Oscar Straus (politician)
|3rd United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor|
December 17, 1906 – March 5, 1909
|Preceded by||Victor H. Metcalf|
|Succeeded by||Charles Nagel|
|United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire|
July 1, 1887 – June 16, 1889
|Preceded by||Samuel S. Cox|
|Succeeded by||Solomon Hirsch|
October 15, 1898 – December 20, 1899
|Preceded by||James Angell|
|Succeeded by||John Leishman|
October 4, 1909 – September 3, 1910
|President||William Howard Taft|
|Preceded by||John Leishman|
|Succeeded by||William Rockhill|
Oscar Solomon Straus
December 23, 1850
Otterberg, Bavaria, Germany
|Died||May 3, 1926 (aged 75)|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Columbia University (BA, LLB)|
Oscar Solomon Straus (December 23, 1850 – May 3, 1926) was an American politician and diplomat. He served as United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Theodore Roosevelt from 1906 to 1909, making him the first Jewish United States Cabinet Secretary. Straus also served in four presidential administrations as America's representative to the Ottoman Empire and ran for Governor of New York in 1912 as the Progressive Party candidate.
Early life and education
He was born in Otterberg, Germany. He emigrated with his parents to the United States, and settled in Talbotton, Georgia. The Straus family owned slaves and conducted business with other slave owners, taking several formerly enslaved people to the North with the family following the defeat of the Confederacy. At the close of the Civil War he moved to New York City where he graduated from Columbia College in 1871 and Columbia Law School in 1873. He practiced law until 1881, and then became a merchant, retaining his interest in literature.
At the outbreak of the Philippine–American War in 1899, Secretary of State John Hay asked Strauss to approach Sultan Abdul Hamid II to request that the Sultan write a letter to the Moro Sulu Muslims of the Sulu Sultanate telling them to submit to American suzerainty and American military rule. The Sulu sultanate agreed, with Straus writing that the "Sulu Mohammedans ... refused to join the insurrectionists and had placed themselves under the control of our army, thereby recognizing American sovereignty."
Career as Secretary of Commerce and Labor and Ambassador to Ottoman Empire
In December 1906, Straus became the United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Theodore Roosevelt. This position also placed him in charge of the United States Bureau of Immigration. During his tenure, Straus ordered immigration inspectors to work closely with local police and the United States Secret Service to find, arrest and deport immigrants with Anarchist political beliefs under the terms of the Anarchist Exclusion Act.
Straus left the Commerce Department in 1909 when William Howard Taft became president. Taft appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire 1909-1910. During the Presidency of William Howard Taft, an American strategy was to become involved in business transactions rather than military confrontations, a policy known as Dollar Diplomacy. It failed with respect to the Ottoman Empire because of opposition from ambassador Straus and to Turkish vacillation under pressure from the entrenched European powers who did not wish to see American competition. American trade remained a minor factor.
The Straus family had several influential members including Straus's grandson Roger W. Straus, Jr., who started the publishing company of Farrar, Straus and Giroux; his brother, Isidor Straus, who perished aboard the RMS Titanic in 1912, served as a representative from New York City's 15th District, and was co-owner of the department store R. H. Macy & Co. along with another brother, Nathan; and nephew Jesse Isidor Straus, confidant of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ambassador to France from 1933 to 1936.
His grandson is Oscar Schafer, Chairman emeritus of the New York Philharmonic.
- The Origin of the Republican Form of Government in the United States (1886)
- Roger Williams, the Pioneer of Religious Liberty (1894)
- The Development of Religious Liberty in the United States (1896)
- Reform in the Consular Service (1897)
- United States Doctrine of Citizenship (1901)
- Our Diplomacy with Reference to our Foreign Service (1902)
- The American Spirit (1913)
- Under Four Administrations, his memoirs (1922)
- "Oscar S. Straus (1906–1909): Secretary of Commerce and Labor" Archived 2011-05-23 at the Wayback Machine, Miller Center, University of Virginia
- "Isidor Straus (1845-1912)". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 2022-05-23.
- Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
- Idris Bal (2004). Turkish Foreign Policy in Post Cold War Era. Universal-Publishers. pp. 405–. ISBN 978-1-58112-423-1.
- Kemal H. Karpat (2001). The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State. Oxford University Press. pp. 235–. ISBN 978-0-19-513618-0.
- J. Robert Moskin (19 November 2013). American Statecraft: The Story of the U.S. Foreign Service. St. Martin's Press. pp. 204–. ISBN 978-1-250-03745-9.
- Idris Bal (2004). Turkish Foreign Policy in Post Cold War Era. Universal-Publishers. pp. 406–. ISBN 978-1-58112-423-1.
- Akyol, Mustafa (December 26, 2006). "Mustafa Akyol: Remembering Abdul Hamid II, a pro-American caliph". Weekly Standard – via History News Network.
- ERASMUS (July 26, 2016). "Why European Islam's current problems might reflect a 100-year-old mistake". The Economist.
- George Hubbard Blakeslee; Granville Stanley Hall; Harry Elmer Barnes (1915). The Journal of International Relations. Clark University. pp. 358–.
- The Journal of Race Development. Clark University. 1915. pp. 358–.
- Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- "To Drive Anarchists Out of the Country," New York Times, March 4, 1908, pp. 1-2.
- Naomi W. Cohen, "Ambassador Straus in Turkey, 1909-1910: A Note on Dollar Diplomacy." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 45.4 (1959) online
- Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). Encyclopedia Americana. .
- "Oscar S. Straus, Statesman and Philanthropist, Dies". Jewish Telegraph Agency. May 4, 1926. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
- "Sarah Lavanburg Straus 1861 – 1945". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- "Morse, Mildred Hockstader Tiny". New York Times. July 9, 2005. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
- Brand, Katharine E. "The Oscar S. Straus Papers." Quarterly Journal of Current Acquisitions 7.2 (1950): 3-6. at the Library of Congress
- Cohen, Naomi W. A Dual Heritage: The Public Career of Oscar S. Straus (1969).
- Medoff, Rafael, and Chaim I. Waxman. Historical Dictionary of Zionism (Routledge, 2013).
- Strauss, L. L. "Oscar S. Straus, an Appreciation." (American Jewish Historical Society, 1950) online.