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Franklin, Selim


FRANKLIN, SELIM (1814–1883), Canadian politician. Born in Liverpool, England, Franklin was the son of a banker and acquired considerable wealth as a financier. He went to California during the gold rush of 1849 and in 1858 he and his brother, lumley (1812–1873), were among the first Jews to settle in British Columbia. As British citizens, they were able to open a real estate auctioneering business in Victoria, conducting several government land sales of historical importance. In 1860 Selim was elected to the second Vancouver Island legislative assembly, despite allegations of ballot manipulation. Further trouble arose over his eligibility to take his seat because of the oath "on the true faith of a Christian," but the debate was ended by a ruling citing the British legal precedents of Jews and other non-Christians swearing oaths. With the right to assume his position in government recognized, Selim was a member of the assembly from 1860 to 1863 and from 1864 to 1866, when he returned to San Francisco. In 1865 Lumley Franklin became the first Jewish mayor in British North America when he was elected mayor of Victoria, taking an enthusiastic stance in favor of a political union with the mainland of British Columbia. Together, the two brothers played a prominent part in the social and cultural life of both the general and the Jewish community of Victoria. Both were gifted musicians and officers of the local Philharmonic Society. A river running into the Alberni Canal on Vancouver Island and a street in Victoria were named after Selim Franklin.

[Ben G. Kayfetz /

Barbara Schober (2nd ed.)]

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