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Godefroi, Michael Henri


GODEFROI, MICHAEL HENRI (1813–1882), Dutch lawyer and statesman, who was the first Jew to hold a cabinet post in Holland and the first Jewish member of the Second Chamber of Parliament. Born into an emancipated Jewish family in Amsterdam, Godefroi became a judge of the Provincial Court of North Holland in 1846 and in 1849 entered the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament where he remained until 1881. He became minister of justice from 1860 to 1862 after having rejected earlier offers to become a minister, and drafted a new legal code on the Council of State. Through his sister he was connected to the *Asser family. Godefroi was active in Jewish affairs as a member of the Hoofdcommissie tot de Zaken der Israëlieten from 1844 to 1860, serving as its chairman from 1854. In 1857 he induced the Dutch government to defer its trade agreement with Switzerland until that country granted equal rights to her Jews. Likewise, in 1876 he successfully opposed the ratification of the Dutch-Romanian commercial agreement because of Romania's persecution of Jews.

[Henriette Boas /

Bart Wallet (2nd ed.)]

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