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Jewish Contributions

The failed Grant-Mack deal was the final straw causing Grant to issue Order No. 11, which proclaimed that "Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established are hereby expelled from the department within the twenty-four hours." A public uproar followed and a delegation of leading Jewish citizens traveled to Washington to meet with President Lincoln, who immediately revoked the order.

General Order No. 11 provoked American Jews as no other incident during the war. It reflected not only anger and frustration on the part of many Union leaders at the black market in Southern cotton, but also the underlying anti-semitism which pervaded Western society at that time. Americans at that time shared the historical prejudices of Western Europeans which labeled Jews dishonest profiteers. Ulysses Grant was, of course, a product of his time, although some have pointed out that the incident also reflected the familial tensions between a financially successful father and a son who never understood business.

Jewish leaders who protested the order argued that General Grant and other military leaders were unfairly coloring the entire Jewish community in the United States with the actions of a few members of that community. In fact, most of the individuals profiting from the illicit economic trade with the Confederacy were not Jewish. This latter argument was later supported by historians studying the situation. The Order and its swift repeal drew little attention outside the Jewish community and upper echelons of the government. It would only become notorious during the 1868 Presidential campaign of Grant.

The other controversial issue involving Jews in the Union arose at the beginning of the war, when Union Army regulations authorized only "Christian" chaplains. Jewish leaders quickly began lobbying Congress and President Lincoln to amend the regulations so that Jewish chaplains could be authorized to serve in Union r...

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Jewish Contributions. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:39, September 20, 2017, from
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