Jonathan Sarna explains 2012 parallels to Grant's infamous explusion of the Jews

Historians in the News

Dr. Jonathan Sarna,  Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, discusses his new book When General Grant Expelled the Jews.

...In one of the many talks you gave on this book you’ve said that “there are ‎interesting parallels” to be made from the current political climate “to the 1868 ‎election” - namely, that Jews who might be hesitating to vote for President ‎Obama might be able to learn something from Grant’s transformation. What ‎exactly did you mean?‎

In 1868, Jews who had supported the Republican Party since Lincoln’s first term faced a difficult ‎conundrum.  Should they vote for the Democrats, a party they considered bad for the country, just to ‎avoid voting for a man (Grant) who had been bad to the Jews?  The Democrats sought to roll back ‎Reconstruction and disenfranchise Black voters.  Should Jews vote for them anyway, just to avoid ‎voting for a candidate who had expelled Jews from his war zone?  The question of loyalties – how ‎much should “Jewish considerations” sway Jewish voters, and how much should they vote on the basis ‎of what they see as good for the country as a whole - was hotly debated in 1868.  It seems to me that in ‎the 2012 election, Jews will face some of these same kinds of questions.‎

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