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When General Grant Expelled the Jews

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Description

Finalist, 2012 National Jewish Book Awards

A riveting account of General Ulysses S. Grant’s decision, in the middle of the Civil War, to order the expulsion of all Jews from the territory under his command, and the reverberations of that decision on Grant’s political career, on the nascent American Jewish community, and on the American political process.
 
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” 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 antisemitism 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Although the order was quickly rescinded by a horrified Abraham Lincoln, the scandal came back to haunt Grant when he ran for president in 1868.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 group loyalty and national loyalty that continues to roil American political and social discourse.

JEWISH ENCOUNTERS SERIES 

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Dec 19, 2011 – In December 1862, Gen. Ulysses Grant, suspecting Jews of smuggling goods into the Confederacy, issued General Orders No. 11, expelling them from the Department of the Tennessee. A widely respected historian of American Jewry (American Judaism), Sarna tells the story of the order and its revocation by Lincoln three weeks later thanks to intervention by Jewish merchant Cesar Kaskel and others. Sarna focuses less on the order itself than on its repercussions during Grant s presidential bids in 1868 and 1872 and his two administrations. For perhaps the first time in American political history, there was widespread talk of a Jewish vote and a debate within the Jewish community over whether it should promote collective interests. While some Jews saw Grant as a modern-day Haman, others, such as businessman Simon Wolf, had dreams of... reconciliation. Wolf s view seems to have prevailed. Sarna documents how Grant came to rue his notorious order, becoming a philo-Semite and appointing 50 Jews to office, most notably Benjamin Franklin Peixotto as consul (ambassador) to Romania, with a mandate to work on behalf of victimized Jews. Thoroughly researched and crisply written, this is a very fine work that will interest students of both American and modern Jewish history. Photos, map.
When General Grant Expelled the Jews
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: History
  • Published: Mar 13, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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