HART, BERNARD (1763–1855), American merchant, father of Congressman Emanuel B. *Hart. Hart was born in London to a family which probably originated in Fuerth. He had immigrated to Canada by 1776–77 and appears to have lived and traded in both Montreal and New York City until about 1800. In 1799 he was married to a non-Jewess, Catherine Brett, either
in Canada or New York, but the marriage was a brief one. Catherine bore him one son, Henry, in whom Bernard took no interest aside from financial support. Henry's son was the literary figure Bret Harte. By the time of Bernard Hart's second marriage, in 1806, to Rebecca Seixas, niece of ḥazzan Gershom Mendes *Seixas, Hart had become parnas of Shearith Israel Congregation in New York, a post which he held for three years. He was active in the affairs of the congregation for many years, especially in its burial society. Hart is reported to have served as a quartermaster in the New York State Militia in 1787, and as a major during the War of 1812. He was a member of the committees that established the first New York Exchange office in 1792, and the New York Stock and Exchange Board in 1817, serving as secretary of the latter 1831–53.
Rosenbloom, Biogr Dict, s.v.; D. Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone (1952), index; H. Simonhoff, Jewish Notables in America (1956), 239–42.
[Bertram Wallace Korn]