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Hart, Benjamin

HART, BENJAMIN

HART, BENJAMIN (1779–1855), early Canadian army officer and magistrate. Hart was born in Trois Rivières, the third son of Aaron *Hart. In February 1811 he applied for a commission in the Lower Canada militia. Thomas Coffin, commander of the district, responded a year later advising against it on the grounds that Christian soldiers would not tolerate Jews in their midst. In August 1812 he wrote the governor refuting the objection with letters from a Catholic officer and a Protestant chaplain and pointing out Coffin's "private resentment" at being defeated by Benjamin's brother Ezekiel in the 1807 election. Nothing came of this exchange but despite this snub Benjamin Hart provided the sum of £1,000 to assist the paymaster in his needs. Shortly afterward Hart enlisted and saw active service in the War of 1812. Hart was justice of the peace in Montreal in 1837, and in the rebellion of that year and the following, he read the Riot Act and took an active role in quelling the disturbances, both as an army officer and magistrate. In 1826 he was president of the Shearith Israel Synagogue in Montreal.

bibliography:

Rosenbloom, Biogr Dict; J.J. Price, in ajhsp, 23 (1915), 137–40; S. Rosenberg, Jewish Community in Canada (1970), index.

[Ben G. Kayfetz]

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