Ellen Cardona

Pound’s Early Years, 1885-1924:
The Evolution of a Suburban Prejudice


     Pound’s anti-Semitism did not appear overnight, nor was there an event that triggered his hatred of Jews; rather, its origins began in his youth and thus gradually progressed into Pound’s adulthood. 1   Pound’s anti-Semitism started as a result of the stereotypes that he learned in his youth and carried to Europe. The article follows a chronological order that begins with Pound’s exposure to anti-Semitism as a child and then follows Pound’s anti-Semitic beliefs while he lived in London and then Paris. The article is divided into three sections, and each section explains a facet of Pound’s anti-Semitism. Section one argues whether Pound’s environment or his parents influenced his anti-Semitism. This section also explores the influence of American Nativism and the Populist movement on Pound’s prejudices. Section two delves into Pound’s time in London; it also looks at the impact of World War One and the influence of A. R. Orage and C. H. Douglas on Pound during his years in London. The last section discusses Pound’s time in Paris and explores the anti-Semitism that he encountered in Paris. The chapter ends in 1924 with Pound’s move to Rapallo, Italy. The “suburban prejudice” that Pound spoke of when he described his anti-Semitism to Allen Ginsberg in 1967 was based on the prejudice that Pound encountered as a child.

      American Nativism directly influenced Pound’s perception of Jewish immigrants as seen in such articles as “Patria Mia” and “Through Alien Eyes,” both published in 1912 and 1913 respectively for The New Age. 2   American Nativism focused primarily on the problem of immigration and the fear that immigrants would take over the work force; but John Higham, in his work, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925, points out that three traditions of American Nativism actually existed.

     The first tradition, which was established in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, expressed an anti-Catholic attitude: “Catholic traditions continued to look dangerously un-American partly because they did not harmonize easily with the concept of individual freedom imbedded in the national culture. . . . Observing the authoritarian organization of the Catholic Church and its customary association with feudal or monarchial governments, they [the American people] were tempted to view American liberty and European popery as irreconcilable.” 3   Discrimination towards Catholics also existed, according to Higham, due to the flood of Catholic immigrants who came to America in the nineteenth century: “Nativists, charged with the Protestant evangelical fervor of the day, considered the immigrants minions of the Roman despot, dispatched here to subvert American institutions.” 4  

        The second and third traditions, according to Higham, involve antiradicalism and racism. The anti-radical movement focused upon the belief that the some of immigrants were involved in political plots: “While agitated Protestants regarded the immigrant as yoked to religious despotism, timid conservatives sometimes found him prone to political revolution.” 5   Higham further explains: “This persistent contrast between a generally hopeful psychology of mobility in America and the more desperate politics born in class-ridden Europe has fostered the belief that violent and sweeping opposition to the status quo is characteristically European and profoundly un-American. Thus, anti-Radical movements in America, like anti-Catholic ones, have had a singular propensity to assume a nationalistic form.” 6  

     The third type of nativism that Higham discusses is racial in nature. He argues, however, that this type of nativism did not begin as an attack on the immigrants: “The concept that the United States belongs in some special sense to the Anglo-Saxon `race' offered an interpretation of the source of national greatness. The idea crystallized in the early nineteenth century as a way of defining American nationality in a positive sense, not as a formula of attack on outsiders.” 7   Indeed Higham writes, “By mid-century, the concept of a mixed, assimilating nationality acquitted a vaguely ‘racial’ import: a mixed race has physical and moral qualities superior to one inbred, and in the United States the best intermingling has occurred.” 8  

      In the 1870s, however, there was a certain mistrust that accompanied the immigrants, such as the Irish and the German Jews. Regarding the Irish immigrants, Higham writes that there was anti-Catholic sentiment against them, but also Americans pictured them as quarrelsome, drunken, and threadbare; impoverished Irish immigrants squatted in one-room shanties on the outskirts of the cities. 9   Yet Higham also makes clear that the Irish did assimilate into society: “By the early eighties, they were generally well regarded. It was almost a proverb to say that a good workman does as much as an Irishman; and even the harshest critics of the Irish looked forward confidently to their assimilation.” 10   The Irish also assimilated into society because they spoke English.

      Jews coming from Germany “met a distrust that spread along with their increasing assimilation”; some Jews were accused of war-time profiteering, but “nativist criticism of Jewish loyalty that had risen during the Civil War vanished as soon as the war ended,” to be replaced during the 1870s by “a far more tenacious pattern of social-discrimination.” 11   It is important to note that the majority of Jewish immigrants before the 1880s came from Germany.

     Ira Katznelson explains that Jews immigrating from Europe came primarily from Germany between 1790 and 1881 and then from Russia from 1881 and 1914: “The growth of the American Jewish community from a mere three thousand in 1790 to over a quarter million by 1881 was largely the result of exit decisions taken by Jews from the various German states. Later, between 1881 and the First World War, approximately 2.5 million Jews left their European countries and moved to the West. While some had resided in the Habsburg Empire, the vast majority came from the western part of Russian rule . . . .” 12   Katznelson notes that German Jews spread out to Michigan, Wisconsin, upstate New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Maryland. 13  

      He also explains that New York “held on to about one-fifth of the Germans who came through its port. In 1855, when the city’s population had reached 630,000, nearly ninety-six thousand of its residents had been born in the German states, of which just over ten thousand were Jews.” 14   The majority of the Jews who immigrated from Germany earned their living as peddlers, clothing merchants, and employees in retail food and clothing operations; a small number entered finance as locals agents of the Rothschilds, and some worked as teachers, lawyers, rabbis, doctors. 15  

     After 1848, New York City became the economic capital of American Jewry; there were tightly knit groups of Jewish financers, and the majority of the investment banking houses were led by German Jewish families, including the Loebs, Seligmans, Kuhns, Guggenheims, Lehmans, and Strauses. 16   In the 1870s, Higham argues that Jews also took on the aspect of Shylock:

At first, native folks had difficulty in differentiating Jews from Germans, but with the dispersion of Jewish peddlers and shopkeepers throughout the country, the European tradition of the Jews as Shylock came to life. To a segment of American opinion, the Jews seemed clothed in greed and deceit. It was this conception that had exposed them to the charge of disloyal profiteering during the war. Thereafter the persistent Shylock image acquired a significant new dimension . . . . The Jew . . . was not only mercenary and unscrupulous but also clamorously self-assertive—a tasteless barbarian rudely elbowing into genteel company. In line with this impression, society began to exclude Jews from areas of intimate social intercourse. . . . 17  

     But at this point in time in the 1870s, immigrants were not perceived as a threat: “In short, there was no pressing sense of the foreigner as a distinctively national menace. That could only develop with a loss of faith in the process of assimilation.” 18   This loss of faith, according to Higham, came to fruition in the 1880s.

      There was a surge of Jewish immigrants that began in the 1880s: “Between 1881 and 1914, nearly twenty-two million arrived in America, of whom about 9 percent, or just over two million, were Jews; three-quarters of these immigrants came from tsarist Russia.” 19   Katznelson gives the following statistics regarding Jewish immigration: “Between 1881 and 1889 an average of just under twenty-three thousand Jews arrived each year principally from tsarist Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Romania; just under forty-one thousand between 1890 and 1898; over fifty-three thousand between 1899 and 1902; but 123,000 between 1903 and 1907. The rate declined between 1908-14 to ninety-four thousand per year. In this period, the gross immigration of Jews numbered 2,057,000.” 20  

     Katznelson notes that “[t]he Lower East Side of Manhattan swiftly transformed from a primarily German and Irish district to a Jewish area of more than seven hundred inhabitants per acre by 1900. 21   Alex Zwerdling in his book, Improvised Europeans: American Literary Expatriates and the Siege of London, explains why these Jews clustered in ghettos like the Lower East side: “in the late 19th century with the urban explosion and displacement of agriculture by manufacturing, the new immigrants clustered in ghettos rather than fanning across the nation. This slowed the process of assimilation and increased the sense of visible separate groups—of enclaves like the Jewish Lower East Side of Manhattan with its packed tenements and swarming streets of exotic-looking, incomprehensible articulate people, carrying on a vigorous community life whose alien character made the native America observer feel like an unwelcome intruder.” 22  

     Zwerdling describes these immigrants as the following: “Almost as strange to the German Jews who had preceded them as to the native Americans, these impoverished, undernourished refugees wore long black coats and untamed beards, practiced a distinctive religious ritual, and spoke their own language—Yiddish—with vivid gesticulations. . . . Many of the Jewish immigrants started out in America with a peddler’s pack. Since the railroads and the mail order houses had deprived peddlers of a useful function as rural distributors, however, they competed raucously in the city streets.” 23  

     Like Higham, Zwerdling also points out that the confidence of the nation’s ability to assimilate the new immigrants was shaken and thus there was an “Anglo-Saxon panic.”

The very rapid growth in the U.S. population around the turn of the century (which more than doubled between 1880 and 1920, from fifty to over a hundred million) should have been a cause for celebration . . . . New European immigrants had long been eagerly welcomed, not only because they were needed for the country’s westward expansion but because their arrival in great numbers was treated as an international vote of confidence in the democratic experiment. Yet the optimistic spirit that took for granted America’s ability to absorb and assimilate vast numbers of strangers and turn them into productive, loyal citizens . . . seemed suddenly to evaporate. 24  

     Michael N. Dobkowski, in his work, The Tarnished Dream: The Basis of American Anti-Semitism, also writes about the nation’s ability to absorb the immigrants: “As the sluice gates opened and ten of thousands of unwashed, foreign and bizarre-looking immigrants flooded into America’s cities, the capacity of the nation to absorb them was seriously questioned. Here was a compact, apparently inassimilable mass of human beings, recent residents of the ghettos of Europe, congregating in cities and zealously preserving their religious distinctiveness, their national customs of diet, dress, and prayer, their communal autonomy, their individualism, their predilection for commerce.” 25   Unassimilated Jews from Southern and Eastern Europe, however, were not the only factor that changed America’s perception of the immigrant.

      Higham argues that it was in the 1880s that Americans saw immigrants as a threat; he pinpoints the labor upheaval as the chief instigator in changing America’s perception of immigrants. He explains that the economy in the big cities slid downhill in 1883-1885 and “[c]orporations cut wages savagely, sometimes as much as 20 per cent; unemployment mounted to a million or more; and though the slump was less severe than that of the seventies, poverty stared with fiercer eyes on wealth unshaken and untamed.” 26   Higham writes that the American working men “eyed the foreigner for what he was at the moment—a cheap competitor, whose presence undoubtedly held down wages and bred unemployment . . . .” 27   A fear existed that immigrants would take American jobs from the working class: “The tremendous immigrant influx of 1882, followed by industrial depression of 1883-1886, persuaded many wage-earners that the whole incoming stream directly threatened their own livelihood.” 28   During the mid 1880s, an “unprecedented eruption of strikes and mass boycotts opened an era of massive and recurrent discontent. Nativism . . . dates from the labor upheaval.” 29  

     Higham relates that an incident that occurred in Haymarket Square in Chicago gave rise to the image of "the immigrant as a lawless creature, given over to violence and disorder.” 30   The Haymarket Affair occurred in May 1886, when workers were striking for an eight-hour work day. A bomb went off and “[u]nable to discover the bomb-thrower’s identity, Chicago authorities nevertheless sentenced six immigrants (five of them German) and one native American to death, and another German to a long prison term.” 31   Higham points out: “The Haymarket Affair was to go down as the most important single incident in late nineteenth century nativism.” 32   Higham argues that following this event, “nativist agitation manifested itself through the rebirth in the late eighties of an organized movement. Little nativist societies sprang to life . . . .” 33   Three groups, which actually began in the 1840’s, became prominent during this time: the Order of the United American Mechanics, the Junior Order United American Mechanics, and the Patriotic Order Sons of America. 34   These organization attacked immigration and urged a nationalist solution to social problems. 35  

      In 1885, Pound was born. His parents moved from Hailey, Idaho, to Manhattan in 1887 to live with Isabel’s uncle and his wife, Aunt Frank. Two years later Homer Pound moved his family to Philadelphia, where he worked as an assistant assayer in the United States Mint. The Pounds eventually settled in the suburb of Wyncote in 1892. In Wyncote, there was indeed anti-Semitism. For example, in one Wyncote newspaper the following was printed on April 18, 1891: “The new proprietors of Beechwood announce that hereafter no Jews will be taken to board there. In previous years the Hebrews have been plentiful.’” 36   In his book, The American Roots of Ezra Pound, James Wilhelm described the atmosphere of anti-Semitism in Wyncote as follows: “anti-Semitism there was like the dust—nowhere visible in the surface until there was a slight rustle or disturbance, and then it was swirling all around.” 37   Pound was born during a decade where fear and anger towards immigrants, including Jews, took shape in the form of prejudices and exclusions.

      This hatred of immigrants invading the American work force and the loss of confidence in assimilation continued well into the 1890s and into the twentieth century. In fact, there was a panic at the turn of the century that immigrants would actually contaminate the Anglo-Saxon race in America. The term “race suicide” entered the American vocabulary because of fear the immigrants would be polluting the Anglo-Saxon lineage. The term “race suicide” was first used in the Edward Ross’s essay, “The Causes of Race Supremacy,” published in 1901. 38   The essay argued that the lower races in America were able to tolerate the lower standard of living better and were more prolific, but the higher race, which he defined as the Anglo- Saxon, delayed marriage and children in order to maintain their standard of living for more than one or two generations. Since the Anglo-Saxons did not produce as many children as the lower races, their race would die. In the same year that Ross’s essay was published, Theodore Roosevelt said in a speech that “every married couple of ‘native American descent’ must have at least four children to prevent race suicide.” 39   By the turn of the century, Americans in general greeted immigrants with a wary eye rather than with the open arms of the early 1880s.

      Another movement that occurred during Pound’s early years was Populism. The origins of Populism actually dated back to 1877 with the founding of the National Farmers Alliance and Industrial Union. The Farmers Alliance originally formed cooperatives, and those that joined could open their own trade stores, buy their own supplies from “buying committees,” and form their own cotton yards to weigh their cotton. 40  

     After the Civil War, farmers were subjected to the “crop lien,” which made farmers slaves to merchants. In his book, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America, Lawrence Goodwyn describes the “crop lien system” as follows: a cotton farmer would order supplies from a merchant yet only receive some of the materials; the merchant would then record everything in a ledger and when the time came to settle up the account, the merchant would meet the farmer at a local cotton gin and weigh the farmer’s crop; the merchant would then inform the farmer that the crop was not sufficient to cover the debt, and he would carry the farmer for another winter on a different account, and thus the farmer mortgaged his next crop to the merchant. 41   Goodwyn writes: “Such was the crop lien system. It constituted a new and debasing method of economic organization that took its specific form from the devastation of the Civil War and from the collapse of the economic structure of Southern society which had resulted from the war.” 42   The Farmers Alliance allowed farmers to escape the “crop lien system.”

      In 1886, a convention of the Farmers Alliance was held in Cleburne, Texas, and thus produced the “Cleburne Demands,” which addressed issues beyond the “crop lien system.” The “Cleburne Demands” outlined the basics ideals of the Populists; in fact, “in 1886 the organizational impulses of hope and self-respect generated by farmer cooperatives . . . identified themselves. Shaped by tensions of organizing and expanding across the nation, the new culture of a people’s politics that had materialized in Texas in 1886 became known to the nation in 1892 as ‘Populism.’” 43  

     Five of the "Cleburne Demands" dealt with labor issues, three with the power of the railroads, and two with the financial problem; of the six demands relating to agricultural matters, five of them focused on land policy and the sixth on commodity dealings in agricultural futures. 44  

     Regarding labor issues, examples of the demands are as follows: one involved the recognition of trade unions and cooperative stores; another demand called for the establishment of a national bureau of statistics, and another called for the abolition of leasing state convicts to private employers. 45   On the issue of the power of the railroads, the demands “betrayed agrarian anxiety over the power of railroad lobbyists to manipulate state legislatures and law enforcement agencies, as well as the ability of railroad financiers to profit from watered stock [a stock that represents overvalued assets].” 46  

     Goodwyn explains that the “most explosive portion of the [Farmers Alliance's Committee for the Good of the Order] report concerned the financial question.” 47   The report called for the use of greenbacks and unlimited coinage of gold and silver:

The proposal called for a federally administered national banking system embracing a flexible currency, to be achieved through the substitution of legal tender treasury notes for existing issues of private national banks. The sums involved should be issued by the federal treasury and regulated by Congress to provide “per capita circulation that shall increase as the population and business interests of the country expand.” In short, the plank advanced the doctrines of the Greenback Party. To address the immediate problem of a severely contracted money supply, the committee proposed, as a consciously inflationist measure, the “rapid extinguishment of the public debt through immediate unlimited coinage of gold and silver” and “the tendering of same without discrimination to the public creditors of the nation.” 48  

     The issue of the taking money out of the hands of bankers and into the government or the hands of the people, as suggested in the “Cleburne Demands” and the doctrine of “greenbacks,” is an integral part of understanding Pound’s ultimate anti-Semitism. 49   In his essay, “Populist Influences on American Fascism,” Victor Ferkiss claims that Pound’s political beliefs in the 1930s were a form of American fascism that evolved from Populism: “Pound’s voluminous economic writings are almost wholly devoted to the advocacy of public control of credit to defeat the money power . . . The evils of usury and the necessity of monetary reform are the themes of his most important poetic works.” 50  

      In the same essay, Ferkiss explains that the issue of monetary reform was central to Populism: “[T]he most important plank in the Populist economic platform—the restoration to the people of their ‘sovereign power’ to control money; private control is held to be a violation of the Constitution and a usurpation of a government function . . . . Public power will protect the national interest against the selfish few.” 51  

     Ferkiss also explains the Populists’ complaints with the railroad and private banking: “These settlers needed money for capital and were dependent on the railroads to sell their goods. The value of money appreciated so greatly that they had difficulty in paying their debts. The railroads, controlled by Eastern financial interests, were able to exploit them. The local governments and press were to a considerable extent the creatures of Eastern money, as were most of the local banks. A struggle began for a government which would regulate credit and control the railroads so that the settlers might prosper as middle-class landowners.” 52   Indeed, Robert McMath, Jr. in his book, American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898, explains that “[f]armers put their distress neither on themselves nor on ‘acts of God’ . . . but rather on the nation’s institutions of credit, transportation, and commerce . . . .” 53   The “Cleburne Demands,” especially the ones focused upon money reform, became the basic ideals of Populism.

      Another factor regarding money reform in the “Cleburne Demands” was “the unlimited coinage of silver.” In response to the issue of the unlimited coinage of silver, “the Crime of ’73” should be brought into the discussion for historical background. Goodwyn offers an explanation about this event:

In the early 1870’s, a currency bill had been introduced that . . . quietly dropped the silver dollar from the nation’s coinage. By the time the bill had proceeded toward enactment late in 1872, new mining methods had vastly increased the production of silver, depressing prices at a rate that indicated to all that those who were aware of the meaning of such developments that silver would soon fall below par with gold. Now specie resumption threatened to become a hollow victory for the cause of sound money because the more valuable gold dollars would soon disappear from circulation and silver would necessarily be employed to redeem the wartime bonds: depreciated silver would remove some of the anticipated windfall for wartime bondholders. To knowledgeable advocates of the gold dollar, the new coinage bill to drive silver out of circulation became not merely attractive, but absolutely necessary. . . . Partly as a result of disingenuous explanations by its congressional sponsors, the bill attained final passage in January of 1873 without even a roll call vote in the Senate. Though specie payments were not resumed at once, silver was ‘demonetized’ and the country placed on the gold standard. 54  

     The “Cleburne Demands” brought the issue of silver back into the focus of at least the members of the Farmers Alliance. When the Farmers Alliance became a political party in 1892, the issue of silver was brought into the political arena and gained the attention of Republicans and Democrats. Beginning in 1892, “[t]he doctrine of free silver was the overriding thought in the mining states of the West. Silver Republicans, silver Democrats, and silver Populists ‘fused’ in a wondrous variety of ways to contest major party traditionalists on the only matter of interest to any of the participants—the increased coinage of the white metal.” 55   In fact, William Jennings Bryan, a Democratic congressman from Nebraska, in his reelection campaign in 1892 called for ‘free and unlimited coinage of silver.’” 56   In 1893, Bryan made a speech in Congress about free silver and acquired new friends among the silver mine-owners; they promptly printed almost a million copies of the speech for distribution.” 57   In 1894, the Omaha World-Herald, of which Bryan was also an editor, announced Bryan’s candidacy for the Senate “at the ‘request’ of the executive committee of a new group called the ‘Nebraska Democratic Free Coinage League.’” 58  

     Also, at this time, the American Bimetallic League came into notice: “Though the American Bimetallic League had been formed by silver mine-owners as early as 1889 and held its first non-partisan convention in St. Louis that year, it was not until the depression of 1893 had placed severe pressure on the nation’s gold reserves that silver coinage began to have serious possibilities as a national issue.” 59   After the 1894 elections, “the American Bimetallic League began sponsoring scores of ‘conferences’ at which little business was carried on beyond mass celebrations of the virtues of silver coinage.” 60   The issue of free silver reached its climax when the issue became a major platform in the 1896 election. William McKinley was nominated by Republicans on a gold standard platform and “Southern and Western Democrats . . . were determined to refurbish the party’s appearance by writing a silver platform and nominating any one of a half-dozen silver politicians as its presidential candidate.” 61   William Jennings Bryan was not only nominated by the Democrats but also by the Populists.

      Higham points out that the free silver issue led to a development of mistrust concerning Jews: “Tradition connected Jews with gold, which was becoming one of the major touchstones of international strife. After 1890 the government’s determination to maintain the gold standard excited enormous discontent and defined the great political issue of the period. Since greedy, destructive forces seemed somehow at work in the government and economy, suspicion dawned that a Jewish bid for supremacy was wreaking the havoc that America could not control. Agrarian radicals, absorbed in a passionate crusade for free silver, sometimes yielded to this conjecture . . . .” 62  

     Higham also explains that Americans thought the Jews “were a people without a single national home or center of power: an international people. Since gold was becoming . . . a more and more firmly established international standard, millions of Americans associated their country’s troubles with an international medium of exchange and felt themselves in the toils of a world-wide money-power. Did the Jews perhaps have an international loyalty above all governments, a quenchless resolve to rule the world themselves?” 63  

     Dobkowski notes that silverites singled out the Rothschilds as conspirators in what they believed was a plot to take control of the gold standard in America.

“In America, unfortunately, the Rothschilds became involved in one of the most unpopular financial transactions the United States Treasury ever undertook. When President Cleveland’s effort to save the gold standard culminated in 1895 in a secretly negotiated contract to buy gold in Europe, the names of August Belmont and Company and N. M. Rothschild and Sons appeared prominently. By singling out the Rothschilds, silverites found all the evidence they needed to demonstrate how Jewish money power profited American distress.” 64

     In fact, William Jennings Bryan accused President Cleveland of putting the country into the hands of the Rothschilds. 65  

      It is not evident that Pound knew about the anti-Semitism that surrounded the silver issue in 1890’s, but he was aware of Bryan’s defeat in 1896. Humphrey Carpenter in his work, A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound, cites a poem that Pound wrote at age eleven about William Jennings Bryan. This poem, entitled “On the Defeat of William Jennings Bryan,” was published in the Jenkintown Times-Chronicle on November 7, 1896:

There was a young man from the West.
He did what he could, for what he thought best;
	But election came round;
	He found himself downed,
And the papers will tell you the rest.66  

     The poem shows that the eleven-year-old Pound was well aware of the election. The silver issue was also an integral part of the Pound family. In Hailey, Idaho, where Ezra Pound was born, Homer registered the silver claims of the prospectors and stood guard over them; he also tested and assayed silver or led to determine its purity. 67   In 1889, Homer took a job as an assistant assayer in the United States Mint in Philadelphia. 68   Wilhelm sees his father’s assaying of metals as an influence on Pound’s poetry: “Thoroughly opposed to the romantic notion of compositions that was dominant in the nineteenth century, Pound insisted that every word had to be weighed and examined with great care in the process of creation, precisely the way his father assayed the metals. A brilliant maker or distributor of coins was a kinsman to a brilliant artist. Both were concerned with keeping society alive—the minter with his coins, the artist with his words. . . .There is no doubt that Pound saw the false manipulators of money as the true traitors to any society, along with the polluters of language.” 69  

      Pound’s exposure to American Nativism and Populism played a minor background role in the development of his anti-Semitism; his parents, however, did not contribute to it. Wilhelm notes, “In opposition to the general will of the community, Homer [Pound’s father] . . . freely invited many Italians and Jews and other ‘foreigners’ from Philadelphia to his home in Wyncote.” 70   Anti-Semitism existed in the suburb of Wyncote, but Pound’s father appeared not to pay attention to it and sublet his home to W. B. Hackenburg, the President of the Jewish Hospital Association, which “probably made several of his neighbors either furious or uneasy . . . .” 71  

     In her book, The American Ezra Pound, Wendy Flory comments on Isabel and Homer’s beliefs and the anti-Semitism surrounding Pound: “Nineteenth-century, un-self-consciously racist attitudes were unquestionably part of Pound’s childhood . . . yet this kind of pro forma antisemitism did not necessarily imply an actively discriminatory attitude and this was especially the case with Homer and Isabel Pound, whose religious convictions were not just concepts to pay lip service to but injunctions to be acted on.” 72   Indeed, American Nativism and Populism rather than the influence of his parents affected Pound’s views towards Jews.

      Pound attended the University of Pennsylvania in 1901 and then transferred in 1903 to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. During Pound’s years in college, there was not any indication of anti-Semitism. In fact, Pound fell in love with a Jewish pianist, whom he met while attending Hamilton. She was Jewish, eight years older than Pound, and, according to Wilhelm, Pound thought about being her manager while she was on tour in London. 73   After graduating from Hamilton in 1905, Pound enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania and studied Romance Languages; he received his Master’s degree from the university in 1906. Pound briefly taught at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, but was asked to leave in February of 1908 because a girl from a visiting burlesque was found in his room. 74   That was the end of Pound’s academic career, but he certainly never surrendered the role as a teacher.

      Pound set sail for Europe on March 23, 1908 and landed in Gibraltar. In “Canto 22,” published in the Dial in February of 1928, Pound remarks about how his guide, Yusuf, took him to a synagogue in Gibraltar. The description does not contain any anti-Semitic connotations, but rather emphasizes how the elders accepted Pound. Pound’s description depicts the elders sharing a snuff box and inviting Pound, who refers to himself as the “stranger,” to join them:

And then the rabbi looked at the stranger, and they
All grinned half a yard wider, and the rabbi
Whispered for about two minutes longer,
An’ the kid brought the box over to me,
And I grinned and sniffed up my thumb-full.75  

     Wilhelm comments on the significance of this passage: “Since Pound has so often been accused of blanket anti-Semitism, this passage deserves special scrutiny. Written before the thirties, when anti-Semitism was an integral part of most right-wing politics in Europe, it shows a positive attitude toward the Jews. Pound stresses the sense of social camaraderie that he found in the temple.” 76   Pound found his way to Venice, where he used his own money to publish A Lume Spento, his first book of poems. A Lume Spento in hand, Pound then arrived in London on August 14, 1908.

      Like New York, London was filled with immigrants. “As a land of immigration, she stands second only to the United States . . . In 1914, no city other than New York and Chicago contained more East European immigrants than London.” 77   The statistics from the 1880’s show the increase in the Jewish population: “Between 1881 and 1914 about 150,000 Jews from eastern Europe settled in the British Isles; most found their way to London. . . . Between 1851 and 1881 London’s Jewish population had grown at an annual rate of 4 percent. But between 1881 and 1900 London’s Jewish population expanded to approximately 135,000 (an annual rate of growth of 10 percent); of these it was estimated in 1899 that roughly 120,000 were living in the East End.” 78   Just as in America, where Jews congregated in the Lower East side of Manhattan, so did the Jews in London live in a certain section, the East End of London. A Board of Guardians was appointed to assist the Jewish paupers, but it could not handle the large influx. In fact, this board submitted articles to the Jewish press in Eastern Europe that warned Jews, who fled to Britain to escape persecution, that they would find hardships in London and would not obtain relief during their first six months; the board also encouraged these immigrants to go to America. 79   For the first generation of immigrants, assimilation into society was difficult: “[That] these immigrants were different from the Gentiles among whom they dwelled was obvious, but . . . these differences tended beyond more religious beliefs and practices to embrace an entire spectrum of customs and lifestyles . . . .” 80  

      Pound stayed in London for only two years before taking a trip back to America in 1910. But during these two years he made important contacts who would shape his life and introduce him to influential people. Pound met Dorothy Shakespear, who would eventually become his wife in 1914. Through Dorothy’s mother, Olivia Shakespear, Pound met William Butler Yeats, who would become his mentor and friend. Pound also met T. E. Hulme, who would introduce him to A. R. Orage, who educated Pound in economics. According to Carpenter, some of the people in Pound’s circle were wary of Jewish financiers: “Suspicion and fear of Jewish financiers was such a commonplace of Edwardian society that Ford Madox Hueffer [Pound’s friend] could casually write in his novel A Call (1910) that a Harley Street doctor was ‘heavily indebted to the Jews.’” Dorothy Pound had also been brought up in this climate. According to Carpenter, in a 1913 letter to Ezra “she observes that ’rich, stockbroking Jews are not nice company,’ and James Laughlin remembers that when the conversation got round to the Jews there would be a ‘gleam in her eye.’” 81  

      Pound moved back to America on June 25, 1910, and stayed in Philadelphia and New York. This trip back to America played a vital role in the development of Pound’s anti-Semitism. “Pound . . . felt a great sense of alienation as he walked the city’s streets in New York. Years before, as he traveled with Aunt Frank and Uncle Ezra, he had felt that the city belonged to them. But now, suddenly, there were floods of immigrants from eastern and Southern Europe who were displacing the old-line White Anglo-Saxon Protestants from whom he was largely descended.” 82  

     In fact, Pound’s first anti-Semitic remark in prose appears in an article called, “Patria Mia,” which was based on his experiences in New York in 1910. The series of eleven installments ran in the pages of The New Age in 1912, and in the second installment, Pound refers to Jews as alien and as mongrels: “The Englishman, in dealing with the American, forgets, I think, that he has to do with a southerner, a man of the Mid. He thinks, erroneously, that the United States, once a set of his colonies, is by race Anglo-Saxon . . . . The Jew alone can retain his detestable qualities, despite climatic conditions. That is, perhaps, an overstatement, but it is certain that the climate has about as much to do with the characteristics of a people as has their ethnology. And especially if the race is mongrel, one stock neutralising the forces of the other, the climate takes up its lordship and decrees the nature of the people resulting.” 83   This remark has the undertone of American Nativism, and Pound’s words are partly his response to the mass of Jewish immigrants from eastern and southern Europe.

      In the article, “Through Alien Eyes,” that was published in 1913 in The New Age, Pound comments on the difference between the Italian immigrants and the Jewish immigrants who congregate on a certain street in Philadelphia. Regarding the Italians, Pound does not make any derogatory remarks:

Thus, there is in Philadelphia, on South 10th Street, an institution for Italians—a church, if the name be not too misleading. During the week the children and those who are no longer children come there to learn wood-carving and modeling, and to give plays on a stage in the basement; and there is a day school. These Italians are for the most part sturdy peasants who make a living by working on railroads and as masons, or in various work of that sort. They come to the “church” for relaxation, for amusement; it is a decorative feature in their lives. 84  

     In the lines that follow, Pound writes about the Jews and refers to them as “wise and provident.” But his remarks dip into anti-Semitism when he explains how these Jews differ from Italian immigrants:

    On the opposite corner there is an institution maintained by the Jews. Here you would find children huddled together, learning every sort of trade—shoe-making, the various specialties of tailoring, etc.
    This wise and provident people, receiving its emigrants from Russia, from the afflicted districts, takes measures to prepare them as swiftly as possible to make their way among new surrounding, to acquire-—and do acquire—and buy up land and become rich in due season.
    Of course, the Italians also go on raising their standard of living, but it is a new country. I point out the Jewish system of training as the wise means devised by one section of the poor, one nation of our country, to gain advantage over the rest. Which they very obviously do.
    The term “church” may surprise you; but if any slum work is undertaken “interdenominationally” the Jew overruns it and gradually pushes out the others.
    Acquisitive, he wants ‘culture,’ or anything else that he can get, free; and he has the foresight which is more or less lacking among the simpler, more sensuous emigrants: he knows that whatever he learns may come in handy some time or other. 85  

     What Pound is talking about when he writes about how the Jews gain advantage over the rest -- other immigrants and maybe even Americans -- is that the focus of Jewish immigrants is more on making money. The Jewish immigrants learn different kinds of trade or skills in order to make money, and they also buy land in order to make money. The next paragraph about how Jews overrun and push out others, as in the case of those doing “slum work,” shows, according to Pound, that Jews are competitive in terms of making money and will push the competition out of their way.

      Both of these articles appeared in The New Age, a journal to which Pound contributed countless articles from 1911-1921. The editor of The New Age, A. R. Orage, was not anti-Semitic, but he published articles by various authors, who wrote in support and against Jews in such areas as finance, conscription, assimilation, and the Jewish homeland. It is interesting to note that Orage never edited or censored his contributors’ work.

     The New Age featured such writers as Cecil Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, who both wanted a balanced economy that supported independent farmers and small industries owned by the workers. They also regarded Jews, specifically those involved in finance, as a menace to the economy and government. In Cecil Chesterton’s article, “Mr. Verdad and the ‘New Witness,’” which appeared in The New Age in 1914, Chesterton writes that he sees the Jews as an international power due to their wealth, and he sees them as a threat. 86   In his book, Social Credit: The English Origins, John Finely argues that The New Age did have an anti-Semitic quality to it in terms of economics and accusations towards Jewish money lenders; however, he notes, “There was no suggestion that this anti-Semitism was directed against Jews as persons; many Jews wrote for the paper. ” 87  

     It is interesting to see the common stereotypes especially those which involve Jews and money that occurred in The New Age during the period of Pound’s contributions. For example, an article entitled “The Folly of Anti-Semitism” by an anonymous author, probably Orage, which appeared in The New Age in 1913, defends Jews against the label of the evil financier. The article essentially blames the Catholics for attacking Jewish financers and spreading lies about how the Jews control gold and that European governments have fallen into their hands. The fear of the Jews’ controlling the gold standard and therefore governments was one of the common stereotypes of anti-Semitism. In another article, entitled “Russian Jews,” that appeared in 1915, C.E. Bechhofer argues that Russian Jews should be granted full citizenship, but he also refers to Jews, in general, as “usurers” and explains the Jews have become usurers over the world not through oppression but through nature. 88   Pound was well aware of this type of sentiment in the pages of The New Age as well as in other sources.

     In two other journals, Pound contributes two poems that show this type of attitude towards Jews and money. The first remark appears in a poem, “Salutation The Third,” published in June of 1914 for Blast:

Come, let us on with the new deal
Let us be done with Jews and Jobbery,
Let us SPIT upon those who fawn on the JEWS for their money,
Let us out to the pastures.89  

     The term “jobbery” refers to the corrupt practice of making private gains from public office. Pound’s lines denote a suspicion of Jews and money and an implication that Jews and riches are connected. In fact, the phrase “Jews and Jobbery” was taken out of the poem and changed to “pandars and jobbery” in Pound’s Personae, which was published in 1926. In a poem published in 1915 for Poetry, he also shows an awareness about the prejudice of moneylending:

The four round towers, four brothers—mostly fools:
What could he do but play the desperate chess,
And stir old grudges?
       “Pawn your castles, lords!
Let the Jews pay.”90  

     Here Pound quotes a character, but the quotation demonstrates a common stereotype of Jews gaining control through money. Of this charge Pound was well aware.

      In the pages of The New Age, specifically in 1915, the Armenian genocide was discussed, and Orage published different viewpoints on the atrocity, even if the comments were in poor taste. The Armenian genocide occurred in April 1915, when the Turks ordered the deportation of the Armenian population to the deserts of Syria and Mesopotamia; between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were either murdered or died from starvation. There is little discussion about the Armenians until Pound’s article, which is actually not even about the genocide. In “This Super-Neutrality,” published in October of 1915, Pound writes about the neutrality of the United States, but he makes some controversial comments about the Armenians and other races in Eastern Europe:

    If tyranny is visible in our modern world it is visible in the militarism of Germany, in the rule of Ferdinand of Bulgaria and in the Armenian massacres . . . .     I detest Armenians, I mistrust all accounts of Armenians, I believe them to have been invented by the late Mr. Gladstone, whose memory is, to me, most unsympathetic. I am willing to concede to Herr Treitschke (or however he spells himself) that the immolation of Armenians is very good for the rest of the race. Personally, I could do without all the inhabitants of Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, the Balkans, and the Near East in general. I am firmly convinced that the slaughter of one or two dozen carefully selected inhabitants of this city would be of advantage to the race at large.     But the general principle that murder is not good for the race more than outweighs the theoretical or hypothetical advantage of the above-mentioned slaughter.91  

     This demonstrates how Pound would get carried away with his writing. Pound’s comments actually began a “polite” argument over whether the deaths of the Armenians were in fact their own fault or the Turks’. Marmaduke Pickthall, an Englishman who converted to Islam, wrote several pieces in November and December of 1915 in defense of the Turks, claiming that the Armenian deaths were not genocide and were brought about due to their revolt. In response, Arnold J. Toynbee invited Pickthall to read his book, Armenian Atrocities: The Murder of a Nation.

     The period 1914-1917 is important in the development of Pound’s anti-Semitism for one key reason: World War One, which brought a sharpening of Orage’s stance on economics. Orage saw that the real enemies in the war were the bankers and profiteers. A specific column in The New Age, on Feb 3, 1916, “represented a conceptual breakthrough for Orage and a change of direction for The New Age.” The column was about “the issuing of Treasury notes at the beginning of the war, calling it a two hundred million pound ‘loan’ to the banks, and then went on to observe that the banks had been making unprecedented profits.”92   Pound was greatly influenced by Orage in his suspicion of bankers and the government. “Orage taught Pound that economic power preceded political power, that political reform was useless without economic reform. He awakened in Pound a sense of outrage at collusion between bankers and government officials, aided by the press, to favor private over national interests.”93   At this point in time, mistrust of the government, bankers, and the press was beginning to take root in Pound’s beliefs.

      Pound’s anti-Semitic comments usually revolved around American Nativism and the stereotypes involving Jews and money. In an article for the Little Review, written in 1917, Pound’s reference to Jews and other races is a good example: “Unfortunately, the turmoil of yidds, letts, finns, esthonians, cravats, niberians, nubians, algerians, sweeping along Eighth Avenue in the splendour of their vigorous unwashed animality will not help us.” 94   But in a later paragraph, Pound compliments the Jews and other races: “The turmoil of Yidds, Letts, etc., is ‘full of promise,’ full of vitality. They are the sap of the nation, our heritors, the heritors of our ancient acquisitions.” 95   In a poem for the Little Review that appeared in 1918, Pound writes about the Jew in terms of a common typecast involving appearance:

    The noble sentiments
Which fill the form of this unbearable Jew
		(four ft. 9 in. by 3 ft.)
Overflow into his countenance
and out of his countenance
and into his gestures
and into his carriage
to the devastation of everyone96  
Jews since the Middle Ages have been referred to in terms of unflattering and animal qualities and in the twentieth century, not much had changed. Pound’s description of the “unbearable Jew” in the poem is unflattering even though he says that the Jew has noble sentiments. Pound’s reference to a Jew in the poem is similar to T. S. Eliot’s depiction of Jews in his poems published in 1920. For example, in “Gerontion,” Eliot describes a Jew squatting and spawned like some lower life form:

My house is a decayed house,
And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner,
Spawned in some estaminet of Antwerp,
Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London.97  
Likewise, in “Sweeney Among the Nightingales,” the character of Rachel née;e Rabinovitch, a Russian Jew, is described in terms of an animal:

Rachel née;e Rabinovitch
Tears at the grapes with muderous paws98  

     The image of the Jew, short and animalistic, is an unfortunate stereotype during this time. Another anti-Semitic reference involving Jews and money appeared in Pound’s article, “Pastiche: The Regional,” installment sixteen of eighteen, published in The New Age in 1919. The context of the article involves a card sent to Pound from the University of Pennsylvania, which asks him to declare his religious status. The article, however, becomes an attack on different religions, including Judaism, which, according to Pound, call upon an act of violence in the name of God: “There is no greater curse than an idea propagated by violence. The African savage invokes his ‘Ju’ when he wants to bash the next tribe successfully; his god is an assistant to his worst instincts; the Jew, however, received a sort of roving commission from his ‘Jhv’ to bash all and sundry.” 99   However, in the same article, Pound specifically targets the Jews and their connection with money: “We note, in support of our proposition re the futility of violence, that since the lions of the Tribe of Judah gave up the sword, ‘beat it’ metaphorically into the pawn-shop, their power has steadily increased; no such suave and uninterrupted extension of power is to be attributed to any ‘world-conquering’ bellicose nation.” 100   This last quotation notes that the power of the Jews has increased from money in the form of “the pawnshop.” Pound’s words show the common stereotype of the relationship between Jews and money.

      It was not until 1919 that a meeting between Pound and Major C. H. Douglas would lead Pound to connect Jews and usury. Major C. H. Douglas, whom Pound met through Orage, influenced Pound’s views on economics and Pound’s anti-Semitism. Orage helped Douglas with his writing style, and The New Age began to serialize Douglas’s first two books, Economic Democracy and Credit Power and Democracy; they appeared in book form in 1920. 101   Orage was interested in Douglas because of his theory of Social Credit, which involved the creation of new money in the form of social dividends. Douglas came up with the idea when he “concluded that the production of goods by manufacturers does not of itself provide sufficient employment or pay sufficient wages to generate enough purchasing power for all manufactured goods to find a market. There is a gap, which is normally filled by exporting the surplus goods and by borrowing money to finance production and create further employment. But, said Douglas, exports lead to competition between countries, which leads to war, while borrowing leads to the accumulation of an unrepayable debt.” 102   Part of Social Credit involved what Douglas called the A + B theorem, which Pound described later in “Canto XXXVIII” that was published in the New English Weekly in September 1933:

A factory
has also another aspect, which we call the financial aspect
It gives people the power to buy (wages, dividends
which are power to buy) but it is also the cause of prices
or values, financial, I mean financial values
It pays workers, and pays for material.
What it pays in wages and dividends
stays fluid, as power to buy, and this power is less,
 per forza, damn blast your intellex, is less
than the total payments made by the factory
(as wages, dividends AND payments for raw material
bank charges, etcetera)
and all, that is the whole, that is the total
of these is added into the total of prices
caused by that factory, any damn factory
and there is and must be therefore a clog
and the power to purchase can never
(under the present system) catch up with 
prices at large103  

     Group A equals the wages and dividends and group B equals the payments made to bank charges and raw materials; the factory pays for workers and for the material. Group A has purchase power, but this purchase power is actually less than the total payments made by the factory for what appears in Group B. The factory sets the prices, the workers cannot pay for the factory’s product, and therefore the factory owner, according to Finlay, retains power. Finlay explains that Social Credit: “was an argument devoted primarily to showing the inevitability of servility, for since the people could never buy the whole product, the plant owners retained power.” 104  

     According to Redman, however, “Douglas’s A + B theory stated simply that the prices of factory goods outrun a society’s ability to pay for them, owing to the need for profit.” 105   This concept, Redman explains, violated Say’s law, which states that “’products are paid for by products,’ or supply creates its own demand.” 106   Redman writes: “Say’s law implies that the capitalist system will always be able to absorb increases in productivity; Douglas . . . did not agree.” 107   Douglas influenced Pound’s understanding of economics, and Pound would embrace the premises of Social Credit for the rest of his life. Like Orage, Douglas was wary of bankers, but Douglas thought the most prominent and powerful bankers were Jews and usurers.

      In 1919 and 1920, indeed, one can see an impact of Douglas on Pound’s writing because the word “usury” starts to enter Pound’s published prose and poetry. In “The Revolt of Intelligence,” installment eight of ten that appeared in The New Age in 1920, Pound writes about usury: “There is no need to confuse the constructive manufacturer with the usurer, even though the two functions be performed by the same individual . . . .” 108   In the same article in the context of writing about the altruism of a wholesale agent, Pound makes the following comments about the agent and usury:

      The altruism of my second type was very “human.” He was [a] wholesale agent for large cloth firms in the south of France; he viewed labouring men with something approaching terror, but he felt for others (within his own class). There was no hypocrisy . . . it was in unconscious facial expression that he showed his distress over the misfortune of clients who had bought largely in 1918 in the belief that the war would go on, and prices continue to rise. Poor devils left with all that stuff and no sales. No chance of his selling anything more to them. Then a new distress came upon him. He couldn’t get skilled packers and invoicers. He had sold his whole warehouse full of stock to les Allemands.

      Human sympathies would, nevertheless, survive the triumph of Major C. H. Douglas’ profound attack upon usury. 109  

     In installment nine of “The Revolt of Intelligence,” Pound also writes the following comment about usury: “One hesitates to foretell the date of any good thing; one can only suppose an improvement of the economic system will come when the super-labourer, not merely ‘black-coated Labour,’ but the organiser, the out-reacher, turns against usury; when he dissociates two ideas: leadership and exploitation.” 110   Pound wants the laborers as well as the “organizer,” which probably refers to some type of leader, to turn against usury; as far as Pound is concerned, usury harms the laborers because they are working for money that they can never fully earn; they are being exploited to turn a usurer’s profit. Also, in the same installment, Pound describes the banker: “The modern banker is a less pleasing spectacle than the Medici pontiff; he is as debonairly and as naively anxious to tax hoaxable ‘many’ by wangles of exchanges, by floatings, and re-collectings of paper money, by juggling of credits, as was ever a wide-hatted cardinal.” 111   In “The Revolt of Intelligence” one can see Pound’s disparaging views of bankers and the financial system. The term “usury” also entered Pound’s poetry; in “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” published in 1920, Pound describes usury as “usury age-old and age-thick.” 112  

      Douglas also in part reinforced the familiar stereotypes of Jewish conspiracy and infiltration. Douglas’s book, Social Credit, published in 1924, was filled with anti-Semitic sentiments. In Social Credit, Douglas implied that the financial system would lead to a world dictatorship. Though he does not directly accuse Jews of taking a part in the financial system, he makes the assumption obvious in the following quotation:

It is to be remembered that the financial system is a centralising system; it can only have one logical end, and that is a world dictatorship. There seems to be very little doubt that the temporary headquarters of this potential world dictatorship have been moved from country to country several times during the past five or six centuries. At one time it was in Italy and specifically in Genoa, then the Low Countries and Lombardy, from whence came the Jewish Lombards who gave their name to Lombard Street. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it has unquestionably been in London, but there is every indication that a change of headquarters to New York is contemplated. 113  

     Douglas also writes, “[T]he power of money is by far the greatest power which is wielded by this small minority of persons. The power to reward and punish, which is the power that they prize, is almost solely due to the fact that most people in the world want money, and most people in the world cannot get it, except eventually by the acquiescence of those in executive control of the Financial System.” 114  

     During this time, Pound writes about the Anglo- Saxon race. In “The Revolt of Intelligence,” installment five, Pound writes: “I am racially fifteen parts English and the remaining sixteenth part Celtic; and I was born in a country where the Anglo Saxon stock is now said to be in a minority.” 115   This view is similar to what Douglas wrote in Social Credit about the English: “The Anglo-Saxon character probably remains the greatest bulwark against tyranny that exists in the world today. . . . But if it be granted, it will be agreed that any attempt, either conscious or unconscious, to establish an effective hegemony over the whole of the world would be likely to concentrate on such methods as would paralyse the Anglo-Saxon.” 116  

     According to Wilhelm, both Orage and more so Douglas had a direct influence on Pound’s anti-Semitism: “It was in London, when Pound was studying international banking and its pernicious effects upon social harmony, that the poet concentrates upon the influence of the Rothschilds on world finance, directed to a large part by Orage and Douglas.” 117   As has been stated, Orage was not anti-Semitic, but he did influence Pound into thinking in terms of bankers and finance. On the other hand, Douglas was anti-Semitic and viewed Jews as conspirators. Though Pound’s writings during these London years do not label Jews as conspirators or even usurers, the seeds linking Jews to usury and conspiracy were planted.

      Pound and his wife Dorothy left London and arrived in Paris in January of 1921 and stayed in Paris until October of 1924. In Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism, Redman cites Orage’s explanation, which appeared on January 21, 1921, in the The New Age, about why Pound left London: “Mr. Pound, like so many others who have striven for the advancement of intelligence and culture in England, has made more enemies than friends. Much of the Press has been deliberately closed by cabal to him; his books have for some time been ignored or written down; and he himself has been compelled to live on much less than would support a navvy.” 118   In an article for Poetry, published in March of 1921, Pound also wrote about the intellectual atmosphere in London: “The intellectual curiosity of this island is nil . . . the young American who wants external stimulant for his thought would do better to turn his attention to Paris . . . .” 119   In the Little Review in the spring of 1922, under the pseudonym of Abel Sanders, Pound said about Paris: “The intellectual capital of America is still Paris. Recent attempts to transfer it to Vienna, Naples or Stockholm have not, up to the present, succeeded.” 120  

     In Paris, Pound surrounded himself with writers, painters, and composers; in fact, Pound wrote an opera during his stay in Paris. He also met Olga Rudge, a violinist, who would become his companion; she would give him a daughter in 1925 and stay with him during his last years of life. Pound helped many writers during this time. He edited T. S. Eliot’s manuscript of The Waste Land and helped the careers of Ernest Hemingway and E. E. Cummings.

     When Pound arrived in Paris, he again encountered anti-Semitism. France actually had a long history of Jewish emancipation, starting with the French Revolution. The Jews were emancipated in September of 1791 in a resolution passed by the French National Assembly. Their entry into national politics was slow, and it would take at least eighty years following emancipation for Jews to be elected with frequency. 121   French Jews in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were successful in their attempt to assimilate into society, but they still met anti-Semitism, as evidenced by the Rothschild myth and the Dreyfus Affair in the late 1900's.

      The Rothschilds, a powerful Jewish family, had one of the largest fortunes in France in the 19th century. The family helped frame the financial policy of the Central Bank and, along with two other families, was responsible for the installation of the French railway system. But the Rothschilds “were, throughout the nineteenth century until contemporary times, subject to popular condemnation that associated capitalism with Jewish power.” 122   The success of this Jewish family generated the stereotype of the crooked, Jewish financier. “The Rothschild myth — of the omnipotence of the unassimilated Court Jew, loyal to his religious conviction and kinship community, engaging in hidden conspiracies with his coreligionists abroad, ultimately to dominate the good people of France — was widely perpetuated. This myth demonstrates the unexpected arrival of an anti-Semitism of rejection and extreme negation utilized by numerous anti-Semitic doctrinaires to legitimate the exclusionary behavior that lead to the Dreyfus affair and finally to Vichy.” 123  

     One of the prominent men contributing to this anti-Semitism was Édouard Drumont, the leader of the movement in France throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In his book, La France Juive, published in 1886, Drumont claims that the Jews have the majority of French wealth, and he proposes an Office of Confiscated Jewish Wealth. He calls the Jews “parasitical and usurious” and calls for a revolutionary regime to "surround the Jewish banks in Paris.” 124  

      Although bearing no direct connection to Pound, the Dreyfus Affair, which brought anti-Semitism to the forefront in the late nineteenth century, shows the landscape of sentiment that existed at that time. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a career officer, was accused, tried, and found guilty of espionage in 1894; he was accused of selling military secrets to the German military attaché. He was sentenced to Devil’s Island off the coast of French Guiana in South America. Later Lieut. Col. Georges Picquart found evidence that it was not Dreyfus but a Major C.F. Esterhazy who was engaged in espionage. After this discovery Picquart was removed from his post. Esterhazy actually invented evidence and spread rumors and Major Hubert Joseph Henry, who discovered the original letter attributed to Dreyfus, forged new documents and suppressed others. When Esterhazy was brought before a court martial, he was acquitted and Picquart was arrested.

     On January 13, 1898, the French novelist Emile Zola published an open letter to the President of the Republic, Francois Felix Faure, accusing him of condemning an innocent man. Zola also accused the army of covering up its mistaken conviction of Dreyfus. Zola was charged with libel and in February of that year put on trial, one covered extensively by the press. Zola was convicted and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment and a monetary fine. (He died, in 1902, before he could see Dreyfus exonerated.) Major Henry committed suicide in August 1898, after confessing to the forgeries; Esterhazy fled to Belgium and London. Dreyfus was brought back from Devil’s Island for a new trial in 1899. He was again found guilty, but the new president, Emile Loubét, together with President of the Council René Waldeck-Rousseau, pardoned him. It was not until 1906 that the High Court of Appeals annulled the second Dreyfus verdict.

      As the Dreyfus Affair progressed and gained momentum in France, it became less about the innocence of Alfred Dreyfus, and more about the division of France into the nationalists — those who did not want Dreyfus retried and viewed the case as an attempt by the nation’s enemies to discredit the army, and as an issue of national security against international socialism and Jewry — and those who wanted Dreyfus exonerated and believed he was a victim of the military’s power over the republic’s authority. During the trial, the French press, particularly La Libre Parole edited by Édouard Drumont, used Dreyfus as a symbol for the disloyalty of the French Jews. Indeed, Jews and intellectuals were deeply affected by the Dreyfus affair: “The confidence of Jews in the liberal order was severely shaken. That such an affair could occur in France, the cradle of modern democracy, stunned many. The fact that a public—and not just the riffraff—schooled for over a century in the principles of ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’—could still contemptuously regard Dreyfus, an utterly assimilated Jew, as an outsider seemed to prove that assimilation was no defense against anti-Semitism.” 125  

     The Dreyfus Affair polarized France: “For more than a decade the Dreyfus affair deeply divided France; the defenders of the democratic principles of the Republic—and of Dreyfus’s right to a fair trial—were aligned against a coalition of clerical interests, conservative politicians, and anti-Semites who were bent more on guarding the honor of the military and the country than on ensuring that justice would prevail.” 126   After the Dreyfus Affair, however, the Jews in France found that they were able to express themselves in the political and cultural climate: “For the French Jewry the end of the Dreyfus Affair marked the symbolic commencement of an era of tranquility and security which lasted through World War I. French Jews felt themselves once more an integral part of the French nation and were convinced that the specter of anti-Semitism would haunt them no longer.” 127  

      These immigrants from Eastern Europe also brought anti-Semitism to the forefront for France in the twentieth century. France did not receive the flood of immigrants in the 1880s; rather, it was hit with this swell in 1906.

“While France had received relatively few immigrant in the years following the Russian pogroms of 1881-82, in 1906 there was an upsurge of Jewish immigration from Russia, as a result of the failure of the Revolution of 1905 and of the governmental repression which followed. Between 1906 and 1939 an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Jews settled in France. More than 75 percent of these new immigrants came from the countries of Eastern Europe . . . The East Europeans brought with them a folk culture, customs, and ideologies alien to French Jewry.” 128
The majority of French Jewry was largely middle class, but these immigrants were working class and impoverished and quartered themselves in a specific part of town, just as they did in the East End of London and the Lower East side of Manhattan in New York.

      Another matter that fed anti-Semitism during the early twentieth century was a notorious forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which started making the rounds in Europe and America in the 1920s. The Protocols proposes that Jews take over the world through an international conspiracy that uses finance, capitalism, Marxism, the press, and liberalism. The book described “a secret meeting held by ‘rabbis’ to organize the rule of the world under international Jewry, by the use of guile, the world banking system, and the world press, and, for good measure, the infiltration of the Freemasons.” 129   An unknown author, who was working for the Russian secret police, wrote the book in Paris in the last decade of the nineteenth century, and it was meant to influence the policy of Czar Nicholas II towards the secret police. 130  

      Norman Cohn in his book, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, writes that the Protocols “are only the most celebrated and influential in a long series of fabrications and forgeries reaching back almost to the French Revolution.” 131   Cohn explains that the earliest form of the myth can be traced to a five volume work, Mémoire pour server à l’histoire du Jacobinisme, published in 1797 by a French cleric, the Abbe Barruel. 132   Cohn writes that Barruel “argued that the French Revolution represented the culmination of an age-old conspiracy of the most secret societies. As he saw it, the trouble began with the medieval Order of Templars, which had not really been exterminated in 1314 but had survived as a secret society, pledged to abolish all monarchies, to overthrow the papacy, to preach unrestricted liberty to all people and to found a world-republic under its control.” 133   Different versions of the Protocols were written throughout the centuries, but the most influential version that was used in the twentieth century was based on a version written by Russian Sergey Nilus, which was published in 1905 to influence Tsar Nicholas II and actually reappeared in 1917 under the title, He is Near, At the Door … Here Comes Antichrist and the reign of the Devil on earth. 134  

     Cohn explains that, in this standard version, “the Protocols consist of lectures, or notes for lectures, in which a member of the secret Jewish government—the Elders of Zion—expounds a plot to achieve world domination.” 135   According to Cohn, the Protocols emphasizes three themes: “a critique of liberalism; an analysis of the methods by which world-domination is to be achieved by the Jews; and by a description of the world-state which is to be established.” 136   If one looks at the Protocols, one can see the common stereotypes involving Jews and finance. In an excerpt from the Protocols, for example, the author suggests that the Jews will start a financial crisis: “Having organized a general economic crisis by all possible under-handed means, and with the help of gold which is all in our hands, we will throw great crowds of workmen into the street . . . .” 137   The fear that the Jews controlled the gold standard was a general stereotype, and the Protocols confirmed this paranoia.

     In another excerpt, the author writes the leaders of governments will be the pawns of Jews: “The administrators chosen by us from among the people in accordance with their capacity for servility will not be experienced in the art of government, and consequently they will easily become pawns in our game . . . .” 138   Also, according to the Protocols, this secret society of Jews organized Marxism, along with other movements: “Do not think that our assertions are without foundation: note the successes of Darwinism, Marxism and Nietzscheism, engineered by us.” 139   Also, the author writes that the Jews will help the oppressed under the pretext of the Socialists, Anarchists, and Communists: “We will present ourselves in the guise of saviors of the workers from this oppression when we suggest that they enter our army of Socialists, Anarchists, Communists, to whom we always extend our help, under the guise of the rule of brotherhood demanded by the human solidarity of our social masonry.” 140  

     All these fears that were put down in print, and some people believed them to be true. In fact, Douglas believed in the veracity of the Protocols and used them to advance the Social Credit doctrines: “If the process is allowed to proceed without interruption, and it remains true that the possession of money is the only claim to the necessaries of life, then it is not difficult to see that within a very short space of time, that condition of universal slavery to which the writer of ‘The Protocols of Zion’ looked forward with such exultation, will be an accomplished fact.” 141  

     This was the atmosphere of anti-Semitism when Pound entered Paris. Pound’s anti-Semitism in his published articles is rare during this time in Paris. In an article that appeared in the Dial in 1921, Pound makes a reference to usurers: “One is a Jew when one lends two or three thousand pesos at ten per cent per month; one is an Hebrew when one hypothecates at fourteen per cent per annum; one is an Israelite when, in partnership with a Christian, one carries on business with the government yielding one hundred and fifty per cent in utilities. (Apropos of which one can still see in Verona a mediaeval lion’s mouth for the denunciation of usurers and unjust, usurious contracts. E. P.).” 142  

     Pound’s comments are in the parentheses; the actual text, however, is Pound’s translation of Remy de Gourmont’s words. In his own words Pound does not say Jews are usurers, but the translation implies it. Pound’s anti-Semitism also appears in a letter dated July 16, 1922, to Harriet Monroe; however, the quotation is focused more on religion rather than stereotypes. “I consider the Metamorphoses a sacred book, and the Hebrew scriptures the record of a barbarian, full of evil.” 143  

     Pound also met Gertrude Stein during his time in Paris and they did not get along. He attributed a quotation to her: “’the Jews have produced only three originative geniuses: Christ, Spinoza, and myself.’” 144   Pound would also refer to her in derogatory names of “Dirty Gertie” or “Miss Steink.” 145   There are various theories of why Pound and Stein did not get along, including one based on an anecdote about Pound's breaking her chair. But Pound’s hostility towards Stein had nothing to do with her race, but was in fact a response to her own dislike of Pound.

     Pound’s anti-Semitism is puzzling during the interlude in Paris. For example, he did not have any problems with Joyce’s Jewish protagonist, Leopold Bloom, in Ulysses. Also, Pound removed a large section of anti-Semitic lines from Eliot’s Waste Land. The passage is as follows:

Full fathom five your Bleinstein lies
Under the flatfish and the squids.
Graves’ Disease in a dead jew’s eyes!
  When the crabs have eat the lids.
   Lower than the wharf rats dive
		Though he suffer a sea-change
		Still expensive rich and strange
That is lace that was his nose
  See upon his back he lies
(Bones peep through the ragged toes)
  With a stare of dull surprise
		Flood tide and ebb tide
		Roll him gently side to side
		See the lips unfold unfold
		From the teeth, gold in gold
Lobsters hourly keep close watch
Hark!  Now I hear them  scratch  scratch  scratch146

     The remarks are consistent with Pound’s use of common stereotypes involving Jews and money; still he cuts them from the poem. This deletion shows his gift as an editor, because the anti-Semitic lines would have taken away from the poem.

      At this point in time, Pound’s anti-Semitism was buried in suburban prejudices, and the anti-Semitism that was intertwined with Jews and usury would not surface to a full extent until his stay in Italy. It was a trip back to America in 1910, however, that revived his latent anti-Semitism, and the common stereotypes to which he was exposed as a child appeared in Pound’s published prose and poetry as a result of this trip. The influences of A. R. Orage and C. H. Douglas would have consequences for Pound; these men sparked Pound’s interest in economics. Pound would immerse himself in economics for the rest of his life, and his obsession with trying to solve the economic problems that surrounded him in Europe and America would lead him to believe in a Jewish conspiracy.

     Ezra and Dorothy Pound left Paris in the fall of 1924 and settled in Rapallo, Italy. Pound would stay in Italy until 1945, when he was returned to America to stand trial for treason.


      1.   In his book, Pound in Purgatory, Leon Surette argues that Pound’s anti-Semitism was not gradual but actually pinpoints 1934 as a defining year when Pound’s anti-Semitism began to focus on a Jewish conspiracy involving money. See my forthcoming article, “Pound in Italy: 1924-1939: The Progression of Pound’s Anti-Semitism” for a full account of Surette’s argument.

      2.   A full discussion of these articles and their relationship to American Nativism occurs further in the chapter.

      3.   John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925 (Atheneum: New York, 1975), 6.

      4.   Ibid.

      5.   Higham, 7.

      6.   Ibid., 8.

      7.   Ibid., 9.

      8.   Ibid., 21.

      9.   Ibid., 26.

      10.   Ibid.

      11.   Ibid.

      12.   Katznelson, Ira. “Between Separation and Disappearance: Jews on the Margins of American Liberalism,” Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States, and Citizenship, eds. Pierre Birnbaum and Ira Katznelson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 168.

      13.   Ibid., 174.

      14.   Ibid., 175.

      15.   Ibid.

      16.   Ibid. 182.

      17.   Higham, 27.

      18.   Ibid, 27.

      19.   Katznelson, 168.

      20.   Ibid., 186-87.

      21.   Ibid., 188.

      22.   Alex Zwerdling , Improvised Europeans: American Literary Expatriates and the Siege of London (New York: Basic Books, 1998), 45.

      23.   Ibid., 66-67.

      24.   Ibid., 44.

      25.   Michael N. Dobkowski, The Tarnished Dream: The Basis of American Anti-Semitism (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1979), 144-45.

      26.   Higham, 37.

      27.   Ibid., 45

      28.   Ibid., 46.

      29.   Ibid., 53.

      30.   Ibid., 55.

      31.   Ibid., 54.

      32.   Ibid.

      33.   Ibid., 56.

      34.   Ibid., 57.

      35.   Ibid., 58.

      36.   James Wilhelm, The American Roots of Ezra Pound (New York: Garland Publishing Co, 1985), 73.

      37.   Ibid.

      38.   Zwerdling, 48.

      39.   Ibid., 49.

      40.   Lawrence Goodwyn, The Populist Moment: A Short History of the Agrarian Revolt in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 27-28.

      41.   Ibid., 21.

      42.   Ibid.

      43.   Ibid., 55.

      44.   Ibid., 47.

      45.   Ibid.

      46.   Ibid.

      47.   Ibid., 48.

      48.   Ibid., 48-49.

      49.   These topics are explored in detail in Chapter Two and Chapter Three.

      50.   Victor Ferkiss, “Populist Influences on American Fascism,” Western Political Quarterly, no. 2 (June 1957): 361. Note: See Chapter Two for a full discussion of this article and how it relates to American fascism and Pound.

      51.   Ibid., 353.

      52.   Ibid., 352.

      53.   Robert C. McMath, Jr., American Populism: A Social History 1877-1898, ed. Eric Foner (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 10.

      54.   Goodwyn, 16.

      55.   Ibid., 214-215.

      56.   Ibid., 216.

      57.   Ibid., 217.

      58.   Ibid., 218.

      59.   Ibid., 217.

      60.   Ibid., 238.

      61.   Ibid., 254.

      62.   Higham, 93.

      63.   Ibid.

      64.   Dobkowski, 172.

      65.   Higham, 94.

      65.   Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1988), 36.

      67.   Wilhelm, 8.

      68.   Ibid., xiii.

      69.   Ibid., 81.

      70.   Ibid., 73.

      71.   Ibid., 75.

      72.   Wendy Flory, The American Ezra Pound (New Haven: Yale University Press), 25.

      73.   Wilhelm, 133.

      74.   Ibid., 181-182.

      75.   Ezra Pound, “Canto XXII” The Cantos of Ezra Pound, 13th edition (New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1995), 105.

      76.   Wilhelm, 147.

      77.   Lloyd P.Gartner. The Jewish Immigrant in England: 1870-1914, third edition (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2001), 7.

      78.   Geoffrey Alderman, “English or Jews of the English Persuasion? Reflections on the Emancipation of Anglo-Jewry,” Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States, and Citizenship, 141.

      79.   Ibid., 142.

      80.   Ibid., 149.

      81.   Carpenter, 361.

      82.   Wilhelm, 65.

      83.   Pound, “Patria Mia, “Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose: Contributions to Periodicals, eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz, and James Longenbach (New York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1991), 1:78.

      84.   Ibid., “Through Alien Eyes,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 2:115.

      85.   Ibid.

      86.   Cecil Chesterton, “Mr. Verdad and the ‘New Witness,’” The New Age15, no. 4 (May 21, 1914): 69-70.

      87.   John L. Finlay, Social Credit: The English Origins (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1972) 73.

      88.   C.E. Bechhofer, “Russian Jews,” The New Age17, no. 21 (Sept. 23, 1915): 498.

      89.   Pound, “POEMS,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 1:254.

      90.   Ibid., “’Near Perigord’ from TWO POEMS,” Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 2:118.

      91.   Ibid., “This Super-Neutrality,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 2:115.

      92.   Tim Redman, Ezra Pound and Italian Fascism (Cambridge: University Press, 1991), 41.

      93.   Ibid., 49.

      94.   Pound, “Imaginary Letters IV” (Walter Villerant to Mrs. Bland Burn),” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 2:268.

      95.   Ibid., 268-269.

      96.   Ibid., “Upon the Harps of Judea,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 3:220.

      97.   T. S. Eliot, “Gerontion,” The Complete Poems and Plays: 1909-1950 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1952), 21.

      98.   Ibid., 35.

      99.   Pound, “Pastiche: The Regional,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 3:353.

      100.   Ibid.

      101.   Redman, 51.

      102.   Carpenter, 357.

      103.   Pound, “Canto XXXVIII,” The Cantos of Ezra Pound, 190.

      104.   Finlay, 108.

      105.   Redman, 62.

      106.   Ibid., 63.

      107.   Ibid.

      108.   Pound, “The Revolt of Intelligence,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:24.

      109.   Ibid., 25.

      110.   Ibid., “The Revolt of Intelligence,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:27.

      111.   Ibid.

      112.   Pound, “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound, ed. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz (New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1990), 188.

      113.   C. H. Douglas, Social Credit (Edinburgh: J. and J. Gray, 1924), 182-83.

      114.   Ibid., 196-97.

      115.   Ibid., “The Revolt of Intelligence,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:6.

      116.   Douglas, 167-68.

      117.   Wilhelm, 75.

      118.   Redman, 72.

      119.   Pound, “Thames Morasses,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:148.

      120.   Ibid., “Stop Press,” Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:221.

      121.   Pierre Birnbaum, “Between Social and Political Assimilation: Remarks on the History of Jews in France,” Paths of Emancipation: Jews, States, and Citizenship, 97.

      122.   Ibid., 108.

      123.   Ibid., 110.

      124.   Edward Drumont, excerpts from La France Juive, The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, eds. Paul Mendez-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 339.

      125.   The Jew in the Modern World: A Documentary History, 354-55.

      126.   Ibid., 354.

      127.   Paula Hyman, From Dreyfus to Vichy: The Remaking of French Jewry, 1906-1939 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979) 34.

      128.   Ibid., 30-31.

      129.   Joel Carmichael, The Satanizing of the Jews: Origin and Development of Mystical Anti- Semitism (New York: Fromm International Publishing Corp., 1992), 138.

      130.   The Jew in the Modern World: A Documented History, 367.

      131.   Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (New York: Harper & Row, Inc., 1967), 25.

      132.   Ibid.

      133.   Ibid., 25-26.

      134.   Ibid., 67.

      135.   Ibid., 61.

      136.   Ibid.

      137.   Excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Jew in the Modern World: A Documented History, 366.

      138.   Ibid., 365.

      139.   Ibid.

      140.   Ibid., 366.

      141.   Douglas, 174.

      142.   Pound, “’Dust for Sparrows’, by Remy De Gourmont,” trans. Ezra Pound, Pound’s Poetry and Prose, 4:154.

      143.   Ibid., The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound: 1907-1941, ed. D. D. Paige (New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1950), 183.

      144.   Carpenter, 401.

      145.   James Wilhelm, Ezra Pound in London and Paris (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990), 263.

      146.   T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. Valerie Eliot (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1971), 121.

see also:

Pound's Anti-Semitism at St. Elizabeths: 1945-1958 in FlashPoint 9