Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant (27 April 1822 – 23 July 1885), born as Hiram Ulysses Grant, was the 18th President of the United States of America, from 1869 to 1877. As the Commanding General of the U.S. Army, Grant worked closely with U.S. President Abraham Lincoln to lead the U.S. Army to victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War. He implemented Congressional Reconstruction, often at odds with Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson. Twice elected to the presidency, Grant led the Republicans in their effort to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, protect the citizenship of African-Americans, and support U.S. economic prosperity.
- My lord, I have heard that your father was a military man. Was that the case?
- Though I have been trained as a soldier, and participated in many battles, there never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword. I look forward to an epoch when a court, recognized by all nations, will settle international differences, instead of keeping large standing armies as they do in Europe.
- I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.
- As quoted in A History of Militarism: Romance and Realities of a Profession (1937) by Alfred Vagts, p. 27
- I only know two tunes. One is Yankee Doodle, and the other one isn't.
- The will of the people is the best law.
- As quoted in The Lonely Quest: The Evolution of Presidential Leadership (1966) by Robert Rienow, Leona Train Rienow, p. 209
- General Burnside wanted to put his colored division in front, and I believe if he had done so it would have been a success. Still I agreed with General Meade as to his objections to that plan. General Meade said that if we put the colored troops in front, we had only one division, and it should prove a failure, it would then be said and very properly, that we were shoving these people ahead to get killed because we did not care anything about them. But that could not be said if we put white troops in front.
- We are responsible for these things in his race. It is not fair to visit our faults upon him, let him alone.
- As quoted in letter to Henry Ward Beecher, by Mark Twain
- You must take it; I cannot live with anything in my possession that is not mine.
- As quoted in The New York Times (24 July 1885)
- Pete, let us have another game of brag, to recall the days that were so pleasant.
- As quoted in The New York Times (24 July 1885)
- I don't know why black skin may not cover a true heart as well as a white one.
- Reportedly said to a neighbor in 1856, as quoted in A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant (1868), by Albert Deane Richardson, Hartford, Connecticut: American Publishing Company, p. 155. According to some other sources, he had also used this phrase in a letter to Robert E. Lee (General of the Confederacy's armies)
- Corps, division, and post commanders will afford all facilities for the completion of the Negro regiments now organizing in this department. Commissioners will issue supplies, and quarter-masters will furnish stores, on the same requisitions and returns as are required for other troops. It is expected that all commanders will especially exert themselves in carrying out the policy of the Administration, not only in organizing colored regiments and rendering them efficient, but also in removing prejudices against them.
- Order to corps, division, and post commanders, Milliken's Bend, Louisiana
- In all this I can see but the doom of slavery. The North do not want, nor will they want, to interfere with the institution. But they will refuse for all time to give it protection unless the South shall return soon to their allegiance.
- Letter to his father-in-law, Frederick Dent (19 April 1861)
- Oh, I am heartily tired of hearing about what Lee is going to do. Some of you always seem to think he is suddenly going to turn a double somersault, and land in our rear and on both of our flanks at the same time. Go back to your command, and try to think what we are going to do ourselves, instead of what Lee is going to do.
- No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.
- Battle of Fort Donelson Feb 1862 as quoted in "United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey, White House Historical Association, 2006 Whitehouse.gov
- Caste has no foothold in Santo Domingo. It is capable of supporting the entire colored population of the United States, should it choose to emigrate. The present difficulty, in bringing all parts of the United States to a happy unity and love of country grows out of the prejudice to color. The prejudice is a senseless one, but it exists. The colored man cannot be spared until his place is supplied, but with a refuge like San Domingo his worth here would soon be discovered, and he would soon receive such recognition to induce him to stay; or if Providence designed that the two races should not live to-gether he would find his home in the Antilles.
- The negro troops are easier to preserve discipline among than our white troops, and I doubt not will prove equally good for garrison duty. All that have been tried have fought bravely.
- At Vicksburg (24 July 1863), as quoted in Words of our Hero: Ulysses S. Grant, edited by Jeremiah Chaplin, Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, pp. 13-14. Also quoted in Ulysses S. Grant, Triumph over Adversity, by Brooks Donohue Simpson, p. 217
- My inclination is to whip the rebellion into submission, preserving all Constitutional rights. If it cannot be whipped any other way than through a war against slavery, let it come to to that legitimately. If it is necessary that slavery should fall that the Republic may continue its existence, let slavery go.
- Letter to his father (27 November 1861)
- The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.
- Statement to John Hill Brinton, at the start of his Tennessee River Campaign, early 1862, as quoted in Personal Memoirs of John H. Brinton, Major and Surgeon U.S.V., 1861-1865 (1914) by John Hill Brinton, p. 239
- No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.
- To General S.B. Buckner, Fort Donelson (16 February 1862)
- I suffer the mortification of seeing myself attacked right and left by people at home professing patriotism and love of country who never heard the whistle of a hostile bullet. I pity them and the nation dependent on such for its existence. I am thankful, however, that though such people make a great noise the masses are not like them.
- I. 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.
II. Within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order by Post Commanders, they will see that all of this class of people are furnished with passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification, will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners unless furnished with permits from these Head Quarters.
III. No permits will be given these people to visit Head Quarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.
- It may be proper to give you some explanation of the revocation of your order expelling all Jews from your Dept. The President has no objection to your expelling traders & Jew pedlars, which I suppose was the object of your order, but as it in terms prescribed an entire religious class, some of whom are fighting in our ranks, the President deemed it necessary to revoke it
- I have long since believed that in spite of all the vigilance that can be infused into post commanders, the special regulations of the Treasury Department have been violated, and that mostly by Jews and other unprincipled traders. So well satisfied have I been of this that I instructed the commanding officers at Columbus to refuse all permits to Jews to come South, and I have frequently had them expelled from the department, but they come in with their carpet-sacks in spite of all that can be done to prevent it. The Jews seem to be a privileged class that can travel anywhere. They will land at any woodyard on the river and make their way through the country. If not permitted to buy cotton themselves, they will act as agents for someone else, who will be at military post with a Treasury permit to receive cotton and pay for it in Treasury notes which the Jew will buy up at an agreed rate, paying gold.
- Letter to C. P. Wolcott, Assistant Secretary of War, Washington (17 December 1862)
- God gave us Lincoln and Liberty, let us fight for both.
- A toast made by Grant before his operations in the Vicksburg Campaign, (22 February 1863); as quoted in A Popular and Authentic Life of Ulysses S. Grant (1868) by Edward Deering Mansfield
- I am anxious to get as many of these negro regiments as possible, and to have them full, and completely equipped. I am particularly desirous of organizing a regiment of heavy artillery from the negroes, to garrison this place, and shall do so as soon as possible.
- At Vicksburg (11 July 1863), as quoted in Words of our Hero: Ulysses S. Grant, edited by Jeremiah Chaplin, Boston: D. Lothrop and Company, p. 13
- I never was an abolitionist, not even what could be called anti-slavery, but I try to judge fairly and honestly and it became patent in my mind early in the rebellion that the North and South could never live at peace with each other except as one nation, and that without slavery. As anxious as I am to see peace established, I would not therefore be willing to see any settlement until the question is forever settled.
- Letter to Elihu Washburne (30 August 1863)
- I feel no inclination to retaliate for the offences of irresponsible persons; but if it is the policy of any General intrusted with the command of troops to show no quarter, or to punish with death prisoners taken in battle, I will accept the issue. It may be you propose a different line of policy towards black troops, and officers commanding them, to that practiced towards white troops. So, I can assure you that these colored troops are regularly mustered into the service of the United States. The Government, and all officers under the Government, are bound to give the same protection to these troops that they do to any other troops.
- Dear father, I have received several letters from Mary and yourself, but as I have to deal with nineteen-twentieths of those received, have neglected to answer them.
- Letter to Jesse Root Grant (15 June 1863), Vicksburg
- All I can say is that I am well. I have the enemy closely hemmed in all round. My position is naturally strong and fortified against an attack from outside. I have been so strongly reinforced that Johnston will have to come with a mighty host to drive me away. I do not look upon the fall of Vicksburg as in the least doubtful. If, however, I could have carried the place on the 22nd of last month, I could by this time have made a campaign that would have made the State of Mississippi almost safe for a solitary horseman to ride over. As it is, the enemy have a large army in it, and the season has so far advanced that water will be difficult to find for an army marching, besides the dust and heat that must be encountered. The fall of Vicksburg now will only result in the opening of the Mississippi River and demoralization of the enemy. I intended more from it. I did my best, however, and looking back can see no blunder committed.
- Letter to Jesse Root Grant (15 June 1863), Vicksburg
- The citizens of Mississippi within the limits above described, are called upon to pursue their peaceful avocations, in obedience to the laws of the United States. Whilst doing so in good faith, all the United States forces are prohibited from molesting them in any way. It is earnestly recommended that the freedom of Negroes be acknowledged, and that, instead of compulsory labor, contracts on fair terms be entered into between the former masters and servants, or between the latter and other persons who may be willing to give them employment. Such a system as this, honestly followed, will result in substantial advantages to all parties.
- Is he really dead?
- After hearing of John Sedgwick's death, as quoted in The Battles for Spotsylvania Court House and the Road to Yellow Tavern May 7–12, 1864 (1997), by Gordon C. Rhea, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, p. 95
- I propose to fight it out on this line, if it takes all summer.
- Dispatch to Washington, during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (11 May 1864)
- Wherever the enemy goes let our troops go also.
- Dispatch to General Henry W. Halleck (1 August 1864), from City Point, Virginia
- I rise only to say that I do not intend to say anything. I thank you for your hearty welcomes and good cheers.
- U.S. Grant's "perfect speech" which he used on several occasions beginning in 1865, as quoted in Grant: A Biography (1982) by William S. McFeely, p. 234
- I propose to receive the surrender of the Army of N. Va. on the following terms, to wit: Rolls of all the officers and men to be made in duplicate. One copy to be given to an officer designated by me, the other to be retained by such officer or officers as you may designate. The officers to give their individual paroles not to take up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged, and each company or regimental commander sign a like parole for the men of their commands. The arms, artillery and public property to be parked and stacked, and turned over to the officer appointed by me to receive them. This will not embrace the side-arms of the officers, nor their private horses or baggage. This done, each officer and man will be allowed to return to their homes, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.
- The war is over — the rebels are our countrymen again. The war is over, the Rebels are our countrymen again, and the best sign of rejoicing after the victory will be to abstain from all demonstrations in the field.
- April 7, 1865. General R. E. Lee, the result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S. Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia. U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General.
- Let us have peace.
- Accepting the Republican Party's nomination for the U.S. presidency (29 May 1868)
Letter to Abraham Lincoln (1863)
- After the fall of Vicksburg I did incline very much to an immediate move on Mobile. I believed then the place could be taken with but little effort, and with the rivers debouching there, in our possession, we would have such a base to opperate from on the very center of the Confederacy as would make them abandon entirely the states bound West by the Miss. I see however the importance of a movement into Texas just at this time.
- I have given the subject of arming the negro my hearty support. This, with the emancipation of the negro, is the heavyest blow yet given the Confederacy. The South rave a greatdeel about it and profess to be very angry. But they were united in their action before and with the negro under subjection could spare their entire white population for the field. Now they complain that nothing can be got out of their negroes.
- There has been great difficulty in getting able bodied negroes to fill up the colored regiments in consequence of the rebel cavalry runing off all that class to Georgia and Texas. This is especially the case for a distance of fifteen or twenty miles on each side of the river. I am now however sending two expeditions into Louisiana, one from Natchez to Harrisonburg and one from Goodriche's Landing to Monroe, that I expect will bring back a large number. I have ordered recruiting officers to accompany these expeditions. I am also having a Brigade of Cavalry from Tennessee to Vicksburg which will enable me to move troops to a greater distance into the interior and will facilitate materially the recruiting service.
- Gen. Thomas is now with me and you may rely on it I ill give him all the aid in my power. I would do this whether the arming the negro seemed to me a wise policy or _t, because it is an order that I am bound to obey and do not feel that in my position I have a right to question any policy of the Government. In this particular instance there is no objection however to my expressing an honest conviction.
- That is, by arming the negro we have added a powerful ally. They will make good soldiers and taking them from the enemy weaken him in the same proportion they strengthen us. I am therefore most decidedly in favor of pushing this policy to the enlistment of a force sufficient to hold all the South falling into our hands and to aid in capturing more.
Letter to Isaac N. Morris (1868)
- I do not pretend to sustain the order. At the time of its publication I was insensed by a reprimand received from Washington for permitting acts which the Jews, within my lines, were engaged in.
- The order was made and sent out, without any reflection, and without thinking of the Jews as a sect or race to themselves, but simply as persons who had successfully, I say successfully instead of persistently because I know there were a plenty within my lines who envied them their success, violated an order, which violation innured greatly to help the rebels.
- Give Mister Moses assurances that I have no prejudice against sect or race, but want each individual to be judged by his own merit. Order No. 11 does not sustain this statement, I admit, but then I do not sustain that order. It never would have been issued if it had not been telegraphed the moment penned, without one moment's reflection.
- To Isaac N. Morris (1868), as quoted in The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: July 1, 1868–October 31, 1869, by Ulysses S. Grant, p. 37. Also quoted in Grant (2001), by Jean Edward Smith, pp. 459–460
First Inaugural Address (1869)
- Laws are to govern all alike — those opposed as well as those who favor them. I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution.
- In regard to foreign policy, I would deal with nations as equitable law requires individuals to deal with each other, and I would protect the law-abiding citizen, whether of native or foreign birth, wherever his rights are jeopardized or the flag of our country floats. I would respect the rights of all nations, demanding equal respect for our own. If others depart from this rule in their dealings with us, we may be compelled to follow their precedent.
First State of the Union Address (1869)
- First State of the Union Address (6 December 1869)
- As the United States is the freest of all nations, so, too, its people sympathize with all people struggling for liberty and self-government; but while so sympathizing it is due to our honor that we should abstain from enforcing our views upon unwilling nations and from taking an interested part, without invitation, in the quarrels between different nations or between governments and their subjects. Our course should always be in conformity with strict justice and law, international and local.
- In conformity with the recommendation of Congress, a proposition was early made to the British Government to abolish the mixed courts created under the treaty of April 7, 1862, for the suppression of the slave trade. The subject is still under negotiation.
- The United States, in order to put a stop to bloodshed in Cuba, and in the interest of a neighboring people, proposed their good offices to bring the existing contest to a termination. The offer, not being accepted by Spain on a basis which we believed could be received by Cuba, was withdrawn. It is hoped that the good offices of the United States may yet prove advantageous for the settlement of this unhappy strife. Meanwhile a number of illegal expeditions against Cuba have been broken up. It has been the endeavor of the Administration to execute the neutrality laws in good faith, no matter how unpleasant the task, made so by the sufferings we have endured from lack of like good faith toward us by other nations.
- Through the agency of a more enlightened policy than that heretofore pursued toward China, largely due to the sagacity and efforts of one of our own distinguished citizens, the world is about to commence largely increased relations with that populous and hitherto exclusive nation. As the United States have been the initiators in this new policy, so they should be the most earnest in showing their good faith in making it a success. In this connection I advise such legislation as will forever preclude the enslavement of the Chinese upon our soil under the name of coolies, and also prevent American vessels from engaging in the transportation of coolies to any country tolerating the system. I also recommend that the mission to China be raised to one of the first class.
- It is a national humiliation that we are now compelled to pay from twenty to thirty million dollars annually (exclusive of passage money which we should share with vessels of other nations) to foreigners for doing the work which should be done by American vessels American built, American owned, and American manned. This is a direct drain upon the resources of the country of just so much money; equal to casting it into the sea, so far as this nation is concerned.
- Message to the Senate and House of Representatives (23 March 1870), as quoted in the Congressional Globe, vol. 42, p. 2,177
- [A] measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day.
- About the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (30 March 1870)
- The union of the States of Germany into a form of government similar in many respects to that of the American Union is an event that can not fail to touch deeply the sympathies of the people of the United States. This union has been brought about by the long-continued, persistent efforts of the people, with the deliberate approval of the governments and people of twenty-four of the German States, through their regularly constituted representatives.
- Message regarding the unification of Germany (7 February 1871)
- You can violate the law. The banks may violate the law and be sustained in doing so. But the President of the United States cannot violate the law.
- Reply to brokers who urged him to lend $44 million from the U.S. Treasury reserve to banks. Harper's Weekly (11 October 1873)
- Let no guilty man escape, if it can be avoided. No personal considerations should stand in the way of performing a public duty.
- Endorsement of a letter relating to the Whiskey Ring (29 July 1875)
- Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately you occasionally find men disgrace labor.
- Speech at Midland International Arbitration Union, Birmingham, United Kingdom (1877)
Message to the Senate and House of Representatives (1870)
- It is unusual to notify the two Houses of Congress by message of the promulgation, by proclamation of the Secretary of State, of the ratification of a constitutional amendment. In view, however, of the vast importance of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, this day declared a part of that revered instrument, I deem a departure from the usual custom justifiable.
- A measure which makes at once 4,000,000 people voters who were heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so (with the assertion that "at the time of the Declaration of Independence the opinion was fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race, regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, that black men had no rights which the white man was bound to respect"), is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free Government to the present day.
- Institutions like ours, in which all power is derived directly from the people, must depend mainly upon their intelligence, patriotism, and industry. I call the attention, therefore, of the newly enfranchised race to the importance of their striving in every honorable manner to make themselves worthy of their new privilege. To the race more favored heretofore by our laws I would say, Withhold no legal privilege of advancement to the new citizen.
- The framers of our Constitution firmly believed that a republican government could not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among the people. The Father of his Country, in his Farewell Address, uses this language: Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.
- In his first annual message to Congress the same views are forcibly presented, and are again urged in his eighth message. I repeat that the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution completes the greatest civil change and constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came into life. The change will be beneficial in proportion to the heed that is given to the urgent recommendations of Washington. If these recommendations were important then, with a population of but a few millions, how much more important now, with a population of 40,000,000, and increasing in a rapid ratio.
- I would therefore call upon Congress to take all the means within their constitutional powers to promote and encourage popular education throughout the country, and upon the people everywhere to see to it that all who possess and exercise political rights shall have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the Government a blessing and not a danger. By such means only can the benefits contemplated by this amendment to the Constitution be secured.
Second State of the Union Address (1870)
- San Domingo, with a stable government, under which her immense resources can be developed, will give remunerative wages to tens of thousands of laborers not now upon the island. This labor will take advantage of every available means of transportation to abandon the adjacent islands and seek the blessings of freedom and its sequence—each inhabitant receiving the reward of his own labor. Porto Rico and Cuba will have to abolish slavery, as a measure of self-preservation, to retain their laborers.
- The acquisition of San Domingo is an adherence to the 'Monroe doctrine'; it is a measure of national protection; it is asserting our just claim to a controlling influence over the great commercial traffic soon to flow from west to east by way of the Isthmus of Darien; it is to build up our merchant marine; it is to furnish new markets for the products of our farms, shops, and manufactories; it is to make slavery insupportable in Cuba and Porto Rico at once, and ultimately so in Brazil; it is to settle the unhappy condition of Cuba and end an exterminating conflict; it is to provide honest means of paying our honest debts without overtaxing the people; it is to furnish our citizens with the necessaries of everyday life at cheaper rates than ever before; and it is, in fine, a rapid stride toward that greatness which the intelligence, industry, and enterprise of the citizens of the United States entitle this country to assume among nations.
- Since the adjournment of Congress the ratifications of the treaty with Great Britain for abolishing the mixed courts for the suppression of the slave trade have been exchanged. It is believed that the slave trade is now confined to the eastern coast of Africa, whence the slaves are taken to Arabian markets.
Third State of the Union Address (1871)
- It is a subject for congratulation that the great Empire of Brazil has taken the initiatory step toward the abolition of slavery. Our relations with that Empire, always cordial, will naturally be made more so by this act. It is not too much to hope that the Government of Brazil may hereafter find it for its interest, as well as intrinsically right, to advance toward entire emancipation more rapidly than the present act contemplates.
- It is a subject for regret that the reforms in this direction which were voluntarily promised by the statesmen of Spain have not been carried out in its West India colonies. The laws and regulations for the apparent abolition of slavery in Cuba and Porto Rico leave most of the laborers in bondage, with no hope of release until their lives become a burden to their employers.
- I desire to direct your attention to the fact that citizens of the United States, or persons claiming to be citizens of the United States, are large holders in foreign lands of this species of property, forbidden by the fundamental law of their alleged country. I recommend to Congress to provide by stringent legislation a suitable remedy against the holding, owning or dealing in slaves, or being interested in slave property, in foreign lands, either as owners, hirers, or mortgagors, by citizens of the United States.
Fourth State of the Union Address (1872)
- It is with regret that I have again to announce a continuance of the disturbed condition of the island of Cuba. No advance toward the pacification of the discontented part of the population has been made. While the insurrection has gained no advantages and exhibits no more of the elements of power or of the prospects of ultimate success than were exhibited a year ago, Spain, on the other hand, has not succeeded in its repression, and the parties stand apparently in the same relative attitude which they have occupied for a long time past.
- This contest has lasted now for more than four years. Were its scene at a distance from our neighborhood, we might be indifferent to its result, although humanity could not be unmoved by many of its incidents wherever they might occur. It is, however, at our door.
- I can not doubt that the continued maintenance of slavery in Cuba is among the strongest inducements to the continuance of this strife. A terrible wrong is the natural cause of a terrible evil. The abolition of slavery and the introduction of other reforms in the administration of government in Cuba could not fail to advance the restoration of peace and order. It is greatly to be hoped that the present liberal Government of Spain will voluntarily adopt this view.
- Deeply impressed with the conviction that the continuance of slavery is one of the most active causes of the continuance of the unhappy condition in Cuba, I regret to believe that citizens of the United States, or those claiming to be such, are large holders in Cuba of what is there claimed as property, but which is forbidden and denounced by the laws of the United States. They are thus, in defiance of the spirit of our own laws, contributing to the continuance of this distressing and sickening contest. In my last annual message I referred to this subject, and I again recommend such legislation as may be proper to denounce, and, if not prevent, at least to discourage American citizens from holding or dealing in slaves.
Second Inaugural Address (1873)
- The subject of acquisition of territory must have the support of the people before I will recommend any proposition looking to such acquisition. I say here, however, that I do not share in the apprehension held by many as to the danger of governments becoming weakened and destroyed by reason of their extension of territory. Commerce, education, and rapid transit of thought and matter by telegraph and steam have changed all this. Rather do I believe that our Great Maker is preparing the world, in His own good time, to become one nation, speaking one language, and when armies and navies will be no longer required.
- The effects of the late civil strife have been to free the slave and make him a citizen. Yet he is not possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it. This is wrong, and should be corrected. To this correction I stand committed, so far as Executive influence can avail.
- Social equality is not a subject to be legislated upon, nor shall I ask that anything be done to advance the social status of the colored man, except to give him a fair chance to develop what there is good in him, give him access to the schools, and when he travels let him feel assured that his conduct will regulate the treatment and fare he will receive.
Fifth State of the Union Address (1873)
- The existence of this new Republic was inaugurated by striking the fetters from the slaves in Porto Rico. This beneficent measure was followed by the release of several thousand persons illegally held as slaves in Cuba. Next, the Captain-General of that colony was deprived of the power to set aside the orders of his superiors at Madrid, which had pertained to the office since 1825. The sequestered estates of American citizens, which had been the cause of long and fruitless correspondence, were ordered to be restored to their owners. All these liberal steps were taken in the face of a violent opposition directed by the reactionary slave-holders of Havana, who are vainly striving to stay the march of ideas which has terminated slavery in Christendom, Cuba only excepted. Unhappily, however, this baneful influence has thus far succeeded in defeating the efforts of all liberal-minded men in Spain to abolish slavery in Cuba, and in preventing the promised reform in that island. The struggle for political supremacy continues there.
- The proslavery and aristocratic party in Cuba is gradually arraigning itself in more and more open hostility and defiance of the home government, while it still maintains a political connection with the Republic in the peninsula; and although usurping and defying the authority of the home government whenever such usurpation or defiance tends in the direction of oppression or of the maintenance of abuses, it is still a power in Madrid, and is recognized by the Government. Thus an element more dangerous to continued colonial relations between Cuba and Spain than that which inspired the insurrection at Yara—an element opposed to granting any relief from misrule and abuse, with no aspirations after freedom, commanding no sympathies in generous breasts, aiming to rivet still stronger the shackles of slavery and oppression—has seized many of the emblems of power in Cuba, and, under professions of loyalty to the mother country, is exhausting the resources of the island, and is doing acts which are at variance with those principles of justice, of liberality, and of right which give nobility of character to a republic. In the interests of humanity, of civilization, and of progress, it is to be hoped that this evil influence may be soon averted.
- In taking leave of this subject for the present I wish to renew the expression of my conviction that the existence of African slavery in Cuba is a principal cause of the lamentable condition of the island. I do not doubt that Congress shares with me the hope that it will soon be made to disappear, and that peace and prosperity may follow its abolition.
Sixth State of the Union Address (1874)
- I regret to say that with preparations for the late election decided indications appeared in some localities in the Southern States of a determination, by acts of violence and intimidation, to deprive citizens of the freedom of the ballot because of their political opinions. Bands of men, masked and armed, made their appearance; White Leagues and other societies were formed; large quantities of arms and ammunition were imported and distributed to these organizations; military drills, with menacing demonstrations, were held, and with all these murders enough were committed to spread terror among those whose political action was to be suppressed, if possible, by these intolerant and criminal proceedings.
- In some places colored laborers were compelled to vote according to the wishes of their employers, under threats of discharge if they acted otherwise; and there are too many instances in which, when these threats were disregarded, they were remorselessly executed by those who made them. I understand that the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution was made to prevent this and a like state of things, and the act of May 31, 1870, with amendments, was passed to enforce its provisions, the object of both being to guarantee to all citizens the right to vote and to protect them in the free enjoyment of that right.
- Enjoined by the Constitution 'to take care that the laws be faithfully executed', and convinced by undoubted evidence that violations of said act had been committed and that a widespread and flagrant disregard of it was contemplated, the proper officers were instructed to prosecute the offenders, and troops were stationed at convenient points to aid these officers, if necessary, in the performance of their official duties. Complaints are made of this interference by Federal authority; but if said amendment and act do not provide for such interference under the circumstances as above stated, then they are without meaning, force, or effect, and the whole scheme of colored enfranchisement is worse than mockery and little better than a crime. Possibly Congress may find it due to truth and justice to ascertain, by means of a committee, whether the alleged wrongs to colored citizens for political purposes are real or the reports thereof were manufactured for the occasion.
- Under existing conditions the negro votes the Republican ticket because he knows his friends are of that party. Many a good citizen votes the opposite, not because he agrees with the great principles of state which separate parties, but because, generally, he is opposed to negro rule. This is a most delusive cry. Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain, and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle. Then we shall have no complaint of sectional interference.
Speech to the Society of the Army of Tennessee (1875)
- Speech at the Annual Reunion of the Society of the Army of Tennessee at Des Moines, Iowa (29 September 1875)
- Comrades, it always affords me much gratification to meet my old comrades in arms of ten or fourteen years ago, and to live over again in memory the trials and hardships of those days. Hardships imposed for the preservation and perpetuation of our free institutions. We believed then, and believe now, that we had a good government, worth fighting for, and, if need be, dying for. How many of our comrades of those days paid the latter price for our preserved Union! Let their heroism and sacrifices be ever green and in our memory. Let not the results of their sacrifices be destroyed. The Union and the free institutions for which they fell, should be held more dear for their sacrifices.
- We will not deny to any of those who fought against us any privileges under the government which we claim for ourselves; on the contrary, we honor all such who come forward in good faith to help build up the waste places, and to perpetuate our institutions against all enemies, as brothers in full interest with us in a common heritage; but we are not prepared to apologize for the part we took in the war. It is to be hoped that like trials will never again befall our country. In this sentiment no class of people can more heartily join than the soldier, who submitted to the dangers, trials, and hardships of the camp and the battlefield. On whichever side they may have fought, no class of people are more interested in guarding against a recurrence of those days.
- Let us then begin by guarding against every enemy threatening the perpetuity of free republican institutions. I do not bring into this assemblage politics, certainly not partisan politics; but it is a fair subject for soldiers in their deliberations to consider what may be necessary to secure the prize for which they battled in a republic like ours. Where the citizen is sovereign and the official the servant, where no power is exercised except by the will of the people, it is important that the sovereign — the people — should possess intelligence.
- The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one sight, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other. Now in this centennial year of our national existence, I believe it a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundation of the house commenced by our patriotic forefathers one hundred years ago, at Concord and Lexington.
- Let us labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion.
- Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar of money shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that neither the state nor nation, or both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, Pagan, or Atheistical tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separate. With these safeguards, I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain.
Seventh State of the Union Address (1875)
- Our liberties remain unimpaired; the bondmen have been freed from slavery; we have become possessed of the respect, if not the friendship, of all civilized nations. Our progress has been great in all the arts—in science, agriculture, commerce, navigation, mining, mechanics, law, medicine, etc.; and in general education the progress is likewise encouraging. Our thirteen States have become thirty-eight, including Colorado (which has taken the initiatory steps to become a State), and eight Territories, including the Indian Territory and Alaska, and excluding Colorado, making a territory extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. On the south we have extended to the Gulf of Mexico, and in the west from the Mississippi to the Pacific.
- As the primary step, therefore, to our advancement in all that has marked our progress in the past century, I suggest for your earnest consideration, and most earnestly recommend it, that a constitutional amendment be submitted to the legislatures of the several States for ratification, making it the duty of each of the several States to establish and forever maintain free public schools adequate to the education of all the children in the rudimentary branches within their respective limits, irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions; forbidding the teaching in said schools of religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets; and prohibiting the granting of any school funds or school taxes, or any part thereof, either by legislative, municipal, or other authority, for the benefit or in aid, directly or indirectly, of any religious sect or denomination, or in aid or for the benefit of any other object of any nature or kind whatever.
- I am happy to announce the passage of an act by the General Cortes of Portugal, proclaimed since the adjournment of Congress, for the abolition of servitude in the Portuguese colonies. It is to be hoped that such legislation may be another step toward the great consummation to be reached, when no man shall be permitted, directly or indirectly, under any guise, excuse, or form of law, to hold his fellow-man in bondage. I am of opinion also that it is the duty of the United States, as contributing toward that end, and required by the spirit of the age in which we live, to provide by suitable legislation that no citizen of the United States shall hold slaves as property in any other country or be interested therein.
Eighth State of the Union Address (1876)
- I leave comparisons to history, claiming only that I have acted in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what was right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people. Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.
- This has sometimes been paraphrased: "My failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent".
- It was my fortune, or misfortune, to be called to the office of Chief Executive without any previous political training. From the age of 17 I had never even witnessed the excitement attending a Presidential campaign but twice antecedent to my own candidacy, and at but one of them was I eligible as a voter.
Under such circumstances it is but reasonable to suppose that errors of judgment must have occurred. Even had they not, differences of opinion between the Executive, bound by an oath to the strict performance of his duties, and writers and debaters must have arisen. It is not necessarily evidence of blunder on the part of the Executive because there are these differences of views. Mistakes have been made, as all can see and I admit...
- The intervening time to my first inauguration was filled up with wranglings between Congress and the new Executive as to the best mode of "reconstruction," or, to speak plainly, as to whether the control of the Government should be thrown immediately into the hands of those who had so recently and persistently tried to destroy it, or whether the victors should continue to have an equal voice with them in this control. Reconstruction, as finally agreed upon, means this and only this, except that the late slave was enfranchised, giving an increase, as was supposed, to the Union-loving and Union-supporting votes. If free in the full sense of the word, they would not disappoint this expectation. Hence at the beginning of my first Administration the work of reconstruction, much embarrassed by the long delay, virtually commenced. It was the work of the legislative branch of the Government.
- Santo Domingo is fertile, and upon its soil may be grown just those tropical products of which the United States use so much, and which are produced or prepared for market now by slave labor almost exclusively, namely, sugar, coffee, dyewoods, mahogany, tropical fruits, tobacco, etc. About 75 per cent of the exports of Cuba are consumed in the United States. A large percentage of the exports of Brazil also find the same market. These are paid for almost exclusively in coin, legislation, particularly in Cuba, being unfavorable to a mutual exchange of the products of each country.
- Flour shipped from the Mississippi River to Havana can pass by the very entrance to the city on its way to a port in Spain, there pay a duty fixed upon articles to be reexported, transferred to a Spanish vessel and brought back almost to the point of starting, paying a second duty, and still leave a profit over what would be received by direct shipment. All that is produced in Cuba could be produced in Santo Domingo. Being a part of the United States, commerce between the island and mainland would be free. There would be no export duties on her shipments nor import duties on those coming here.
- There would be no import duties upon the supplies, machinery, etc., going from the States. The effect that would have been produced upon Cuban commerce, with these advantages to a rival, is observable at a glance. The Cuban question would have been settled long ago in favor of "free Cuba." Hundreds of American vessels would now be advantageously used in transporting the valuable woods and other products of the soil of the island to a market and in carrying supplies and emigrants to it. The island is but sparsely settled, while it has an area sufficient for the profitable employment of several millions of people.
- The soil would have soon fallen into the hands of United States capitalists. The products are so valuable in commerce that emigration there would have been encouraged; the emancipated race of the South would have found there a congenial home, where their civil rights would not be disputed and where their labor would be so much sought after that the poorest among them could have found the means to go. Thus in cases of great oppression and cruelty, such as has been practiced upon them in many places within the last eleven years, whole communities would have sought refuge in Santo Domingo. I do not suppose the whole race would have gone, nor is it desirable that they should go. Their labor is desirable—indispensable almost—where they now are. But the possession of this territory would have left the negro 'master of the situation', by enabling him to demand his rights at home on pain of finding them elsewhere.
Letter to Daniel Ammen (1877)
- Letter to Commodore Daniel Ammen, U.S. Navy (26 August 1877), Bristol Hotel, Burlington Gardens, London, United Kingdom.
- There is no more beautiful scenery or climate for summer travel than Switzerland presents. The people are industrious and honest, simple and frugal in their habits, and would be very poor with all this, if it were not from the travel through their country. I wish their surplus population would emigrate to the United States.
- For the last eight weeks I have seen but few American papers, and am consequently behind in home news. The foreign papers, however, have been full of the great railroad strike, and no doubt exaggerated it, bad as it was. The United States should always be prepared to put down such demonstrations promptly and with severe consequences for the guilty. I hope good may come out of this, in pointing out the necessity for having the proper remedy at hand in case of need. 'An ounce of preservation is worth a pound of cure'.
- One thing has struck me as a bit queer. During my two terms of office the whole Democratic press, and the morbidly honest and 'reformatory' portion of the Republican press, thought it horrible to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Southern States, and when they were called upon to protect the lives of negroes–as much citizens under the Constitution as if their skins were white–the country was scarcely large enough to hold the sound of indignation belched forth by them for some years. Now, however, there is no hesitation about exhausting the whole power of the government to suppress a strike on the slightest intimation that danger threatens. All parties agree that this is right, and so do I. If a negro insurrection should arise in South Carolina, Mississippi, or Louisiana, or if the negroes in either of these states, where they are in a large majority, should intimidate the whites from going to the polls, or from exercising any of the rights of American citizens, there would be no division of sentiment as to the duty of the president. It does seem the rule should work both ways.
- Regarding keeping U.S. Army soldiers stationed in southern U.S. states to protect the safety and civil rights of freed slaves (26 August 1877), as quoted in The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876-September 30, 1878, by U.S. Grant, pp. 251-252
Around the World with General Grant (1879)
- I never wanted to get out of a place as much as I did to get out of the presidency.
- As quoted in Around the World with General Grant Vol. 2 (1879) by John Russell Young
- The Mexicans were badly commanded, and there was very little hard fighting during that war, at least nothing to be compared with what was seen afterward in our own. Our soldiers had only to show the bayonet at the Mexicans and they would run. As to the bowie-knife, I do not think one was used during the war. It was a pity to see good troops used as the Mexican soldiers were in those campaigns. I do not think a more incompetent set of officers ever existed than those who commanded the Mexicans. With an able general the Mexicans would make a good fight, for they are a courageous people. But I do not suppose any war was ever fought with reference to which so many romances were invented as the war in Mexico.
- pp. 162–163
- As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.
- To Otto von Bismarck in June 1878, as quoted in Around the World with General Grant (1879), by John Russell Young, The American News Company, New York, vol. 7, p. 416
- There had to be an end of slavery. Then we were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible. Only destruction.
- To Otto von Bismarck in June 1878, as quoted in Around the World with General Grant (1879), by John Russell Young, The American News Company, New York, vol. 7, p. 416
- Looking back over the whole policy of reconstruction, it seems to me that the wisest thing would have been to have continued for some time the military rule. Sensible Southern men see now that there was no government so frugal, so just, and fair as what they had under our generals. That would have enabled the Southern people to pull themselves together and repair material losses. As to depriving them, even for a time, of suffrage, that was our right as a conqueror, and it was a mild penalty for the stupendous crime of treason. Military rule would have been just to all, to the negro who wanted freedom, the white man who wanted protection, the northern man who wanted Union. As state after state showed a willingness to come into the Union, not on their own terms but upon ours, I would have admitted them. This would have made universal suffrage unnecessary, and I think a mistake was made about suffrage. It was unjust to the negro to throw upon him the responsibilities of citizenship, and expect him to be on even terms with his white neighbor. It was unjust to the north. In giving the south negro suffrage, we have given the old slave-holders forty votes in the electoral college. They keep those votes, but disfranchise the negroes. That is one of the gravest mistakes in the policy of reconstruction. It looks like a political triumph for the south, but it is not. The southern people have nothing to dread more than the political triumph of the men who led them into secession. That triumph was fatal to them in 1860. It would be no less now. The trouble about military rule in the south was that our people did not like it. It was not in accordance with our institutions. I am clear now that it would have been better for the north to have postponed suffrage, reconstruction, state governments, for ten years, and held the south in a territorial condition. It was due to the north that the men who had made war upon us should be powerless in a political sense forever. It would have avoided the scandals of the state governments, saved money, and enabled the northern merchants, farmers, and laboring men to reorganize society in the south. But we made our scheme, and must do what we can with it. Suffrage once given can never be taken away, and all that remains for us now is to make good that gift by protecting those who have received it.
- In China, p. 362
- With a soldier the flag is paramount. I know the struggle with my conscience during the Mexican War. I have never altogether forgiven myself for going into that. I had very strong opinions on the subject. I do not think there was ever a more wicked war than that waged by the United States on Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign. I had taken an oath to serve eight years, unless sooner discharged, and I considered my supreme duty was to my flag. I had a horror of the Mexican War, and I have always believed that it was on our part most unjust. The wickedness was not in the way our soldiers conducted it, but in the conduct of our government in declaring war. The troops behaved well in Mexico, and the government acted handsomely about the peace. We had no claim on Mexico. Texas had no claim beyond the Nueces River, and yet we pushed on to the Rio Grande and crossed it. I am always ashamed of my country when I think of that invasion. Once in Mexico, however, and the people, those who had property, were our friends. We could have held Mexico, and made it a permanent section of the Union with the consent of all classes whose consent was worth having. Overtures were made to Scott and Worth to remain in the country with their armies.
- On the Mexican–American War, p. 448
- The Mexicans are a good people. They live on little and work hard. They suffer from the influence of the Church, which, while I was in Mexico at least, was as bad as could be. The Mexicans were good soldiers, but badly commanded. The country is rich, and if the people could be assured a good government, they would prosper. See what we have made of Texas and California — empires. There are the same materials for new empires in Mexico. I have always had a deep interest in Mexico and her people, and have always wished them well. I suppose the fact that I served there as a young man, and the impressions the country made upon my young mind, have a good deal to do with this. When I was in London, talking with Lord Beaconsfield, he spoke of Mexico. He said he wished to heaven we had taken the country, that England would not like anything better than to see the United States annex it. I suppose that will be the future of the country. Now that slavery is out of the way there could be no better future for Mexico than absorption in the United States. But it would have to come, as San Domingo tried to come, by the free will of the people. I would not fire a gun to annex territory. I consider it too great a privilege to belong to the United States for us to go around gunning for new territories. Then the question of annexation means the question of suffrage, and that becomes more and more serious every day with us. That is one of the grave problems of our future.
- On Mexicans and Mexico's future, pp. 448–449
- They fell upon an ungenial climate, where there were nine months of winter and three months of cold weather, and that called out the best energies of the men, and of the women too, to get a mere subsistence out of the soil, with such a climate. In their efforts to do that they cultivated industry and frugality at the same time — which is the real foundation of the greatness of the Pilgrims.
- On the Pilgrims, in a speech at a New England Society Dinner (22 December 1880)
- There is nothing more I should do to it now, and therefore I am not likely to be more ready to go than at this moment.
- Note about his Memoirs about a week before he died, as quoted in Famous Last Words (2001) by Alan Bisbort, p. 30
- Last words, to his nurse, as reported in The New York Times (24 July 1885)
- Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace.
- Speech in London, as quoted in Memorial Life of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (1889) Edited by y Stephen Merrill Allen, p. 95
Speech at Warren, Ohio (1880)
- Speech at Warren, Ohio (28 September 1880)
- I am a Republican, as the two great political parties as now divided, because the Republican party is a National party, seeking the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens. There is not a precinct in this vast Nation where a Democrat cannot cast his ballot and have it counted as cast. No matter what the prominence of the opposite party, he can proclaim his political opinions, even if he is only one among a thousand, without fear and without proscription on account of his opinions.
- As quoted in Words of Our Hero, Ulysses S. Grant, by Jeremiah Chaplin, p. 57
- I am a Republican for many other reasons. The Republican party assures protection to life and property, the public credit and the payment of the debts of the Government, State, county, or municipality so far as it can control. The Democratic party does not promise this; if it does, it has broken its promises to the extent of hundreds of millions, as many Northern Democrats can testify to their sorrow.
- As quoted in Words of Our Hero, Ulysses S. Grant, by Jeremiah Chaplin, p. 58
- The Republican party is a party of progress and of liberality toward its opponents. It encourages the poor to strive to better their children, to enable them to compete successfully with their more fortunate associates, and, in fine, it secures an entire equality before the law of every citizen, no matter what his race, nationality, or previous condition. It tolerates no privileged class. Every one has the opportunity to make himself all he is capable of.
Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885)
- Generally, the officers of the army were indifferent whether the annexation was consummated or not; but not so all of them. For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
- Regarding the Mexican–American War (1883), as quoted in Personal Memoirs of General U. S. Grant (1885), p. 16
- The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
- Ch. 3
- For the present, and so long as there are living witnesses of the great war of sections, there will be people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which they believed to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.
- Ch. 12
- The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable. But any people or part of a people who resort to this remedy, stake their lives, their property, and every claim for protection given by citizenship — on the issue. Victory, or the conditions imposed by the conqueror — must be the result.
- Ch. 16
- The Republican candidate was elected, and solid substantial people of the North-west, and I presume the same order of people throughout the entire North, felt very serious, but determined, after this event. It was very much discussed whether the South would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the corner-stone of which should be, protection to the 'Divine' institution of slavery. For there were people who believed in the 'divinity' of human slavery, as there are now people who believe Mormonism and Polygamy to be ordained by the Most High. We forgive them for entertaining such notions, but forbid their practice.
- Ch. 16
- It is preposterous to suppose that the people of one generation can lay down the best and only rules of government for all who are to come after them, and under unforeseen contingencies.
- Ch. 16
- I am aware that this last statement may be disputed and individual testimony perhaps adduced to show that in ante-bellum days the ballot was as untrammelled in the south as in any section of the country; but in the face of any such contradiction I reassert the statement. The shot-gun was not resorted to. Masked men did not ride over the country at night intimidating voters; but there was a firm feeling that a class existed in every State with a sort of divine right to control public affairs. If they could not get this control by one means they must by another. The end justified the means. The coercion, if mild, was complete.
- Ch. 16
- The winter of 1860-1 will be remembered by middle-aged people of to-day as one of great excitement. South Carolina promptly seceded after the result of the Presidential election was known. Other Southern States proposed to follow. In some of them the Union sentiment was so strong that it had to be suppressed by force. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri, all Slave States, failed to pass ordinances of secession; but they were all represented in the so-called congress of the so-called Confederate States. The Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of Missouri, in 1861, Jackson and Reynolds, were both supporters of the rebellion and took refuge with the enemy. The governor soon died, and the lieutenant-governor assumed his office; issued proclamations as governor of the State; was recognized as such by the Confederate Government, and continued his pretensions until the collapse of the rebellion. The South claimed the sovereignty of States, but claimed the right to coerce into their confederation such States as they wanted, that is, all the States where slavery existed. They did not seem to think this course inconsistent. The fact is, the Southern slave-owners believed that, in some way, the ownership of slaves conferred a sort of patent of nobility—a right to govern independent of the interest or wishes of those who did not hold such property. They convinced themselves, first, of the divine origin of the institution and, next, that that particular institution was not safe in the hands of any body of legislators but themselves.
- Ch. 16
- As we approached the brow of the hill from which it was expected we could see Harris' camp, and possibly find his men ready formed to meet us, my heart kept getting higher and higher until it felt to me as though it was in my throat. I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable.
- Account of his effort as Colonel of the 21st Infantry of Illinois, to engage Confederate Colonel Thomas Harris in northern Missouri, Ch. 18
- On the 7th of June our little force of colored and white troops across the Mississippi, at Milliken's Bend, were attacked by about 3,000 men from Richard Taylor's trans-Mississippi command. With the aid of the gunboats they were speedily repelled. I sent Mower's brigade over with instructions to drive the enemy beyond the Tensas Bayou; and we had no further trouble in that quarter during the siege. This was the first important engagement of the war in which colored troops were under fire. These men were very raw, having all been enlisted since the beginning of the siege, but they behaved well.
- Ch. 37
- There was no time during the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was more to be benefited by its defeat than the North. The latter had the people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class. With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming degraded, and those who did were denominated 'poor white trash.' The system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and, not being in sympathy with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood and treasure, but it was worth all it cost.
- Ch. 41
- Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true.
- Ch. 67
- I had known General Lee in the old army, and had served with him in the Mexican War; but did not suppose, owing to the difference in our age and rank, that he would remember me, while I would more naturally remember him distinctly, because he was the chief of staff of General Scott in the Mexican War.
When I had left camp that morning I had not expected so soon the result that was then taking place, and consequently was in rough garb. I was without a sword, as I usually was when on horseback on the field, and wore a soldier's blouse for a coat, with the shoulder straps of my rank to indicate to the army who I was. When I went into the house I found General Lee. We greeted each other, and after shaking hands took our seats. I had my staff with me, a good portion of whom were in the room during the whole of the interview.
What General Lee's feelings were I do not know. As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed. I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse. I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us.
- Ch. 67
- Our conversation grew so pleasant that I almost forgot the object of our meeting. After the conversation had run on in this style for some time, General Lee called my attention to the object of our meeting, and said that he had asked for this interview for the purpose of getting from me the terms I proposed to give his army. I said that I meant merely that his army should lay down their arms, not to take them up again during the continuance of the war unless duly and properly exchanged. He said that he had so understood my letter.
- Ch. 67
- I thought this would be about the last battle of the war — I sincerely hoped so; and I said further I took it that most of the men in the ranks were small farmers. The whole country had been so raided by the two armies that it was doubtful whether they would be able to put in a crop to carry themselves and their families through the next winter without the aid of the horses they were then riding. The United States did not want them and I would, therefore, instruct the officers I left behind to receive the paroles of his troops to let every man of the Confederate army who claimed to own a horse or mule take the animal to his home. Lee remarked again that this would have a happy effect.
- Ch. 67
- The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United States will have to be attributed to slavery. For some years before the war began it was a trite saying among some politicians that 'A state half slave and half free cannot exist.' All must become slave or all free, or the state will go down. I took no part myself in any such view of the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole question, I have come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.
- It is probably well that we had the war when we did. We are better off now than we would have been without it, and have made more rapid progress than we otherwise should have made... But this war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future.
- Prior to the rebellion the great mass of the people were satisfied to remain near the scenes of their birth. In fact an immense majority of the whole people did not feel secure against coming to want should they move among entire strangers. So much was the country divided into small communities that localized idioms had grown up, so that you could almost tell what section a person was from by hearing him speak... This is all changed now. The war begot a spirit of independence and enterprise. The feeling now is, that a youth must cut loose from his old surroundings to enable him to get up in the world. There is now such a commingling of the people that particular idioms and pronunciation are no longer localized to any great extent; the country has filled up "from the centre all around to the sea"; railroads connect the two oceans and all parts of the interior; maps, nearly perfect, of every part of the country are now furnished the student of geography.
- The war has made us a nation of great power and intelligence. We have but little to do to preserve peace, happiness and prosperity at home, and the respect of other nations. Our experience ought to teach us the necessity of the first; our power secures the latter.
- Slavery was an institution that required unusual guarantees for its security wherever it existed; and in a country like ours where the larger portion of it was free territory inhabited by an intelligent and well-to-do population, the people would naturally have but little sympathy with demands upon them for its protection. Hence the people of the South were dependent upon keeping control of the general government to secure the perpetuation of their favorite institution. They were enabled to maintain this control long after the States where slavery existed had ceased to have the controlling power, through the assistance they received from odd men here and there throughout the Northern States. They saw their power waning, and this led them to encroach upon the prerogatives and independence of the Northern States by enacting such laws as the Fugitive Slave Law. By this law every Northern man was obliged, when properly summoned, to turn out and help apprehend the runaway slave of a Southern man. Northern marshals became slave-catchers, and Northern courts had to contribute to the support and protection of the institution.
- I feel that we are on the eve of a new era, when there is to be great harmony between the Federal and Confederate. I cannot stay to be a living witness to the correctness of this prophecy; but I feel it within me that it is to be so. The universally kind feeling expressed for me at a time when it was supposed that each day would prove my last, seemed to me the beginning of the answer to "Let us have peace."
The expression of these kindly feelings were not restricted to a section of the country, nor to a division of the people. They came from individual citizens of all nationalities; from all denominations — the Protestant, the Catholic, and the Jew; and from the various societies of the land — scientific, educational, religious or otherwise. Politics did not enter into the matter at all.
I am not egotist enough to suppose all this significance should be given because I was the object of it. But the war between the States was a very bloody and a very costly war. One side or the other had to yield principles they deemed dearer than life before it could be brought to an end. I commanded the whole of the mighty host engaged on the victorious side. I was, no matter whether deservedly so or not, a representative of that side of the controversy. It is a significant and gratifying fact that Confederates should have joined heartily in this spontaneous move. I hope the good feeling inaugurated may continue to the end.
- You know I can't abide curse-words, but this time I'm going to use one because I am damn tired of hearing what Lee's going to do to us! Start thinking about what we're doing to do to him. Some of you think he's about to turn a double somersault and land in our rear and on both flanks at the same time.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- I have never been in a fight where the situation wasn't desperate at one point, colonel.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- We have taken our last backwards step.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- If we don't admit defeat, we're not defeated.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- Mister Crawford, nobody is more sick of this war than I am. That's why we're moving south, to end it as quickly as possible. Lincoln said at Gettysburg we must preserve this nation so a government of the people won't perish, but you newspaper boys never pay much attention to that, did you?
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- The reporter's right; people are tired of war. If we don't destroy Lee's army? Lincoln could be defeated in November, and the Union? Gone forever. Only unconditional surrender will give us a lasting peace.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
- I'm not near the drinker some people would like to believe.
- North and South, Book II (1986)
Wild Wild West (1999)
- Not every situation requires your patented approach of shoot first, shoot later, shoot some more and then when everybody's dead try to ask a question or two.
- Wild Wild West (1999)
- There's just one country. You and I, we're citizens of that country. I'm fighting to protect it from armed rebels. From you.
- To Alexander H. Stephens, Lincoln (2012)
- A private citizen like Preston Blair can say what he pleases, since he has no authority over anything. If you want to discuss peace with President Lincoln, consider revisions.
- To Alexander H. Stephens, Lincoln (2012)
- You always knew that, what this was going to be. Intimate, and ugly. You must've needed to see it close when you decided to come down here.
- To Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln (2012)
Saving Lincoln (2013)
- Mister President. Win or lose, we'll keep hitting.
- Saving Lincoln (2013), written by Salvador Litvak and Nina D. Litvak
Field of Lost Shoes (2014)
- Do you see me as a monster?
- Field of Lost Shoes (2014)
Quotes about Grant
- That’s what the Union would need in the painful spring and summer of 1864, which Gallagher calls the low point of the war for the U.S. government because civilian morale had plummeted. All eyes were on the coming presidential election. The Democrats were angling to nominate Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, who ran as a War Democrat but whose party’s platform called for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy that could permit the survival of slavery. Against this backdrop, the Confederacy didn’t need to defeat the Union forces; it needed merely to hang on. The Union’s will to fight might well succumb to exhaustion. Lincoln and Grant both understood this. Grant had planned to return to the West, but the public was clamoring for him to face Lee head-on. Half a dozen Union offensives in Virginia had already failed, and although from a purely military perspective the war in the West was just as important, the Eastern theater produced the greatest political reverberations... The key moment came early in the campaign. As soon as Grant’s army had crossed the river, and as his men moved through a forest dense with underbrush known as the Wilderness, Lee pressed the attack. Lee was outnumbered nearly 2-1 and did not want to let the battle get onto open ground. The rebels charged and the woods quickly filled with smoke. Wounded men were immolated as fire swept through the forest. The Battle of the Wilderness proved to be a ghastly two-day affair that prefigured more horrors to come. At the end of the battle, the Army of the Potomac had 18,000 casualties, and it looked like another defeat in Virginia. But when Grant rode his horse to a crossroads, he turned south, not north. His men let out a cheer. Grant would not retreat back toward Washington as so many other generals had done after previous battles. He pressed on, toward Spotsylvania Court House.
- Joel Achenbach, "U.S. Grant was the great hero of the Civil War but lost favor with historians" (24 April 2014), The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.
- America had no use for Adams because he was eighteenth-century, and yet it worshipped Grant because he was archaic and should have lived in a cave and worn skins.
- What worried Adams was not the commonplace; it was, as usual, his own education. Grant fretted and irritated him, like the Terebratula, as a defiance of first principles. He had no right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages. The idea that, as society grew older, it grew one-sided, upset evolution, and made of education a fraud. That, two thousand years after Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be called — and should actually and truly be — the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous. One must be as commonplace as Grant's own commonplaces to maintain such an absurdity. The progress of evolution from President Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset Darwin.
- Simple-minded beyond the experience of Wall Street or State Street, he resorted, like most men of the same intellectual calibre, to commonplaces when at a loss for expression: "Let us have peace!" or, "The best way to treat a bad law is to execute it"; or a score of such reversible sentences generally to be gauged by their sententiousness.
- Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams, (1907), ch. XVII President Grant
- What Grant wanted, above everything else, was to sheathe his sword... The Grant administration disproved the Democratic assertion in the 1868 election that 'This is a white man's country'... Grant saw his task, as any decent man would have, as being to bring about peace and reconciliation between the north and south and to enforce the rights of citizens for blacks. He soon learned that he could not do both... For those of us who lived in the American south from World War II to the 1980s, we can only say how right Grant was... He was a great American who did far more good for our country than most generals or presidents can even approach.
- In four years he had risen, without political favor, from the bottom to the very highest command, — not second to any living commander in all the world! His plans were large, his undiscouraged will was patient to obduracy... In all this career he never lost courage or equanimity. With a million men, for whose movements he was responsible, he yet carried a tranquil mind, neither depressed by disasters nor elated by success. Gentle of heart, familiar with all, never boasting, always modest, Grant came of the old, self-contained sock, men of a sublime force of being, which allied his genius to the great elemental forces of nature, — silent, invisible, irresistible. When his work was done, and the defeat of Confederate armies was final, this dreadful man of blood was tender toward his late adversaries as a woman toward her son. He imposed no humiliating conditions, spared the feelings of his antagonists, sent home the disbanded Southern men with food and with horses for working their crops.
- Henry Ward Beecher, in "Eulogy on Grant" in Patriotic Addresses in America and England (1887)
- If he neglected the rules of war, as at Vicksburg, it was to make better rules for those who were strong enough to employ them. Counselors gave him materials. He formed his own plans. Abhorring show, simple in manner, gentle in his intercourse, modest and even diffident in regard to his own personality, he seems to have been the only man in camp who was ignorant of his own greatness... A man he was without vices, with an absolute hatred for lies, and an ineradicable love of truth, of a perfect loyalty to friendship, neither envious of others nor selfish for himself. With a zeal for the public good unfeigned, he has left to memory only such weaknesses as connect him with humanity, and such virtues as will rank him among heroes. The tidings of his death, long expected, gave a shock to the whole world. Governments, rulers, eminent statesmen, and scholars from all civilized nations gave sincere tokens of sympathy. For the hour, sympathy rolled as a wave over all our own land. It closed the last furrow of war, it extinguished the last prejudice, it effaced the last vestige of hatred, and cursed be the hand that shall bring them back! Johnston and Buckner on one side, Sherman and Sheridan upon the other of his bier, he has come to his tomb a silent symbol that liberty had conquered slavery, patriotism rebellion, and war. He rests in peace.
- Henry Ward Beecher in "Eulogy on Grant" in Patriotic Addresses in America and England (1887)
- As commanding general in the Civil War, he had defeated secession and destroyed slavery, secession's cause. As President during Reconstruction he had guided the South back into the Union. By the end of his public life the Union was more secure than at any previous time in the history of the nation. And no one had done more to produce the result than he.
- Henry William Brands, as quoted in The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses S. Grant in War and Peace (2012), New York: Doubleday, p. 636
- Ulysses S. Grant demonstrated what might be called the Peter Principle in reverse: he couldn’t handle small jobs, but give him a huge task like saving the Union, and he performed marvelously well. Grant’s story is one of great abilities, hidden and undiscovered until a vast war brought them out. And not merely abilities as a general. His memoirs, completed just prior to his death, are rightly regarded as one of the best memoirs ever written by a historical figure.
- By backing Radical Reconstruction as best he could, he made a greater effort to escure the constitutional rights of blacks than did any other President between Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson.
- On Palm Sunday, at Appomattox Court House, the spirit of feudalism, of aristocracy, of injustice in this country, surrendered, in the person of Robert E. Lee, the Virginian slave-holder, to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and of equal rights, in the person of Ulysses S. Grant, the Illinois tanner. So closed this great campaign in the 'Good Fight of Liberty'. So the Army of the Potomac, often baffled, struck an immortal blow, and gave the right hand of heroic fellowship to their brethren of the west. So the silent captain, when all his lieutenants had secured their separate fame, put on the crown of victory and ended civil war. As fought the Lieutenant-General of the United States, so fight the United States themselves, in the 'Good Fight of Man'. With Grant's tenacity, his patience, his promptness, his tranquil faith, let us assault the new front of the old enemy. We, too, must push through the enemy's Wilderness, holding every point we gain. We, too, must charge at daybreak upon his Spottsylvania Heights. We, too, must flank his angry lines and push them steadily back. We, too, must fling ourselves against the baffling flames of Cold Harbor. We, too, outwitting him by night, must throw our whole force across swamp and river, and stand entrenched before his capital. And we, too, at last, on some soft, auspicious day of spring, loosening all our shining lines, and bursting with wild battle music and universal shout of victory over the last desperate defense, must occupy the very citadel of caste, force the old enemy to final and unconditional surrender, and bring Boston and Charleston to sing Te Deum together for the triumphant equal rights of man.
- Ironically, the man who achieved fame on the battlefield was particularly squeamish. Grant could not stomach the sight of animal blood. Rare steak nauseated him; he insisted that his meat be well done. He never touched fowl. "I cold never eat anything that went on two legs," he explained. He did not hunt, even as a boy in rural southern Ohio where shooting game was a favorite youthful pastime. Grant was modest, self-effacing, soft-spoken, and mild-mannered. One biographer, W.E. Woodward, went so far as to suggest that he was a bit effeminate. "Young Grant had a girl's primness of manner and modesty of conduct," he wrote. "There was a broad streak of the feminine in his personality. He was almost half-woman, but this strain was buried in the depths of his soul; it never came to the surface, except indirectly, and he was probably not aware of it himself." Grant was somewhat prudish. He seldom used foul language. He disliked dirty jokes. And in the field he always bathed alone, in a closed tent, never allowing even his aides to see him naked. A serious, well-disciplined soldier, Grant spurned military pomp and pageantry. He was loyal to friends. A superstitious man, he believed it bad luck to retrace one's steps. If he inadvertently walked beyond his destination, for example, he would not simply turn around and walk back down the same street, but rather would keep going further away from the place and return via another road.
- William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (1984) p. 259-260
- In 1838, without Grant's knowledge, his father arranged for Representative Thomas L. Hamer to appoint him to West Point. Grant was horrified at the news, fearing he would flunk out. He entered the academy in May 1839. At West Point, Cadet grant excelled at math and horsemanship, setting a high-jump record on horseback, but found more difficult such subjects as French, English, military tactics, political science, geology, engineering, geography, and the sciences. He also accumulated a long list of demerits for a variety of minor, though frequently committed, offenses, including missing church on Sunday, tardiness, and sloppy dress. He was elected president of the Dialectic (literary) Society. "A military life had no charms for me," Grant later said of his attitude as a cadet, "and I had not the faintest idea of staying in the Army even if I should be graduated, which I did not expect." Grant graduated twenty-first of 39 cadets in the Class of 1843. He requested assignment to the dragoons (cavalry). The administration did not believe that his fine horsemanship sufficiently compensated for his lackluster class standing, however, and therefore relegated him to the infantry with the rank of brevet second lieutenant.
- William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (1984) p. 262
- I like that young man. There is something noble in him. His air and the expression of his face convince me that he has a noble heart, and that he will be a great man someday.
- Ellen Wrenshall-Dent, as quoted in the St. Louis Republican (24 July 1885)
- Criticism cannot deprecate the really great qualities of General Grant. His task was one to tax a Bonaparte. He had determined, unflinching courage and he adds to the laurels of Lee. No other Northern general could have accomplished more against the genius of a soldier. It was Grant, who, in the face of the gravest difficulties, won the war. He deservedly ranks among the greatest of Americans.
- Theodore Dodge, as quoted in Grant: A Biography (1981), by William S. McFeely, New York: Norton
- My confidence in General Grant was not entirely due to the brilliant military successes achieved by him, but there was a moral as well as military basis for my faith in him. He had shown his single-mindedness and superiority to popular prejudice by his prompt cooperation with President Lincoln in his policy of employing colored troops, and his order commanding his soldiers to treat such troops with due respect. In this way he proved himself to be not only a wise general, but a great man, one who could adjust himself to new conditions, and adopt the lessons taught by the events of the hour. This quality in General Grant was and is made all the more conspicuous and striking in contrast with his West Point education and his former political associations; for neither West Point nor the Democratic party have been good schools in which to learn justice and fair play to the Negro.
- More than to any other man the negro owes his enfranchisement and the Indian a humane policy. In the matter of the protection of the freedman from violence his moral courage surpassed that of his party; hence his place at its head was given to timid men, and the country was allowed to drift, instead of stemming the current with stalwart arm.
- Many who approached him told me he was a silent man. To me, he was one of the best conversationalists I have ever met.
- I know the man. I like a man in the Presidential chair ... such as the poor people of my own race, as well as the poor people of every other race, can approach, and approach easily.
- Ulysses S. Grant, the most illustrious warrior and statesman of modern times, the captain whose invincible sword saved the republic from dismemberment, made liberty the law of the land. A man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him, the negro found a protector, the Indian, a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.
- Frederick Douglass, as quoted in "U.S. Grant was the great hero of the Civil War but lost favor with historians" (24 April 2014), by Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post
- That sturdy old Roman, Benjamin Butler, made the negro a contraband, Abraham Lincoln made him a freeman, and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant made him a citizen.
- There is one West Pointer, I think in Missouri, little known, and whom I hope the Northern people will not find out. I mean Sam Grant. I knew him well at the Academy and in Mexico. I should fear him more than any of their officers I have yet heard of. He is not a man of genius, but he is clear-headed, quick, and daring.
- Grant's famous motto, "Let us have peace", adorns the entrance to his tomb in New York City. Brands rightly emphasizes that this was a call not simply for national reconciliation but also for consolidation of what had been won in the war. Union and emancipation. By the time Grant died, the first was secure. It took a long time for the nation to try once again to fulfill the promise of the second.
- Eric Foner, as quoted in "The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace" (2 November 2012), The New York Times
- Grant the general had many qualities but he had a thing that's very necessary for a great general. He had what they call "four o'clock in the morning courage." You could wake him up at four o'clock in the morning and tell him they had just turned his right flank and he would be as cool as a cucumber. Grant, after that first night in the Wilderness, went to his tent, broke down, and cried very hard. Some of the staff members said they'd never seen a man so unstrung. Well, he didn't cry until the battle was over, and he wasn't crying when it began again the next day. It just shows you the tension that he lived with without letting it affect him... Grant, he's wonderful."
- No American has carried greater fame out of the White House than this silent man who leaves it today.
- It required no effort on his part to admit another man's superiority, and his admission that General Grant was right and he was wrong about operations in Vicksburg was not intended for effect as some suppose, but was perfectly in character.
- But we will not always be in this condition. Wait until Dudy becomes president. I dreamed last night he had been elected president.
- We must go back to the campaigns of Napoleon to find equally brillant results accomplished in the same space of time with such a small loss.
- Francis Vinton Greene in The Mississippi (1882) on Grant's role in the Vicksburg campaign; quoted in A Military History of the Western World: From the American Civil War to the End of World War II (1987) by John Frederick Charles Fuller (this has sometimes been misattributed to Fuller, who simply declares an agreement with it).
- It is enough to add that he was a very good General and a very bad President.
Thousands had journeyed to Washington from out of town. The hotels were sold out, even after filling their hallways and lobbies with extra beds. The visitors, not a few of whom employed whiskey against the cold, waited all along the avenue to salute the Civil War hero they had re-elected the previous November.
No group cheered Grant more heartily than the Negro men and women who had lined his route. These members of the audience could point with pride to the Lincoln Zouaves, a colored military unit from Baltimore, resplendent in their tasseled fezzes, baggy red pants, white leggings, and red-trimmed black jackets. Colored spectators sang along when musicians struck up 'Marching Through Georgia', the Civil War ditty celebrating General William Tecumseh Sherman's drive from Atlanta to the sea. Negro support for Grant was an expression of hope. The fervent belief that only Grant and his Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, could keep America's promise of equal rights for all men. Lincoln had been the first president to invite Negro participation in the inaugural pageant. Grant was the second. But for Grant, freedom and equal rights were matters of principle, not symbolism. More than even the most progressive-minded white Americans of his time, he rejected prejudice. He knew his soldiers had sacrificed not only to hold the nation together, but also to make men free. He did not want those sacrifices to have been in vain.
- Charles Lane, as quoted in The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction (2008), Henry Holt and Company, LLC, New York City, New York, p. 2
- Grant has shown himself an active, honest advocate of the negro and their friend.
- Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.
- Grant's desire to annex and eventually make a state of Santo Domingo can seem oddly progressive, which is not to excuse the self-righteous paternalism, nationalist exceptionalism, or economic shadiness that lay behind his annexationism. But anti-racism was among the principal goals of his initiative... In that respect, his hope that whites might one day overcome their irrational anti-black prejudices so that the United States could prosper as a multi-racial nation is all the more impressive.
- I can't spare this man--he fights.
- If Grant only does this thing right down there, I don't care how, so long as he does it right. Why, Grant is my man and I am his the rest of the war!
- Abraham Lincoln, on Grant's Vicksburg campaign (5 July 1863). When he said this, Lincoln had not yet received news of the surrender of Vicksburg the day before. As quoted in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 (21 February 2000) by Brooks Donohue Simpson, p. 215
- I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did, march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
- After the failure of his first experimental explorations around Vicksburg, a committee of abolition war managers waited upon the President and demanded the General’s removal, on the false charge that he was a whiskey drinker, and little better than a common drunkard. “Ah!” exclaimed Honest Old Abe, “you surprise me, gentlemen. But can you tell me where he gets his whiskey?” “We cannot, Mr. President. But why do you desire to know?” “Because, if I can only find out, I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.”
- Statement first attributed in the New York Herald, (September 18, 1863) in response to allegations his most successful general drank too much.
- I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.
- As quoted in Wit and Wisdom of the American Presidents: A Book of Quotations (2000) by Joslyn T. Pine, p. 26.
- When some one charged Gen. Grant, in the President’s hearing, with drinking too much liquor, Mr. Lincoln, recalling Gen. Grant’s successes, said that if he could find out what brand of whisky Grant drank, he would send a barrel of it to all the other commanders.
- The New York Times, October 30, 1863
- Major Eckert asked Mr. Lincoln if the story of his interview with the complainant against General Grant was true. The story was: a growler called on the President and complained bitterly of General Grant’s drunkenness. The President inquired very solicitously, if the man could tell him where the General got his liquor. The man really was very sorry but couldn’t say where he did get it. The President replied that he would like very much to find out so he could get a quantity of it and send a barrel to all his Major Generals. Mr. Lincoln said he had heard the story before and it would be very good if he had said it, but he did not, and he supposed it was charged to him to give it currency. He then said the original of this story was in King George’s time. Bitter complaints were made to the King against his General Wolfe in which it was charged that he was mad. “Well,” said the King, “I wish he would bite some of my other Generals then."
- Authenticity of quote first refuted in “The Military Telegraph During the Civil War in the United States” by William R. Plum, (1882).
- They will never shoulder a musket again in anger, and if Grant is wise, he will leave them their guns to shoot crows with and their horses to plow with. It would do no harm.
- He's the quietest little fellow you ever saw. He makes the least fuss of any man you ever knew. I believe he had been in this room a minute or so before I knew he was here. Grant is the first general I have had. You know how it's been with all the rest. As soon as I put a man in command of the army, they all wanted me to be the general. Now it isn't so with Grant. He hasn't told me what his plans are. I don't know and I don't want to know. I am glad to find a man who can go ahead without me. He doesn't ask impossibilities of me, and he's the first general I've had that didn't.
- Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in The Every-day Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Narrative and Descriptive Biography, by Francis Fisher Brown, p. 520
- Grant was in the first rank of American heroes, alongside Washington and Lincoln.
- Roy K. Lintz, Choices in Life (2011), p. 81
- Grant imagined that annexation would provide a safety valve for the country and a safe haven for African Americans.
- Grant's empathy for the former slaves was genuine... Racism would be a formidable obstacle in the path to ratification. Grant knew it. Fish knew it, felt it, and sensed it among politicians both within and outside his administration.
- He habitually wears an expression as if he had determined to drive his head through a brick wall, and was about to do it.
- Col. Theodore Lyman. in Meade's headquarters, 1863-1865; letters of Colonel Theodore Lyman from the Wilderness to Appomattox. Selected and edited by George R. Agassiz. Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press, 1970
- He is the concentration of all that is American.
- Theodore Lyman, about U.S. Grant (1864), as quoted in Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865 (21 February 2000), by Brooks Donohue Simpson, "Preface", p. xix
- He [Jesse Grant] was close and greedy. He came down into Tennessee with a Jew trader that he wanted his son to help, and with whom he was going to share the profits. Grant refused to issue a permit and sent the Jew flying, prohibiting Jews from entering the line.
- William S. McFeely, Grant: A Biography, (1981), p.124
- In contrast to the contemporary Black Americans, the Black Americans, in that era, were in solid support of the Republican Party. This was the party that fought the Northern and Southern Democrats to pass the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Although President Andrew Johnson tried to bamboozle Frederick Douglass to the Democrat side by making false or empty promises, he did not succeed. Douglass was no fool and was not going to let Johnson use him to gain the support of the Negroes in his effort to be 'elected' president. Frederick Douglass and other prominent Blacks threw their support to Ulysses S. Grant for president.
- The Wilderness-to-Petersburg campaign earned Grant the reputation of a plodding butcher who resorted to slaughterhouse tactics, knowing that even if he lost two men to every rebel, the North would still win. True, the campaign extracted a terrible toll: 64,000 Union and 30,000 Confederate casualties. But Grant did not want a head-on killing match. With skill and ingenuity he tried to flush Lee into the open, but subordinates poorly executed good orders, and Lee parried each thrust by waging a stolid defensive struggle, refusing to risk his dwindling manpower outside the protecting trenches. Although Grant did not destroy Lee, he pinned the Army of Northern Virginia down in the strategic arena. Unlike Pope or Hooker, Grant did not disengage and let Lee seize the initiative. Remorselessly and at great cost he prevented Lee from launching an offensive that could restore the strategic balance. Lincoln recognized this considerable achievement and urged Grant to "Hold on with a bull-dog grip, and chew and choke as much as possible."
- Allan R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Feis, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States From 1607 to 2012 (2012), p. 210
- There was more vindictiveness shown to me by the Virginia people for my voting for Grant than the North showed to me for fighting four years against him.
- Grant never doubted that there was, ultimately, only one race–the human race.
- Geoffrey Perret, Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President
- Grant won the battle of Shiloh; as he commanded the army, he would seem entitled to the credit... [I]f you take troops from Grant and Sherman to give them to McClernand, you will weaken the army.
- Grant's most generous treatment of the Confederate army at Vicksburg, after its surrender, satisfied the President that he would be equally generous to Generals Lee and Johnston. I am quite sure that General Grant shared the convictions of the President, that we should deal with the Confederates in the most generous manner and thereby bring about a lasting peace. I was present almost always at the interviews between the President and General Grant, and, though the former did most of the talking, General Grant agreed with him in his views of the situation... The passions which animated men in high places have died out, but Grant and Sherman still live, and are gratefully remembered by their countrymen for the invaluable services they rendered during the most trying times of the Republic's existence.
- The world's greatest captain of our age is Ulysses S. Grant.
- I have seen many farmers, but I have never saw one that worked harder than Mister Grant. He plowed, split rails, and drove his own team... Grant was a very kind man to those who worked for him, and he always said that he wanted to give his wife's slaves their freedom as soon as he was able. He was very fond of high living, however, and was an inconstant smoker all his life. On the farm he smoked a pipe, which his wife threw away whenever she could find it. She did not object to cigars, but she detested the pipe... I could tell you enough about Mr. Grant to fill a good-sized book. He loved his wife and children, and was the kindest husband and the most indulgent father I ever saw. At one time he was very poor, but both his wife and himself always looked on the bright side of things.
- Mary Robinson, as quoted in the St. Louis Republican (24 July 1885)
- Lincoln and Grant, men who preeminently and distinctly embody all that is most American in the American character I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life. The life of toil and effort, of labor gold strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph... Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced, and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations.
- No country can long endure if its foundations are not laid deep in the material prosperity which comes from thrift, from business energy and enterprise, from hard, unsparing effort in the fields of industrial activity; but neither was any nation ever yet truly great if it relied upon material prosperity alone. All honor must be paid to the architects of our material prosperity, to the great captains of industry who have built our factories and our railroads, to the strong men who toil for wealth with brain or hand; for great is the debt of the nation to these and their kind. But our debt is yet greater to the men whose highest type is to be found in a statesman like Lincoln, a soldier like Grant. They showed by their lives that they recognized the law of work, the law of strife; they toiled to win a competence for themselves and those dependent upon them; but they recognized that there were yet other and even loftier duties—duties to the nation.
- So it was in the Civil War. Farragut's father was born in Spain and Sheridan's father in Ireland; Sherman and Thomas were of English and Custer of German descent; and Grant came of a long line of American ancestors whose original home had been Scotland. But the Admiral was not a Spanish-American; and the Generals were not Scotch-Americans or Irish-Americans or English-Americans or German-Americans. They were all Americans and nothing else. This was just as true of Lee and of Stonewall Jackson and of Beauregard.
- So many Americans who aspire to leadership positions in this country hope they can say at the end of their careers that they bequeathed to the next generation a better country than the one they inherited. Ulysses S. Grant not only bequeathed a better country; his leadership saved its very existence. Today’s generation of leaders stand on the shoulders of his legacy. And so we gather here every year with the deepest respect and gratitude to say on his birthday, General, we remember.
- I am a damned sight smarter man than Grant. I know more about military history, strategy, and grand tactics than he does. I know more about supply, administration, and everything else than he does. I'll tell you where he beats me though and where he beats the world. He doesn't give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell.
- William Tecumseh Sherman, comments to James H. Wilson (22 October 1864), as quoted in Under the Old Flag: Recollections of Military Operations in the War for the Union, the Spanish War, the Boxer Rebellion, etc Vol. 2 (1912) by James Harrison Wilson, p. 17
- It will be a thousand years before Grant's character is fully appreciated. Grant is the greatest soldier of our time if not all time … he fixes in his mind what is the true objective and abandons all minor ones. He dismisses all possibility of defeat. He believes in himself and in victory. If his plans go wrong he is never disconcerted but promptly devises a new one and is sure to win in the end. Grant more nearly impersonated the American character of 1861-65 than any other living man. Therefore he will stand as the typical hero of the great Civil War in America.
- William Tecumseh Sherman in 1885, as quoted in Grant's Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant's Heroic Last Year (2011), by Charles Bracelen Flood
- In 1864, black Union troops were involved in operations against Lee's army outside Richmond and Petersburg, and some of them are taken prisoner. Lee puts them to work on Confederate entrenchments that are in Union free-fire zones. When Grant gets wind of this, he threatens to put Confederate prisoners to work on Union entrenchments under Confederate fire unless Lee pulls out. So Grant was willing to embrace an eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth retaliation policy based upon Confederate treatment of black prisoners. For Grant, it was the color of the uniform, not the skin, that mattered.
- I mentioned Grant's loyalty – remember Harrison, his colored body servant? The whole family hated him, but that did not make any difference, the General always stood at his back, wouldn't allow him to be scolded; always excused his failures and deficiencies with the one unvarying formula, 'We are responsible for these things in his race. It is not fair to visit our fault upon them, let him alone'. ... he was the most lovable great child of the world.
- Mark Twain, letter to Henry Ward Beecher.
- Grant was a humane conqueror and the benefactor of an enslaved and despised race, a race who will ever cherish a grateful remembrance of his name, fame and great services ... [He] was right towards us.
- ...a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms.
- Visitor to the Whitehouse "United States of America,” by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey, White House Historical Association, 2006, Whitehouse.gov
- No great American has suffered more cruelly and undeservedly at the hands of historians than Ulysses S. Grant. The dominating influence of pro-Southern historians early in the twentieth century—an influence that tainted scholarship on the Civil War for decades—helps to explain Grant's abysmal reputation... A superb modern general who, with Lincoln, finally unleashed the force required to crush the slaveholders' rebellion, Grant went on, as president, to press vigorously for the reunification of the severed nation, but on the terms of the victorious North and not of the defeated South. Given all that he was up against—not simply from Confederates and Southern white terrorists but, as president, from high-minded factional opponents and schismatics from his own Republican Party—it is quite remarkable that Grant sustained his commitment to the freedmen for as long and as hard as he did. The evidence clearly shows that he created the most auspicious record on racial equality and civil rights of any president from Lincoln to Lyndon B. Johnson. He also formulated some remarkably humane and advanced ideas on subjects ranging from federal Indian policy to public education. Given the limitations imposed on executive power by the Constitution, it is all the more remarkable that he acted as boldly as he did.
- There is no difficulty in composing a final evaluation of Ulysses S. Grant. With him there be no balancing and qualifying, no ifs and buts. He won battles and campaigns, and he struck the blow that won the war. No general could do what he did because of accident or luck or preponderance of numbers and weapons. He was a success because he was a complete general and a complete character. He was so complete that his countrymen have never been able to believe he was real...Grant was, judged by modern standards, the greatest general of the Civil War. He was head and shoulders above any other general on either side as an over-all strategist, as a master of global strategy. Fundamentally Grant was superior to Lee because in a modern total war he had a modern mind, and Lee did not. Lee was the last of the great old-fashioned generals, Grant was the first of the great moderns.
- T. Harry Williams, McClellan, Sherman, and Grant, pp. 109–110
- White House Biography
- Grant at the Miller Center of Public Affairs
- Ulysses S. Grant Homepage
- The Ulysses S. Grant Association
- Brief biography
- Military biography of Ulysses S. Grant
- Works by Ulysses S. Grant at Project Gutenberg
- First Inaugural Address
- Second Inaugural Address
- Collection of U.S. Grant's letters
- Ulysses S. Grant at Find A Grave