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Alexander, Moses


ALEXANDER, MOSES (1853–1932), first Jewish governor of an American state. Alexander, who was born in Obrigheim, Germany, immigrated to America in 1867. He became mayor of Chillicothe, Missouri (1887), and moved to Idaho around 1891. A successful businessman, he was elected mayor of Boise in 1897 and served two terms. As the Democratic governor of Idaho, serving for two terms (1915–19), Alexander achieved great popularity in his own state and elsewhere, earning a reputation for wit, eloquence, and progressivism. He secured legislation on behalf of workmen's compensation, the state highway system, irrigation, reclamation and waterway systems, and prohibition. He also rallied Idaho around Woodrow Wilson's call to enter World War i, and he supported the women's suffrage movement.

He helped organize and lead the first synagogue in Idaho. The town of Alexander, Idaho, is named for him.

To commemorate his achievements, the Idaho State Historical Society in Boise installed the Moses Alexander Collection to highlight this American success story. The exhibition's 80 cubic feet of material, dating from 1876 to 1987, sheds light on the role Alexander played in shaping Idaho's business, political, and religious communities. The collection includes original and carbon copy correspondence, telegrams, newspaper clippings, speeches, videos, photographs, scrapbooks, fiscal records, and court proceedings, as well as assorted printed material such as blueprints, maps, and certificates that are supplementary to the correspondence.


B. Postal and L. Koppman, A Jewish Tourist's Guide to the U.S. (1954), 133–7; An Illustrated History of the State of Idaho (1890), 594–5; aja, 8 (Oct. 1956), 127–8.

[Robert E. Levinson /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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