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When General Grant Expelled the Jews

Matt in N.C. Wrote: May 14, 2012 6:12 AM
"[T]he 18th president is caricatured as a corrupt and brutal drunkard. . . ." He was a drunkard. His conduct of the war was brutal to both sides. If he wasn't corrupt, he certainly surrounded himself with corruption while he was president. But he was more complex than the foregoing sentences suggest. Similarly, Lincoln crushed civil liberties, destroyed the Constitution, and indirectly killed 600,000 people to preserve the Republic. But he rescinded General Orders 11 and almost coincidentally rid the country of its most odious institution. He, too, is complex. Thanks for an interesting essay.
Joe1947 Wrote: May 14, 2012 8:13 AM
It's far too simple to say "He was a drunkard." Opinions on that, among historians, are all over the map: He was never drunk on duty. Yes, he was. He only drank when he was away from his beloved family. He never overindulged at all. He didn't drink much, but couldn't handle liquor well. He drank, but no more than most army officers. No, in fact he drank less than most...et endless cetera.
As for corruption, even his worst political enemies never suggested that he took a single dime. His flaw was excessive loyalty. Once Grant called you a friend, he was unable to conceive that you would ever betray that friendship; naive, perhaps, but not corrupt (though, yes, many of the men he appointed,particularly as Indian agents, betrayed him, and...
Dave M Wrote: May 14, 2012 1:08 PM
I don't know about that. He certainly never forgave Halleck when he found out after the war that the General he thought his friend was on of those that were the cause of his troubles after Shiloh.
Joe 145 Wrote: May 14, 2012 7:21 AM
I have always enjoyed Linclon's response to the accusation of Grant's drunkardness. "What type of brandy does he drink? I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals."

IN DECEMBER 1862, from his military headquarters in Mississippi, Major General Ulysses S. Grant issued a directive expelling "Jews as a class" from the immense war zone known as the Department of the Tennessee. General Orders No. 11 was the most notorious anti-Jewish edict ever issued by an official of the US government, and it was overruled by the commander-in-chief -- President Abraham Lincoln -- as soon as he learned of it in Washington.

Notwithstanding its sweeping terms, the order turned out to have little immediate impact on the thousands of Jews living in the area under Grant's command. Only about...