Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Solomon Etting (1764-1847)
MSA SC 3520-13490


Born on July 28, 1764 in York, Pennsylvania. Son of Elijah Etting (1724-1778) and Shinah Solomon Etting (1742-1822). Seven siblings: Rebuen (1762-1848); Fanny (1764-1828); Kitty (1768-1838); Hetty (1770-1847); Elizabeth (b. 1772); Sally (1776-1863); Joseph (b. 1778). Married Rachel Simons (d. 1790), 1783; three children. Married Rachel Gratz (1764-1834), c. 1791;  seven children: Frances (1791-1851); Richea (1792-1881); Samuel (1795-1862); Kitty (1798-1799); Ellen (1802-1877); Shinah (1803-1878); Bernard (1806-1863). Died in Baltimore, Maryland on August 6, 1847.

Solomon Etting was a businessman and civic leader in Baltimore. He lived in York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania until he moved to Baltimore in 1791. A staunch Republican, Etting was a member of the Baltimore Republican Society. In 1794, he helped organize public protests against the Jay Treaty. He was elected to the First Branch of the Baltimore City Council, 1826, along with Jacob I. Cohen. They were the first two Jewish elected officials in Maryland.

He was a founding member of the Baltimore Water Company in 1804, and a member of General Committee of Safety and Vigilance, which coordinated the defense of Baltimore during the attack by the British in 1814. Etting was also a founder of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 1827. He was on the Board of Managers of the Maryland Colonization Society, 1831-1847, and was named the President of the Board of Commissioners to repair the Baltimore City Courthouse, 1836.

Etting was active in the Jewish communities in York, Lancaster and Baltimore. He trained as a shochet, or kosher butcher, in 1782, possibly the first native-born American to do so. In 1801, he and his uncle Levy Solomon purchased the "Jew's burying ground," the cemetery long used by Baltimore's Jewish community, on behalf of the city's congregation; they purchased it as individuals because there were no officially incorporated congregations at the time. Etting also lobbied extensively to end Maryland's exclusion of Jews from elected office. He and his father-in-law Bernard Gratz petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates in 1797, asking that Jews "be placed upon the same footing with other good citizens," but were rebuffed that year. He submitted a similar petition in 1802, and again in 1824, along with Solomon and Cohen. Etting also submitted written testimony in response to questioning by Delegate William G. D. Worthington, in which he emphasized the prominent role of Jews in Maryland's civic and economic life. The fight to allow Jews to hold public office in Maryland lasted over a decade, and the lobbying efforts of such prominent Jewish businessmen and civic leaders helped lead to the final passage of the "Jew Bill" in 1826.

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