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Samuel Hart (1747 – October 3, 1810) was an American merchant and politician.

Samuel Hart was born in England to a Jewish family, and moved to Philadelphia some time prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution. During the war he evidently became identified with the tory cause since he arrived at Halifax from New York City about 1785 as part of the general loyalist exodus to Nova Scotia. There he conducted a general import-export business. Certain contemporaries, including Perkins and William Forsyth, disapproved of Hart's allegedly "sharp practices," but he nevertheless prospered, particularly after war broke out between Britain and revolutionary France in 1793. The bankruptcy of his brother Moses Hart, a London merchant, caused Samuel some distress in the late 1790s because he had guaranteed Moses's debts. By 1801, however, Samuel had recovered to the extent of being able to pay off all mortgages on his Nova Scotia property.

In March 1793 he had himself baptized an Anglican. In 1801 he owned a pew in St George's Anglican Church in Halifax. By playing host to officers of the British army and navy, Hart and his wife acquired a reputation for being "gay and fashionable people." To cultivate further his image as a respectable man of property, Hart had his portrait painted during a visit to London in 1795. Moreover, through the use of "ledger influence" directed against his outport debtors, Hart gained entry to the provincial assembly. As the member for Liverpool between 1793 and 1799 he predictably allied himself with other Halifax merchants against those rural and allegedly democratic interests led by William Cottnam Tonge.

Between 1803 and 1805, he mortgaged his property and desperately began coercing his debtors for immediate payment. In 1809 he was declared legally insane. A year later he died, a pathetic figure who spent the last days of his life chained to the floor of a room in his Preston mansion. His wife, Rebecca, and their three children, two girls and a boy, inherited virtually nothing. Samuel Hart's tragic fate underscored the difficulties facing Jews who aspired to social acceptance in early British North America.




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