December 17 - 1862 - Ulysses S. Grant Issues General Order No. 11

In 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant was faced with taking his Army to Vicksburg on the Mississippi River, controlling the recently conquered territory in Western Tennessee and Mississippi, and dealing with traders trying to sell cotton on the black market. In order to face the last problem, Grant issued General Order No. 11. General Order No. 11 expelled all Jews from the territory in Grant's military district, from Kentucky to Mississippi. This was done by Grant because some of the traders were Jewish, but it was a bizarre and hugely problematic decree. Not all illicit traders were Jews, and most Jews living in the area played no part in the black market. Grant's order sparked outrage throughout the American Jewish community and severe annoyance from his superiors. President Abraham Lincoln immediately commanded Grant, through General-in-Chief, to rescind General Order No. 11. Officially, the order was only in place for a month, as Grant did rescind the order. Yet General Order No. 11 would become one of Grant's lowest moments in the Civil War and a political millstone when he ran for President in 1868.

William Floyd