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Dr. Isachar Zacharie
foot doctor to the president



[Source: Atlas Editions; Civil War Cards]



"Dr. Zacharie has operated on my feet with good success and considerable addition to my comfort," read the testimonial President Abraham Lincoln penned for the English born chiropodist who removed Lincoln's corns. Enterprising Ischar Zacharie treated the feet of famous Washingtonians for free in exchange for endorsements that were useful in attracting business from the general public. There was a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the country at this time, and the Jewish doctor's visits to the White House provided Lincoln with an opportunity to discuss the problems at length with a member of that community.

General Ulysses S. Grant, in his December 17, 1862, General orders No.11, issued from Holly Springs, Mississippi, said, "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." This order, which one historian has called "the most sweeping anti-Jewish regulation in all American history," created a great controversy throughout the North, causing Lincoln to revoke it three weeks later.

Exempting Zacharie from another of Grant's orders which forbade Jews from traveling to the South, Lincoln sent the foot doctor to New Orleans as his unofficial emissary to the city's Jewish community. The former Union commander in New Orleans, General Benjamin F. Butler, had just been replaced with the more moderate General Nathaniel P. Banks. Zacharie was able to convince New Orleans's Jewish citizens that Banks would reverse the worst of Butler's harsh measures. Zacharie also demonstrated to Banks that there were many Jews and other New Orleans citizens that were loyal to the Union and he helped soothe the strife there.

Most Civil War soldiers traveled by foot and wore ill-fitting, poorly made shoes. While in New Orleans and Washington and at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Zacharie treated foot problems of thousands of Union soldiers.

After the war, Zacharie submitted a bill for $45,000 to the War Department for treating the feet of 15,000 Union soldiers. The bill was never paid, and Zacharie eventually returned to England.



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