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General Frenemy

In 1862, Ulysses S. Grant issued an order expelling all Jews from his territory. Turns out, that was a good thing. Historian Jonathan Sarna explains.

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Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (seated, center) with a staff of eight, c. 1860-1865.(Matthew Brady, National Archives)
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Charges have dogged American Jews since the 1868 election, as Jonathan Sarna explains in ‘When General Grant Expelled the Jews’

Best known as the general who won the Civil War for the Union, Ulysses S. Grant later became the 18th president of the United States. Now historian Jonathan Sarna weighs in on Grant’s hotly debated legacy from a little-known angle: In When General Grant Expelled the Jews, the latest title from Nextbook Press, Sarna examines the reasons for and impact of Grant’s General Orders No. 11, issued during the war on Dec. 17, 1862, which expelled all Jews from areas then under Grant’s jurisdiction.

Although it was quickly rescinded, General Orders No. 11 raised fears among Jews that the centuries-old threat of persecution had reached American shores. Throughout the remainder of his life, Grant went out of his way to show contrition: During his presidency, he promoted Jews to prominent positions in his administration and spoke out against anti-Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe. In 1876, Grant was the first president to attend a synagogue dedication. In 1878, Grant became the first president to visit Palestine.

Sarna joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss why Grant issued the Orders, how Jews responded, and what repercussions the episode has on American Jews today. [Running time: 24:07.] 

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Ali Shahreen says:

it was total height of education , wrong to have expelled the jews. Devoid of wisdom was he then!

    Luke Lea says:

    Correction.  It was wrong to have ordered the expulsion of the Jews.  Let’s keep our facts straight.  Exaggeration has no more place than minimalization.  

A Cassel says:

Despite his very odd vocal delivery, Jonathan Sarna is always interesting. You should have him on sometime around Pesaach to recount the history of matzo in America. Everything doesn’t have to be a book promotion.


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General Frenemy

In 1862, Ulysses S. Grant issued an order expelling all Jews from his territory. Turns out, that was a good thing. Historian Jonathan Sarna explains.

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