Among the papers read at the closing session of the American Jewish Historical Society, that of Leon Huhner, of New York, on “Columbus and the Jews” elicited the greatest interest. Mr. Huhner made an independent study of the question of the origin of Columbus for many years, and in addition conducted an investigation at the instance of Oscar S. Straus a short time ago. He said he was not yet prepared to champion the Spanish theory of the discoverer’s Jewish origin, but that he did believe enough had been brought to light to give that theory great weight. He added that further research in the Spanish archieves is fully justified.
Attacking the version given in many histories as to the methods taken by Queen Isabella to raise money for the expedition of Columbus, Mr. Huhner said:
“The foremost modern historians, like Justin Winsor and Harry Harrise, have long since come to the conclusion that the pretty story that Queen Isabella pawned her jewels is simply a myth. Indisputable proof has been discovered in the records of Simanous that the money which fitted out the little fleet was advanced by Luis de Santangel and Gabriel Sanchez.”
These characters were described by the speaker as men prominent at court, the heads of great mercantile establishments and the posessors of great private wealth.
Mr. Huhner declared that the greatest champions of the Spanish Jewish theory of Columbus’ origin have not been Jews, but Roman Catholics.
As between giving Italy on the one hand, or the Jews and at the same time Spain on the other the honor of his origin, these Spanish Catholics preferred the latter, although swallowing the Jewish pill was probably somewhat objectionable, he remarked.
At the close of Mr. Huhner’s address the presiding officer announced that “the Society, as such, has no connection with and is not responsible for any views expressed on the Columbus controversy”.
Additional members of the executive council for a term of three years are: Chas. J. Cohen, Philadelphia; Dr. Herbert Friedenwald, Washington; Prof. Max Margolis, Philadelphia; Prof. Alexander Marx, New York, and Louis Straus, New York.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.