One of the most influential politicians to emerge from Hartford’s immigrant East Side, Herman Koppelmann was elected to Hartford’s City Council in 1903, and went to serve in the Connecticut General Assembly, the State Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the first Jewish person from Connecticut elected to the U.S. Congress, where he served between 1932 and 1946. During his eight years on the City Council he advocated for his neighborhood so effectively he was acclaimed as the “Father of the East Side.” Koppelmann’s success in local politics was based in part with his close political alliance with influential politician Thomas Spellacy, who was raised on the same block of Front Street as Koppelmann; their shared influence in local government was legendary in city politics.
In 1911, he served as president of the Hartford City Council, the first Jew to hold that position, and when he completed the term, he was presented with this honorary gavel and block, with “a vote of thanks for the uniform courtesy and impartiality with which he has presided over this Board throughout the past year.”
David Dalin and Lothar Kahn, “Herman P. Koppelmann: Connecticut’s First Jewish Congressman,” Connecticut Jewish History 1:1 (Summer 1990), available for purchase from the JHS.
Herman P. Koppelmann Papers, Jewish Historical Society Collection