Lincoln and the Jews at New York Historical Society

New display starting March 20th at the New York Historical Society. Contains many photos and primary sources that exhibit Lincoln’s early support for civil rights for Jewish Americans. Sure, the Civil War was highly economy-driven, but Lincoln’s decisions were clearly influenced by his deep-seated belief in equal treatment for all.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln in 1958, wearing Samuel Alschuler’s velvet trimmed jacket. Alschuler was the Jewish photographer.

An excerpt from guest blogger Harold Holzer at NYHS: “The show reminds visitors that Lincoln made humane decisions when they mattered most. Throughout American history, military chaplains were required to represent some “Christian denomination.” Lincoln advocated for Jewish chaplaincy rights, arguing that Jewish Union soldiers deserved the comforts of religion, and eventually signed the bill extending that right to Jews. He appointed the first Jewish army quartermasters, as well. And when General Ulysses S. Grant issued his infamous “General Order Number 11” expelling all Jews from his vast military command in the West, Lincoln rescinded the command—quietly enough to maintain Grant’s loyalty and morale, but loudly enough so American Jews understood and appreciated his resolve to allow no official discrimination.”

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