Hart, Abraham

views updated


HART, ABRAHAM (1810–1885), first important U.S. Jewish publishing executive and leading Philadelphia Jew of his generation. Hart was born in Philadelphia of German Dutch parents. On the death of his father in 1823, he secured a job with Carey and Lea, the prominent publishing house founded by Matthew Carey. In 1829 he and Edward L. Carey established their own firm, E.L. Carey & A. Hart, which was soon in the first rank of American publishers. Among the authors they published were Macaulay, Thackeray, Longfellow, and James Fenimore Cooper. Although Carey died in 1845, Hart continued to use the name Carey and Hart until 1850, when his publications began to appear under the imprint A. Hart which he used until he retired in 1854. With his fortune made, Hart gave his time to civic activities and to investments in such fields as mining and sewing machines. He served as president of Mikveh Israel Congregation of Philadelphia for more than 30 years (1841–64 and 1867–76). Hart presided at the 1845 meeting that inaugurated the *Jewish Publication Society and was its president until a fire in his own building in 1851 wiped out almost the entire stock of the society's books. He was active in the agitation for a presidential pronouncement on the *Mortara Case in 1858. For three years beginning in 1866 he was president of the *Board of Delegates of American Israelites. Hart was treasurer of the Hebrew Education Society in the years 1848–75 and was the first president of *Maimonides College. During his time no Jewish development of note in Philadelphia, and virtually none nationally, took place without his support.


H.S. Morais, Jews of Philadelphia (1894), 53–58 and index; E. Wolf and M. Whiteman, History of the Jews of Philadelphia (1957), 352–3.

[Bertram Wallace Korn]