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New York State History | Colonial America | Judaic Studies | War of 1812 | War and Peace

Major Mordecai Myers: An American-Jewish Hero of the War of 1812

A lecture by Neil Yetwin

Major Mordecai Myers lived the most compelling life of any Jewish-American of his day. Born to impoverished immigrant parents, he spent his formative years (1776-1783) in New York City and, as a child of Loyalists during the Revolution, four years (1783-87) in the Nova Scotian wilderness. Upon the family's return to New York City in 1787, Myers embarked on several careers: military service (he was severely wounded in the War of 1812); state politics (the first Jew to serve in the New York State Legislature, 1828-1834); local politics (the only Jewish mayor of both Kinderhook, in 1838, and Schenectady, in 1851 and 1854); national politics (candidate for U.S. Congress in 1860, at age 84); and election as New York State's Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons (1853-1856). Along the way, Myers made and lost two fortunes, outlived his wife and 6 of his 10 children, and became the great-great-grandfather of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Lowell.

This lecture is available from July 1, 2009 to October 31, 2014

Can be tailored to a high school audience

Setup Needed

  • Microphone optional
  • Computer and projection screen for PowerPoint required
  • Podium required

Mr. Neil Yetwin

Social Studies Teacher, Schenectady High School, Schenectady City School District

Neil Yetwin has been a social studies teacher for over 35 years, 32 of which have been at Schenectady (formerly Linton) High School in Schenectady, NY. He has lectured extensively on local history at libraries, schools, historical societies, places of worship and veterans organizations throughout the Capital District. Yetwin received the Louis B.Yavner Award of the New York State Regents for Excellence in Teaching the Holocaust and Civil Rights in 1989, and was named “Outstanding Citizen of Schenectady” by the Schenectady City Council in 2005 for his research and presentations on local history.

Yetwin has just produced the first annotated edition of Mordecai Myers' posthumous memoirs, entitled "To My Son...": The Life and War Remembrances of Captain Mordecai Myers, 13th United States Infantry, 1812-1815, published by the Old Fort Niagara Association and with a foreward by Canadian historian Donald E. Graves.

Telephone: (518) 381-6306
Address: Schenectady, NY  12308
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