Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Louis Marshall earned a law degree from Columbia University. He was a vanguard environmental conservationist and worked to secure rights for all political and minority groups. He acted as the mediator in a cloak-makers' strike in New York City and was the arbitrator in a clothing-workers' strike. In a defeated appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, he argued on behalf of Leo Frank in a notorious case that is widely seen as an antisemitic miscarriage of justice. Marshall also investigated the slum conditions of the Lower East Side of New York. He helped to found the American Jewish Committee and served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Though not a Zionist, he was involved in the establishment of the Jewish Agency for Israel.