When General Grant Expelled the Jews

Uploaded by usnationalarchives on 09.08.2012

[music playing]
Marvin Pinkert: Good evening. I'm Marvin Pinkert, director
of the National Archives Experience, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the William
G. McGowan Theater. And I’m going to ask you indulge me for a moment, because tonight
is the penultimate time that I will introduce a program from this stage. Next month I become
executive director of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. After more than seven years of making
introductions, I've come to realize that the best part is when I sit down and join you
to in watching another brilliant evening on this stage. I've been privileged to participate
in events with scholars and political leaders, journalists and even chefs, and with you.
Because you, our audience, are our ultimate VIPs, and whether you're a first time visitor
or already a repeat customer, it is for your illumination and interest that our guests
on stage as well as Susan, and Tom, and Doug, and Jeff, and all the other folk who work
tirelessly behind the scenes put on these great shows. It's been an honor working for
you. Tonight we head back to our commemorations of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War.
This evening, in combination with the annual celebration of Jewish American Heritage month,
bringing these two worlds together is my Brandeis classmate, Dr. Jonathan Sarna and his insightful
new book, When General Grant Expelled the Jews. I would like to point out that Dr. Sarna
will be available for book signings in the lobby following tonight's program. And I’ve
read the book, you'll want to get it, you'll want to get it signed. The National Archives
has been a participant in Jewish American Heritage Month -- Jewish American Heritage
Month since its origin in 2006. We recognize that the study of diverse communities whose
stories are embedded in our records is an intrinsic part of building a rich understanding
of American history as a whole. The National Archives holds the records of Jewish soldiers
who fought on both sides of the Civil War and for that matter, in all of Americans historic
conflicts from the American revolution through Vietnam. We also hold research and patents,
letters and petitions, that document the civic contributions of the American Jewish community
and the struggle for full political and religious equality. In marking tonight's event, we have
also had the pleasure of a letter from the woman who is most singularly responsible for
Jewish American Heritage Month, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. So, if you will,
I've been asked to read this letter to the group. "Dear friends, I wish I could be with
you this evening as you commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate
and honor the myriad contributions the Jewish community has made to American history. I'm
delighted that the National Archives is once again partnered with the Jewish Historical
Society of Greater Washington to put together this important program. As you know, the American
Jewish experience is a story of the immigrant, the labor movement, the battle for civil rights
and much more. Jews in America blaze trails from the battlefield, to the Supreme Court,
from the sports field, in Symphony Hall, to the pages of our nation's history books, and
our nation's capital. From the time of the colonies until today, Jewish communities played
the significant role in American history in telling the American story. Naturally, that
story includes peaks and valleys, triumph and tragedy. Jonathan Sarna's acclaimed new
book reveals one of the more difficult times in the American Jewish history. When General
Grant Expelled the Jews gets an account of General Ulysses S. Grant's order to expel
all Jews from territory under his command, which fundamentally shaped the Jewish community's
involvement in politics in our country. Tonight's discussion with Jonathan and with Steve Roberts
should be fascinating illumination of the ways historical events were shaped by and
helped form the American/Jewish community through the present day. Jewish American Heritage
Month provides us a special time for story-telling, teaching our children and our non-Jewish friends
and neighbors about the dynamic American Jewish experience. Thank you to the National Archives
for your efforts to provide an educational forum for the stories contained in your records
and to the Jewish historical society of greater Washington for providing community support
and expertise. I am also grateful to the Washington, D.C. JCC, the National Museum of American
Jewish Military History, the Jewish War Veterans, the Foundation for Jewish studies, and the
Jewish Community Relations Counsel for supporting this evening's program. Together we reflect
on the contributions that the Jewish community has made throughout our nation's history,
remain dedicated to forging a better world in the years ahead."
I join Congressman Wasserman Schultz in thanking all the partners that she mentioned, but I
want to introduce you to a very special co-sponsor: Laura Cohen Apelbaum has been executive director
of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and its Lillian & Albert Small
Jewish Museum for the past 18 years. The museum is a steward for the historic 1876 Adas Israel
Synagogue on H Street, and under Laura's leadership, has played a growing role in preserving and
presenting the important role of the Jewish community has played in metropolitan D.C.
Laura also played a pivotal role in 2002 decision to save and restore the 6th and I Street synagogue,
now one of the most vital public program sites in the region. She's the author of two books,
Jewish Washington and Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln City both based on award-winning exhibits.
Laura is a former chair of the American Council of Jewish Museums, and most important for
tonight's program, she's a member of the National Board for the Jewish American Heritage Month.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, my current and future colleague Laura Apelbaum Cohen.
Laura Apelbaum: Thank you Marvin, and I'm really looking forward
to continuing to work with you in your new capacity, I’m really excited about that.
On behalf of the board of directors of the Jewish Historical Society, I want to thank
the National Archives for partnering with us again for this special program to commemorate
Jewish American Heritage Month. Or as we sometimes just say JAHM for short. This is our second
year, as Marvin mentioned.
Today we're going to learn the story that's at the heart of our work on a daily basis.
The story of general orders Number 11 is inextricably linked to our historic site. As you may know,
14 years after Ulysses S. Grant expelled the Jews as a class from the areas under his control
as a Civil War General, he became the first sitting president to attend a synagogue service.
This small red brick synagogue, Adas's real congregations first, still stands as the Lillian
Albert Small Jewish Museum, open to the public for tours, programs, and occasional Bar Mitzvahs,
as Marvin's son had in our building about a decade ago. We at the Jewish Historical
Society are responsible for the preservation of this special building, a building that
has witnessed many changes in our city and perhaps it's a symbol of the way President
Grant changed his perception of the Jewish community, an evolution that Dr. Sarna writes
so eloquently about in his new book. The history books that do mention order Number 11, and
there are very few that do, they have a scarce few lines, and I think the majority of Americans
are totally unaware of this 19th Century episode. Jonathan's book is a wonderful new resource
about this complex incident in American history and it puts the incident and its aftermath
in a wider context of its time. I just can't help but comment on the fact that I had such
a sense of history, maybe you feel it too, and see too, here tonight and also in the
book. Because we're only a short walk from the historic synagogue that President Grant
attended. We're just two blocks from where Adolfo Solomon's bookstore stood. This is
the place where Cesar Kaskel and his delegation from Paducah, Kentucky arrived to strategize
before seeking out President Lincoln in the White House to plead that Grant's orders be
rescinded. Jewish leader Simon Wolf lived and worked as a lawyer in the nearby Seventh
Street neighborhood. You meet all of these personalities on Dr. Sarna's pages. Dr. Jonathan
Sarna is a leading expert on American Jewish history. He's the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun
Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University. He also serves as the chief historian
of the new National Museum of American Jewish history on the mall in Philadelphia. He has
written and edited more than 20 books including American Judaism which received the Jewish
Book Council's Jewish Book of the Year Award in 2004. Accolades for his new book have appeared
in numerous publications including the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Steven Roberts will join Dr. Sarna in conversation tonight. Steve is bet as a bestselling author,
a long time journalist, a political commentator and the Shapiro, and that's a long I of the
Washington pronunciation, professor of journalism and political communication at The George
Washington University. He has co-authored several books with his wife Cokie Roberts,
including Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families, a practical guide
for couples based on their experience observing Passover as an interfaith couple. Recent books
include a childhood memoir entitled My Father's Houses and From Every End of This Earth: 13
Families and the New Lives That They Made in America, which examines immigration in
America today. These books were both featured at the National Book Festival. Mr. Roberts
is a familiar face as a commentator on radio and television, often appearing on “Washington
Weekend Review,” CNN, on Hardball, he also substitutes for Diane Rehm on her award-winning
radio program. It's now my pleasure to invite Dr. Sarna and Steven Roberts to the stage.
Steven Roberts: Well, what a wonderful crowd. Delighted to
be here tonight. And I have two particular reasons in terms of Jewish Washington, as
it was mentioned, I hold the Shapiro chair in Washington and they of course are a very
distinguished Jewish family right here in Washington, a real estate family and very
generous in public spirited family that has donated many shares at GW and other universities
around, so it's part of my link to Jewish Washington. The other link is around 1920
my grandfather Avran Rebelski [spelled phonetically] lived right here in this Jewish neighborhood.
Laura said it's only a short walk. He used to tell me the story about living here and
how he was a carpenter of some modest accomplishment, and could never really get hired because he
wasn't a very good carpenter, but he figured out --
-- how he would go to the union hall here in Washington and he bought a motorcycle.
And he would be the first one to see the jobs being posted at the union hall, and he'd get
on his motorcycle, he'd get out there first to get the job. After about two days they
figured out he wasn't a very good carpenter and they'd fire him, but --
-- he -- and so I have an affectation for the Jewish community here in Washington where
my dad lived as a very young boy, a few years when he was about 4 or 5 years old. So right
in this neighborhood, he used to, so it is very much a part of his, it's very appropriate
if we were talking about this subject tonight in this building and in this neighborhood
because it is so much a part of the history of Jews in Washington. And I want to start
the conversation, and we will have time by the way for questions, there are mics, and
you will have to get up and because, as Susan Clifton said to me, "We're the National Archives,
we record everything."
So, [laughs], so you can't just shout out, you've got to get up. But, and we look forward
to your questions, so we'll leave plenty of time for that. But I want to start, Jonathan,
by asking you a rather simple question, which is why you wrote this book. I mean, because
after all, this is a very obscure episode.
Jonathan Sarna: So, as with many things there's a kind of
long-term interest and then why I wrote it at finally two years ago. In 1982, I was a
young professor at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. And they asked
me to give a talk for the board of overseers there. It's a very important rite of passage
for a new faculty member and I was determined to prove myself. And that was the 120th anniversary,
almost to the day, that lecture, of Grant's order. And so I said, well I would talk about
that, and new documents had become available from the association that published Grant’s
papers. So I prepared a lecture and put on my best suit and so on, and go out to the
board. And everything seems to be going well until I start talking about smuggling; Grant
of course was deeply concerned about smuggling. And I mentioned that we now know that Grant's
own father, Jesse Grant, was involved in a clandestine smuggling ring and operation with
Jewish clothing manufacturers from Cincinnati named Mac. And no sooner were those words
out of my mouth, people began shifting uneasily in their seats. And my mentor, the great American
Jewish historian Jacob Rader Marcus went like this.
Steve Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: I knew, you know, I had just made some terrible
error, and so I hobbled to the end of the lecture and then there were questions and
a man sitting just about where you are rose to his feet and said, "My name is Mac."
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: "That was my great grandfather that you were
talking about," and then he had a long pause and he said, "And it's all true."
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: So, it was a very memorable moment, it was
of course fascinating, even then I realized that the family had a tradition. But this
was really not known, at the time, the whole story was unknown, of course it took me about
30 years to get over that experience. But now for the 150th anniversary of the event,
I had been collecting material, and Jonathan Rosen, who is the editor of this really splendid
series that Next Book produces was having a conversation about different things that
interested me, when I said that, he said, "You've got to write it." So, I did and this
is the 150th anniversary of Grant's order, this year, and I thought there ought to be
book on that subject and that's the story.
Steven Roberts: What was their name before it was Mac?
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs] [unintelligible] something that,
so these are all German Jews. And --
Steven Roberts: Someone whose name was Rogufski [spelled phonetically]
changed to Roberts, that's why I asked the question.
Jonathan Sarna: Right, right, right.
Steven Roberts: One of the things you mentioned, which was
not well-known, that I learned from the book was that there were about 150,000 Jews in
America at that time in 1862, and give us a sense of who they were. Where did they come
from? Who was this constituency at this point?
Jonathan Sarna: The Jewish community in the United States
has grown very rapidly. In the middle decades of the 19th century. There were only about
3,000 Jews in 1820. Fifteen-thousand Jews in 1840. 150,000 in 1860. Most of those Jews
are from Central Europe. They're German speaking, the lands that would today be Germany and
Poland. Those countries were places that oppressed Jews. Many of them had laws that discriminated
against Jews. It was easier to come to America and it was especially at the wake of revolutions
in Germany and economic change. Lots of immigrants, lots of non-Jewish immigrants, of course they're
coming from that area to America. And Jews came probably, numbers, about 15 times the
rate of non-Jews, which reminds you that they had reasons of their own for wanting to come.
They're spread out across the country but what's important is most of them are new immigrants,
meaning they had accents, they probably looked a little different, and that's why I think
it was easy for Americans and certainly for men like General Grant to lump them all together.
Jews as a class and --
Steven Roberts: Which was a phrase from general order 11.
Jonathan Sarna: Exactly. And to believe that they were a group
and engaged in smuggling, which was really what troubled him, and we should move them
out of his territory.
Steven Roberts: Now, when you talk about the order, it has
mentioned several times, but a lot of you probably don't even know exactly what it said,
so why don't you tell us exactly what it said. I mean, you use the phrase, "as a class" and
that was the catchphrase that people fastened on and that was particularly upsetting to
Jonathan Sarna: Right. Of course, so of course they were quite
a few companies here in this very building but it reads "The Jews, as a class, violating
every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department. And also department orders
are hereby expelled from the department within 24 hours from the receipt of this order."
And then it goes on warning that anybody whose court will be imprisoned and no passes will
be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application
for trade permits. So a very explicit order that refers, indeed, to Jews as a class, which
was a phrase that remembered for a long time.
Steven Roberts: Now, there's a map in the book which shows
you exactly what part of the country this applied to, that it was called the Tennessee
Department that General Grant in 1862 was a commander of, and it basically starts around
Paducah, Kentucky and goes south through Tennessee and then through Mississippi, and Grant's
headquarters were actually in Mississippi at the time --
Jonathan Sarna: Holly Springs.
Steven Roberts: Holly Springs, Mississippi. But it's that
part of the country, it's sort of the south central part of the country that this order
applied to.
Jonathan Sarna: Between the Mississippi and the Tennessee
Steven Roberts: And what was your best feeling about what
motivated Grant? Do you -- you mentioned his father was involved. What led to the rather
harsh language?
Jonathan Sarna: So, as in many things, I think there's a cause
and then there's an occasion and a moment it happens. For reads Grant's papers, it's
clear that he's been worried for months about smuggling. To his mind, if he could do something
about the smugglers, the south would be starved into submission.
Steven Roberts: So there was a military --
Jonathan Sarna: Absolutely.
Steven Roberts: -- reason behind it.
Jonathan Sarna: And he and Sherman are absolutely persuaded
that these are smugglers and traders and they are making it possible for the south to continue
fighting because they're allowing the cotton to be sold. And of course people were smuggling
stuff into the south and smuggling the cotton.
Steven Roberts: But it was primarily cotton being smuggled
out to these clothing manufacturers in the North.
Jonathan Sarna: Right. And then you're smuggling in quinine
and prepared foods, and even clothing has to be smuggled into the south. After all,
the two sections of the country were interdependent. Of course, in the point of view of smugglers,
this was fabulous. You could make a fortune smuggling stuff into the South and an even
bigger fortune, like 400 percent, smuggling cotton out. Cotton was like oil. And everybody
needed it, the South had it, and you could make a lot of money. So we know lots of people
were smuggling. But there's no question that Grant's troops and others caught Jews smuggling.
No doubt that Jews were among those who smuggled. They tended to have family both sides of the
border. Many of them had a lot of experience in trade, but because they had caught some
Jews smuggling, Grant, and it certainly was not Grant alone, concluded some Jews were
smuggling, all Jews were smugglers. And that was of course, the Jews as a class. Now why
it happened on December the 17th, that's connected with Jesse Grant and the coming to Grant's
headquarters and of course Ulysses explodes. We have two witnesses that somebody realized
his own father is engaged in smuggling. And with a Jew. So, he sends the Macs packing,
and sits down in high dudgeon and writes off this order. John Y. Simon, who Laura mentioned,
whom I wish I had known but, did write on this subject, suggested that in a sense, instead
of expelling his father, Grant expelled the Jews.
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: Classic displacement.
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
But one of the interesting things about the order, because you read it and it is so sweeping,
questions were raised, for instance, to disinclude Jewish soldiers who served on the grant's
command who were in this territory. And there was this group of merchants called "sutlers"
who were suppliers to the army and that they couldn't do without. So immediately there
were questions raised about who really is affected by this.
Jonathan Sarna: Right. And one of the fascinating questions
that I had in writing the book was Grant issues this sweeping order, there were several thousand
Jews in his territory. Memphis was one of the largest Jewish communities in the South,
and yet I couldn't -- I couldn't even find 100 Jews who had been expelled. Now, there
were certainly were some that were manhandled and so on, but he issues the order, why weren't
they all expelled? And it actually took a fair time before -- I was reading the -- what's
called the Official Record of the War of the Rebellion -- you can figure out which side
wrote the official record --
-- from the title, and in many books, they're now all online, it was one of the great pieces
of official history at the end of the 19th Century. And in reading it, I realized that
Grant's forces were attacked just less than 72 hours after he issues that order. And has
a long description; Grant was not at the scene, and the officer in charge, they use a euphemism
that he was out at some entertainment which made him a trifle overbold, which was really
a way of saying he was stone drunk.
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: And we have this description and therefore,
it's a horrendous raid on Grant's headquarters and there’s a long description, all of 2000
captured and rations burned, and so on and so forth. And then it says the telegraph lines
were cut for miles around by the Confederate raiders. And that of course was the key to
the mystery. Because the telegraph lines were cut, word of the order spread slowly. All
of those people who were sending telegrams to Grant, you know, "Did you really mean that
our Jewish soldiers have to be sent out, and how can we live without the sutlers?" I mean,
you know, armies move on their stomach. So, none of those telegrams got through to Grant,
and a lot of people did nothing, which was very beneficial for the Jews.
And of course we know that the telegraph lines were down because it takes 12 days just until
the order arrives in Paducah, which isn't so very far away. And that's really when the
Jewish community gets aroused and learns about the order and gets excited is when it gets
to Paducah, and in Paducah, there is a lieutenant who starts evicting all of that city's Jews.
Steven Roberts: Now, Paducah's not necessarily thought of
as a center of Jewish life or commerce, but it --
Jonathan Sarna: Has a synagogue to this day
Steven Roberts: But it plays a critical role and primarily
because of the work of, his name has already been mentioned in the introduction, Cesar
Kaskel, who was one of the great heroes in your book. Tell us what he did and how he
-- the role he played here.
Jonathan Sarna: It's really fascinating. There was supposed
to be a descendant of Cesar Kaskel, and if you're here identify yourself.
Steven Roberts: Right there. There he is.
Jonathan Sarna: Okay. Wow. I -- welcome.
And indeed. You know, this is an example of that there’s a Talmudic statement about
how you can earn your place in the world to come in a moment. We never would have heard
of Cesar Kaskel, I think, but for this incident. He is told -- he's one of the 30 Jewish families
told they have to get out of Paducah within 24 hours. He had come there, he had a business,
he was a staunch Union supporter. Indeed, his brother had actually recruited soldiers.
So he's extremely angry. And --
Steven Roberts: Kentucky has sort of declared neutrality in
the war, so --
Jonathan Sarna: Right, but Grant -- Kentucky declared itself
neutral but of course Grant had captured, occupied Paducah. Paducah was a hotbed of
smuggling and the city was itself divided between Confederates and Unionists and everybody
-- everybody blamed the other, but they all agreed that the Jews were responsible --
-- for most of the problems. And expel Kaskel, and first thing he does is he sends a long
telegram to Abraham Lincoln. You know, he's come to America, he's a fairly recent immigrant.
He's going to go right to the top. He telegraphs Abraham Lincoln, and then he was a merchant,
he knew something about public relations. And everywhere he goes, you know, the boat
takes him to Cincinnati, so he's in touch with news correspondents. Indeed, you would
have loved it. He gets out a new release, and it's really because of Kaskel that most
people learn about the order.
Steven Roberts: And the associated press puts it up --
Jonathan Sarna: Right. He -- exactly. The AP picks it up and
goes right across the country.
That's how people learn about it. And then this guy, nothing daunted, he appoints himself
to go down to Washington, carrying the order, and he's going to go straight to the President
of the United States. It's a free country, so he's going to go and do it. And he gets
to Washington very quickly, and he gets there on a Saturday night and he goes straight to
congressman from Cincinnati, republican congressman who was friendly with Lincoln. Shows him,
I guess, the order. Maybe the strategized a bit and anyway, they go over. Lincoln turns
out to be as good as you want him to be in this setting. He says he's always glad to
see his friends. And then in they go, and of course, Lincoln doesn't know anything about
this order. The telegraph lines are down, they can't believe -- it's clear that they
have trouble believing such an order has even been issued. But we do have later this amazing
dialogue. Of course, it's written years later and the historian in me wonders maybe the
dialogue is a little too good to be true --
Steven Roberts: Right.
Jonathan Sarna: But, it's fabulous dialogue that is preserved
between Lincoln and Cesar Kaskel where --
Steven Roberts: It's good enough for us journalists.
Jonathan Sarna: Absolutely.
Steven Roberts: Not for you historians. Yes.
Jonathan Sarna: And they said -- and indeed the man who preserved
was a journalist.
Steven Roberts: Of course.
Jonathan Sarna: And, Lincoln according to this account says,
"So, the children of Israel were driven from the happy land of Canaan." And Kaskel --
Steven Roberts: That was Paducah. The happy land of Canaan.
You can see there was a bit of embellishment here.
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
And Kaskel cleverly replies, "Yes, and that is why we've come unto Father Abraham's bosom,
asking protection." And Lincoln says, "And this protection they shall have at once."
Whether, even if it didn't exactly happen that way, we certainly know that Lincoln instantly
commands Henry Halleck, who was then the general in chief of the army to countermand general's
orders number 11 and they send a fascinatingly worded telegram to Grant that reads, "If such
an order has been written, it will be immediately revoked." And that use of the subjunctive
suggests that they didn't really believe it. But of course, it was true. We have many copies
now, and Grant complies instantly. And, you know, Cesar Kaskel is able to return home
to Paducah, and supposedly when they asked him, he got there so quickly, you know, by
whose order he was returning home. And he said, "By the order of the President of the
United States." And so on. So, the important thing in the story immediately is, yes, such
an order was issued reminding us the worst of European expulsions, but the order is countermanded
in record time. I mean, December 28th and by January the 4th, it's counter met. I’m
not sure the Washington could move that quickly today.
And --
Steven Roberts: It hasn't moved that quickly since then.
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
Steven Roberts: That's the record right there.
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
Steven Roberts: But you know, the other figure who -- Kaskel's
a great figure. By the way, what is your relationship to Kaskel?
Male Speaker: Grandfather.
Steven Roberts: Excellent. Thanks for being here. The other
figure who –
Male Speaker:

Steven Roberts: Great-grandfather. The other figure who did
play a role was the much more famous Isaac Mayer Wise, Rabbi Wise. Who was in Cincinnati,
a critical city in this. And explain his role as well.
Jonathan Sarna: So, Isaac Mayer Wise, who -- great reformed
rabbi, and also the editor of a very significant Jewish newspaper. He does a great deal to
publicize this event and ensure that Jews hear about it, and he -- actually throughout
the war, his newspaper published a great deal of Jewish news, North and South. Cincinnati
is exactly the right place for information to flow into. But he's also writing of letters,
which we have, to public officials. Writes to Stanton and so on, you know, "Can't you
do something?" And then he also with other Jewish leaders rushes down to Washington.
Of course, Lincoln's already acted and all these rabbis are going down to Washington
and they reach Philadelphia and there they read in the newspaper that the order has been
countermanded. So, question is what should they do, being rabbis, they're not going to
lose an opportunity, so --
-- they, of course, continue. But now they say, "Great, we'll go and thank the president."
And that is exactly what they do. They go to Washington, they too meet with Abraham
Lincoln, they thank him. And there we have a contemporary account, so I do trust it.
It's actually by Isaac Mayer Wise, who had not been a great fan of Abraham Lincoln's
before then. And Wise tells us that Lincoln told the group, meaning the rabbis, "To condemn
a class is to say the least to wrong the good with the bad. I do not like to hear a class
or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners." I mean that quote, one might still
feel today is worthy of being remembered.
Steven Roberts: Absolutely, but you know one of the things
you write about in the book is even though the order was rescinded quickly, it had a
lasting impact in the sense that it reminded these -- this immigrant community of their
somewhat tenuous position. And even though, as you say, it was both the worst and the
best, what do you think the importance of it was? What was the lasting impact on the
Jewish community and on the country?
Jonathan Sarna: So, it has a remarkable impact. But first
of all, I mean, if you're pointing to the Jewish community in 1862, here they have fought
Ulysses S. Grant and they've won, they’ve had the order countermanded. That's tremendously
empowering for an immigrant community, it’s actually the second time in a two-year period
that the Jewish community had fought for something. Earlier they had fought for the Jewish chaplaincy,
that is to say the original chaplaincy law restricted the chaplaincy to ministers of
some Christian denomination. Jews felt excluded, there were 10,000 Jewish troops, and Jews
battled to have that law changed. And with Abraham Lincoln's aid, they do change it,
and we have the first Jewish chaplain. So they won once. Of course this was a much more
serious issue and a gain, the Jewish community in a sense has won. So they're empowered.
They wanted Grant to be censured and that does not happen. He -- Grant has friends in
Congress, and after all, the order has been rescinded and Grant is protected. And of course,
once he wins in Vicksburg and then other places, he becomes a great hero and you'd think that
the order would be forgotten. And indeed, there’s almost nothing said about the order
between 1863 and 1868. But in 1868 Grant runs for President. And then as now when you run
for president, the other party looks to find out what dirt can they use, and you know,
Grant was a national hero. This was tough. And then they find this order. And this to
them --
Steven Roberts: They found it on YouTube?
Jonathan Sarna: It must have been, yeah.
They -- this was fabulous. And so, suddenly, this order becomes central in the 1868 campaign.
It's really the first time that a Jewish issue has been front and center in a presidential
campaign. I actually had, in researching the book, the good fortune to come upon a handbook
that was given to democratic stump speakers in the 1868 election. After all, they didn't
have radio and television. So, they sent people, you know, to different places to gives speeches.
And I was astonished at how much they said about general order number 11. And they even
gave them hints as how they should talk about it.
Steven Roberts: And then what was that they pushed on, what
was the argument that they made to try to discredit Grant?
Jonathan Sarna: Well, clearly a man who had so persecuted
Jews as a class wasn't fit to be President of the United States. That, I mean, some of
them said, "everybody was doing it. Why did he single out Jews?" And in a sense, this
was, and Grant himself knew it, this was the great stain on his record. And they went to
town with it. Most Americans hadn’t heard about it, I think in 1862. After all, the
Emancipation Proclamation kind of pushed, and January the 1st was this issue off the
front page. But in 1868, all sorts of people heard about it. And I was amazed at how many
newspapers and obscure places were talking about this issue. You know, clearly the non-Jews.
Steven Roberts: And one of the interesting things about that
campaign, and you to some extent relate it to contemporary politics that here you had
most Jews tended to be republican and side with Lincoln's policies of emancipation and
yet it was the Democrats who took up in that election the cause of the Jews. And that created
some real conflict and tension within Jewish community and Jewish voters.
Jonathan Sarna: Right. It's really the first time that we
see Jews debating among themselves. "Who should we vote for?" And our American interests for
liberal Jews was to support the Republicans. They were the party of reconstruction, they
advocated liberal policies. The Democrats wanted to deny black Americans the right to
vote and really wanted to roll back reconstruction era policies. On the other hand, how could
you vote for a man who had expelled Jews as a class from his war zone? So, Jews faced
the problem, "Should we vote for a party?" The Democrats, who they thought would be bad
for the country, just to avoid voting for a man, Ulysses S. Grant, who had been bad
to the Jews. And you had this fascinating debate that is carried out in public, that's
good for a historian, that it's carried out in public, because I could find the debate,
on how Jews should vote. And what's appropriate. And should Jews vote as Americans or should
they vote as Jews? And could you separate when you voted as a Jew and Jewish interests
in voting as an American interest, and it's really a fascinating debate.
Steven Roberts: Sure. And of course, we didn't have exit polls,
so we didn't know how they actually voted. Do you have any sense of how they actually
Jonathan Sarna: Well, I once really -- it's funny how something
you find as a graduate student can later turn out to be valuable. When I was at Yale, they
had just gotten in a diary from a young man named Louie Ehrich [spelled phonetically],
who was actually one of the first Jewish students at Yale. And I read it, because I was interested
then, and Louie Ehrich is there debating in his mind. "How do I vote in this election?"
And he keeps this diary and in the end he says, "I couldn't bring myself to vote for
a man who had so dishonored the Jewish people." So I knew how he voted. And we actually know
that a man who later becomes quite significant in the Grant administration, he sent off as
consulate to Romania and a very important Jewish figure named Benjamin Franklin Paschiotto
[spelled phonetically] similarly, from a very famous Sephardic family, similarly voted democratic,
even though he was a liberal against Grant. Others, however, voted for Grant. Simon Wolfe,
who was mentioned, becomes one of Grant's great supporters and apologists and really
has come to respect Grant and runs around the country trying to persuade Jews that Grant
wasn't responsible and they should vote for him. Even named one of his children for Ulysses
S. Grant, so persuaded was he, Adolf Ulysses Grant Wolfe the boy’s name.
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: They -- but in any case, my guess is that
the Jewish vote was divided. In the 19th century, the Jewish vote was generally divided. It's
only in the 20th century, beginning in 1928, that we begin to sense that the vast majority
of Jews vote for one party. Nobody in the 19th century had such a notion.
Steven Roberts: And of course you mentioned that Grant himself
was very well aware that this was a stain, the word you used, on his record, and one
of the interesting themes of the book is that, you also use the word “atone” that, a
very Jewish word, that he atoned for this stain, this misjudgment, this mistake in all
sorts of ways.
Jonathan Sarna: [affirmative]
Steven Roberts: Including, you mentioned, the coming to the
ceremony at Adas Israel, and sitting for three hours, I mean that --
Johnathan Sarna: In the heat.
Steven Roberts: Talk about atoning. I mean, you know.
Steven Roberts: He ought to atone for, three hours.
Jonathan Sarna: That's not just atonement, that's penance.
Steven Roberts: That's penance, that's right. [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
Steven Roberts: But, also he -- I found this fascinating that
in addition to Pasciotto, that there are a number of Jews who he appointed to important
cabinet posts, and talk about some of those figures.
Jonathan Sarna: So, Grant, first of all, as soon as he's elected,
he didn't want anybody to think that he's pandering to the Jewish vote. But as soon
as he's elected, he actually pens a letter of apology, that tells Jews pretty much what
they had wanted to hear from the president. And he says, "I do not sustain that order."
And Jews take it as an apology. But it's not just an oral apology. One of his first appointments
is Simon Wolfe, whom he appoints. And Simon Wolfe becomes his Jewish adviser. And we know
that Simon Wolfe recommends various people who he then appoints to public office. One
is a governor of the territory of Washington, and another is appointed to a significant
position in Indian affairs, which is fascinating because that was otherwise a Christian preserve
and there's a story about it. And he wanted, as you say, to appoint the first Jewish cabinet
member. He invites the great banker Joseph Seligman to be a secretary of the treasury.
Seligman turns it down, and he also, you mentioned Adolphus Solomons, and the tradition is that
he invited Adolphus Solomons to be equivalent of mayor, called governor then, of Washington,
D.C. Adolphus Solomons, however, was Sabbath observant. And he felt that the head of Washington,
D.C. couldn't be a Sabbath-observant Jew. And so, at least according to the tradition,
which is brought by son-in-law, that's why he turned it down. And Grant appointed a variety
of other Jews, ambassadors and postmen and so on, but he went out of his way to appoint
Jews. And in addition, his foreign policy is remarkable. America, prior to the Civil
War, had been very reluctant to call out other countries on issues of human rights. President
Buchanan, for example, was asked, "Couldn't you say something," at the time of what was
known as the Mortara Affair of Jewish boys. Is accidentally converted as a child by his
nurse maid and is removed from his parents because a Catholic child can't be brought
up by Jewish parents, and is brought into the Vatican. And it was outrage in the country,
and they ask Buchanan, won't he speak up? And Buchanan knows he can't speak up, because
after all, children were taken from their parents all the time in the slave South and
he knew it would be rank hypocrisy. And that's why he can't do it. But now after the Civil
War, that's behind us. And so when Russia wants to expel Jews in an area then known
as Bessarabia. Kishinev is in Bessarabia. They want to expel them and they say amazingly,
they say, "The Jews are smuggling."
Steven Roberts: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: We want to expel them. Now I’m sure that,
you know, had that happened today all the advisers would tell the president, "You don't
want to touch this because everyone will remember general order number 11. You should have nothing
to do with this at all."
Steven Roberts: To say nothing to the power of the Bessarabian
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
Jonathan Sarna: But, the -- Grant actually speaks up vigorously
against that expulsion, whether or not that turned -- the Jews were not expelled, whether
it was for that reason or other reasons, historians dispute. And then when Jews are persecuted
in Romania, Grant does an unprecedented thing, he actually appoints a Jewish consul. This
Benjamin Franklin Pasciotto to Romania with the full understanding that he is going to
go and largely be involved in helping the Jewish community, which indeed is what he
does. And he gives him an astonishing letter. This is probably, I couldn't prove it was
the first, so I didn't say it, but probably the first such expression of human rights.
We're still debating now, think of Syria, the extent to which America should be concerned
about the internal affairs of other countries. Listen to Grant: "Mr. Pasciotto was undertaking
the duties of his present office, more as a missionary work for the benefit of the people
who are laboring under severe oppression than for any benefits to accrue to himself. A work
which all good citizens will wish him the greatest success in." He then continues, "The
United States, knowing no distinction of their own citizens on account of religion or nativity
naturally believed in a civilization, the world over, which will secure the same universal
liberal views," U.S. Grant. An astonishing private letter -- by the way, didn't check
with his secretary of state when he wrote that letter. And the Secretary of State was
very angry, and maybe for that reason, that letter is not in this building. It's actually
-- is in American Jewish Historical Society.
But it is a remarkable state letter and indeed we know that from documents here that Pasciotto
deeply concerns himself with persecuted Jews. I spoke in the New York Historical Society,
a few day ago, and at the lecture, a Jew from Romania came up and said that he was brought
up with the name Ulysses S. Grant as someone who had been wonderful to the Jewish community,
that he didn't know anything about what I wrote here. All he knew is Grant was a hero
for the Jews of Romania. I was fascinated that that tradition was kept alive at least
in his community really until the present day.
Steven Roberts: We want to go to questions. I’ll ask that
if you have a question, come up to one of the mics. I was told to ask people to come
to the standing mics; there’s one over here and one over there. While people are coming,
I want to ask a final question here and then we'll get to the audience. You've talked about
how the issuing of the order represented a dark side of America, an anti-immigrant suspicion
of foreigners. And that the rescinding of it also represented a benign strain in America.
And in my own work, I've noticed over and over again in American history, this is very
typical that America is profoundly ambivalent about immigrants. We celebrate immigrants,
and yet in 1750, Benjamin Franklin preached against the Germans who were going to just
spoil the American character. Just a few years before general order 11, the Know-Nothing
Party had a major impact on American politics by being anti-Catholic, mainly against Irish
and German Catholics. So talk about how this order fits, in your sense as a historian,
in the larger American story of oscillation back and forth between welcoming and yet condemning
Jonathan Sarna: And, I think what is amazing in American history
really is the group after group. Including the Germans and the Catholics --
Steven Roberts: To say nothing of the Japanese --
Jonathan Sarna: I was going to get to the Japanese, it’s
a 20th century thing -- have memories of being persecuted in America. In a sense, America's
a great country, we're very pluralistic in our persecutions, and --
They, they're -- almost every group has some memory of --
Steven Roberts: Right.
Jonathan Sarna: -- a period when they were persecuted, but
then has the good fortune of seeing themselves celebrated. And you know clearly the archetype
is black Americans, but the same story would be true from the Irish, the Germans, the Japanese
Steven Roberts: The Italians very much.
Jonahtan Sarna: The Italians and the Muslims. I mean, it's
always the same story. They all look back at a certain moment and then later they are
integrated and we are astonished that once upon a time people persecuted, when today
they're such good citizens and their descendants are shapers of America, maybe even presidents
of the United States.
Steven Roberts: Right. Very American story. Yes sir, please
Male Speaker: Appreciate your presentation --
Steven Roberts: Should we ask people to identify themselves
or not? No, I don’t have to. Okay, please, go ahead.
Male Speaker: Could you take us back to General's headquarters
again in Mississippi and sort of walk us through the scenario? Who actually drafted the order?
I mean, was it something that was put in front of him, or was this done by, I mean, obviously
they all have adjutants and walk, you know -- who's the one -- whose idea was this and
how did it get up to chain of command?
Jonathan Sarna: Well, you're absolutely right that in 1868
when Grant runs for office, some of his defenders said, "Ah, he had nothing to do with it, some
underling sent the order, it was all pre-printed and so on." Now that we have Grant's papers,
it's absolutely impossible to maintain that fiction. And that's all thanks to John Wise
Simon. First of all, one can see that there's been concern that Grant has expressed and
Sherman expresses about these Jewish smugglers. Indeed, the word "Jew" and the word "smuggler"
were used interchangeably just like "Yankee" and "Northerner" were interchangeable, "Jew"
and "Smuggler." And we can see concern for months, really as early as July of 1862, you
can see concern expressed. And then you can see that just eight days before the order,
a man named John Van Deusen DuBois, in a much more limited area has expelled Jews and a
few other groups from a more limited area, and Grant overturns that order and indeed
DuBois gets into a lot of trouble. And then just eight days later, Grant himself issues
this order and of course I argue that is because of the experience with his father. Now, whether
Grant -- apparently, when one reads biographies, Grant could rattle off these orders, he was
very, very good at dictating them. Rollins, who was his adjutant was certainly the person
who sends them out. And actually, there's slight differences in wording or at least
four different texts, but I don't have any doubt that the order came from Grant, and
indeed Grant never denied that the order came from him. Now he does, and I’ll say one
other thing, since you asked about it, there's no mention of this in Grant's memoirs. The
fabulous memoirs, probably the best memoirs of any American general are Grant's. And he
does pass over, you know -- he doesn't talk bad, his drunkenness and he doesn't talk about
this. His son, Frederick, who worked with Grant, tells us that he asked his father,
"Shouldn't we talk about this episode?" And Grant replied, "Best not referred to. The
less said, the better." But there's also a memoir published by John Wise Simon who found
-- I think it's by him -- published it, it's only published 1975 by Grant's wife, Julia
Dent. And you know, it even happens today, that husbands like to forget, their wives
like to remember.
Jonathan Sarna: And she calls the order obnoxious. That's
her word. If Grant had not issued the order, if it had been somebody else, his wife wouldn't
have called it an obnoxious order, it’s [unintelligible]. She goes on, you know, it
should never have been issued against any class and he felt badly about it, and so on.
So, she knew that he took responsibility and I, therefore, do believe that it was, you
know, Grant's doing.
Male Speaker: Thank you.
Steven Roberts: Good. Yes, sir. You next.
Male Speaker: Two questions. Did the order cover New Orleans
where after all, most of the Jewish cotton traders were? If not, did Benjamin Butler,
a very tough general who regarded any pro-Southern women as a prostitute, did he try to crack
down on the Jews? Question number two, proportionately, did more Jews fight for the Confederacy or
the Union?
Jonathan Sarna: Okay, so two good questions. New Orleans is
not under the department of the Tennessee. I have a map and you can see that it doesn't
go in as far as New Orleans. That's because Butler of course is in New Orleans. Butler
had nothing good to say about Jews. By the way, Butler himself was engaged in a good
deal of smuggling.
Jonathan Sarna: And so I think they called him not just Beast,
but Spoons, because spoons would disappear, especially if they were silver, and he became
quite wealthy after the Civil War. But, you know, the particular issue of we'll leave
aside of that episode with a Jewish woman, I would have to say, had she not been a women
but been a man, he would have shot her, and maybe she deserved it. And to laugh at a funeral
of a Union soldier publicly, I think even today in an occupied area, that kind of mockery
wouldn't be tolerated. So I am less sympathetic, but it is for another day. I am less sympathetic
than some for Butler's actions, but in any case it wasn't in Grant's territory. Now,
most of the soldiers in the Civil War were actually on the North of the -- if there were
10,000, you know, that most of them were in the North and probably only 2,500, but maybe
you'll know the exact numbers now. They -- you're asking as a percentage of the population,
whether the South produced more than the North, and I don't know the answer to that. It's
possible the southern Jews certainly remembered the Jewish soldiers better and there is to
this day a confederate Jewish cemetery, one of the rare Jewish military cemeteries and
it's there in the South. And of course there's no equivalent --
Steven Roberts: And of course --
Jonathan Sarna: -- in the north. I should say, but I don't
know if you want to answer it, Robert Marcus who is with us --
Male Speaker: In Richmond, a beautiful cemetery.
Jonathan Sarna: Knows much more about individual Jews -- is
Bob still here? Ah, there. Do you want to -- maybe have to go to the microphone, Bob,
but if you want to talk about it. Bob is, for those of you who have seen the film, which
I recommend, “Jewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray,” Bob was central in that, and nobody
knows more about the individual soldiers than Bob.
Robert Marcus: Well, thank you Jonathan. I believe a higher
percentage of Jews fought for the Confederacy for several reasons. I believe there was a
higher percentage of native-born Jews living in the territory of the Confederacy, of roughly
3,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy and they occupied approximately 25 percent of
the Jewish population in America at the time.
Steven Roberts: And of course there was the role of Judah
Benjamin, who, a prominent Jew who was secretary of war in the Confederate capital.
Jonathan Sarna: Right. Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of
State. There is a marvelous statement by Senator Ben Wade who called Judah Benjamin an Israelite
with Egyptian principles.
Steven Roberts: This gentlemen in the red shirt. Go ahead
Male Speaker: I'm just sort of struck by the fact that in
1868, that this order was issued resonated -- it resonated with the population, I mean,
I assume it wasn't because of great sympathy for the Jews. I'm just wondering why it -- was
it just because it was something that seems wrong?
Jonathan Sarna: Yeah, I think that the -- by 1868, the idea
that you would single out Jews as a class and expell them, there were enough immigrants
in different groups. You know, just as we are appalled, we can't understand how Japanese
could have been put in detention camps. You know, it's unimaginable. And I think by 1868
they thought about the expulsion of the Jews as a class the same way. That’s certainly
my sense.
Steven Roberts: And would you say there was a connection between
the triumph of the North in the abolitionist sentiment, the country just fought a war to
liberate every oppressed minority?
Jonathan Sarna: I mean, there were democrats who, I think,
wanted to undo reconstruction. First of all, they didn't want to keep troops in the South,
and many of them were not sympathetic to African Americans. They may have opposed slavery,
they may have opposed the South, but to read Democratic rhetoric from the 1868 election,
is really from their perspective, quite appalling. And indeed I reprint a Thomas Nast cartoon
where, you know, these Democrats are basically standing on the neck of an African American,
and that's what he properly understood was what they wanted.
Steven Roberts: Yes sir.
Male Speaker: Hi Jonathan. I have two questions. A few years
ago, I think McFeely was the writer who won a Pulitzer for a biography of Grant. He once
gave a talk in Washington, I think maybe here, and I asked him a question about 11. And he
said something that was very strange to me. He said, "To most people who are not Jews,
there was a lot of anti-Semitism. It didn't matter much to most people." And I was taken
aback at that time. Did you discover that in your research that it wasn't a big deal
to Americans at that time?
Jonathan Sarna: I would say that in 1862, it was not a big
deal. A big deal to Jews, not a big deal to Americans. After all, there were all sorts
of human rights violations in the Civil War. I list some here and it's not pretty. In a
sense, if you, you know, think that some of the recent revelations about what happened
in Afghanistan and Iraq are aberrations, you read what went on in the Civil War, and there
are any number -- and Professor Neely has written a couple of books on that subject.
So, in 1862 it's not a big issue, but in 1868 --
Male Speaker: Yes.
Jonathan Sarna: -- it becomes a big issue. I would say that
Professor McFeely -- it's a wonderful book, but he has not taken advantage of the new
look at Grant. He is quite negative on Grant. It's really a newer group of historians who
have had the benefit of the letters that John Wise Simon published and many of them had
the experience I had, myself, reading, I became very deeply impressed with this man and that
has really led to a total reappraisal of Grant, who after all, when he died, most people thought
that you had Washington, Lincoln, and Grant. And it's only in -- and that's why they built
Grant's tomb, look at it. You didn't build that for a man who was despised. It's only
in the 20th century that his reputation declines drastically, it sinks like a stone, and largely
that is on account of historians, some of them students of Professor Dunning in Columbia,
who thought that his policies, liberal policies, towards African Americans, were totally misguided.
And were deeply angered by reconstruction and they tarnished Grant's reputation. And
now, in a post-civil rights America, where an African American is president of the United
States, there is a kind of looked back at a sense, wow, Grant was really ahead of his
time. And some of the books say -- and you know, he was really much better, except for
the Jews. And there he made a terrible mistake. And now I hope that my book shows that even
in terms of the Jews, yes, he made a terrible mistake, but he certainly did everything he
could in the last two decades of his life to rectify and undo that mistake. And the
Jewish community not only forgave him, when he died, they mourned him in every synagogue.
Male Speaker: And second question has to do with a large
political issue. In 1862, Lincoln and his cabinet and everybody were very much afraid
of England getting involved. Okay, so now you have Disraeli, you have Rothschild’s
there, something like this Lincoln might have said, "You know, this could," and you know,
have a lot of people in England who were in the cotton industry, who were supporting the
South. This might flip them towards supporting the South. Do you think that happened?
Jonathan Sarna: It's a very interesting idea, but I did not
find anybody who, you know, said anything of the kind, and I tend to think that Grant
was not deeply interested in that issue. Lincoln was deeply interested in preventing England
from entering the war, and that's why Lincoln was prepared to allow a certain amount of
cotton to move from the South back to England because he understood the politics of scarce
commodities and understood that if you didn't let cotton go, they might indeed intervene
on the side of England. In many ways, cotton then was like oil today, and deprivation of
oil might lead people to intervene on the side of the folks who have that resource.
And that's what Lincoln wanted to prevent. Grant and Sherman had no patience for the
argument, they say, "You can't trade with the people and fight against the people at
the same time." Their idea was, "Let's starve the South out, prevent everything," and you
know, "and then we'll defeat the south, and we'll send out the cotton later." But in any
case, even though your suggestion is interesting, I have never found a reference to anybody
making the suggestion that you did, but if you ever find such evidence, I'd love to see
Steven Roberts: I think we have one more, sir.
Male Speaker: And here it is.
Steven Roberts: Please go ahead.
Male Speaker: It was another strategic material that Lincoln
was very much concerned about that rivaled cotton, and this came to a head after the
Trent Affair, and that was nitrates. And that nitrates we used in explosives, and the world's
market was under England's control because it came from India. So that's why Lincoln
was so concerned that, and fortunately DuPont in this country had secured a supply of nitrates
before that came to a head. But that was not what I wanted to ask.
Jonathan Sarna: Okay. Can I make just one comment, and that
is that Michael Oren argues, today he's the ambassador to Israel, which of course he's
an important historian. Michael Oren argues that the growing of cotton in Egypt, although
some had started earlier, the growing of cotton was really meant to ensure that all cotton
wouldn't come from the South, that never again would Europe be deprived of cotton if there
were a war in the United States. So, just as the oil boycott led to new sources of oil,
and independence, so he says the Civil War led to the opening up of -- in search of new
places where cotton would grow, and the cotton industry in Egypt, which has been very important
later on, all has its roots in the American Civil War. Anyway, your other question.
Male Speaker: Okay. There was concern about whether the
motivation for order 11 came from the bottom up. But there was no thought about whether
it came from the top down. I'm not implying that Lincoln had anything to do with it, but
something that I don't think has been emphasized adequately is that Grant was not without enemies
and one of this greatest enemies was none other than General in Chief Halleck, himself.
And Halleck was quite concerned. He recognized Grant as a real rival. So anything he could
do to weaken Halleck's -- to weaken Grant's pen, he did, and when it came to tossing a
little dirt around, he was not against that in order to slow Grant's rise through the
Jonathan Sarna: So, indeed, for a long time, and I talk about
it here, the claim was made that somebody else instructed Grant to make that order.
At one point Grant's own father, Jesse, said, "Oh, my son was required to do it." And Isaac
Mayer Wise accepted this idea for a while. The problem is, first of all, we have a very
complete set of telegrams and messages sent out here in Washington in this very building.
And nobody, and they've searched, nobody has ever found such a message sent to Grant implying
that he should take care of the Jews and expel them. And indeed, they -- some of the -- there
were only a very few people who were sending out and receiving telegrams and some of them
later said -- if a telegram been issued, there were only a small number of people. Halleck
was one of them who could issue orders to Grant. They would have known about it, they
would have been the people sending the telegram and they insisted no such telegram was sent.
So, even though you're absolutely correct about earlier accounts, say that I don't agree.
Steven Roberts: Okay, we have time for one more.
Jonathan Sarna: One more.
Steven Roberts: Go ahead please, ma'am.
Female Speaker: I was wondering what were people's reaction
to Grant appointing Jews in the public positions while he himself was in office?
Jonathan Sarna: Good. And I indeed talk a lot about that.
In several cases there was opposition. None more important than when he made this appointment
to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, because after all, the whole idea which Grant supported
was to Christianize the Indians. That was our -- it’s a fascinating aspect of American
history. Notwithstanding church/state separation, Indian Affairs were almost entirely in the
hands of church leaders, and the policy which Grant endorsed was basically to Christianize
the Indians. So how do you appoint a Jew? We have no -- there is no question that he
was appointed. Because he was a Jew, Simon Wolfe went to Grant, "Can we not have a Jew?"
And there was tremendous opposition, and I quote quite a lot of it here. To having a
Jew in that position, they made his life a misery. Today, he's remembered as the first
Jew who went to Arizona, but it made his life a misery --
Steven Roberts: But not the last.
Jonathan Sarna: Not the last. Right.
Jonathan Sarna: And, I and his name was Herman Bendell. And,
the -- we -- there was later a meeting of the board of Indian commissioners in which
they said that Bendell was a doctor and he gives us reports, and he said, "Doctor Herman
Bendell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Arizona is a most excellent official,
a man of splendid judgment, strict integrity, who has managed the affairs to entire satisfaction,
but unfortunately, he is not a Christian." Anyway, Bendell solved the problem because
he decided to get married, and his bride didn't want to live as the only Jew in Arizona.
Jonathan Sarna: And, so he resigned. But the --
Female Speaker: Thank you.
Jonathan Sarna: But, there certainly were people who were
quite unhappy about it.
Female Speaker: Thank you.
Steven Roberts: Herman Bendell, by the way changed his name
to Henri Bendell.
Jonathan Sarna: [laughs]
Steven Roberts: I want to thank -- this has been a great audience.
Dr. Sarna, a wonderful presentation and thank you all for proving once again the Archives
is a great place.
Steven Roberts: Remember, Jonathon will be up there signing
books. It’s a wonderful read, and I hope some of you will do that.
[music playing]