Myers, Moses

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MYERS, MOSES (1752–1835), U.S. merchant and civic leader. Moses Myers, the son of Haym and Rachel Louzada Myers, was born in New York City. For a time he was a junior partner in Isaac Moses & Co., a New York import-export firm, but the bankruptcy of Isaac *Moses in 1786 led Moses Myers to seek a new enterprise. With his friend Samuel *Myers, also a junior partner in the bankrupted firm, he opened a store in Norfolk, Virginia, 1787. After Samuel moved to Petersburg, Virginia (1789), Moses expanded his operations into importing and exporting. By 1812 he was the leading merchant south of the Potomac. During his early years in Norfolk, he functioned also as agent for the Philadelphia financier Stephen Girard, as superintendent of the Norfolk branch of the Bank of Richmond, and as consular agent for France and the Batavian Republic. He was elected to the city's Common Council for 1795–97 and, because he polled the largest vote, served as council president. The Embargo Acts of 1807–15 and a second bankruptcy of Isaac Moses, with whom he had investments, led Moses Myers and his eldest son, John, into bankruptcy. Myers never totally recovered from this setback, despite the testimonials of 277 Norfolk and Portsmouth merchants. President John Quincy Adams later named him collector of customs, superintendent of lights, and agent for the Marine Hospital, declaring him "the first honest man in the post"; he served from 1827 to 1830.

In 1787, he married Eliza Judah of Montreal, widow of Detroit pioneer Chapman Abraham. Myers' handsome home, erected in 1792, remains a Norfolk landmark.


Stern, in: Southern Jewish Historical Society Journal, 1 (1958), 5–13; Rosenbloom, Biogr Dict.

[Simon Vega]