LINCOLN, ABRAHAM° (1809–1865), 16th president of the United States; first president to become officially involved in
In December 1862, General Ulysses S. *Grant issued an order expelling all Jews from the area of his command, on the alleged grounds that Jews were engaging in illegal trade. This was brought to Lincoln's attention by a Jew from Paducah, Kentucky, Cesar Kaskel, in January 1863, and Lincoln, recognizing the injustice of the order, issued instructions for its immediate cancellation. General-in-Chief H.W. Halleck, in the second of a series of telegrams, explained to Grant that "as it in terms proscribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deemed it necessary to revoke it." Lincoln, consenting to see another Jewish delegation after he saw Kaskel, assured the group, which included Rabbis Isaac M. *Wise and Max *Lilienthal, that "to condemn a class is, to say the least, to wrong the good with the bad. I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners."
Lincoln was a close friend and political associate of Abraham *Jonas, a Jew from Quincy, Illinois, and their correspondence reveals a warm mutual appreciation and common political loyalties.
American Jews have felt especially attracted to Lincoln as the emancipator of the black slave, as a victim of violence, as a dreamer of peace, and as the spokesman of a way of life "with malice towards none, with charity for all," which matches the idealism of the prophets.
B.W. Korn, American Jewry and the Civil War (1951); I. Markens, in: AJHSP, 17 (1909), 109–65; E. Hertz (ed.), Abraham Lincoln, the Tribute of the Synagogue (1927).
[Bertram Wallace Korn]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.