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From: "David S. Maddison" 
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Subject: Analysis of anti-Semitic quote
Newsgroups: soc.culture.jewish
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Date: 11 Nov 1999 11:08:36 +1100
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Xref: soc.culture.jewish:421388

[Material not relevant to Sherman analysis snipped by Nizkor]

"...[We] must stop these swarms of Jews who are trading, bartering and
robbing." (General William Sherman).

The above quote is #398 from the anti-Semitic document "1000 Quotes by and about Jews". It is
available in similar form from many sources, but not necessarily with the
same number.

As with most other quotes, this is not properly referenced. However, these
remarks from Michael Fellman, "Citizen Sherman - A Life of William
Tecumseh Sherman", Random House, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-679-42966-2 will
clarify his opinion on Jews and Blacks (he was a supporter of slavery).
(See also quote #292 and #837 for which this is also a response.)

"I do not think it to our interest to set loose negroes too fast," he
wrote Grant in September. On November 12, in a letter to a Southern judge
in recaptured Memphis he continued to plan to "reserve this question of
slavery," while Northern and Southern armies fought out the real and "dire
conflict between National and State authority."(7) Sherman remained a
proslavery Unionist even three months after Abraham Lincoln issued the
Emancipation Proclamation, on September 22, 1862.
Underlying the argument Sherman was making about the impracticability of
emancipation lay, of course, his assumptions about the inferiority of the
whole race of blacks that fitted them for slavery. This racialism was in
large part replicated, during this same period, in Sherman's opinions of
the Jews. He blamed the war on blacks as he blamed it on Jews. As he made
the linkage in a letter to Ellen on August 20, 1862, "The cause of the war
is not alone in the nigger, but in the mercenary spirit of our
countrymen." For Sherman, the personification of this evil mercenary
spirit was the speculator, and the speculator was the Jew. In Memphis,
Sherman observed a lively trade in Southern cotton, and reasoned in a
letter to Grant, "I found so many Jews & Speculators here trading in
cotton and secessionists had become open in refusing anything but gold
that I have found myself bound to stop it. This gold has but one use, the
purchase of arms & ammunition" in Northern cities for smuggling south into
the Confederacy. As for issuing new trading passes to "swarms of Jews, I
have stopped it." Trading with the enemy, including illicit arms sales,
was a problem for the Union army, and there were speculators eager to
trade, a small minority of whom were Jewish, but for Sherman, as for many
other Union generals, "Jews and speculators" was the offending category
from which and speculators was often dropped. When he heard that the
government had decided to encourage the trade in cotton rather than end
it, Sherman fumed to Washington that "the country will soon swarm with
dishonest Jews." In this categorization of traders, Sherman was in concert
with Grant. On July 26, Grant ordered a subordinate at the cotton trading
river port of Columbus, Kentucky, to "examine the baggage of all
speculators coming South, and, when they have [gold] specie, turn them
back.... Jews should receive special attention." On December 17, 1862,
Grant went even further. Like a medieval monarch, he expelled "The Jews,
as a class" from his department. Lincoln rescinded the order, pointing out
that though he agreed with expelling crooked speculators, he could not
agree to the exclusion of Jews "as a class, some of whom are fighting in
our ranks." (8)

Jews like niggers, niggers like greasers (Mexicans) or Indians, were for
Sherman, in common with many of his contemporaries, "classes" or "races"
permanently inferior to his own. Lincoln in his way, and John Sherman in
his, had an understanding that when it came to defining races, Americans
employed customary hierarchical categories rather than natural
absolutes-even if these two leaders often agreed with the customs-and thus
Lincoln and John Sherman were open to change over time. Men like William
T. Sherman did not share this cultural definition of race, taking their
prejudices as fixed truths about natural and immutable racial categories.
Thus for him Jews were Jews were Jews and "everyone" knew what that meant.
Even after Lincoln's order rescinded Grant's expulsion of the Jews,
Sherman continued expressing his unchanging opinion of them to his
colleagues, if he now slightly disguised it. "Merchants as a class are
governed by the law of self-interest," he wrote both Secretary of the
Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Admiral David Porter on October 25, 1863. The
high profits of contraband trade will call many to engage in it, "but this
is confined to a class of men you and I know well." Porter certainly knew
just whom Sherman meant. "The real merchant - that man who loves his
country," the merchants who were not the you-know-who's-would not
"endanger our lives" with illegal trade in arms. (9)

By the same form of racialist generalization, heightened by his habit of
endemic contempt, for Sherman niggers were niggers were niggers, the
mudsill of the society that had enslaved them and them alone. After the
Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, freeing the
slaves of the Confederacy, Sherman did not continue to reinforce the
institution of slavery as he marched through the South, but neither did he
change his opinion of blacks. Rather, he took emancipation as a further
means of punishing his enemies. "The masters by rebelling have freed the
negro, and have taken from themselves the courts and machinery by which
any real law could be enforced in this country," he wrote General James B.
McPherson on November 18, 1863. "They must bear the terrible infliction
which has overtaken them, and blame the authors of the rebellion and not
us." Concomitantly, Sherman now encouraged slaves to flee their masters
and come to Union garrison towns, not to help blacks but to demonstrate to
whites that they "must take the consequences" of their rebellion. Whatever
the eventual fate of the Negroes, he told a group of Mississippi planters,
"ex necessitate, the United States succeeds by act of war to the former
lost title of master." For Sherman, emancipation had ended Southern white
mastership as part of their ongoing destruction in war. He was not much
concerned with its meanings for former slaves, of whom he, as a Union
agent, was a new master."

In Union war policy, emancipation had led directly to the active
recruitment of black Union troops. This next giant step was taken by the
Union leadership, from Abraham Lincoln on down. In his attempt to sell
this dramatic new policy to the more conservative members of the public
and his own army, Lincoln frequently employed arguments that were
practical in nature, as he thought these might be more effective than more
ideologically based modes of persuasion. As he wrote to one conservative
Northern politician on August 26, 1863, "1 thought that whatever, negroes
can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers
to do, in saving the Union," an opinion he anticipated most of his
commanders could share, even archconservatives like Sherman. In his own
beliefs, which he did not hesitate to express publicly, Lincoln went
beyond such practicality to the moral meanings of emancipation tied to the
use of black troops. Thus in this same letter he linked the practical with
the ideal when he argued that "negroes, like other people act upon
motives.... If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the
strongest motive-even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made,
must be kept." Lincoln thus related white honor to the use of black
troops. He also comprehended black honor, for he understood the liberation
of the spirit that military participation would bring the freedmen. "There
will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and
clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped
mankind on to this great consummation [of freedom]." Lincoln also insisted
that white men who opposed the use of black troops, "with malignant heart,
and deceitful speech," would be acting out of a spiritual dishonor they
would be ashamed of in future years. (11)"

Researched by David S. Maddison (

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