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Should We Forgive General Grant?

A historical debate hatches in New York

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(Matthew Brady)

If you live in the New York area or are seeking early refuge from Winter Storm Nemo (not to be confused with the adorable fish), Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side is hosting Professor Jonathan Sarna tonight at 6:30.

The topic is whether or not the Jews should forgive General Ulysses S. Grant for issuing an infamous order to expel American Jews during the Civil War. If you’re not familiar with the historical event (or even if you are!), may I humbly suggest Professor Sarna’s fantastic book on the incident “When General Grant Expelled the Jews.”

The event is free and if you’ve never been to Temple Emanu-El, where Ed Koch’s funeral was held on Monday, you ought to go.

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General Grant obviously loved the Jews; he’s buried on the Upper West Side.

If you do go to Temple Emanu-El, take a stroll around the corner to 3 East 66th Street, Grant’s home address until his death.

Forgive him? That is ridiculous. He more that made up for the infamous expulsion order as president.
For example, he offered to appoint the first Jew in American history to a cabinet post, Sec’t of Treasury, but Joseph Seligman turned him down. It too another 38 years for another president to invite a Jew into his cabinet (Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 chose Oscar Straus to be Sec’t of Commerce)

He should honored.
Way too much is made of his expulsion order so Sarna can sell his book.

Jacob Arnon says:

If you take the time to read his memoirs you will encounter a Grant who tells us that he made many wrong decisions in his life. He had joined the know nothing party for a short time and then he repudiated his actions. He acknowledged a tendency to act rashly at times. His decision to expel Jews was one of them.

Grant more than makes up for by his subsequent reaching to the Jewish community.

At the end of his memoirs he says that hi country was founded by and for “Protestant, Catholic, and Jew.” ( I don’t have the quote in front of but i thing I got it right.)

No antisemite would have included Jews in that quote.

He has nothing to be forgiven for.


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Should We Forgive General Grant?

A historical debate hatches in New York

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