Joseph Seligman

Joseph Seligman


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Joseph Seligmanwas born in Baiersdorf, Germany, in 1819. At the age of eighteen Seligman emigrated to the United States.

After settling in New York City Seligman was originally a peddler and with his brothers founded a clothing firm. Later he established the banking house, J. & W. Seligman. As well as New York, Seligman had branches in San Francisco, New Orleans, London, Paris and Frankfurt. During the Civil War Seligman helped Abraham Lincoln by marketing bonds in Europe.

In 1871 Seligman joined Samuel Tilden, Thomas Nast and Richard Croker in the successful campaign to remove the corrupt politician, William Tweed, from power in New York. Joseph Seligman died in 1880.


Company-Histories.com

Address:
100 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017
U.S.A.

Telephone: (212) 850-1864
Toll Free: 800-221-2783
Fax: (212) 922-5726
http://www.seligman.com

Statistics:

Private Company
Incorporated: 1980
Employees: 500
Total Assets: $17 billion (2003 est.)
NAIC: 52392 Portfolio Management


Company Perspectives:
Seligman offers a wide selection of core options, including fixed income, growth and income, growth, and value equity portfolios. These portfolios have a history of solid, long-term performance--a strong foundation for any investment strategy--and have helped investors reach their financial goals for many generations.


Key Dates:
1837: Joseph Seligman arrives in the United States and finds work as an itinerant peddler.
1864: J. & W. Seligman is a banking house with offices in Europe as well as the United States.
1897: A family liquidation agreement separates the foreign branches from New York.
1929: J. & W. Seligman enters the mutual fund business.
1938: The firm has left banking and underwriting and is wholly in investment management.
1980: Seligman changes from a partnership to a corporate structure.
1989: A leveraged buyout puts the firm in the hands of some of its directors.
1995: Seligman's technology mutual fund has become the largest of its kind in the United States.

Bearer of an illustrious name and a distinguished past, J. & W. Seligman & Co. Inc. is now only one of many investment firms located in New York City albeit one of the few that remains independent in an increasingly concentrated industry. Although no longer what it once was--a potent force in the rise of the United States to world prominence--the Seligman name still stands for sound investment strategy. The firm manages nearly $20 billion in assets for its clients, mainly in equity mutual funds. The Seligman group of funds offers clients more than 60 investment options, including fixed income, growth and income, growth, and value equity portfolios.

"American Rothschilds": 1837-1937

Joseph Seligman, a German-born Jew, arrived in the United States in 1837 at the age of 17 and worked as an itinerant peddler in Pennsylvania. By 1840 two of his seven brothers had joined him and were working in the dry goods store he had opened in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By the time J. Seligman & Brothers was founded in New York City in 1846, all seven were under his direction. While opening a store in Watertown, New York, Joseph made a useful connection--an army officer named Ulysses S. Grant. Brothers Jesse and Leopold followed the gold rush out to San Francisco, developed a thriving trade, bought gold bullion with the profits, and shipped the metal back East, making the Seligmans bankers in the process.

By 1857 the eight Seligman brothers had accumulated $500,000 in capital. With the opening of the Civil War in 1861, Joseph told his brothers to put everything in clothing, particularly uniforms, and the Seligmans became purveyors to the Union Army. However, the beleaguered government paid in bonds that Joseph felt the firm could only convert to cash in Europe. With the British and French governments discouraging such sales in the hope that the Confederate cause would be successful, the Seligmans concentrated on the German and Dutch financial markets and by the end of 1863 had placed nearly $125 million in bonds. Based on the model established earlier by the Rothschilds, the Seligmans established branches of their business--now J. & W. Seligman & Co. Inc.--in London, Paris, and Frankfurt, as well as New Orleans and San Francisco.

During the Grant administration (1869-77) Joseph Seligman was so important a financial figure that at one point he was offered the position of secretary of the treasury, which he declined. The firm became fiscal agent for the conversion of existing war bonds to new ones and acted for years as fiscal agents for the Department of State and Department of the Navy. The Seligmans invested heavily in railroads and acted as broker for lucrative transactions engineered by Jay Gould. In New York, the firm invested in the development of the city's elevated railroads.

The eight Seligman brothers fathered no less than 36 sons, but only Isaac Newton Seligman--Joseph's second son--assumed a position of leadership, becoming head of the firm on his uncle Jesse's death in 1894. (Joseph had died in 1880.) During the following years the firm backed the construction of the Panama Canal. Albert and Frederick Strauss became the first non-family managing partners of the firm in 1901. Under their direction J. & W. Seligman underwrote the securities of a variety of companies. Correspondence books for the period are rich in details on the firm's participation in syndicates for underwriting stock and bond issues in the railroad and steel and wire industries, investments in Russia and Peru, the Standard Oil Company, and shipbuilding, bridges, bicycles, mining, and a variety of other industries. In 1910 William Durant of the fledgling General Motors Corporation gave the Seligmans control of his company's board in return for underwriting $15 million worth of corporate notes.

The New Orleans and San Francisco branches of J. & W. Seligman had closed by 1897, when a family liquidation agreement separated the foreign firms from the New York branch. There were still three Seligmans among the nine J. & W. partners in 1928, but the last one resigned in 1937. J. & W. Seligman broke new ground in 1929 when it organized the Tri-Continental Corporation, a diversified closed-end investment company that remains the largest of its kind listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The following year the firm began managing its first mutual fund, Broad Street Investing Co., which later became the Seligman Common Stock Fund. Other early Seligman mutual funds included the Whitehall Fund, National Investor's, and the Seligman Growth Fund.

Wall Street Investment Manager: 1938-89

New Deal legislation in 1934 forced J. & W. Seligman to choose between its banking and underwriting activities, and it chose the latter. But it withdrew from the underwriting of securities in 1938, when Union Securities Corp., an affiliate of Tri-Continental, was established for this purpose, and henceforth confined its activities to investment management, including that of Tri-Continental. Francis Fitz Randolph, a well-connected Yale graduate, was the firm's senior partner in the ensuing years. Oklahoma-born Fred E. Brown was named a general partner in 1955 and managing partner ten years later. Reviewing Seligman's performance in Forbes in 1983, when it was managing six mutual funds with about $4.6 billion in assets, Barbara Rudolph wrote, "The firm was late into money market funds, slow to bring out new mutual funds, cautious in investment policy and little known to the public."

But, as Rudolph noted, Seligman was in the process of change. The firm, long owned by its employees, was incorporated, its antiquated fee structure was revised to raise more capital and offer money managers competitive compensation, and it introduced its first major advertising campaign ever with the headline, "J. & W. Who?" Seligman benefited from the bull market of the 1980s, ending the decade with about $6.7 billion in total assets under management. In 1989 the 43 employees--past and present--who had invested $3.3 million to incorporate the firm were rewarded with $52.6 million in cash and notes from a leveraged buyout group of Seligman directors headed by William C. Morris and financed by insurance company lenders.

Struggling to Survive: 1990-2002

Morris, who succeeded Brown as chairman and chief executive officer of Seligman, invested in marketing the firm and added international equities to its roster of stock mutual funds. Clients were offered the option of paying their mutual fund load fees over time, instead of all at once. The firm's assets under management increased to over $11 billion during the next three years from a combination of open-end mutual funds and pension and individual accounts. Nevertheless Seligman ranked only 128th among U.S. money managers in 1992 in terms of total assets under management. Its 30 or so funds included 19 in the stodgy field of tax-exempt municipal bonds, which Seligman first entered in 1983. The venerable firm moved to Park Avenue in 1993, leaving behind its longtime quarters on Wall Street.

Seligman decided to concentrate on institutional investors in 1995, when it sold the accounts it was managing for wealthy individuals and families to U.S. Trust Corp. The transaction paid Seligman cash for the $900 million in assets that it shed. As part of the agreement, U.S. Trust also bought Seligman's trust bank, which meant the firm would no longer be trustee for the 6,000 individual retirement accounts and 1,500 retirement plans that it was managing. Seligman continued to manage $6.5 billion in mutual funds and $3.5 billion in institutional accounts and to sell its mutual funds through wholesalers to stockbrokers, who in turn offered them to their investment clients.

Seligman's star at this time was Phil Wick, the 32-year-old manager of Seligman Communications & Information Fund, which at midyear was the biggest technology fund in the United States. This fund was the best performing one over the past 12 months and five years, having climbed 289 percent since mid-year 1974 and 860 percent for the decade, according to one count. About half the fund was invested in stocks related to the semiconductor industry, including companies such as Oracle, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, and Seagate Technology. So popular was this fund--which had only $40 million in assets when Wick assumed its management at the end of 1989--that it closed its doors to new investors in mid-1995. (After technology stocks dropped in price in the first half of 1996, the fund became available for customers of the retail brokerage Charles Schwab & Co.)

Tri-Continental, by contrast, was delivering mediocre performance by the standards of the bull market, with an annual average return of only 10.03 percent over the ten years ended in April 1997. Writing in Forbes, Thomas Easton contended, "Customers are locked in because that's the way closed-end funds work. The sponsor does not redeem shares. . So if . you want out, you have to auction them on the New York Stock Exchange. Given the weak results at the fund. . They trade at an 18% discount to their net asset value." Easton maintained that Seligman was "well paid" for its "unsuccessful efforts to beat the market" and added that by the terms of a rights offering made in 1992, existing shareholders could buy a certain number of new shares at a discount. This meant, he argued, that those declining to do so would experience dilution of net asset value to their shares. Seligman, however, gained a bigger asset base ($2.7 billion in 1997) from which to draw management fees.

As a new millennium began to dawn, Seligman was seen as being in a perilous position by one consultant, who told Bond Buyer that the firm was "too large to be called a boutique, but too small to have the marketing infrastructure and resources to compete" with major mutual fund firms such as Putnam Investments Inc. "They're caught in a very, very difficult position in terms of building market share," he added. In 1997 the firm began offering mutual funds to foreign investors with the introduction of Seligman Global Horizon Funds, a Luxembourg-based investment company available exclusively to investors not citizens or residents of the United States. To better serve its clients Seligman introduced, in late 1998, a computer program that it distributed free to financial planners. Once the user entered its clients' financial data and goals, the program recommended suitable Seligman investments for both long- and short-term needs.

A few months later, Seligman sought to capitalize on Wick's success by launching Seligman New Technologies Fund, a diversified open-end fund to be co-managed by its technology-stock wizard. In 2000 the firm introduced a closed-end fund by the same name. The plan for this fund involved placing as much as 35 percent of its assets in private equity, investing directly in venture capital companies as well as in private funds investing in those companies. It was described by a Seligman officer as a cross between a specialty technology fund and a private equity fund. In addition to being difficult to dispose of, the fund required a minimum initial investment of $10,000, a 3 percent upfront sales charge, and what Patrick McGeehan of the Wall Street Journal described as an "especially steep" annual expense ratio of 3 percent, including a 2 percent management fee.

Although Wick's reputation lost some of its luster during the fall from favor of technology stocks, which lasted through 1998, Marion Schultheis, a Seligman managing director, won attention for her performance as manager of the Seligman Capital Fund. As of mid-September 2000, this growth fund was in the top 3 percent of all 8,040 equity funds for the year. Schultheis, who also was head of the growth investment team at Seligman, was said to rely on her staff for involved mathematical analysis of a company's stock while employing intuition and a vision of the future as well as studying both the underlying fundamentals of a firm and industry and economic trends.

The bear market of the early years of the new century wrought havoc with J. & W. Seligman. The firm's Communication & Information Fund retained only about half of the $6.5 billion in its coffers in 1999, and Wick, who acknowledged to Ian McDonald of the Wall Street Journal that the 2000-02 free-fall of technology stocks had been "incredibly depressing," said he was now gravitating to companies engaged in medical technology. By the fall of 2003 Seligman was engaged in the third round of layoffs since 2000, its assets having dropped from $40 billion to only $17 billion. Institutional Investor reported that the firm was nearly sold to New York Life Insurance Co. during the year, but that an agreement broke down over Morris's insistence that Seligman's partners retain a controlling interest. The firm was said to be worth as much as $200 million in any acquisition.

Principal Subsidiaries: Seligman Capital Fund, Inc. Seligman Common Stock Fund, Inc. Seligman Data Corp. Seligman Frontier Fund, Inc. Seligman Growth Fund, Inc. Seligman Henderson Global Fund Series, Inc. Seligman Income Fund, Inc. Seligman Municipal Fund Series, Inc. Seligman New Technologies Fund, Inc. Seligman Portfolios, Inc. Seligman Time Horizon/Harvest Series, Inc. Seligman Value Fund Series, Inc. Tri-Continental Corp.

Principal Competitors: INVESCO Capital Management Inc. Janus Capital Group Inc. John Nuveen Co. Putnam Investments Inc.

  • Birmingham, Stephen, "Our Crowd": The Great Jewish Families of New York, New York: Harper & Row, 1967.
  • Callan, Sara, "'Hello, Mr. Chips': One Fund Takes Honors for Three Periods," Wall Street Journal, July 7, 1995, p. R3.
  • Easton, Thomas, "Prisoners of Poor Performance," Forbes, April 21, 1997, pp. 368, 370.
  • Gould, Carole, "Tri-Continental Directors Turn Deaf Ear on Wake-Up Call," New York Times, May 18, 1997, Sec. 3, p. 7.
  • Halverson, Guy, "One Manager Making a Name for Herself," Christian Science Monitor, September 25, 2000, p. 15.
  • Hellman, Geoffrey T., "Sorting Out the Seligmans," New Yorker, October 30, 1954, pp. 34-40, 42, 44, 46-48, 51-65.
  • McDonald, Ian, "Tech-Fund Manager Wary of Sector," Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2003, p. D7.
  • McGeehan, Patrick, "Seligman Plans an Unusual Tech Fund," Wall Street Journal, July 1, 1999, p. C27.
  • Merrill, Cristina, "U.S. Trust Buys Units from J&W Seligman," American Banker, May 12, 1995, p. 11.
  • Phalon, Richard, "New Broom at Seligman," Forbes, February 20, 1989, p. 140.
  • Rudolph, Barbara, "Seligman Wakes Up," Forbes, August 15, 1983, p. 116.
  • "Seligman Reopens a Technology Fund," Wall Street Journal, January 31, 1996, p. B5.
  • "Seligman's Strategy," Bond Buyer, April 16, 1999, pp. 1, 8.
  • "Will Seligman Sell?" Institutional Investor, October 2003, p. 12.
  • Willis, Gerri, "Market Rouses Wall St. Sleeper," Crain's New York Business, September 6, 1993, p. 5.
  • Wren, Daniel A., "The J. and W. Seligman Archives at the Harry W. Bass Business History Collection," Business History Review, Spring 2000, pp. 113-17.
  • Wyatt, Edward, "Market Place," New York Times, July 25, 1995, p. D10.

Source: International Directory of Company Histories , Vol.61. St. James Press, 2004.


Contents

As a small child, Seligman worked in his mother's dry goods shop. Present-day Germany consisted of many independent states in the early 19th century, most of which issued their own, differing coinages and young Joseph made a profit at his mother's store changing money for travelers for a small fee.

Joseph's father wanted him to enter the family wool business, but circumstances made this difficult in particular, migration of the peasant class (Seligman's father's customers) from rural areas to urban meant a loss of job opportunities and a shrinking economic base in Baiersdorf.

At fourteen, Seligman attended the University of Erlangen. At seventeen, he boarded a steamer at Bremen and sailed to America.


SELIGMAN:

American Jewish family having its origin in Baiersdorf, Bavaria. The eight sons of David Seligman have formed merchantile establishments spread throughout the chief commercial centers of the United States. The eldest, Joseph, went to the United States in 1837 he was followed by his two brothers William and James in 1839, and by Jesse in 1841. These established a small clothing business at Lancaster, Pa. They then removed to Selma, Ala., and from there opened branch stores at Greensboro, Eutaw, and Clinton. In 1848 the Seligmans, who had been joined by their younger brothers Henry and Leopold, determined on settling in the North. Accordingly Henry and Jesse established themselves in Watertown, N. Y., where the latter became acquainted with Lieutenant (afterward General) Grant. In 1850, at the outbreak of the gold-fever in California, Jesse established a store in San Francisco, in the only brick building then existing, which escaped the fire of 1851.

Seligman Pedigree .—Continued. Dealings with United States Government.

In 1857 the clothing business had become so lucrative that it was decided to supplement it by a banking business, Joseph Seligman, the head of the firm, going to Europe and establishing relations with German bankers, at the same time placing United States bonds on the Frankfort Stock Exchange since that period the firm of Seligman Brothers has been concerned with every issue of United States bonds.

In 1862 Joseph Seligman established the firms of J. & W. Seligman & Co., New York Abraham Seligman & Co., San Francisco (subsequently merged with the Anglo-Californian Bank) Seligman Brothers, London Seligman Frères et Cie., Paris and Seligman & Stettheimer, Frankfort-on-the-Main.

An interesting feature about the formation of these firms was that the profits and losses of all of them were divided equally among the eight brothers, who thus followed the business policy established by the Rothschilds and pursued by that family for many years. In 1879 the Seligmans, with the Rothschilds, took over the whole of the $150,000,000 bonded loan of the United States. They have been financial agents for the Navy and the State Department of the United States since 1876, and are the accredited agents of that government both abroad and at home. Besides their interests in United States bonds, the firm of J. & W. Seligman is connected with many railway companies, especially in the Southwest.

In 1905 the members of the family established at their original home in Baiersdorf an institution for the training and support of children during the absence of their parents at work, and open to all the inhabitants of Baiersdorf without distinction of creed.

American political economist born in New York April 25, 1861 educated at Columbia University (Ph.D. 1884) studied at the universities of Berlin, Heidelberg, Geneva, and Paris. He became prize lecturer at Columbia in 1885, full professor in 1891, and is now (1905) head of the faculty of economics and sociology. He has particularly devoted himself to the economics of finance, on which he has written two important treatises: "Essays in Taxation," 3d ed. 1900 and "The Shifting and Incidence of Taxation," 2d ed. 1899. He has written also "Railway Tariffs," 1887 "Progressive Taxation in Theory and Practise," 1894 and "Economic Interpretation of History," 1902.

Seligman has been president of the American Economic Association, besides being connected with many scientific and philanthropic societies. He was a member of the Committee of Seventy and secretary of the Committee of Fifteen in New York city having shown great interest in municipal reform, he became president of the Tenement-House Building Company of New York. He is likewise president of the Ethical Culture Society of New York.

American banker and communal worker born in New York July 10, 1855 educated at Columbia Grammar School and Columbia College, from which he graduated in 1876. He was one of the crew which won the university eight-oar college race on Saratoga Lake in 1874. In 1878, after having finished an apprenticeship in the firm of Seligman & Hellman, New Orleans, he joined the New York establishment, of which he became head in 1880, on the death of his father, Joseph Seligman. He has been connected with almost all the important social-reform committees in New York, and is a trustee of nineteen important commercial, financial, and other institutions and societies, including the Munich Life Assurance Company, St. John's Guild, and the McKinley Memorial Association, and has been a member of the Committee of Seventy, of Fifteen, and of Nine, each of which attempted at various times to reform municipal government in New York of the last-named body he was chairman. He is a trustee of Temple Emanu-El and of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, as well as of the United Hebrew Charities, though he is also a member of the Ethical Culture Society.

  • Bankers' Magazine, March, 1899
  • Union Historical Association, 1901, special issue
  • New York Tribune, July 4, 1899.

American banker and philanthropist born at Baiersdorf, Bavaria, Aug. 11, 1827 died at Coronado Beach, Cal., April 23, 1894. He followed his brothers to the United States in 1841, and established himself at Clinton, Ala. In 1848 he removed with his brothers to Watertown, N. Y., and thence, with his brother Leopold, went to San Francisco in the autumn of 1850, where he became a member of the Vigilance Committee, as well as of the Howard Fire Company. He remained in California till 1857, when he joined his brother in establishing a banking business in New York. With his brother Joseph he helped to found the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in 1859, and was connected with it till his death. At the time of his death he was a trustee of the Baron de Hirsch Fund. He was a member of the Union League Club, of which he was vice-president, and from which he resigned in 1893 when the club for racial reasons refused to admit to membership his son Theodore. He was head of the American Syndicate formed to place in the United States the shares of the Panama Canal.

Jesse Seligman.

Founder of the firm of Seligman Brothers born at Baiersdorf, Bavaria, Nov. 22, 1819 died at New Orleans April 25, 1880. He was educated at the gymnasium of Erlangen, fromwhich he graduated in 1838. He then studied medicine, and in the same year went to the United States, where he acted as cashier and private secretary to Judge Asa Packer, president of the Lehigh Valley Railway. Establishing himself as a dry-goods merchant at Greensboro, Ala., he was joined by his brothers, and soon acquired sufficient capital to open an importing house in New York (1848). At the outbreak of the Civil war he founded the banking-house of J. & W. Seligman & Co., New York, having visited Germany in order to acquire financial connections in that country. In large measure the financing of the Civil war, so far as European capital was concerned, was managed by the Seligman firm. In 1877 he rendered an important service to the Navy Department of the United States by holding over till the following fiscal year a large debt due to the firm for this he received the official thanks of the department, of which his firm was thenceforth the financial representative. He was an intimate friend of President Grant, by whom he was at one time offered the post of secretary of the treasury, which he declined.

Seligman was the founder of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and was one of the founders of the Society for Ethical Culture, toward which he contributed large amounts, and of which he was president till his death. For a number of years he was a member of the Board of Education of the City of New York, and he was chairman of one of its most important committees. He was a member of the famous Committee of Seventy, during the Tweed régime. The first Rapid Transit Commission, which initiated the whole plan for better transportation facilities in New York, was presided over by him, and he was an early president of the American Geographical Society, in which he took much interest.

In the summer of 1877 great indignation was aroused by the refusal of Judge Hilton, on racial grounds, to receive Mr. Seligman and his family at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga. It was the first incident of this kind that had occurred in the United States. It called forth most emphatic expressions of disapproval by representatives of various races and religions, and evoked a long eulogy (June 27) on the Hebrew race by Henry Ward Beecher. It is understood that the incident caused the ruin of A. T. Stewart's store, then managed by Judge Hilton, and which was afterward taken over by John Wanamaker of Philadelphia.


J. & W. Seligman & Co. and railroads

Seilgman's firm made a number of investments in railroads. Among these were the Missouri Pacific, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the South Pacific Coast Railroad, and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. They also helped finance New York's first elevated railway.

The Seligmans tended to lose money on their railroad ventures. One example is buying land in Arizona that was to be used for grazing cattle, which could then be transported on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad line. However, the aridity of Arizona made it unsuitable for the venture.


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About Joseph Seligman

Joseph Seligman (1819�) was a prominent U.S. banker and businessman. He was born in Baiersdorf, Germany, emigrating to the United States when he was 18. With his brothers, he started a bank, J. & W. Seligman & Co., with branches in New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, London, Paris and Frankfurt.

In the post-Civil War Gilded Age, J. & W. Seligman & Co. invested heavily in railroad finance, in particular acting as broker of transactions engineered by Jay Gould. They underwrote the securities of a variety of companies, participating in stock and bond issues in the railroad and steel and wire industries, investments in Russia and Peru, the formation of the Standard Oil Company, and shipbuilding, bridges, bicycles, mining, and a variety of other industries.

In 1877, Seligman was involved in the most publicized antisemitic incident in American history up to that point, being denied entry into the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York. The case became a national cause cél຋re.

As a small child, Seligman worked in his mother's dry goods shop. Present-day Germany consisted of many independent states in the early 19th century, most of which issued their own, differing coinages and young Joseph made a profit at his mother's store changing money for travelers for a small fee.

Joseph's father wanted him to enter the family wool business, but circumstances made this difficult in particular, migration of the peasant class (Seligman's father's customers) from rural areas to urban meant a loss of job opportunities and a shrinking economic base in Baiersdorf.

At fourteen, Seligman attended the University of Erlangen. At seventeen, he boarded a steamer at Bremen and sailed to America.

Seligman initially settled in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, where he went to work as a cashier/clerk for Asa Packer, who later become a United States congressman. His salary was $400.00 a year.

Using his savings from work, Seligman began selling goods door to door in rural Pennsylvania (jewelry, knives, smaller goods), saving outlying farmers the trouble of coming into town to buy their goods. After saving $500, Seligman was able to send to Germany for his brothers William and James, who joined him in peddling.

The Seligmans encountered some antisemitic abuse in their interactions with Americans, though they were not discouraged from continuing to sell.

Seilgman's firm made a number of investments in railroads. Among these were the Missouri Pacific, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the South Pacific Coast Railroad, and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. They also helped finance New York's first elevated railway.

The Seligmans tended to lose money on their railroad ventures. One example is buying land in Arizona that was to be used for grazing cattle, which could then be transported on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad line. However, the aridity of Arizona made it unsuitable for the venture.

During the American Civil War, Seligman was responsible for aiding the Union by disposing of $200,000,000 in bonds "a feat which W. E. Dodd said was 'scarcely less important than the Battle of Gettysburg.'"[1]

Later historians have suggested that Seligman's role in financing the war through bonds has been exaggerated. According to Stephen Birmingham, Seligman was obliged to accept "7.30 bonds" from the Union Government as payment for the uniforms his factory was delivering. Union defeats (combined with a suspiciously high interest rate) lowered confidence in the bonds, making them difficult to sell.[2]

[edit] United States economy

President Ulysses S. Grant, who had befriended Jesse Seligman when he was a First Lieutenant near Watertown, New York, offered Joseph Seligman the post of United States Secretary of the Treasury, which he declined, possibly due to shyness. George Sewall Boutwell accepted the position and eventually clashed with the Seligmans.

In 1877, President Rutherford Hayes asked Seligman, August Belmont, and a number of other New York bankers to come to Washington, D.C., to plan a refinancing of the war debt. Each banker submitted a plan, but Secretary of the Treasury Sherman accepted Seligman's plan as being the most practical. It involved retaining gold reserves totaling forty percent of circulating greenbacks through bond sales.

[edit] Seligman-Hilton affair

In 1877, Judge Henry Hilton, the manager of the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, New York, denied entry to Joseph Seligman and his family because they were Jews, creating nationwide controversy. It was the first antisemitic incident of its kind in the United States to achieve widespread publicity.

During the 1870s, several incidents made Alexander Stewart hostile towards Seligman, although the two men had served together on the board of the New York Railway Company (whose president was Judge Henry Hilton), a Tweed Ring associate.

The first incident involved Seligman's declining the post of Secretary of the Treasury. Stewart, who was a friend of President Grant, was then offered the post. However, because he was associated with Henry Hilton and Hilton, with Tammany Hall, the Senate declined to confirm him.

Seligman was invited to serve in the Committee of Seventy, a group of New Yorkers who banded together to fight the Tweed Ring. Stewart's company, in retaliation, stopped doing business with Seligman.

Stewart died in 1876, having placed Hilton in charge of his estate, the largest American fortune recorded to that date. The estate included a two-million-dollar stake in the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, as well as A. T. Stewart's department store on Astor Place. Hilton himself was unhappy with Seligman, as he was annoyed that Seligman had not invited him to a dinner given for Grant after he became president.[3]

After helping refinance the war debt in Washington, Seligman decided to vacation with his family at the 834-room Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga, where he had stayed before. Saratoga at the time was a well-regarded resort area for upperclass New Yorkers, and the Grand Union Hotel itself was the best available.

Nevertheless, by 1877 the hotel had suffered a drop in business. Stewart and, after his death, his manager Hilton believed that the cause of the decline was the presence of "Israelites" (that is, Jews) at the hotel Christians, their theory went, did not wish to stay at a hotel that admitted Jews. Seligman was told he could not stay at the hotel.

Historians disagree as to whether the Seligman family were physically turned away from the hotel, told not to come to the hotel, or advised that they could stay only one final time. However, it is clear that the Seligmans were made to feel that their presence at the hotel was not desired and would not be tolerated long, if at all.

The incident created much controversy. The New York Times, on June 19, 1877, ran a headline set entirely in capital letters:

Judge Hilton released a letter saying, "As [yet] the law . . . permits a man to use his property as he pleases, and I propose exercising that blessed privilege, notwithstanding Moses and all his descendants object."[4]

The case became a national sensation. Seligman and Hilton both received death threats. A group of Seligman's friends started a boycott against A. T. Stewart's, eventually causing the business to fail a sale to John Wanamaker followed.[5] This prompted Hilton to pledge a thousand dollars to Jewish charities, a gesture mocked by the satirical magazine Puck.

Hilton was also castigated by Henry Ward Beecher (who knew Seligman) in a sermon entitled "Gentile and Jew." After praising Seligman's character, Beecher said, "When I heard of the unnecessary offense that has been cast upon Mr. Seligman, I felt no other person could have been singled out that would have brought home to me the injustice more sensibly than he."[6]

Whether or not Seligman meant to be turned away from the hotel to cast a light on growing antisemitism in America, the resulting publicity emboldened other hoteliers to exclude Jews, placing advertisements saying "Hebrews need not apply" and "Hebrews will knock vainly for admission."[7]

Joseph Seligman's siblings were, in order of birth, William (born Wolf), James (born Jacob), Jesse (born Isaias), Henry (born Hermann), Leopold (born Lippmann), Abraham, Isaac, Babette, Rosalie, and Sarah.

He married his cousin Babet Steinhardt in a ceremony in Baiersdorf in 1848. Together, they had five sons, David, George Washington, Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman, Isaac Newton Seligman, and Alfred Lincoln, as well as four daughters, Frances, Sophie and two others.

Joseph Seligman (1819�) was a prominent American banker and businessman. He was born in Baiersdorf, Germany, emigrating to the United States when he was 18. With his brothers, he started a bank, J. & W. Seligman & Co., with branches in New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, London, Paris and Frankfurt.

In the post-Civil War Gilded Age, J. & W. Seligman & Co. invested heavily in railroad finance, in particular acting as broker of transactions engineered by Jay Gould. They underwrote the securities of a variety of companies, participating in stock and bond issues in the railroad and steel and wire industries, investments in Russia and Peru, the formation of the Standard Oil Company, and shipbuilding, bridges, bicycles, mining, and a variety of other industries. Later, in 1876, the Seligmans joined forces with the Vanderbilt family to create public utilities in New York.[1] In 1877, Seligman was involved in the most publicized antisemitic incident in American history up to that point, being denied entry into the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York by Henry Hilton. From Wikipedia Founder of the firm of Seligman Brothers born at Baiersdorf, Bavaria, Nov. 22, 1819 died at New Orleans April 25, 1880. He was educated at the gymnasium of Erlangen, fromwhich he graduated in 1838. He then studied medicine, and in the same year went to the United States, where he acted as cashier and private secretary to Judge Asa Packer, president of the Lehigh Valley Railway. Establishing himself as a dry-goods merchant at Greensboro, Ala., he was joined by his brothers, and soon acquired sufficient capital to open an importing house in New York (1848). At the outbreak of the Civil war he founded the banking-house of J. & W. Seligman & Co., New York, having visited Germany in order to acquire financial connections in that country. In large measure the financing of the Civil war, so far as European capital was concerned, was managed by the Seligman firm. In 1877 he rendered an important service to the Navy Department of the United States by holding over till the following fiscal year a large debt due to the firm for this he received the official thanks of the department, of which his firm was thenceforth the financial representative. He was an intimate friend of President Grant, by whom he was at one time offered the post of secretary of the treasury, which he declined.

Seligman was the founder of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and was one of the founders of the Society for Ethical Culture, toward which he contributed large amounts, and of which he was president till his death. For a number of years he was a member of the Board of Education of the City of New York, and he was chairman of one of its most important committees. He was a member of the famous Committee of Seventy, during the Tweed régime. The first Rapid Transit Commission, which initiated the whole plan for better transportation facilities in New York, was presided over by him, and he was an early president of the American Geographical Society, in which he took much interest.

In the summer of 1877 great indignation was aroused by the refusal of Judge Hilton, on racial grounds, to receive Mr. Seligman and his family at the Grand Union Hotel in Saratoga. It was the first incident of this kind that had occurred in the United States. It called forth most emphatic expressions of disapproval by representatives of various races and religions, and evoked a long eulogy (June 27) on the Hebrew race by Henry Ward Beecher. It is understood that the incident caused the ruin of A. T. Stewart's store, then managed by Judge Hilton, and which was afterward taken over by John Wanamaker of Philadelphia.


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Inside the March Journal of American History

The March 2021 issue of the JAH is now available online for subscribers. Three outstanding articles, previewed below, anchor this month’s issue, including Dylan C. Penningroth’s article, “Everyday Use: A History of Civil Rights in Black Churches,” which is freely available as an Editor’s Choice selection. For our Textbooks and Teaching section, contributing co-editors Laura M. Westoff and Robert D. Johnston have curated an exchange about historical writing. They invite teachers to think beyond the traditional historical essay for the development of students’ analytical skills.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we have also updated our Women’s History Index. We encourage readers to explore this collection of all the women’s history articles ever published in the JAH.

Britt P. Tevis reexamines the Seligman affair, a well-known 1877 incident in which the prominent Jewish banker Joseph Seligman was denied accommodation at a hotel in upstate New York. Scholars have traditionally classified this episode as social anti-Semitism, a type of private anti-Jewish bias unrelated to law or the state. Tevis, by contrast, contextualizes the Seligman affair within broader post-Reconstruction debates about public accommodation laws. By resituating the Seligman affair within its legal context, the article reveals how the reframing of this episode has encouraged historians to minimize the severity of anti-Semitism in the United States.

After the Civil War, African Americans began to exercise civil rights of contract, property, and standing, a set of rights with significance that scholars of the Black freedom struggle have not fully appreciated. By the Jim Crow era, African Americans were putting these civil rights of the nineteenth century to everyday use. Dylan C. Penningroth seeks to revise the history of “civil rights” by examining one strand of Black people’s long engagement with legal rules, legal ideas, and legal institutions: the private law of religion. Throughout the twentieth century, Black male church leaders fought over the role churches should play in the Black freedom struggle, while ordinary church members, both women and men, seized the new meaning of civil rights as racial justice and redirected it to their concerns about church injustice.


Seligman, Joseph

Seligman, Joseph — (1819 80) American banker. He emigrated to the US from Bavaria at the age of 18. He created a clothing business together with his brothers. They set up a branch in San Francisco, and with the profits embarked on banking in New York. In 1864… … Dictionary of Jewish Biography

Joseph Seligman — (* 22. November 1819 in Baiersdorf (Bayern) † 25. April 1880 in New Orleans, Louisiana) war ein bekannter US amerikanischer Bankier und Geschäftsmann deutscher Herkunft. Nach seiner Auswanderung in die USA im Alter von 18 Jahren gründete er di … Deutsch Wikipedia

Joseph Seligman — (1819 1880) was a prominent U.S. banker and businessman. He was born in Baiersdorf, Germany, emigrating to the United States when he was 18. With his brothers, he started a bank, J. W. Seligman Co., with branches in New York, San Francisco, New… … Wikipedia

SELIGMAN — SELIGMAN, family of international bankers from Baiersdorf, Bavaria, where they are known from the early 18th century. JOSEPH SELIGMAN (1819–1880) was the oldest son of David, the village weaver and an itinerant trader in woolens. Joseph, after… … Encyclopedia of Judaism

Seligman — ist der Name folgender Personen: Arthur Seligman (1873–1933), US amerikanischer Politiker Charles Gabriel Seligman (1873–1940), britischer Ethnologe Joseph Seligman (1819–1880), US amerikanischer Bankier und Geschäftsmann Martin Seligman (* 1942) … Deutsch Wikipedia

SELIGMAN, EDWIN ROBERT ANDERSON — (1861–1939), U.S. economist. A member of the seligman banking family of New York, Seligman began teaching at Columbia in 1885 and held the post of professor of political economy and finance from 1888 to 1931, when he became professor emeritus in… … Encyclopedia of Judaism

Joseph Johlson — Joseph Johlson, auch Asher ben Joseph von Fulda, Pseudonym Bar Amithai (* 12. November 1777[1] in Fulda † 13. Juni 1851 in Frankfurt am Main) war ein deutscher Reformpädagoge und jüdischer Theologe. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Werke … Deutsch Wikipedia

Seligman, Missouri — Infobox Settlement official name = Seligman, Missouri settlement type = City nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = image imagesize = image caption = image mapsize = 250px map caption = Location of Seligman, Missouri mapsize1 = map… … Wikipedia

Joseph Zubin Award — The Joseph Zubin Award may refer to three different psychology awards named in honor of the psychologist Joseph Zubin.The Joseph Zubin Memorial Fund Award is granted by the Joseph Zubin Memorial Fund at the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene… … Wikipedia

Martin Seligman — Martin E. P. Marty Seligman (born August 12, 1942) is an American psychologist, educator, and author of self help books. His theory of learned helplessness is widely respected among scientific psychologists.[1] According to Haggbloom et al. s… … Wikipedia


Joseph Seligman Jr.

Joseph Seligman Jr., a longtime San Francisco lawyer specializing in tax and employee benefit plans, died Tuesday in a San Pablo hospital after a brief illness.

Mr. Seligman, 88, a resident of Stinson Beach, was a native of New York City, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and of Yale Law School and a U.S. Army lieutenant during World War II.

From 1945 to 1959, he was a member of the Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro law firm in San Francisco, where he helped create programs enabling employees to invest in their employer's corporations. He was a nationally known authority on employee benefit plans.

From 1961 until his retirement in 1980, he was a member and then a senior partner of the Jordan, Keeler and Seligman law firm.

Mr. Seligman was a longtime board member and supporter of the San Francisco Home Health Service, which provided home nursing and hospice care. He was a former president of the Guardsmen in San Francisco.

Mr. Seligman was a devoted backgammon, domino and bridge player, and the founder of the 40-year-old La Honda Whist Club. He traveled extensively to Europe and Africa.

He is survived by Peggy, his wife of 59 years, and by three sons, Thomas Seligman of San Francisco, Garrett Seligman of Lafayette and Edward Seligman of the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.


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