Dutch jurist; born in Amsterdam Aug., 1754; died there Nov. 4, 1826. Although originally intended for trade, he took up the study of commercial law; and so successful was he in his new career, that on becoming procurator in Amsterdam he gained the reputation of being one of the best lawyers in Holland. In 1798 he was appointed member of the legislative commission which met in Amsterdam for the purpose of readjusting the laws of Holland to the new conditions arising from the change of the United Provinces into the Batavian Republic, under the protectorate of France. In 1808, when Napoleon insisted upon the adoption of his code throughout his dependencies, Asser, together with Johannes van der Linden and Arnoldus van Gennep, was commissioned by King Louis Bonaparte to draft a commercial code as a part of the uniform system of laws projected for the kingdom.

Soon after the Restoration Asser took an active part in the commission of 1814; and his work ultimately formed the basis of the commercial code of 1838, the greater part of which is still in force. Inrecognition of his services he was decorated by William I. in 1819 with the Order of the Netherlands Lion, being the first Jewish recipient of such a distinction.

Asser was the founder of the Felix Libertate—a society having for its object the emancipation of the Jews—and the author of the memorial addressed to the States General, March 26, 1796, urging the removal of Jewish disabilities. A leader of the opposition which resulted in the splitting up of the Jewish community of Amsterdam, Asser's name was the first mentioned at the election of wardens by the members of the new community, Adat Jesurun. He took an active part in the progressive movement, at the head of which stood his son Carel (see Asser, Carel).

Dis Kursen (in Yiddish), relative to the struggle between the two communities;
Roest's Letterbode, i., ii.: Notices from a family chronicle;
Winkler Prins, Geïllustreerde Encyklopädie, 1884, s.v.

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