The Life and Legacy of Morris Schinasi: A Tobacco Tycoon and Philanthropist

The Life and Legacy of Morris Schinasi: A Tobacco Tycoon and Philanthropist


Morris Schinasi is a name that might not ring a bell immediately, but his contributions to both the tobacco industry and philanthropic efforts are noteworthy. Born into a modest family, Schinasi’s journey from a small town to becoming a tobacco tycoon and a generous philanthropist is nothing short of inspiring. This blog post delves into the life, achievements, and legacy of Morris Schinasi, providing an in-depth look at his remarkable story. By the end of this post, you will not only gain insight into his professional success but also his enduring humanitarian efforts.

Early Life and Background

Morris Schinasi was born in 1855 in Manisa, a small town in the Ottoman Empire, which is modern-day Turkey. Coming from a Sephardic Jewish family, Schinasi’s early life was marked by humble beginnings. His family was engaged in traditional trades, but Morris harbored ambitions that extended far beyond the confines of his hometown.

Childhood and Family

Growing up in a close-knit family, Schinasi was instilled with values of hard work and perseverance. Despite the limitations of his environment, he dreamed of making a name for himself and contributing meaningfully to society.

Emigration to America

In the late 19th century, like many of his contemporaries, Schinasi decided to seek better opportunities in America. The journey was arduous, but his determination was unwavering. He arrived in New York City with little more than the clothes on his back and an unyielding resolve to succeed.

The Beginnings of a Tobacco Empire

Morris Schinasi’s entry into the tobacco industry was serendipitous. Upon his arrival in New York, he quickly realized the potential of the burgeoning tobacco market. He began his career working in small tobacco shops, learning the trade from the ground up.

Founding Schinasi Brothers

In 1900, Morris, along with his brother Solomon, established the Schinasi Brothers Company. The company focused on producing and selling high-quality Turkish cigarettes, which were gaining popularity in the United States.

Innovation and Success

One of the key factors behind the Schinasi Brothers’ success was their commitment to quality and innovation. They imported the finest Turkish tobacco and introduced unique blends that set their products apart. Their flagship brand, “Natural,” became synonymous with excellence and quickly garnered a loyal customer base.

Philanthropic Pursuits

Despite his business success, Morris Schinasi never lost sight of his philanthropic responsibilities. He believed in using his wealth to make a positive impact on society. His philanthropic efforts spanned various fields, including education, healthcare, and community development.

Contributions to Education

Schinasi was a firm believer in the power of education. He donated generously to various educational institutions, ensuring that future generations had access to quality education. One of his notable contributions was the establishment of scholarships for underprivileged students, enabling them to pursue their academic dreams.

Healthcare Initiatives

Understanding the importance of healthcare, Schinasi funded the construction of hospitals and clinics, particularly in underserved areas. His contributions significantly improved access to medical facilities and services for countless individuals.

Community Development

Schinasi’s philanthropic efforts were not limited to education and healthcare. He also invested in community development projects, including the construction of parks, libraries, and recreational centers. These initiatives fostered a sense of community and provided much-needed amenities for local residents.

Legacy and Impact

Morris Schinasi passed away in 1928, but his legacy continues to resonate. His contributions to the tobacco industry set new standards for quality and innovation, while his philanthropic efforts left an indelible mark on society.

The Schinasi Mansion

One of the enduring symbols of Schinasi’s success is the Schinasi Mansion in New York City. Built in 1909, this historic mansion stands as a testament to his achievements and serves as a reminder of his legacy.

Continued Philanthropy

The Schinasi Foundation, established by his descendants, continues his philanthropic work. The foundation supports various causes, including education, healthcare, and community development, ensuring that Morris Schinasi’s legacy lives on.


Morris Schinasi’s life is a testament to the power of determination, innovation, and philanthropy. From humble beginnings, he rose to prominence in the tobacco industry and used his success to make a lasting impact on society. His story serves as an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and philanthropists alike. As we reflect on his legacy, we are reminded of the profound difference one individual can make through hard work, innovation, and a commitment to giving back.


  1. Who was Morris Schinasi? Morris Schinasi was a tobacco tycoon and philanthropist who founded the Schinasi Brothers Company and made significant contributions to education, healthcare, and community development.
  2. What was the Schinasi Brothers Company known for? The Schinasi Brothers Company was known for producing high-quality Turkish cigarettes and introducing innovative blends that set their products apart in the tobacco industry.
  3. What were some of Morris Schinasi’s philanthropic efforts? Morris Schinasi funded educational scholarships, healthcare facilities, and community development projects, including the construction of parks, libraries, and recreational centers.
  4. What is the Schinasi Mansion? The Schinasi Mansion, built in 1909 in New York City, is a historic mansion that stands as a testament to Morris Schinasi’s success and legacy.
  5. Is the Schinasi Foundation still active? Yes, the Schinasi Foundation, established by Morris Schinasi’s descendants, continues to support various causes, including education, healthcare, and community development.