GRADIS , family of ship owners and community leaders, of Marrano extraction, which flourished in Bordeaux from the 17th century. david gradis (1665–1751) founded an import-export firm (David Gradis et fils, 1696) whose trade relations extended to England, Canada, and the French West Indies. His nephew abraham (1699–1780) increased the firm's scope and prestige and was appointed royal purveyor in 1744. In 1748 he founded the Societé Gradis et fils under the auspices of the French government, and contracted to provide regular shipping services to Quebec for six years. For the entire period of the Seven Years' War (1756–63) his trade with Canada amounted to 9,000,000 livres. There were many losses, for more than half of the ships that he sent out were captured by the English, and he had trouble collecting from the state. Nevertheless, the Gradis House prospered greatly. In 1763 A. Gradis' friend Choiseul became the naval minister, and Gradis was given a contract to provision the French possessions in West Africa. In these transactions Gradis supplied spirits, gunpowder, knives, and cloth, taking his payment in slaves, whom he sold in San Domingo for sugar. In return for his services during the war, Gradis was praised by Louis xv through his minister Berryer, and later instanced by Abbé *Grégoire in support of arguments in favor of Jewish emancipation. moses gradis (1740–1788), a cousin of Abraham, inherited the firm after the latter's death. His brother, david gradis (the Younger; 1742–1811), was a candidate for Bordeaux in the elections to the States General of 1789, and wrote several works on religion and philosophy. Similarly, his son benjamin (1789–1858), and his grandson henri (1830–1905), divided their time between business, politics, and writing. Henri wrote Histoire de la révolution de 1848 (2 vols. 1872), Jérusalem (1883), and Le Peuple d'Israël (1891). He was vice-mayor of Bordeaux and head of the Bordeaux *Consistory.
J. de Maupassant, Abraham Gradis (Fr., 1931); A. Hertzberg, French Enlightenment and the Jews (1968), index; H. Graetz, in: mgwj, 24 (1875), 447–59; 25 (1876), 78–85; A. Cahen, in: rej, 4 (1882), 132–44; 5 (1882), 258–67; B.G. Sack, History of the Jews in Canada (1964), 13–31, 261; S. Rosenberg, The Jewish Community of Canada, 1 (1970), index.