December 06, 1861

Abraham Lincoln Endorses the Appointment of a Jewish Sutler, Henry Rice

Autograph Note Signed
1 page
SMC 193
When Lincoln appointed John Alexander McClernand a general, he had in mind his political, rather than martial, expertise. McClernand was a local power in southern Illinois, and his appointment was intended to hold the democrats there to the Union cause. Given a command of a brigade of Illinois regiments and stationed at Cairo, Illinois, then, it is not surprising that he was given too the power of patronage. Here Lincoln endorses McClernand’s pick for the lucrative position of sutler at Cairo (a sutler being a civilian storekeeper who sold provisions to soldiers in the field or garrison) - one Henry Rice, a Jewish merchant from Jacksonville.

Rice, as it happened, knew Lincoln well, having occasionally recommended him as a lawyer. He is credited, in fact - along with Abraham Jonas - with helping Lincoln realize that Jews, despite the widespread prejudice against them, were just the same as everyone else.
Autograph Note Signed (“A. Lincoln”), as president, 1 page, octavo, no place (Washington, D.C.), December 6, 1861. Seemingly to Secretary of War Cameron.
View American Civil War Manuscripts.
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