Julius and the Colonel
To the Editor:
I would like to add to Joseph Epstein’s article, “The Colonel and the Lady” [August]. In the early 50′s, when Eisenhower was President, there were two Jewish federal judges in the Northern District of Illinois, both of whom were appointed by Eisenhower at the request of Senator Everett Dirksen, a very powerful force in Washington.
The first Jewish judge appointed by Eisenhower in Illinois was Julius Hoffman. Since some members of his family were active financial contributors to the Republican party, Hoffman’s appointment was understandable. He is best known for presiding at the conspiracy trial of the Chicago Seven after the 1968 Democratic convention. In legal circles he was known as “Julius the Just.”
The other federal-court judge was Julius Miner. He was short and dumpy, a first-generation American who wore rumpled suits and spoke with a slight East European accent. Miner was active in the Jewish community and a fixture at most testimonials. He had a good legal mind and had served with distinction on the state court. He was known as “Just Julius.”
It was common knowledge in Chicago political circles that “Just Julius” had a “rabbi,” which means a person who provides the clout. Miner’s sponsor, the man responsible for his appointment, was none other than Colonel Robert McCormick. I was told that Julius was a close confidant of the Colonel’s. To think of the rumpled Julius and the fastidious Colonel from such different backgrounds still brings a smile to my face.
It is true that the vast majority of Jews in the Chicago area believed the Colonel to be anti-Semitic. I certainly was in this group. McCormick’s isolationism and apparent disregard for the plight of the Jews in Europe were the principal cause of this attitude. We have since learned that others, thought to be friends of the Jews, were also unresponsive.
Joseph Epstein is correct that Colonel McCormick was a nut, but what a nut he was! Bright, capable, interesting. Warts and all, he was a fascinating character.
Philip J. Schiller
Joseph Epstein writes:
My thanks to my fellow-Chicagoan, Philip J. Schiller. Until I read his letter, I was ignorant of our city’s two Juliuses.