A long out-of-print account of Abraham Lincoln’s dealing with American Jews is now available online.
“Abraham Lincoln and the Jews,” a self-published book by Isaac Markens in 1909, is believed to be the fullest account of Lincoln’s dealings with Jews before and during the Civil War.
Referring to contemporary letters and documents, it recounts Lincoln’s reversal of a law that allowed only Christians to serve as military chaplains and his rescinding of a notorious 1862 order by Gen. Ulysses Grant expelling all Jews from Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Grant’s order appeared in part motivated by anti-Semitism, but Jewish peddlers who roamed the region despite orders against such transience also frustrated him. Troops forced 30 Jewish families out of Paducah, Ky., under the order.
Jewish leaders from the region appealed directly to Lincoln, who ordered Gen. Henry Halleck to tell Grant the order was unacceptable.
“The President has no objection to your expelling traitors and Jew peddlers, which I suppose was the object of your order,” Halleck wrote, according to Markens’ account, “but as in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deems it necessary to revoke it.”
The book recounts the outrage Grant’s order provoked in the U.S. Senate and in newspapers across the nation. Featured in a recent issue of Secrecy News, the publication of the Federation of American Scientists, the book is available at http://books.google.com/books?id=-OxMjGRkFXwC&printsec=titlepage#PPA27,M1.