By Seymour "Sy" Brody
Adolphus Simeon Solomons was a moving force in helping to establish the American Red Cross. He held many meetings in his District of Columbia home to plan and prepare for the day when the United States would join the International Red Cross. It was at his home that a proposal was approved to form the Association of the American Red Cross and incorporate it in Washington, D.C.
In 1882, the United States finally ratified the Red Cross treaty. President Chester A. Arthur appointed Solomons as one of three delegates to represent the country at the Geneva Congress, where he was elected vice-president. During the Spanish-American War, he was still a member of the executive board of the American Red Cross, which rendered important service to our troops in combat.
Solomons, a publisher, was held in such high esteem in Washington, D.C., that when Vice President Schuyler Colfax couldn't appear at the dedication of the Young Men's Christian Association building in the capital, he was asked to substitute for him.
Solomons was active in Jewish life and was very outspoken. In 1862, General Grant issued an order expelling "Jews as a class" from his lines on the grounds that their mercantile activity interrupted the movement of his troops, but Solomons got General Henry W. Halleck to rescind it. In 1873, President Grant offered Solomons the governorship of Washington D.C. While feeling honored, Solomons had to decline because he was a Sabbath observer and it would interfere with his duties of the office.
Solomons was bom in New York City in 1826. At the age of 14 he enlisted in the New York State Militia and served for seven years. On June 25, 185 1, he married Raachel Seixas Phillips, a descendant of colonial patriot families. They had eight daughters and a son.
Solomons moved his printing business to Washington, where he did government printing. He added to his plant a book department, which became the literary headquarters of General Grant, Supreme Court Justice Salmon Portland Chase and other dignitaries. He then added a photographic gallery in which many prominent people of the day were featured, including the last photograph of Abraham Lincoln.
Solomons was very active in helping people. He organized the first training school for nurses in Washington and the Washington Night Lodging-House Association, which supplied homeless men with lodging. He was an officer of the Provident Aid Society, the Emergency Hospital of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and many other worthwhile causes.
In New York, he helped to organize Mount Sinai Hospital and the Montefiore Home for Chronic Invalids. He was a founder of the Jewish Protectory and Aid Society, and of the Russian Jews Immigration Aid Society.
Adolphus Simeon Solomons died in 1910, leaving behind a legacy of charity, helping the sick and needy, and working with and organizing Jewish organizations that helped people. His greatest feat was his contribution in helping to create the American Red Cross.