters exquisitely lettered in black with the third to ninth verses of the first chapter of Joshua.

About the Author: Dr. Yitzchok Levine served as a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey before retiring in 2008. He now teaches as an adjunct at Stevens. Glimpses Into American Jewish History appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at llevine@stevens.edu.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Special Flag For Abraham Lincoln”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Daniel Lubetzky  president of V15 and CEO of Kind "healthy" bars
No Victory for V15 and Not Healthy ‘Healthy’ Snack Bars
Latest Sections Stories
Lewis-041715-Jewish-Soldiers

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

Jerusalem Heights Penthouse

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

Schonfeld-logo1

She wasn’t paying attention to what the child did when the mother was not in the room. Rather, her main focus was on what the child did when the mother returned.

The Mets at least have hope for the future with some good young pitchers.

French thinkers of the Enlightenment were generally not pro-Semitic, to say the least.

My Jewish star was battered, indeed it was a wreck
But I picked it up anyway and put it around my neck
To know that hatred mangled it was surely very painful
But just the same to me it is still very beautiful.

A compulsion is a repetitive action. But what underlies the compulsion is an obsession or fear.

When any student in the building is in danger of failing, the equivalent of tornado warning sirens should wail around the school.

It goes without saying that when it comes to your kids, safety is always your number one priority.

After the last of Austria’s Jews were murdered, Albert confiscated whatever Jewish property remained.

How can you expect people who go through such gehenom to even know how to give warmth and love?

More Articles from Dr. Yitzchok Levine
Dr. Aaron Friedenwald

This was a most unusual step to take in those days, given the difficulties of travel to Europe. Nonetheless, on May 1, 1860 he sailed from New York on the steamship Hammonia.

Glimpses-030615

The ship’s captain apparently respected the Friedenwalds’ strict adherence to halacha because he allowed them to use his cabin for davening and other religious observances.

I happen to believe that for a couple to spend a few years in kollel is a wonderful way to start a marriage.

Penn wrote the following to a friend in England: “I found them [the Indians of the eastern shore of North America] with like countenances with the Hebrew race; and their children of so lively a resemblance to them that a man would think himself in Duke’s place, or Barry street, in London, when he sees them.”

The special charm of these letters is their immediacy and authenticity of emotion and description.

There were many who believed that some North America Indians were descended from Jews.

One might think to attribute the crudeness of the calendar to the fact that it was produced by a frontier community unable to calculate a more precise table.

“Throughout his life, he observed Tisha B’Ab as the Nahalah (anniversary) for all of his relatives who were murdered, as this is the national Jewish day of mourning.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/glimpses-ajh/a-special-flag-for-abraham-lincoln/2013/01/31/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: