Oscar Straus 1850-1926

Oscar Solomon Straus was the first Jewish presidential cabinet secretary. He was born in Otterberg, Bavaria and immigrated with his family (including his businessman-brothers Nathan and Isidor who later co-owned R.H. Macy & Co.) to the United States in 1854. From 1887 to 1889, Straus served under President Grover Cleveland as U.S. Minister to Turkey, a post he held once more (1898-1899). He was the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1909 to 1910. President Theodore Roosevelt named Straus U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor in 1906, making him the first Jew to hold a cabinet position. Straus gave generously to Jewish charitable and cultural causes and campaigned for the safety of Russian and European Jews.