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Moss, John


MOSS, JOHN (1771–1847), Philadelphia merchant, shipping magnate, and civic leader. Moss emigrated to the U.S. as a glass engraver from London in 1796. Opening a dry goods store in Philadelphia in 1807, he quickly became a major importer, ultimately owning a large number of ships. After he turned the active direction of his firm over to his brothers in 1823, Moss shifted his own concerns to banking and insurance, canal companies, and civic enterprises. In 1828 he was elected to the Common Council on the Jacksonian Democratic Party ticket, and in this role he participated in the establishment of the world-famous Wills Eye Hospital. Moss was one of the rich Philadelphia Jews who entered almost every phase of civic activity: he was a steward of the Society of Sons of St. George; a life subscriber to the Orphan Society; and a founding member of the Musical Fund Society. This status was not achieved at the sacrifice of Jewish identification; he was an active member of Mikveh Israel Congregation, a major contributor to its building fund of 1818, and, late in life, a supporter of Isaac Leeser's American Jewish Publication Society. As presiding officer at the Philadelphia *Damascus Affair protest meeting in 1840, Moss had become the representative of his community.


Rosenbloom, Biogr Dict; L. Moss, in: ajhsp, 2 (1894), 171–4; E. Wolf and M. Whiteman, History of the Jews of Philadelphia (1957), index; S.A. Moss, Genealogy of John Moss and his Wife, Rebecca… (1937).

[Bertram Wallace Korn]

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