Even in tolerant America, with its stable constitution and strong values of equality and liberty, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, the legendary war hero who saved the Union and went on to serve as president, had a brief anti-Semitic phase.
What made this great commander sign the order for the expulsion of all Jews from Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi in the midst of the Civil War?
At about the same time, across the ocean, Karl Marx was laboring on his masterpiece. Perhaps Marx’s work can explain the reason for this with some simple economic principles.
As we know, the official reason for the outbreak of the Civil War was slavery. Before the war, that it until 1861, some 32 million people lived in the United States. Of the 12 million in the South, four million were slaves, a free resource that the white cotton tycoons were not going to give up without a fight. . . .
Either way, according to Marx, the economic factor was the crucial one. During the war, which lasted from 1861 to 1865, the price of cotton rose frantically. Anti-Semitic rumors marking the Jews as cotton profiteers begain to spread. They started in one town and escalated to the claim that all Jews sold cotton on the black market.
Soon enough it became a known “fact” that all the Jews are profiteering from cotton, which had very little to do with reality: The fact was that out of 200 sellers who traded with the South, only four were Jewish. The concept of fake news was certainly not made up in 2016. . . .
It was a snowball effect. American Jews were marked as blood-sucking traitors selling their homeland for some extra bucks. One of America’s most popular newspapers, Harper’s Weekly, published an aggressive editorial pointing a finger at all Jews.
It was also published that three Jews were caught smuggling medicine to New Orleans, which was under siege, and might be executed for the crime. A few local newspapers called for the annihilation of the entire Jewish community.