Financial History 141 Spring 2022 - Page 14

Both Union generals were horrified that profiteers were putting their troops at greater risk , and used their authority to block them . Sherman directed that all travel into and out of Memphis be conducted during daylight , and on specified roads , where sentries were authorized to search at will . Grant directed traders to stay in the rear as his army moved south . Perhaps because they realized that physical barriers were ineffectual , they tried to prevent northerners from spending hard currency .
As Sherman pithily noted to Grant , “ Money is as much contraband of war as powder .” Effective August 1 , Grant ordered that no gold or silver be used in exchanges ; those who did would suffer arrest . Sherman went further , banning the use of gold , silver or Treasury notes ; speculators , he decreed , could procure cotton with “ obligations ” to be settled after the war . This would have halted the cotton trade outright , which is what Sherman wanted . However , the monetary restrictions violated the Treasury ’ s policy , as well as that of the War Department , and were quickly rescinded .
Sherman blamed the black- and graymarket trading on a familiar scapegoat : Jews . He fumed that “ the country will swarm with dishonest Jews who will smuggle powder , pistols , percussion-caps , etc ., in spite of all the guards and precautions we can give .” Sherman similarly protested to Chase that “ the commercial enterprise of the Jews ” was undermining military objectives . And he advised Grant , “ I found so many Jews & Speculators here trading in cotton … that I have felt myself bound to stop it .” In all likelihood , Sherman had no idea which traders might have been Jewish . His phraseology suggests that he axiomatically associated the two .
Antisemitic stereotypes were as commonplace in the military as they were in civilian life . At least four other Union generals explicitly blamed Jews for the cotton trade , and a distinguished Illinois colonel reportedly expelled “ a dozen Jewish cotton buyers ” for dealing in southern money . Who knows how many of them actually were gentiles ?
Jews had been a microscopic portion of the US population until the 1850s , a period when European immigration ( gentile as well as Jewish ) increased sharply . By 1860 , America had approximately 150,000 Jews ( roughly half of 1 % of the population ). They were concentrated in cities , and many were engaged in commerce .
Resolution from St . Louis B ’ Nai B ’ Rith to Abraham Lincoln protesting General Grant ’ s order expelling Jews from the military , January 5 , 1863 .
Although 10,000 Jews fought in the Civil War , seven of 10 for the Union , prejudice was widespread , and resentment of speculators fused into antisemitism on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line . Many Jewish émigrés who had settled in the antebellum South claimed , previously , that they had been received more hospitably than their northern cousins . At very least , their whiteness placed them on the favored side of the race line . Moreover , merchants were in scarcer supply and , therefore , welcomed . However , as the war went on , shortages and higher prices awakened the same antisemitic tropes as in the North . The Richmond Examiner evidenced an offhand antisemitism in its casual observation that “ native Southern merchants have outdone Yankees and Jews ” with “ the lust of extortion .”
John Beauchamp Jones , the Confederate War Department clerk , frequently blamed unnamed Jews for supposedly rapacious commercial practices . The most troubling expression of antisemitism occurred in December , when General Grant , who was wintering in Holly Springs , Mississippi , in preparation for an assault on Vicksburg , and had become incensed at the persistence of black-market trading , issued General Orders No . 11 , banishing Jews from his military department , a vast area consisting of parts of Tennessee , Kentucky and Mississippi . Lincoln revoked this prejudicial order two weeks later . Afterward , Grant seemed to regret having issued it ;
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