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‘When General Grant Expelled The Jews’

When Ulysses S. Grant was a general in the Civil War, he issued an order expelling all of the Jews from the territory under his control — basically the modern states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi. The order is known as General Order 11 and is dated Dec. 17, 1862.

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department… are hereby expelled… within 24 hours.

Post commanders will see that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and anyone returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement

It sounds like something from Germany in the 1930s, but it was issued just weeks before President Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation.

To the extent that this episode has been remembered at all, it’s been known as a historic low point for anti-Semitism in America and a tarnish on Grant’s legacy.

But it turns out the whole story is a lot more complicated than that. The narrative asserted in a new book suggests that the event eventually lead to important advances for Jews worldwide, and a personal redemption for Grant.

Guest:

  • Jonathan Sarna, professor of American Jewish studies at Brandeis University; author, “When General Grant Expelled the Jews”

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Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer is co-hosting Radio Boston while Meghna Chakrabarti is on maternity leave.

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