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The Seligman-Hilton Affair, 1877

Seligman-Hilton_Affair

The Seligman-Hilton Affair was the first and most famous anti-Semitic incident of its kind in American History up to 1877.

In 1877 Joseph Seligman was barred from Saratoga’s Grand Union Hotel because he was a Jew. Judge Henry Hilton, the manager of the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York, denied entry to Joseph Seligman and his family. Although they had stayed there previously, Hilton attributed the hotel’s drop in business to potential visitors not wanting to stay in a hotel which admitted Jews.

The New York Times reported the ban and Hilton defended it. A group of Seligman’s friends started a boycott against A.T. Stewart’s (owner of the hotel and other businesses). This eventually caused the business to fail and be sold. However, as a result of the controversy, other hotels began to ban Jews.

19th Century Shop Catalogue

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