“A Great Compliment Paid the Jews”: A Surprising Honor for the U.S. Constitution and the Ancient Temple (Chanukkah connection)

Did you know: In July 1788, New York delayed its parade for adopting the US Constitution because of… wait for it… 17 Tammuz?
A Jewish fast day in memory of the Temple’s destruction 6th C. BCE and 70 CE.

I’m reading Pauline Maier’s majesterial “Ratification,” and stumbled on this sentence: NY delayed its huge parade through New York City “to avoid July 22, a Jewish holiday.”

I thought it could be an early Tisha B’Av, so when I googled, I found this article, in which Michael Schwartz followed Maier’s citations to find these 1788 passages:
One merchant wrote: “It is said that the procession is postponed till the 23rd Inst. in order to give the Jews an opportunity to Join in the Festivals, the 22nd being one of their holidays.”

A “Staten Island grandee” wrote to his brother: “I Observe the Grand procession is put of[f] to the 23d I think it is a great Compliment paid the Jews.”

Wow. Chanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple after the war with the Seleucids – and a civil war in the 2d C BCE.

Happy Chanukah!


Author: Jed Shugerman

Jed Handelsman Shugerman is a Professor at Fordham Law School. He received his B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. (History) from Yale. His book, The People’s Courts (Harvard 2012), traces the rise of judicial elections, judicial review, and the influence of money and parties in American courts. It is based on his dissertation that won the 2009 ASLH’s Cromwell Prize. He is co-author of amicus briefs on the history of presidential power, the Emoluments Clauses, the Appointments Clause, the First Amendment rights of elected judges, and the due process problems of elected judges in death penalty cases. He is currently working on two books on the history of executive power and prosecution in America. The first is tentatively titled “A Faithful President: The Founders v. the Unitary Executive,” questioning the textual and historical evidence for the theory of unchecked and unbalanced presidential power. This book draws on his articles “Vesting” (Stanford Law Review forthcoming 2022), “Removal of Context” (Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 2022), a co-authored “Faithful Execution and Article II” (Harvard Law Review 2019 with Andrew Kent and Ethan Leib), “The Indecisions of 1789” (forthcoming Penn. Law Review), and “The Creation of the Department of Justice,” (Stanford Law Review 2014). The second book project is “The Rise of the Prosecutor Politicians: Race, War, and Mass Incarceration,” focusing on California Governor Earl Warren, his presidential running mate Thomas Dewey, the Kennedys, World War II and the Cold War, the war on crime, the growth of prosecutorial power, and its emergence as a stepping stone to electoral power for ambitious politicians in the mid-twentieth century.

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