Courtesy of the New York Public Library Ref

Mordecai Manuel Noah 1785-1851

The most prominent Jew of his time, Mordecai Manuel Noah was a 19th-century Renaissance man - journalist, editor, playwright, politician, lawyer, judge, and diplomat. Born in Philadelphia, Noah became the quintessential Jewish-American - both a fervent patriot and a committed Jew. Founder of The National Advertiser and other publications, he was active with the Sephardic congregations Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia and Shearith Israel in New York. Noah served as sheriff of New York and as U.S. Consul to Tunis. On September 25, 1825, Noah laid the cornerstone for Ararat, a "City of Refuge" for persecuted European Jews, on an island in the Niagara River, near Buffalo, New York. To Noah's disappointment, Ararat never came to be. The much ridiculed plan failed, defeated not by criticism, but by the fact that Jews saw no reason to live apart in a nation that granted them so many freedoms.