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Ansorge, Martin Charles


ANSORGE, MARTIN CHARLES (1882–1967), U.S. congressman, attorney, and corporate director. One of Mark Perry and Jenny (Bach) Ansorge's seven children, Martin was born in Corning, New York, where his father was a successful clothing manufacturer. In 1885, the family relocated to New York City, where Martin and his siblings were educated. In their prosperous home, the Ansorge family's lingua franca was German. The senior Ansorge eventually became the owner of Ansorge Brothers and Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. One of his sons, Herbert, would become president of the Wholesale Clothing Manufacturers Association.

After attending New York public schools, Martin Ansorge earned both a B.A. and a law degree from Columbia University. Ever resourceful, he earned a handsome living while attending Columbia by selling advertising space in the school paper, the Columbia Spectator. After practicing law in New York City for six years, Ansorge ran as a Republican for the United States Congress in 1912. He came in third in a three-man race. Ansorge also lost Congressional elections in 1914 and 1916. After serving in the Transportation Corps in World War i, he was finally elected to Congress in 1920. During his one term in the House of Representatives (1921–23), the Republican Ansorge floor-managed passage of the resolution establishing the New York Port Authority. He also gave strenuous vocal support to two anti-lynching proposals. Running for reelection in 1922, Ansorge lost by ten votes. Returning to New York City, he resumed to the practice of law.

In 1927, auto magnate Henry Ford retained Ansorge to negotiate out-of-court settlements in the much-publicized Ford-Sapiro libel case. The suit, brought by Sapiro, alleged that Ford had severely libeled him in the pages of the mogul's newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. That the antisemitic Ford should hire a Jewish attorney struck many as being incongruous. Following a mistrial, Ford hired Ansorge, who successfully negotiated an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount, plus a public retraction from Ford. In 1934, Ansorge became a director of United Airlines, a position he held until 1961.


K.F. Stone, The Congressional Minyan: The Jews of Capitol Hill (2000), 8–9; The Reminiscences of Martin Ansorge, Special Collections Department, Columbia University (1950).

[Kurt Stone (2nd ed.)]

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