From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.

Franz Kafka

Edward Jacobson - Biography

Edward Jacobson (17 June 1891, New York City – 25 October 1955, Kansas City, Missouri) was an American-Jewish businessman. He was also a U.S. Army associate, business partner, and close friend of President Harry S. Truman.

Jacobson met Truman when the two reported to basic training at Fort Sill, near Lawton, Oklahoma, with a unit of soldiers from the Kansas City area. They successfully managed a canteen together, and were thus inspired to open a haberdashery together after World War I. However, poor business decisions caused the business to fail, and the resulting debts burdened both for many years. Jacobson spent the rest of his career as a traveling salesman, which enabled him periodically to visit Truman in Washington. According to David McCullough, Jacobson had open access to the Oval Office.

When Jacobson first heard about what was happening to the Jews in Germany, before and during World War II, he took to discussing it with Truman. After he heard the post-war reports regarding the Nazi Holocaust and its survivors, his talks with Truman about how to help the Jewish people became more intense. Because Jewish leaders in the U.S. knew Jacobson was a friend of the President, they approached him to lobby Truman with even more fervor. Jacobson went to the White House on 13 March 1948, and at that meeting persuaded Truman to meet with the leader of the Zionist movement, Dr. Chaim Weizmann. Partly as a result of Jacobson's efforts, the United States became the first nation to grant diplomatic recognition to the new state of Israel on 14 May 1948.

Timeline

  • 1893: Moved with his family to Leavenworth, Kansas
  • 1905: Moved with his family to Kansas City, Missouri
  • 19-teens: Worked as a clerk in a Kansas City clothing store
  • 1917–1919: Served as enlisted man in the 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th Division, U.S. Army
  • 1919–1922: Partnered with Harry S. Truman in the Truman & Jacobson haberdashery, 104 West 12th St., Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1922–1945: Traveling salesman in the clothing business
  • 1945–1955: Proprietor, Eddie Jacobson's Westport Menswear, Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1947–1948: Urged President Truman to support the creation of a Jewish homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine – now Israel.

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