Lincoln and the Jews: A History
Lincoln and the Jews: A History
Jonathan D. Sarna, Benjamin Shapell
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One hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln's death, the full story of his extraordinary relationship with Jews is told here for the first time. Lincoln and the Jews: A History provides readers both with a captivating narrative of his interactions with Jews, and with the opportunity to immerse themselves in rare manuscripts and images, many from the Shapell Lincoln Collection, that show Lincoln in a way he has never been seen before.
Lincoln's lifetime coincided with the emergence of Jews on the national scene in the United States. When he was born, in 1809, scarcely 3,000 Jews lived in the entire country. By the time of his assassination in 1865, large-scale immigration, principally from central Europe, had brought that number up to more than 150,000. Many Americans, including members of Lincoln's cabinet and many of his top generals during the Civil War, were alarmed by this development and treated Jews as second-class citizens and religious outsiders. Lincoln, this book shows, exhibited precisely the opposite tendency. He also expressed a uniquely deep knowledge of the Old Testament, employing its language and concepts in some of his most important writings. He befriended Jews from a young age, promoted Jewish equality, appointed numerous Jews to public office, had Jewish advisors and supporters starting already from the early 1850s, as well as later during his two presidential campaigns, and in response to Jewish sensitivities, even changed the way he thought and spoke about America. Through his actions and his rhetoric―replacing "Christian nation," for example, with "this nation under God"―he embraced Jews as insiders.
In this groundbreaking work, the product of meticulous research, historian Jonathan D. Sarna and collector Benjamin Shapell reveal how Lincoln's remarkable relationship with American Jews impacted both his path to the presidency and his policy decisions as president. The volume uncovers a new and previously unknown feature of Abraham Lincoln's life, one that broadened him, and, as a result, broadened America.
1994):333-38. 29. The Census listed him as “Isicca Zackriah” and misidentified him as female but correctly listed the first names of his wife and children and listed the head of the household as Jacob Lawson, his father-in-law. 30. Charles M. Segal, “Isachar Zacharie: Lincoln’s Chiropodist,” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 43 (December 1953), 74-79, quoting documents now in the possession of the Shapell Manuscript Collection. 31. Ibid, 76, Shapell Manuscript
Partnership. 29. Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln, II, 608. 30. CW 8, 399-405. 31. Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln, II, 803; McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 852. 32. American Hebrew (February 6, 1885), 202; Washington Post (November 9, 1902), 26; American Israelite (June 29, 1893), 4; Arthur Hornblow, A History of the Theatre in America (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1919), I, 320. Stephen M. Arthur, Junius Brutus Booth: Theatrical Prometheus (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press,
humane enlightenment of the nineteenth century.…” Carl Schurz Courtesy of the Library of Congress In his more than two-hour-long address, Lincoln sought to calm those who accused him of dividing the country. He made clear that the Republicans had no intention of interfering with slavery where it already existed, such as across the river in Kentucky, but only opposed slavery’s extension into new territories. Countering Douglas’s ahistorical view that the nation’s founders had allowed each
accept my thanks.”17 On May 4, 1864, Lincoln purchased a pair of eyeglasses from the shop of Jewish optician Isaac Heilprin, brother of the outspoken liberal Jewish opponent of slavery, Michael Heilprin. The Washington, D.C., shop, Franklin & Co., was located four blocks from the White House. “Lincoln was a regular customer and a warm friendship developed” between optometrist and president.18 “I HAVE RECEIVED MUCH POLITENESS,” SEPTEMBER 24, 1864 Mary Lincoln requests that Herman Grau, a Jewish
while his firm provided the black plumes that ornamented the cortege on the last leg of its journey. The funeral oration in Springfield went out of its way to mention Jewish participation in the obsequies in New York (“The Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in New York and a Protestant minister walked side by side in the sad procession, and a Jewish Rabbi performed a part of the solemn services”).13 While no Jew participated in the burial ceremony itself, the larger aim of the Jewish