Records Show Philanthropist’s Contribution to Industrial Development
The life story of the late Jacob H. Schiff, famous American Jewish philanthropist and leader, his contribution to the development of America’s industrial and social development, is described in two volumes “Jacob H. Schiff; His Life and Letters,” by Dr. Cyrus Adler, issued this week by Doubleday Doran & Company.
Dr. Adler, who was a life long friend of the late American Jewish leader, presents, on the basis of the records, the life story of Jacob H. Schiff not only from the point of view of his personality but from the point of view of his influence and contribution to the development of America. The immigrant boy who came to the United States in 1865, to become a wizard of the financial world, is seen in his various roles as financier, railroad builder, thinker on social problems, philanthropist and leader.
The record of the railroad wars of the early part of the twentieth century, when Mr. Schiff had a hand in financing many of the great transportation systems of the country, shows that, due to the late leader’s judgment, many roads were saved from ruin.
“It is difficult to realize now.” Dr. Adler writes, “how far Schiff was ahead of his time in the constant and steady encouragement he gave to the policy of friendly agreements between railroads, which led to what has generally been denominated the community of interest plan … Schiff’s voice was a contribution to the industrial and social life of America far transcending in importance the group of railroads with which he was immediately concerned.”
The story reveals the wide contact maintained by the late Mr. Schiff with the much discussed problems of his generation. Of particular interest is the record of his liberal ideas on immigration. On his numerous visits to various parts of the country he saw how sparsely it was settled and how much was untilled in comparison with his native Germany. As a man interested in railroads and as a financier he believed that agriculture was the backhouse of the country. He opposed the doctrine that each group of immigrants should form a separate political unit in America and believed that the literacy test would bar many worth while persons.