Naphtali Phillips

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About Naphtali Phillips

Naphtali Phillips: Born 1773; died 1870; married (1797) Rachel Mendez Seixas (d. 1822) of Newport, R.I. One year after her death he married Esther (b. 1789; d. 1872), the daughter of Benjamin Mendez Seixas. Phillips was the proprietor of the "National Advocate," a New York newspaper, and was also president of Congregation Shearith Israel in that city.

from the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, part 22, 1913:

Naphtali Phillips, born in Whitehall Street, New York, October 19, 1773, was the son of Jonas Phillips, a New New York merchant, and Rebecca Mendez Machado, and the grandson of the Rev. David Mendez Machado, who was the minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue Shearith Israel on Mill (now South William) Street, New York, from 1737 to 1747. At the age of three, with his mother, brothers and sisters, he was taken to Philadelphia, Pa., by his father, who fled from New York with other patriots after the battle of Washington Heights, November, 1776, into a voluntary exile, during which time New York was in the hands of the British. The elder Phillips was an ardent patriot and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary army. The son naturally became a devoted admirer of Washington from earliest youth, and when the latter was inaugurated as first President of the United States in 1789, young Phillips though only sixteen years of age, was one of those who accom panied the cavalcade which escorted Washington from Phila delphia to New York for that ceremony.

After the Revolutionary War he continued to reside in Philadelphia where his father, who was engaged in business, was the President of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue Mikve Israel. He became interested in journalism and secured his first employ ment on Clayphole's American Advertiser, a leading Philadelphia newspaper. On September 16, 1796, he personally took from the press of that journal the first printed copy of Washington's Farewell Address, which historic paper he re tained in his possession until October 19, 1847, when it was deposited in the corner stone of the proposed Washington Monument in Hamilton Square (now about Fifth Avenue and 63d Street), New York. This monument having never progressed further, the corner stone is said to have been deposited shortly thereafter in the corner stone donated by the Corporation of the City of New York to the Washington Monument erected at Washington, D. C.

Mr. Phillips voted for General Washington on his second election as President and voted also in every presidential elec tion thereafter until that of General Grant in 1868, a period of 76 years. He married in 1797, at Newport, Rhode Island, Miss Rachel Hannah, daughter of Moses Mendez Seixas, a promi nent merchant and banker of Newport and brother of Rev. Gershom Mendez Seixas of New York, "the patriot Jewish Minister of the American Revolution." Mr. Phillips took up his residence in New York permanently about the year 1801, and shortly thereafter became the proprietor of the National Advocate, the leading New York newspaper of that period, and continued at its head for many years. He then became an attache of the New York Custom House where he remained until failing sight overtook him about the middle of the last century. His wife died in 1822 at his residence on the northeast corner of Broadway and Chambers Street, New York, where the Stewart Building now stands. She was one of the victims of yellow fever then prevailing as a plague in the city, and the following year Mr. Phillips married her first cousin, Esther, daughter of Lieutenant Benjamin Mendez Seixas, a Revolutionary officer and one of the founders of the New York Stock Exchange. She sur vived him.

Mr. Phillips always took a deep interest in the affairs of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue Shearith Israel. He was its President as early as the year 1816 and served for fourteen terms in that office. He was also trustee of the congregation for many years; his entire official service cover ing a period of long over half a century. He was for many years prominent in the affairs of the Democratic party in New York City and served on many political committees. At his death, which occurred November 1, 1870, in his ninety-eighth year, he was the oldest member of the Tammany Society, having belonged to it for nearly three-quarters of a century. As a mark of respect to his profound piety and long service to his people, his funeral was held at the vestibule of the synagogue of his congregation, the only person in its history of over two and one-half centuries, other than its ministers, who has ever been thus honored.

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Naphtali Phillips's Timeline

October 19, 1773
New York, NY, United States
February 23, 1798
Philadelphia, Philadelphia county, PA, United States
October 27, 1799
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
October 5, 1801
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, United States
September 16, 1803
New York, New York, United States
June 1, 1806
New York, New York, United States
March 30, 1808
New York, New York, United States
July 18, 1810
New York, New York, United States
June 16, 1812
New York, New York, United States