Rivera, Jacob Rodriguez

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RIVERA, JACOB RODRIGUEZ (1717–1789), U.S. merchant and a founder of Yeshuat Israel Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. Born in Spain, Rivera was naturalized in New York in 1746, but soon moved to Newport. There during the two prerevolutionary decades, Rivera became a distinguished merchant shipper, trading in numerous commodities, including slaves, but his chief–and quite possibly pioneering–interest was the spermaceti candle industry. A charter member in 1761 of the United Company of Spermaceti Chandlers, he led its efforts to regulate competition. His colleagues, mostly non-Jews, esteemed him enough to forgo Saturday meetings on his account. Around 1760, he took as his partner the Newport cultural leader, Henry Collins, a founder of the Redwood Library, which Rivera also supported. Rivera is best known for his association with his enterprising son-in-law, Aaron *Lopez, and shared in many of Lopez' ventures. During the American Revolution, he accompanied Lopez to Leicester, Massachusetts and took up farming there but, following Lopez' untimely death in 1782, Rivera reestablished himself at Newport.


ajhsp, 27 (1920), index; S.F. Chyet, Lopez of Newport (1969); M. Gutstein, The Story of the Jews of Newport (1936), index; J.R. Marcus, Early American Jewry, 2 (1953), index; idem, American Jewry. Documents. Eighteenth Century (1959), index; idem, Colonial American Jews (1969); Commerce of Rhode Island, 2 vols. (1914–15).

[Stanley F. Chyet]

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