December 21, 1804 – April 19, 1881
Who is the most powerful man in the world right now? The answer you'll usually get is George W. Bush (or Dick Cheney). In fact, if you raised that question at any time during the last century, at the top of the list you'd likely find the name of an American president, as the United States has risen to the top of the international food chain.
However, if you go a little farther back, to the second half of the 19th century, when England was still at its peak, the answer is not that simple. For challenging Andrew Johnson and Rutherford B. Hayes for world supremacy would be the most powerful man in the UK, the prime minister for a large chunk of the longest reign in English history (that of Queen Victoria), Benjamin Disraeli. A Jew.
So Disraeli was baptized. So what? When a member of Parliament attacked him by calling him a Jew, Disraeli replied: "Yes, sir, I am a Jew, and when the right honorable gentlemen's ancestors were savages on an unknown Island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon."
Besides, how often do we get to claim the most powerful man in the world one of our own?
November 10, 2006