NATHANSON, MENDEL LEVIN:
Danish merchant, editor, and economist; born in Altona Nov. 20, 1780; died in Copenhagen Oct. 6, 1868. When only eighteen years of age Nathanson established himself in business, and in 1806 became associated with the large Copenhagen banking firm of Meyer & Trier. When this firm failed in 1831, Nathanson devoted himself to economic questions. His first publication, entitled "Forerindring," appeared in 1813, and gave a short résumé of the preceding twenty-five years of Danish mercantile history. This drew public attention to the author, who for several years thereafter wrote the explanatory introductions to the official statistical tables. His most notable work is "Danmark's Handel, Skibsfart, Penge- og Finans-Væsen fra 1730 til 1830" (3 vols., Copenhagen, 1832-34), which he later enlarged and published under the title "Historisk-Statistisk Fremstilling af Danmark's National- og Stats-Husholdning fra Frederik IV.'s Tid til Nutiden" (ib. 1836, 2d ed. 1844).
Nathanson, however, is best known for his advocacy of the Jewish cause. He realized that in order to advance his coreligionists' claim to civic rights and liberties he must first help them to acquire a liberal education. With this end in view he founded (1805) the first parochial school for Jewish boys in Copenhagen (Den Mosaiske Friskole for Drenge) and (1810) a similar school for girls (Caroline-Skolen). Often, when these schools were in pecuniary difficulties, Nathanson supported them from his own purse. When the Jews of Denmark, by the royal decree of March 29, 1814, received full civic rights, it was due to a great extent to Nathanson's indefatigable efforts in their behalf (see Copenhagen; Denmark).
Nathanson was editor of the "Berlingske Tidende" from 1838 to 1858 and from 1865 to 1866. A brief residence in England had developed in him a strong love for constitutional monarchy, and as the editor of the official organ of the Conservative party he fought a sharp polemical warfare against the National Liberals, who often made him the target for wit which not infrequently was poisoned with malice. His clever management of the paper, however, won him the stanch support of his party, and under him the "Berlingske Tidende" rapidly grew in importance.
Nathanson was loyal to his faith and retained to the last a lively interest in the Jewish cause, though all his children had, with his sanction, embraced Christianity.
- Salmonsen's Store Illustrerede Konversations Lexicon;
- Frank Cramer, The Jews of Copenhagen, in New Era Illustrated Magazine, June, 1904.