Prince of San-Donato, Russian jurist, and philanthropist; born in 1839; died in 1885. He was a member of a well-known Russian family of nobles whose pedigree is traced as far back as 1672. Soon after his graduation from the faculty of jurisprudence of the University of St. Petersburg, he was attached to the Russian embassy at Paris, and later to the embassy at Vienna. From 1871 to 1876 he served as mayor of Kiev.

During the Russo-Turkish war (1877-78) Demidov chose to follow the army as the authorized agent of the Society of the Red Cross, rather than to be a leader of soldiers with more warlike purposes. Of a peaceful and peace-loving disposition, and with a pronounced predilection for literary work, he cared for achievements foreign to those of the ambitious belligerents, and his name is accordingly associated with deeds of philanthropy. Through these years he remained unknown beyond the narrow circle of family, relatives, and personal acquaintances. In 1883, two years before his untimely death, he came suddenly into prominence by the publication of his work, "The Jewish Question in Russia," which was well received. In addition to a very sympathetic though somewhat cursory review of the history of the Jews in Russia, beginning with the first division of Poland, it contains an able analysis of the political and social status of the Jew and of his economic condition and statutory rights, or, more precisely, absence of rights. This analysis proved not only that the author was sufficiently broad-minded and large-hearted to free himself of all popular prejudices, but that he had both the will and the ability to dig deep, reaching here and there the very roots of this social evil. Demidov's solution of the vexed question may be expressed in the demand of equal rights for the Jews and the reorganization and increase of their educational facilities. The abolition of the "Pale of Settlement," the right to live and do as it is accorded to all other Russian subjects, the right to attend any public school upon the same basis as the Christian population, and other privileges, are demanded by the author on the ground of the central idea which he so ably Maintains; namely, that the Jew is a desirable and able citizen, all claims to the contrary notwithstanding. He asserts that the peculiarly Jewish exploitation is a fiction; that the exclusiveness of the Jew is as hateful to the Jew himself as is any form of bondage to man; that his commercial ability is useful to the buyer in the Pale of Settlement, as it reduces by sharp competition the profit of the seller, thus on the whole benefiting the public; and, finally, that the much-bewailed baneful influence exerted by the Jew on the Christian poor by his selling intoxicants to the latter, has been exaggerated out of all proportion, as is demonstrated by an array of facts and statistics bearing upon the question and establishing that, beyond all possible doubt, the curse of intemperance is felt considerably more outside the Pale than within it.

  • Demidov, San-Donato;
  • Yevreiski Vopros v Rossii, 1883;
  • Ogarkov, Demidovy;
  • Osnovateli Gornavo Dyela v Rossii, St. Petersburg, 1891;
  • Pamyati, P. P. Demidova, Knyazya San-Donato, 1886;
  • A. Scholz, Die Juden in Russland, p. 149.
H. R. M. Z.
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