October 30, 2012

President Lincoln and his Jewish Friends

Lincoln: And so the Children of Israel were driven from the
happy land of Canaan.
Kaskel: Yes, and that is why we have come to Father
Abraham, to ask his protection.
Lincoln: And this protection they shall have
at once.

Cesar J. Kaskel, apprising  Lincoln of General Grant’s Order Number 11

In his scholarly study of American Jewry and the Civil War
(Philadelphia, 1951), Bertram W. Korn writes that in the eulogy Rabbi Isaac
M. Wise delivered after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, he
claimed: “the lamented Abraham Lincoln believed himself to be bone from our bone
and flesh from our flesh. He supposed himself to be a descendant of Hebrew
parentage. He said so in my presence.” There is no shred of evidence to
substantiate Wise’s assertion, Korn declares, and “Lincoln is not known to have
said anything resembling this to any of his other Jewish acquantances.” But,
Korn asserts, Lincoln “could not have been any friendlier to individual Jews, or
more sympathetic to Jewish causes, if he had stemmed from Jewish ancestry.” He
also points to the Robert Todd Lincoln Collection of Lincoln Papers in the
Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress as a prime source “for the
elucidation of Lincoln’s contacts with various Jews … in particular …
Abraham Jonas and Isachar Zacharie.”

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