American Civil War Union General George B. McClellan's Antisemitic Letter

August, 1875

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American Civil War Union General George B. McClellan's Antisemitic Letter
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 1124

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      Background

      To the litany of disagreeable adjectives used to describe General George Brinton McClellan – vain, arrogant, demanding, intrusive, self-serving, paranoid, messianic, insecure, contentious, petty, unreliable and inept – may be added, as evidenced here, anti-Semitic. Traveling back from Germany to the United States, he describes his shipmates thusly:

      We have lots of Germans and Jews on board - but fortunately there are enough Christian gentiles to make it pleasant for us. The Strickneys, a family from Baltimore.... a son of Chas Francis Adams, a Col. Fredenberg... & a few others enable us to be quite independent of the sons of Jacob.

      Athough McClellan has not been characterized in the literature of his life and times as an anti-Semite, this letter shows otherwise.


      Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pages, octavo, no place, Saturday 28th, no month or year [circa August 1875]; to his father-in-law, Col. R. B. Marcy.
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      [...]  [...]
      Saturday 28th PM


      My dear Marcy

      We are pushing along in a quiet way with the expectation of reaching Plymouth some time tomorrow P.M. . The first day or two out we had a great deal of thick fog which delayed us very much - then three or four nights ago some wretch's pantaloon got caught in the suction pump, & that [...] a delay of some 

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      three hours in getting them out - so that instead of reaching Plymouth tomorrow morning we will not arrive there until tomorrow night, & will be in Hamburg some time Wednesday.

      The first part of the passage was unpleasant on account of -  Elija I was about to say - but on second thoughts I will put it on the fog & then [...] matter [...] The last few days we have had [...] weather & are getting on very nicely. We have lots of 

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      Germans & Jews on board - but fortunately there are enough Christian gentiles to make it pleasant for us. The Stickneys, a [...] family from Baltimore, [...] the [...] of Balti [sic] (who can not [...] their heads yet) - a son of Chas Francis Adams, a Col Fredenberg [...] & a few others enable us to be quite independent of the sons of Jacob. I think that May & [...] have borne the trip a little better than usual - tho' [...] has been most of the time in her room. Max & I have not missed a meal or suffered in the least  - & I certainly feel a great deal better for the voyage. Sam gets on very well & send his love to I[...], Duke & Puff. Ask Fanny to [...] & [...] & Co only [...]. Please tell the [...] to send all my letters to you. All join me in [...] of love to Fanny & yourself & in the wish that you [...] write us

      Always aff[']ly yours

      GEORGE B McCLELLAN

      Col R B Marcy