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Born in Philadelphia, the son of a Revolutionary War patriot and soldier, Noah was a journalist, playwright, and visionary before entering politics. He held numerous posts, including surveyor of the Port of New York, sheriff, and judge. He was U.S. Consul in Tunisia when piracy and extortion were governmental policies in the Mediterranean world. In Tunisia, Noah studied the history and customs of the Tunisian Jewish community. In 1820, Noah petitioned the legislature of the State of New York for a grant of land to establish a Jewish colony in the U.S. Five years later, Grand Island on the Niagara River was surveyed and subdivided into farm lots. There, Noah planned to establish Ararat as a city of refuge for homeless and persecuted Jews. When this project failed, Noah began to advocate the Jewish resettlement of Palestine. Despite the fanfare and theatrics associated with Noah’s Ararat venture, he may be viewed as a forerunner of Zionism.

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