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BAKRI, DAVID BEN JOSEPH COEN:

Chief of the Algerian Jews; financier; born about 1770; decapitated Feb. 4, 1811. His great financial abilities placed him early at the head of the important firm "Bakri Brothers," founded by his father. In 1797 David married Aziza, a niece of the powerful Naphtali Busnash, who at that time became a partner in the firm, which then assumed the name "Bakri Busnash." Supported by the regency, which was but a tool in the hands of Busnash, and skilfully managed by David, the extent of the company's transactions attained the highest proportions. Their vessels plowed the seas; and many European governments entrusted them with the management of their Algerian money affairs. On several occasions they dared to defy the British government in purchasing from French privateers the vessels that they had captured from the allies. During the dearth in France they supplied the latter with a considerable quantity of wheat on credit; and on their advice the dey authorized a loan to the French Directory of five million francs, the credit for which was eventually transferred to them. The settlement of this loan brought about thirty years later the definite rupture between the regency and France, and, finally, the conquest of Algeria by the French. On the assassination of Busnash and the anti-Jewish riots which followed it, the firm "Bakri Busnash" became insolvent; and David himself was thrown into prison under the' pretext that the firm owed the regency a sum of five million francs. Set free on a promise to pay the alleged debt, he soon built up the firm "Bakri," owing to the help he received from several European governments for the services he had rendered them. He even succeeded in winning the confidence of the new dey, who appointed him in 1806 chief of the Algerian Jews. This post proved fatal to him. His irreconcilable enemy, David Duran, who coveted this office, was unscrupulous in his efforts to undermine Bakri's position. The latter was accused of high treason and decapitated.

Bibliography:
  • Bloch, Inscriptions Tumulaires, pp. 88 et seq.
D. I. Br.
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