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"The Jewish Confederates" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2020 8:33 p.m. PST

"FROM ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S ELECTION as president of the United States in November 1860, through the secession winter of 1860, to the bombardment of Fort Sumter in April 1861, Jewish Southerners from Virginia to Texas weighed their devotion to the Union and to their states. "A storm, vast and terrible, is impending," Rabbi James K. Gutheim of New Orleans told his congregation. Some were the sons and daughters—indeed, the grandsons and the granddaughters—of Southerners born and bred in Dixie. Some were slaveholders. A very few were planters. Some were descended from Sephardic Jews whose ancestors had been expelled from Spain and Portugal in the year Columbus set sail for the Orient.

Most Jewish Southerners, however, were Ashkenazi immigrants who in the 1840s and 1850s had fled Bavaria, Prussia, Alsace, Hesse, Baden, Swabia, Westphalia, Hungary, Poznan (Posen), and Silesia in Prussian Poland and Russian Poland to America, the fabled land of freedom. "There is," one Hessian Jew wrote his brother in America, "only one land of liberty, which is ruled according to natural, reasonable laws, and that is the Union." Rabbi Gutheim, himself an immigrant, reminded his congregation in a Thanksgiving sermon in 1860 that in the Old Country, the Jewish people endured "a life of tribulation and misery." But now, in America, the blessings of Providence "have been showered upon us." They were peddlers and clerks, shopkeepers and saloon keepers, businessmen, liquor dealers, tobacco merchants, watchmakers, tanners, tailors, bakers, auctioneers, innkeepers, music teachers, grocers, and apothecaries. Thousands were young men who had fled their German fatherlands to avoid serving a tyrannical government in brutal, anti-Semitic armies. "Whatever you and many others may say about America," teacher Charles Mailert wrote, "you do not know European slavery, German oppression, and Hessian taxes." Ludwig Börne exclaimed: "[B]ecause I was born a bondsman, I therefore love liberty more than you. Yes, because I have known slavery, I understand freedom more than you. Yes, because I was born without a fatherland my desire for a fatherland is more passionate than yours."…"
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