Grant’s Jewish Order

More favourite figures behaving in regrettable ways! It’s like a deeply unpleasant theme week…

There’s little to glean here for anyone who knows the story already, but due to the quick cancellation of the order, the fact that Grant once tried to expel the entire Jewish population of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In truth, the article leaves out almost all the details of the story, while presenting others that go unexplained or unexplored, including this tidbit:

When asked what first sparked his interest in Grant’s orders, Sarna recalls the story that makes up the book’s introduction. As a young professor, he was asked to deliver a talk at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. As the talk coincided with the 120th anniversary of General Orders No. 11, Sarna thought it was fitting to speak on the man who later became the 18th U.S. president.

While delivering the lecture, Sarna made what he thought was a grave factual error—that is, until a member of the audience who was a descendant of the very man about whom Sarna was speaking rose to his feet and confirmed Sarna’s suggestion.

“It was deeply memorable,” Sarna recalls, “having a descendent of this family essentially confirm that their ancestor had been involved in a kind of secret deal with Grant’s father Jesse. Certainly that was memorable and stuck in my mind as a subject that deserved further research.”

It does, however, seem to be in support of a book, to be released on March 13th, that promises a more thorough investigation.

I’ve always found the order a tarnish on Grant’s reputation. Disappointing, especially when one considers that he was very open-minded and supportive of the black troops in his army.

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