Furtado, Abraham

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FURTADO, ABRAHAM

FURTADO, ABRAHAM (1756–1817), politician and communal leader in France. His parents originally lived in Portugal as Marranos, but after his father's death in the Lisbon earthquake (1755), his mother moved to London, where Abraham was born, and returned to Judaism. In 1756 she settled in Bayonne. They later moved to Bordeaux, where Furtado was educated. His dealings in property eventually enabled him to devote himself to literature, philosophy, and history, and to enter politics. In 1788 he and David *Gradis were invited to sit on the *Malesherbes commission for considering proposals for the amelioration of the Jewish position, as representatives for southern France. Furtado became a municipal counselor in Bordeaux shortly before the French Revolution. A sympathizer with the federalist-minded Girondins, Furtado was proscribed with them in 1793. After the downfall of Robespierre, however, he was reinstated in civic office in Bordeaux. He was elected president of the *Assembly of Jewish Notables (1806–07) convened by Napoleon and acted as secretary of the Paris *Sanhedrin (1807). Furtado, who knew Napoleon personally, traveled to Tilsit in June 1807 to present a memorandum to the emperor in the hope of preventing restrictive measures against the Jewish community. His efforts were only partially successful. In 1808 he published in Paris his Mémoire d'Abraham Furtado sur l'Etat des Juifs en France jusqu'à la Révolution. After Napoleon's return from Elba, Furtado refused the appointment of vice-mayor of Bordeaux, but accepted it from Louis xviii when the monarchy was restored for a second time.

bibliography:

M. Berr, Eloge de M. Abraham Furtado (1817); ai, 2 (1841), 361–8 (biography); R. Anchel, Napoléon et les Juifs (1928), index.