On this day in 1862, Union Major General Ulysses Grant issued General Order No. 11. The document expelled all Jews from his military district, which consisted of parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.
Grant had issued the order to prevent cotton sales from unlicensed traders through the black market, which he wrote was run “mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders.” Outcry from the American Jewish community and members of Congress prompted President Abraham Lincoln to rescind the order a few weeks later.
In running for president in 1868, Grant explained that he impulsively issued the order without any thought on the long-term repercussions. In 1874, he became the first American president to attend a synagogue service.