Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Jacob I. Cohen, Jr. (1789-1869)
MSA SC 3520-13489


Born on September 30, 1789 in Richmond, Virginia. Son of Judith Solomon (1766-1837) and Israel I. Cohen (1751-1803). Nine siblings: Joshua (1788-1788); Solomon I. (b. 1791); Philip I. (1793-1852); Maria I. (1794-1834); Mendes I. (1796-1879); Benjamin I. (1797-1845); David I. (1800-1847); Joshua I. (1801-1870); Edward I. (1802-1803). Unmarried; no children. Died on April 6, 1869 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jacob I. Cohen, Jr. was a prominent businessman, banker, and politician. He moved to Baltimore from Richmond with his mother and siblings after his father's death in 1803. He and his brothers established Cohen's Lottery and Exchange Office in 1812. They eventually established branches in cities along the East Coast and became one of the most prominent lottery brokers in Baltimore before finally closing the business in 1830 as the lottery industry began to decline in Maryland. Beginning in 1814, they also published Cohen's Gazette and Lottery Register. In 1830, Cohen and his brothers founded J. I. Cohen, Jr. & Brother's Banking House, which became a prominent and respected bank, noted as one of the few that remained solvent during the Panic of 1837. Cohen was also the vice-president of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad and a Director of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He was the President of the Fireman's Insurance Co. from 1825-1849, and the President of the Baltimore Fire Insurance Co. until his death. Cohen was also the President of the Patapsco Fire Company.

Cohen supported Jewish organizations in Baltimore and elsewhere and contributed to Baltimore's early congregations. He was also among the most prominent supporters of the efforts to remove Maryland's requirement that all elected officials swear to "a belief in the Christian religion." Debate over the "Jew Bill" lasted for more than a decade, during which time Cohen and other prominent Jews lobbied actively for its passage. In 1824, Cohen, Solomon Etting and Levy Solomon submitted a petition to the House of Delegates urging the legislature to pass the bill. When the bill was finally passed in 1826, Cohen and Etting were both elected to the First Branch of the Baltimore City Council, the two first Jewish elected officials in Maryland. Cohen subsequently served several other terms on the City Council, and was President of the First Branch from 1849-1851. He was regarded as a strong advocate for accountability in business and politics. He also helped to establish the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners in 1830 and served as its Secretary and Treasurer until 1838, and Cohen was a member of the Baltimore City Commissioners of Finance.

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