Wednesday, June 20, 2012
WHEN GENERAL GRANT EXPELLED THE JEWS
I attended the Fayette County Historical Society Civil War Program at the Fayette County Museum. The Ulysses S. Grant Homestead Association from Georgetown, OH, which maintains the boyhood home of Grant, provided the program which celebrates the life, history, and legacy of Lieutenant General Grant during the Civil War and as the eighteenth President of the United States. The displays regarding the daily lives of soldiers, weapons, and photographs of Grant were very interesting to me, and the performers, attired in their woolen Civil War style uniforms on a hot summer day, were especially impressive.
Lieutenant General Ulysses Simpson Grant was performed by Michael Miller of Georgetown, OH. Grant, born in Galena, OH, moved to Georgetown, OH, when he was 11 months old and resided in Georgetown, OH, until he went to West Point. It was good to see someone of the correct physical stature playing Grant: during the Civil War, Grant was 5' 7" and weighed between 135-150 pounds. Mr. Miller's portrayal was a fitting homage to Grant and when Miller completed his speech, he said, "If there are any questions, I would be glad to answer."
I stood and asked, "Yes, General Grant, I have a question: would you comment on your General Orders Number 11?" Mr. Miller looked stunned and replied, "I'm sorry, I don't know about that; could you tell me what it is?" I said, "Yes, it's your Orders where you expelled the Jews from your war zone and you expelled them as a class because of smuggling."
It was actually exhilarating to hear the shocked intake of breath from members of the audience and the titters as people looked to see the questioner. [I love debates about history!] I continued, telling that Grant had been upset by rampant smuggling, but that he had unfairly singled out Jews to punish, when his own father Jesse Grant was also known to be smuggling during that time! I said, "You might want to read the new book on the subject." He asked the title and I said, When General Grant Expelled The Jews." Someone close by, within my earshot, said sarcastically, "Did she write it?" A school classmate of mine, Alice, said, "Oh, Phyllis knows what she is talking about--you can be sure of that!" [Thank you, Alice!] My nephew Michael was with me and he whispered, "She had to go to school with you since she called you Phyllis."
Within half an hour, the moderator of the program came to the microphone and commented about General Orders 11. [It was great to know that someone actually cared enough to go quickly to Google, to check my assertion!] When the moderator said that President Lincoln had "overruled" Grant, I said, "Actually, the President RESCINDED the orders!"
After the program, I went to speak to Mr. Miller and compliment his "grace under pressure". His "significant other", who sometimes portrays Julia Dent Grant in performance, said, "That's the first time in 15 years that he's ever been stumped!" Mr. Miller asked how I became an expert on Grant. I said, "Oh, I'm not, I'm much more interested in Sherman."
Several people approached me and said that I should join the Historical Society. I said, "I'm a Lifetime Member!" I guess I should attend more meetings.
The book I mentioned, When General Grant Expelled The Jews, by Jonathan Sarna is on my birthday wish list!
CLICK HERE to read the article at Townhall.com by Jeff Jacoby entitled When General Grant Expelled the Jews.