December 17, 1862: Grant expels the Jews

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant was exasperated by the machinations of cotton speculators who followed the Union army south. According to Bruce Catton, he had recently been especially offended by a scheme hatched by his father with some Northern businessmen. They came down to visit Grant, trading on their friendship with his father, and wanted a sweetheart deal on local cotton. He tossed them out of his office. As it happens, the businessmen were Jewish, as were some of the others in the region. Not long after, Grant issued this infamous order — a serious political and ethical blunder, and lasting blot on his memory.


Numbers 11.
Holly Springs, December 17, 1862.

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.

Post commanders will see that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.

No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:

Assistant Adjutant-General.

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