Order No. 11
The New York Times called General
Orders No. 11 issued by Major General U.S. Grant on December 17,
1862 "one of the deepest sensations of the war." Grant's
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 to it 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 of trade permits.
Cesar J. Kaskel of Paducah, Kentucky, immediately
set out for Washington to put the matter before President Lincoln.
Ohio Congressman John A. Gurley escorted him to the White House,
where Kaskel apprised the president of what Grant had done. Lincoln
wrote a note to General-in-Chief H. W. Halleck, who sent a telegram
to General Grant forthwith:
A paper purporting to be General Orders,
No. 11, issued by you December 17, has been presented here. By its
terms, it expells all Jews from your department. If such an
order has been issued, it will be immediately revoked.
The first Jewish
organization to formally protest
against Order No. 11 "expelling and ostracizing
all Jews, as a class ... issued by
Maj. GenL. U. S. Grant" was the
United Order "Bne B'rith" Missouri
Lodge. It protests,
In the name of
hundreds who have been driven from
their houses ... of the thousands
of our Brethren ... who have died
... for the Union ... of religious
liberty, of justice and humanity.
On the envelope
in which the protest came, Lincoln
writes "I have today, Jan. 5,
1863, written Gen. Curtis about this.
A.L." The order was forthwith
United Order "Bne
B'rith" to Abraham Lincoln,
January 5, 1863. Manuscript Division,
Papers of Abraham Lincoln.
In the meantime the hue and cry had been raised,
and delegations descended upon Washington. Editorials appeared in
newspapers of the major cities, most of them attacking but some also
defending Order No. 11. Jewish periodicals inveighed against the
order, and two national Jewish organizations sent formal memoranda of
protest. Both are in the Lincoln Papers and, hitherto not having been
published, deserve quotation in toto.
United Order Bne B'rith Missouri Loge [sic] St.
Louis, January 5, 1863:
To his Excellency
An Order, Expelling and Ostracising all Jews as
a class has been issued by Maj. Genl U. S. Grant and has been
enforced at Holly Springs, Trenton, Corinth, Paducah, Jackson and
In the name of the class of loyal citizens of these U.S. which we in part represent.
In the name of hundreds, who have been driven
from their houses, deprived of their liberty and injured in their
property without having violated any law or regulation.
In the name of the thousands of our Brethren and
our children who have died and are now willingly sacrificing their
lives and fortunes for the Union and the suppression of this
In the name of religious liberty, of justice and
humanity-we Enter our solemn Protest against this Order, and ask of
you the Defender and Protector of the Constitution to
annull that Order and protect the liberties even of your humblest
The set of Resolutions adopted by the Board of
Delegates of American Israelites at a special meeting of its
Executive Committee in New York on January 8, 1863, Henry 1. Hart,
Esq., presiding, is longer and stronger.
Be it therefore Resolved that we have
heard with surprise and indignation intelligence that in this
present Century and in this land of freedom and equality an Officer
of the United States should have promulgated an order worthy of
despotic Europe in the dark ages of the World's history.
Resolved that in behalf of the Israelites of
the United States, we enter our firm and determined protest against
this illegal unjust and tyrannical mandate depriving American
Citizens of the Jewish faith of their precious rights, driving them
because of their religious profession, from their business and
homes by the military authority and in pursuance of an inequitable
Resolved that the Israelites of the United
States expect no more and will be content with no less than equal
privileges with their fellow Citizens, in the enjoyment of
"life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as
guaranteed by the Constitution of this Republic.
Resolved that it is peculiarly painful to
the Israelites of the United States, who have freely tendered their
blood and treasure in defence of the Union they love, to observe
this uncalled for and inequitable discrimination against them.
Claiming to be second to no class of Citizens in support of the
Constitutional government, they regard with sadness and indignation
this contumely upon the Jewish name, this insult to them as a
community, on the ostensible ground that individuals supposed to be
Jews have violated "regulations of trade established by the
Treasury Department and Department Orders."
Resolved that it is in the highest degree
obnoxious to them, as it must be to all fair minded American
Citizens, for the general body to be made accountable for acts of
particular persons supposed to belong to their denomination, but as
has been frequently demonstrated, in many cases really professing
other creeds. That if an individual be guilty of an infraction of
discipline or offence against military law or treasury regulations,
punishment should be visited upon him alone, and the religious
community to which he is presumed to be attached, should not be
subjected to insult, obloquy or disregard of its consitutional
rights as a penalty for individual offences.
Resolved that the thanks of this Committee
and of the Israelites of the United States be and they are hereby
tendered to Major General H. W. Halleck, General in Chief U. S.
A. for the promptness with which he revoked General Grant's
unjust and outrageous order, as soon as it was brought to his
Resolved that a copy of these resolutions
duly attested, be transmitted to the President of the United
States, the Secretary of War, Major General Halleck and Major
General Grant and that the same be communicated to the press
Myer S. Isaacs
outrage of American Jewry against General
U. S. Grant's Order No. 11, which expels
the "Jews as a class" from
territories under the Thirteenth Army
Corps, is conveyed to President Lincoln
by this set of calligraphically inscribed
Resolutions, adopted January 8, 1863.
Board of Delegates ... to Abraham
Lincoln, January 8, 1863. Manuscript Division, Papers of Abraham
Sources: Abraham J. Karp, From
the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress,
(DC: Library of Congress, 1991).