Supreme Court Justice Sends Financial Aid to his Immigrant Cousins

Signed by Louis D. Brandeis

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Item: 20448
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BRANDEIS, LOUIS D. (1856-1941). American Supreme Court justice. ALS. (“Louis D. Brandeis”). 2/3p. Small 8vo. Washington, D.C., December 29, 1939. On his personal stationery. To his second cousins Betty Brandeis (1892-1973) and Louise Brandeis (1903-?).

Our thanks for the New Year’s Greeting. I enclose with best wishes for 1940 the check for $80. Cordially…”

Noteworthy as the first Jewish judge to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandeis became known as the “People’s Lawyer.” During his lengthy career he ruled against monopolies, for workers’ rights, and for affordable life insurance. Outside the courtroom, and initially inspired by his uncle, Brandeis became an ardent Zionist around 1910.

Louis Brandeis

“Brandeis’s desire to help Eastern European Jewry find a safe haven in Palestine [the future Israel] was heightened by his contact in 1910 with Russian immigrant garment workers, whom he met while mediating a strike. He saw in these Jews a democratic spirit and idealism he had not expected. In 1913, Brandeis agreed to chair a Zionist meeting in Boston. Not content to be a mere figurehead, by 1915 Brandeis became Zionism’s leading public spokesman in America… By 1917, the American Zionist movement increased its membership tenfold to 200,000 members. The American Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs, which Brandeis chaired, raised millions to relieve Jews who were suffering throughout war-torn Europe,” (“Louis D. Brandeis and American Zionism,” The Jewish Federation of North America, Feldberg).

Our letter concerns Brandeis’ ongoing assistance to his Austrian cousins. After the Anschluss, the March 12, 1938 annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, “Brandeis swore out an affidavit in May 1938 that he had ample resources and would be willing to sponsor them in the United States so they would not become public charges. The two women arrived in New York in July, where officials of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society met them and secured temporary lodgings for them. Brandeis also made contributions to a group organized by his former law clerk David Riesman to rescue academics and find them positions in American Universities,” (Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, Urofsky).

Folded with minimal wear and in very fine condition with a large and bold signature. The original envelope is included.

Supreme Court Justice Sends Financial Aid to his Immigrant Cousins

Signed by Louis D. Brandeis


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