Synopses & Reviews
One hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincolns 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.
Lincolns 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 Lincolns 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 Lincolns 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 Lincolns life, one that broadened him, and, as a result, broadened America.
LINCOLN AND THE JEWS focuses on the significant, but previously unknown, relationships and interactions between Abraham Lincoln, the most studied and revered President in American history, and his Jewish friends and associates.
By the time his life ended, Lincoln had been involved with over one hundred Jews, stood against many of his anti-Semitic generals even as he needed them to win the war, and become an advocate for Jewish equality and acceptance. In a country rampant with prejudice, where Jews comprised less than one-half of one percent of the population, the story of Lincoln and the Jews is astonishing.
LINCOLN AND THE JEWS will include 150 black & white and full color original letters, documents, photographs, lithographs, ephemera, and artifacts throughout. The scanner, owned by The Shapell Foundation, used to preserve the documents electronically is extremely unique. There are only four scanners of this kind in the world—one in NASA, one at the Pentagon, one in Germany, and one in Tel Aviv. The scanner is so large, it can scan a whole person—and indeed it has been used to do so!
Co-authored by highly respected professor Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell of The Shapell Foundation, LINCOLN AND THE JEWS will detail the untold manifold relationships Lincoln had with the Jewish community in Civil War era America. A fascinating never-before-told story for fans of Lincoln American history, and Judaica.
About the Author
JONATHAN D. SARNA is a historian and leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion, and life. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America's fifty most-influential American Jews, Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, and the eighteenth president of the Association for Jewish Studies. The author of hundreds of scholarly articles, Sarna may be best known for his acclaimed American Judaism: A History
, winner of the Jewish Book Councils Jewish Book of the Year Award.
BENJAMIN SHAPELL is the founder of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation, an independent educational organization whose collection includes original documents of world-renowned individuals. Shapell has written articles on Lincoln, other American presidents, and Mark Twain. The author also initiated and oversaw the creation of exhibitions and films relating to the central themes of the collection. The foundation has partnered in exhibitions with major institutions, including the Library of Congress, the Morgan Library & Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the National Library of Israel, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Table of Contents
ix foreword by Benjamin Shapell
xii introduction by Jonathan D. Sarna
xiv lincolns jewish connections
1 CHAPTER ONE
the promised land . . .
whose stones are iron
and out of whose hills
thou mayest dig brass
11 CHAPTER TWO
and this too shall pass away—
43 CHAPTER THREE
one of my most valued friends
77 CHAPTER FOUR
we have not yet
appointed a hebrew
123 CHAPTER FIVE
i myself have a
regard for the jews
159 CHAPTER SIX
189 CHAPTER SEVEN
to see jerusalem
before he died
228 lincoln and the jews chronology