Some corrections need to be made to the recent article on RealClearPolitics.com titled: “What Trump Could Learn From U.S. Grant,” concerning General Ulysses S. Grant’s expulsion of all Jews “as a class” from his Civil War military department in December 1862. [http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2015/12/17/what_trump_could_learn_from_us_grant_129073.html]
Grant was not “a cashiered U.S. Army captain,” but had resigned in 1854. He left his family’s leather goods store for good just before his 39th birthday, not “at age 40.”
As to its being “one of the least harmful” persecutions against the Jews, only Abraham Lincoln’s speedy stand against Orders No. 11 prevented even more serious effects. Instead of the assertion that Jews “don’t seem to have actually left” Paducah, thirty families were expelled, leaving two prostrate women behind. And the assertion that no property was seized, is likewise incorrect, as the Union army confiscated horses and transportation. It is a canard that Grant was “using the words ‘profiteer’ and ‘Jew’ interchangeably.” Communications written before Orders No. 11 specifically targeted Jewish traders as supposed wrong-doers.
Grant’s excuse, that “I do not sustain that order. . . . It would never have been issued if it had not been telegraphed the moment it was penned, and without reflection,” is belied by the fact that he had weeks afterward in which to reflect, yet he didn’t countermand the order until forced to. The characterization of Grant’s “apologizing publicly” is also exaggerated, at best. If Grant did “regret it the rest of his life,” he certainly didn’t mention this unpleasant episode in his Personal Memoirs. As president, to his credit, he did dispatch Benjamin Peixotto to Roumania to fight against pogroms and other anti-Jewish persecution.
And one of those expelled from Paducah, Cesar Kaskel, did not actually ride a horse from Paducah to Washington to bring this injustice to Lincoln’s attention (it is to be hoped that Jonathan Sarna’s reference to a “Paul Revere-like ride” was meant to be merely figurative).