Mordecai Noah, whose writings span from the 1800s to the 1840s, is the first important Jewish writer to appear on the American scene. In his own time, he was ranked with Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper as among the finest writers of the day. Noah is primarily known today as the visionary who proposed a Jewish homeland, to be called Ararat in upstate New York. But Noah also had a political career which was equally colorful. As American Consul to Tunis, Noah's plan to rescue American sailors held by the Barbary states nearly led to his own imprisonment and death. As Sheriff of New York, Noah freed all debtors when Yellow Fever broke out in the prisons, thereby becoming liable for a small fortune.
This volume is the first modern selection of Noah's writings and includes not only some of Noah's better known works such as She Would Be a Soldier (1819), one of the most admired plays of its day, and Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews (1845), Noah's early plea for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. This volume also includes the first complete modern edition of the Ararat proclamation and speech (1825), detailing Noah's utopian scheme for a Jewish homeland in New York; also printed for the first time since its original publication is Noah's recently discovered tract, Address...to Aid in the Erection of the Temple at Jerusalem (1849). Schuldiner and Kleinfeld provide discussions of Noah's life and context for his writings as well as a selected bibliography of key writings by and about Mordecai Noah.