Friday, March 20, 2015

Ulysses Grant , the Jews and Columbia student

The final resting place of President Ulysses Simpson Grant and his wife, Julia, is one of the largest mausoleum in North America. Memorial and a  tomb overlooks the Hudson River in Manhattan, New York.
Les Invalides , Paris
Constructed by the Grant Monument Association in the wake of the war from 1892 to 1897, the tomb was designed by New York architect John Duncan, who, inspired by Napoleon's Tomb at Les Invalides in Paris, was chosen through an international design competition.

Napoleons' tomb in Paris
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). In 1865, as Commanding General, Grant led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War.
Grants' tomb in New York

In 1862 as the Civil War entered its second winter, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued the most notorious anti-Jewish official order  in American history, known as
General Orders No. 11: “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.” The document blamed Jews for the widespread smuggling and cotton speculation that affected the area under Grant’s command.

Following protests from Jewish community leaders the General Order was revoked weeks later . During his campaign for the presidency in 1868, Grant repudiated the order, saying that it had been drafted by a subordinate and that he had signed it without reading it during warfare.
During the eight years of Grant’s presidency, memories of General Orders No. 11 surfaced repeatedly. Eager to prove that he was above prejudice, Grant appointed more Jews to public office than any of his predecessors, and, in the name of human rights, extended unprecedented support to persecuted Jews in Russia and Romania.   Ulysses S. Grant selected, for the first time, a Jewish adviser,   appointed a series of Jews to public   and, as president, attended the dedication of a synagogue further enhanced Jews’ self-confidence.


After Grant's death in 1885, New York City Mayor William Grace convened a group of citizens to raise funds for the erection of a monument in honor of the former president.
The monument was dedicated on April 27, 1897, on the 75th-anniversary ceremony of Grant's birth. Julia Dent Grant, Grant's wife of nearly 40 years, died five years later in 1902 and was placed in a matching sarcophagus and laid to rest in the mausoleum beside her husband.
Thirty-eight years after the tomb opened,  two statues of eagles were added to  decorate the front of the Grant Monument. These eagles adorned the demolished in 1939  the old New York City Post Office that stood is directly across Broadway from the Woolworth Building.
By the 1990s, the site had fallen into a severe state of disrepair. The tomb was scarred by graffiti. The roof leaked, the granite was cracked, and the area was used by the homeless as a latrine and drug haven.
In 1991, Frank Scaturro, a  nineteen years old student at Columbia University, volunteered with the National Park Service and began guiding tours of nearby Grant's Tomb.    In the same year Frank launched an effort to restore the tomb.    After two years of unsuccessful attempts to navigate the bureaucracy of the National Park Service,   Frank  went public with a 325-page whistle blower report which he sent to Congress and the President.
In  1991, For over two years, Scaturro battled the National Park Service, which was charged with maintaining Grant's Tomb. He sent weekly memos, including a 26-page report in the summer of 1992 .
In 1994  New York time published  editorial entitled "Dishonor for a Hero President".  His efforts paid off and restoration was completed by April 27, 1997, the 100th anniversary of the site’s dedication and Grant's 175th birthday.