I was vaguely familiar with the order given by General Ulysses S. Grant, during the American civil war, which called for the Jews to be expelled from the war zone. Now a new book is coming out which will give the details of this historic order; you can read about the book here.
This quote is from the website about the book:
In the middle of the Civil War, on December 17, 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders No. 11, which called for the expulsion of “Jews as a class” from the Department of the Tennessee – a vast area stretching from Mississippi to Illinois. The order was revoked almost immediately by President Lincoln, and its direct effects on the country’s small but growing Jewish community were limited. Yet the unprecedented decree had enormous unintended consequences, not just for Grant but for American Jewry. The effects, in fact, continue to reverberate today.
When I read about the new book, I immediately thought about Heinrich Himmler’s famous speech at Posen on October 4, 1943:
…”The Jewish people are being exterminated.” every party member says. “Of course, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we’ll do it all right.” Among all those who talk like this, no one has witnessed it, no one has seen it through. Most of you will know, however, what it means to see 100 corpses lying together, or 500, or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at the same time to have remained decent – aside from a few exceptions succumbing to human weakness – that has made us tough. This is an unwritten and never-to-be-written page of glory in our history, for we know how difficult it would be for us if today under bombing raids and the hardships and deprivations of war – if we were still to have the Jews in every city as secret saboteurs, agitators, and inciters. If the Jews were still lodged in the body of the German nation, we would probably by now have reached the stage of 1917-18.”
The phrase “the stage of 1917-18” is a reference to World War I. The Nazis blamed the Jews for Germany’s loss in World War I.
This quote from the Jewish Virtual Library explains why General Grant issued an order to expel the Jews during the Civil War:
In 1862, in the heat of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant initiated one of the most blatant official episodes of anti-Semitism in 19th-century American history. In December of that year, Grant issued his infamous General Order No. 11, which expelled all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi:
“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 [the “Department of the Tennessee,” an administrative district of the Union Army of occupation composed of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi] within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
“Post commanders will see to it that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters. No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application of trade permits.”
The immediate cause of the expulsion was the raging black market in Southern cotton. Although enemies in war, the North and South remained dependent on each other economically. Northern textile mills needed Southern cotton. The Union Army itself used Southern cotton in its tents and uniforms. Although the Union military command preferred an outright ban on trade, President Lincoln decided to allow limited trade in Southern cotton.
To control that trade, Lincoln insisted it be licensed by the Treasury Department and the army. As commander of the Department of the Tennessee, Grant was charged with issuing trade licenses in his area. As cotton prices soared in the North, unlicensed traders bribed Union officers to allow them to buy Southern cotton without a permit. As one exasperated correspondent told the Secretary of War, “Every colonel, captain or quartermaster is in a secret partnership with some operator in cotton; every soldier dreams of adding a bale of cotton to his monthly pay.”
In the fall of 1862, Grant’s headquarters were besieged by merchants seeking trade permits. When Grant’s own father appeared one day seeking trade licenses for a group of Cincinnati merchants, some of whom were Jews, Grant’s frustration overflowed.
A handful of the illegal traders were Jews, although the great majority were not. In the emotional climate of the war zone, ancient prejudices flourished. The terms “Jew,” “profiteer,” “speculator” and “trader” were employed interchangeably. Union commanding General Henry W. Halleck linked “traitors and Jew peddlers.” Grant shared Halleck’s mentality, describing “the Israelites” as “an intolerable nuisance.”
In November 1862, convinced that the black market in cotton was organized “mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders,” Grant ordered that “no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward [into the Department of the Tennessee] from any point,” nor were they to be granted trade licenses. When illegal trading continued, Grant issued Order No. 11 on December 17, 1862.