When General Grant Expelled the Jews

When General Grant Expelled the Jews

by Jonathan D. Sarna
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When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna

On December 17, 1862, just weeks before Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, General Grant issued what remains the most notorious anti-Jewish order by a government official in American history. His attempt to eliminate black marketeers by targeting for expulsion all Jews "as a class" from portions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi unleashed a firestorm of controversy that made newspaper headlines and terrified and enraged the approximately 150,000 Jews then living in the United States, who feared the importation of European anti-Semitism onto American soil.

Although the order was quickly rescinded by a horrified Abraham Lincoln, the scandal came back to haunt Grant when he ran for president in 1868. Never before had Jews become an issue in a presidential contest and never before had they been confronted so publicly with the question of how to balance their "American" and "Jewish" interests. Award-winning historian Jonathan D. Sarna gives us the first complete account of this little-known episode—including Grant's subsequent apology, his groundbreaking appointment of Jews to prominent positions in his administration, and his unprecedented visit to the land of Israel. Sarna sheds new light on one of our most enigmatic presidents, on the Jews of his day, and on the ongoing debate between ethnic loyalty and national loyalty that continues to roil American political and social discourse.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805242799
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.36(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

JONATHAN D. SARNA is the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He has written, edited, or coedited more than twenty books, including American Judaism: A History and Lincoln and the Jews. 

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When General Grant Expelled the Jews 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna is a non-fiction book about Grant’s infamous “General Order No. 11”. Yes, this a non-fiction book – who would have thought?On 17 December, 1862 Major-General Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous General Order No. 11 expelling all Jews from his military district which consisted of Kentucky,Mississippi, and Tennessee. Grant intended to hinder the activities of people who smuggle things in and out of the war zone which, in his mind, were Jews. As history later showed, many people, including those under his commend, engaged in the lucrative smuggling trade. General Order No. 11 caused great distress among the Jewish community. Eventually, Grant was able to recoup and even win Jewish support for his presidency. When I first saw the title of this book, I had to read it twice. Could it be? Is this for real? Yes, When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna is a the unbelievable, but true, title of this well written and well researched book about one of the most deliberate cases of ant-Semitism in the short history of America. General Order No. 11 decreed as follows: The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [of theTennessee] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order. Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits. Did you pick up the text? “Jews, as a class...” after all, many Jews were in the United States after escaping/thrown out ofEurope so one can certainly understand the uproar which the verbiage of this order caused. But the book doesn’t dwell on the impact of the order at the time Grant issued it (the impact was minimal and the horrified President Lincoln reversed it immediately) but on the aftermath. Sarna points to the President Grant (not candidate Grant) trying to make amends to the Jewish community, nurturing relationships, and lifelong friendships with Jewish leaders and generally (no pun intended) being more sympathetic to Jews than his predecessors. Grant was so successful in redeeming his stature among America’s Jews that Rabbi Edward Benjamin Morris Browne was a pallbearer at his funeral. Since the funeral was on the Sabbath he walked along instead of riding. Dr. Sarna, a professor at Brandeis University, wrote a compelling, exciting book in which he tries to explain the huge impact General Order No. 11 had on the Jewish community in particular, and on the country at large. From the first major lobbying effort to the campaigns run by candidates, the elections which Grant won had significant effects which lasted to this day.
illikestoread More than 1 year ago
The problem with this book is that while it tells an interesting story, it is not a long story to tell. The author could have said everything he needed to say in about 50 pages. Instead, the book is very redundant and preachy, even in it's brief 120 pages.. When i purchased this book as an ebook, i thought i'd have an interesting piece of history to read at 240 pages.. I didn't realize HALF the book ( the second 120 pages) consisted of appendices and references.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dry as a bone when there was much meat to be had. Great subject matter but a difficult book to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wide historicalperspective make this an excellent read. Strongly recommend esp. for Civil War history buffs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The problem with this book is it doesn't explore the reasons - psychological/social - Grant would target the Jews, particularly when most of his target were allegedly non-jews. This book also does not address the larger issue of whether Grant's order was a moral misstep, or rather simply a military decision. Many more non-jewish families/people were forcibly displaced (and had their private property destroyed/confiscated) by the Civil War who did not 1. give aid to the enemy and 2. did not identify with an ethnic group. Since they were giving aid to the enemy, the real story is why Lincoln cancelled Grant's (limited) Order 11?