Sol Bloom

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Sol Bloom
Sol Bloom 1923.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th district
In office
January 3, 1945 – March 7, 1949
Preceded by Vito Marcantonio
Succeeded by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th district
In office
March 4, 1923 – January 3, 1945
Preceded by Walter M. Chandler
Succeeded by Samuel Dickstein
Personal details
Born (1870-03-09)March 9, 1870
Pekin, Illinois
Died March 7, 1949(1949-03-07) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democrat

Sol Bloom (March 9, 1870 – March 7, 1949) was an American politician from New York who began his career as an entertainment impresario and sheet music publisher in Chicago. He served fourteen terms in the United States House of Representatives from the "silk stocking" affluent district of Manhattan, from 1922 until his death in 1949.

Bloom was the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, 1939–1947, 1949, during a critical period of American foreign policy. In the run-up to World War II, he took charge of high priority foreign-policy legislation for the Roosevelt Administration, including authorization for Lend Lease in 1941. He oversaw Congressional approval of the United Nations, and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) which worked to assist millions of displaced people in Europe. He was a member of the American delegation at the creation of the United Nations and San Francisco in 1945, and at the Rio Conference of 1947.

Bloom was especially concerned with the fate of European Jews, but was unable to overcome very strong resistance to admitting Jews or any refugees before the war. He argued vigorously after the war that the United States needed to take in larger numbers of refugees. He adopted the Zionist position that Palestine should be the refuge for Jewish victims of the Holocaust. He urgently lobbied President Harry Truman in 1948 to immediately recognize the Jewish state of Israel, which Truman did. When the Republicans took control of the Foreign Affairs Committee after the 1946 election, Bloom worked closely with the new chairman, Charles Eaton. They secured approval for the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bloom was born March 9, 1870, in Pekin, Illinois, to Polish-Jewish immigrants who soon moved to San Francisco. He was introduced to theater production in his early teens, then became a theater manager, staging boxing matches featuring "Gentleman Jim" Corbett. Seeking ever more spectacular attractions, he attended the Exposition Universelle (1889) in Paris, where he was particularly taken with the dancers and acrobats of the "Algerian Village," somewhat representative of France's Algerian colony.

Chicago World's Fair[edit]

Bloom established his reputation in 1893 at the age of 23 while developing the mile-long Midway Plaisance at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Midway Plaisance offered enticing games and exhibitions presented by private vendors, removed from the somewhat icy Beaux-Arts splendor of the official exposition and arranged around its "Court of Honor". After initially entrusting the midway to a Harvard anthropology professor, the committee turned to Bloom, whose "Midway" was so successful that the term resided henceforth in the American lexicon. At the "Street in Cairo", the North African belly dance was reinvented as the "hootchy-kootchy dance" to a tune made up by Bloom, "The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid", whose century-old lyrics had traditionally been sung by young boys: "O they don't wear pants/on the sunny side of France"; "There's a place in France/where the women wear no pants"; "...where the naked ladies dance", etc. Bloom did not copyright the tune, which he'd conceived on a piano at the Press Club of Chicago.

Bloom's role in helping to develop the fair had been at the behest of Mayor Carter Harrison, Sr., who was assassinated only days before the exposition closed. Bloom then rose in stature in Chicago's tough First Ward among the Democratic party's bosses "Bathhouse" John Coughlin and "Hinky Dink" Kenna. Soon, he became Chicago branch manager of M. Witmark & Sons, the largest publisher of sheet music in the United States, and by 1896 he was publishing under his own name and introducing photolithographs to make the scores more visually appealing. In 1897 he married Evelyn Hechheimer and settled in a fashionable district on South Prairie Avenue, billing himself as "Sol Bloom, the Music Man".[2] At the turn of the 20th century, he was awarded, to much fanfare, the first musical copyright of the new century for "I Wish I Was in Dixie Land Tonight" by Raymond A. Browne.

Move to New York and politics[edit]

In 1903 he moved to New York City, where he dabbled in real estate and expanded his national chain of department store music departments. In New York he sold Victor Talking Machines. Bloom soon switched his political affiliation from Republican to the Democrats' Tammany Hall, so that when Representative-elect Samuel Marx of New York's 19th Congressional District died in 1922, Bloom was invited to run and won the usually Republican "silk stocking district" of Manhattan's Upper East Side by 145 votes. He represented the district until his death in 1949.

In Congress he oversaw celebration of the George Washington Bicentennial (1932) and presided over the U.S. Constitution Sesquicentennial Exposition (1937). He chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1938. A strong supporter of Zionism, Bloom was a delegate to the convention in San Francisco that established the United Nations. The first words of the Preamble to the United Nations Charter, "We, the Peoples of the United Nations .. ." were suggested by Bloom.[3]

In January 1946, Bloom represented the US at the first meeting of the UN General Assembly in London. He called his success in persuading a majority of the Assembly to allow the new United Nations organization to assume the finances of the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration "the supreme moment" of his life.[4]

Legacy[edit]

The Sol Bloom Playground in Manhattan is named in his honor.[5]

His papers, most of them dating from 1935 to 1949, are stored at the New York Public Library.

Bloom lost a bet with Washington Senators pitcher Walter Johnson after Johnson successfully threw a silver dollar across Fredericksburg, Virginia's Rappahannock River. Although the wager had been highly publicized, Bloom cited technicalities and refused to pay.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Eleonora W. Schoenebaum, ed. Political Profiles: The Truman Years (1978) pp 40–41
  2. ^ Sol Bloom, The Autobiography of Sol Bloom, New York: Putnam House, 1948.
  3. ^ Schlesinger, Stephen E. (2004). Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations: A Story of Superpowers, Secret Agents, Wartime Allies and Enemies, and Their Quest for a Peaceful World. Cambridge, MA: Westview, Perseus Books Group. p. 237. ISBN 0-8133-3275-3. 
  4. ^ "Representative Sol Bloom". Retrieved April 27, 2008. 
  5. ^ http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/M244/
  6. ^ http://dcbaseballhistory.com/2012/02/big-trains-throw-across-the-rappahannock-river/

Further reading[edit]

Primary sources[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Walter M. Chandler
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 19th congressional district

1923–1945
Succeeded by
Samuel Dickstein
Preceded by
Vito Marcantonio
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th congressional district

1945–1949
Succeeded by
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.