When General Grant Expelled the Jews
Here is my reply that was published in response to the article your posted on general Grant’s expulsion of the Jews from his conquered territories:
Redeeming Gen’l Grant
Jonathan Sarna’s article (“The Redemption of Ulysses S Grant”) cannot "rescue" the reputation of General Grant or exonerate President Lincoln for their expulsion of the Jews from Union conquered territory on 17 December, 1862, in what was the worst act of anti-Semitism in American history.
Indeed, the expulsion order, rather than being accidental or an afterthought, was consistent with other statements and orders by Grant and other top Union officials not mentioned in these articles.
A few months earlier, on 11 August, General William Tecumseh Sherman had warned in a letter to the Adjutant General of the Union Army that “the country will swarm with dishonest Jews” if continued trade in cotton is encouraged. (Sherman, in a letter written in 1858, had described Jews as “…without pity, soul, heart, or bowels of compassion…”).
And Grant also issued orders on 9 and 10 November 1862 banning southward travel in general, stating that “the Israelites especially should be kept out… no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward from any point. They may go north and be encouraged in it; but they are such an intolerable nuisance, that the department must be purged of them”.
As a result of Grant’s expulsion order, Jewish families were forced out of their homes in Paducah, Kentucky, Holly Springs and Oxford Mississippi, and a few were sent to prison. When some Jewish victims protested to President Lincoln, the Attorney General Edward Bates advised the President that he was indifferent to such objections, “myself feeling no particular interest in the subject.”
Nevertheless, on 4 January, 1863, Lincoln had Grant’s odious order rescinded, but by then, some Jewish families in the area had been expelled, humiliated, terrified, and jailed, and some stripped of their possessions.
They still tell stories of the expulsion in Paducah, Ky.: of the hurried departure by riverboat up the Ohio to Cincinnati; of a baby almost left behind in the haste and confusion and tossed bodily into the boat; of two dying women permitted to remain behind in neighbors’ care. Thirty men and their families were expelled from Paducah, and according to affidavits by some of “the most respectable Union citizens of the city,” the deportees “had at no time been engaged in trade within the active lines of General Grant…” Two had already served brief enlistments in the Union army.]
On 21 January, Union General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck wrote to Grant to explain the rescission of the order, stating that “The President has no objection to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers, which, I suppose was the object of your order; but as it in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deemed it necessary to revoke it.”
[Captain Philip Trounstine of the Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, being unable in good conscience to round up and expel his fellow Jews, resigned his army commission, saying he could “no longer bear the Taunts and malice of his fellow officers… brought on by … that order.”]
The officials responsible for the United States government’s most vicious anti-Jewish actions ever were never dismissed, admonished or, apparently, even officially criticized for the religious persecution they inflicted on innocent citizens.
President Lincoln cannot escape some blame and responsibility for these hateful actions by his administration, though this may be hard for some historians, who idolize Lincoln, to accept.
The writer is descended from the Moses family of South Carolina & Georgia, of which almost three dozen of its sons fought for the Confederacy.