July 1877 American Antisemitism

The Celebrated Seligman-Hilton Affair:

In the summer of 1877, In Saratoga. New York, Joseph Seligman, a leading Gilded Age railroad financier, was barred from Saratoga Grand Union Hotel because he was a Jew.  This was one of the first incident of this kind that had occurred in the United States.  The Grand Union was the largest hotel in the world and the center of Saratoga’s glittering summertime society.  Its recently deceased owner Alexander Stewart and Judge Henry Hilton, who had taken over the estate, had recently determined that a decline in business was due to the presence of ‘Israelities.’ Hilton turned away Seligman and his family to demonstrate the new policy and to stir up antagonism toward American Jews. Hilton had recently organized the American Society for the Suppression of the Jews.

The incident became a national sensation, the most widely publicized anti-Semitic incident in America up to its time.  The song’s rousing chorus reads: The Hebrews they need not apply, the reason we do not know why! But still they do way, it’s a free country, Where the Hebrews they need not apply!In fact, boycotts were organized against the Stewart department stores that Hilton oversaw, causing the firm’s ruin and eventual takeover by John Wanamaker.”

The Hebrews Need Not Apply:

“The Song I am going to sing you,

Is a new one I’m sure you will agree,

It will tell you the latest that’s happened,

In a country which people call free,

If a man to the country is going,

In a hotel for to stop he will try,

But the clerk he will smile, and will say,

That the hebrews they need not apply!

The Hebrews they need not apply,

The reason do not know why!

But still, they do say, it’s a free country,

Where the Hebrews they need not apply!

When Alexander T. Stwart was living,

He was looked at as a man of great fame,

But since he is dead and is buried,

Why Hilton has brought him to shame,

This Judge, as some one would call him,

Who is a big neak, and is known to be sly,

He Thought he would make a sensation

Saying: The Hebrews they need not apply!

Now, King Hilton, you bette take warning,

And be sure to take Sellgman’s advice,

As the people they say you are crazy,

Which they from your language _______,

The money you got try and keep it,

You will seed it surdy bye-and-bye

And also put placards all over your stores,

No Hebrew need come here to buy!-Cha