On this day in 1862, Ulysses S. Grant did little to cover himself in glory. He issued his Order No. 11 expelling all Jews from his military department by the Mississippi River. The order caused a great deal of suffering among the Jews who had to leave the area before it was rescinded by President Lincoln.
However, I think it's important to put the order in perspective. It was the first and perhaps only act of overt anti-Semitism by an arm of the U.S. Government. In our country, most of the anti-Semitism emerged from private sources and entities. In Europe, the anti-Jewish actions were overt and explicit. Anti-Semitic political parties emerged in the late 19th century. One of the mayors of Vienna, Karl Lueger, was reelected multiple times on an anti-Semitic platform. There was the Dreyfus Affair in France. Then of course came the Nazis and the Holocaust. Though America has a strong anti-Semitic past, the U.S. has not been too bad in comparison to what Jews suffered elsewhere.
Let's put down General Grant's order to an excess of drink, shall we?
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry