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Kohler, Max James


KOHLER, MAX JAMES (1871–1934), U.S. attorney, specialist in immigration and naturalization law, and communal leader. Kohler, the son of Kaufmann *Kohler, was born in Detroit. He served as assistant U.S. district attorney in the southern district of New York from 1894 to 1898. He then entered private law practice as defender of the legal and public rights of immigrants, naturalized citizens, and aliens, taking up test cases and hardship cases particularly and arguing them in appeals to the highest courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In his quest to define and extend these rights and to clarify the law, he represented various national Jewish organizations at legislative and executive agency hearings on issues in naturalization and immigration law, and publicized the problems of new citizens and aliens in pamphlets and educational articles for the press. In these tasks he was associated with Oscar S. *Straus, Louis *Marshall, and Simon *Wolf.

Kohler was concomitantly a dedicated student of history and contributed articles to the Jewish Encyclopedia and Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society on early American Jewish history and the struggle for Jewish emancipation, particularly as carried on at postwar congresses in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. His Immigration and Aliens in the United States: Studies of American Immigration Laws and the Legal Status of Aliens in the United States was published in 1936. Kohler served on the commission on Ellis Island and Immigrant Relief in 1933. He was a member of and held office in many Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Historical Society (to which he bequeathed his unpublished writings, his library, and his law briefs).


I. Lehman, in; ajyb, 37 (1935), 21–25; E.D. Coleman, in: ajhsp, 34 (1937), 165–263 (bibl.).

[Isidore S. Meyer]

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