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"Legacy of Ulysses S. Grant Complicated" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Apr 2022 6:36 a.m. PST

The legacy of Ulysses S. Grant isn't getting any less complicated 200 years after his birth.

Grant battered the slave-owning South into surrender as President Abraham Lincoln's top Union general, yet he owned at least one enslaved person before the war…

Military: link

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 7:35 a.m. PST

Isn't that the problem with history; the deeper into it you study, the more complicated it gets? There is a saying about never get to know your heroes too well, I believe. The biggest point is that we learn from history and improve the future.

Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 8:32 a.m. PST

Okay that is fair. When Grant married he received a slave from his wife's family. He immediately set him free. Grant was really hard up for money, barely making it and could have sold the slave for a good deal of money but did not. he freed him. Yet he takes crap over having a slave today? geez.

Augustus26 Apr 2022 10:08 a.m. PST

There is no winning this. Or ending it.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 10:22 a.m. PST

One thread of this is enough for me right now. Enjoy.

enfant perdus26 Apr 2022 12:34 p.m. PST

When Grant married he received a slave from his wife's family.

Not really. I don't recall the legal particulars off hand, but Julia Dent's father set it up so that Grant couldn't free him. Old Man Dent knew Grant's abolitionist bent and didn't like him personally to boot. ICRC whether Dent retained ownership or set it up so that Grant had no legal power over Julia's ownership, but it was a deliberate and well thought out plan.

Similarly, the "Jewish expulsion" of General Order 11 was aimed at Grant's own father, who was an opportunistic SOB trying to make money off his son's authority. That General Grant immediately regretted and was embarrassed by the order is supported in the contemporary record. The Grant of 1864 would have written the order to expel his father, but the Grant of 1862 wasn't quite there.

Again, I recommend Ron Chernow's excellent biography which is exhaustive in its use of primary sources.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 12:34 p.m. PST

Yes, and IMO, Grant was made more complicated by Lost Cause aspersions. He did get control of his drinking and was no more a butcher than Lee or anyone else. He was not a bad president, not a great one. But a decent man and the right man to fight the war and win it.

The slave thing seems a bit ridiculous in comparison with Lee, who was apparently still trying to get control of his wife's slaves in a court case so he could rent them out and have an income from them at the end of 1862. Grant just does not fit this mold in any way, and was better than most in his time in treatment of minorities after the war.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP26 Apr 2022 12:36 p.m. PST

+1 Perdant on Chernow, who did the hard work that began to restore the truth about Grant.

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2022 5:36 a.m. PST

I think I will pickup Cherow's book to read on vacation. I had grown to like Grant the more deeply I read about him.

Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2022 8:41 a.m. PST

People do go too far. Maybe this is an American thing?


Unfortunately, a large number of Americans not only dont know their history but apparently cant reason a cause out for themselves. Personally, I dont like the destruction of Confederate statues. I can see their removal but they are exquisite works of art and should be preserved.

I didnt know about Chernow's book on Grant. I'm getting that too.

Cheers to Bill for the thread.

donlowry27 Apr 2022 8:48 a.m. PST

It's been a loooooong time since I read them, but The Generalship of U.S. Grant and Grant & Lee, both by J. F. C. Fuller should still be worth a read today.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2022 9:45 a.m. PST

Enjoy the Chernow Au Pas. Good research, good narrative story. Overdue got this man. Ron White has written a similar updated book on grant.

I would like to have Chernow do Lee's bio at some point and help everyone sort out some of the stories.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2022 1:49 p.m. PST

Hmmmm….Ulysses S. Grant? Do you mean Hiram Ulysses
Grant, which is the baptized and documented name of
our 18th President ?

Zephyr127 Apr 2022 9:12 p.m. PST

Gosh, now there's talk of promoting him to a 5 star general. Is there a zombie Grant we don't know about…? ;-)

Legionarius28 Apr 2022 5:42 p.m. PST

Grant was a man of good character and a man of good will. As an officer he was successful at all levels from regiment to overall command of the Union Army. He was a decent tactician, a good operational commander, and a good strategist. He worked well with Lincoln, chose his lieutenants wisely and allowed them the liberty to used their strengths. He believed in the Union of the Republic and in the justness of the cause and he knew that the only way to beat the Confederates was to take the war to their very homes. He and President Lincoln were the team that kept the United States as one nation. Grant was not perfect. No man is perfect; but he was a true American Hero.

Blutarski29 Apr 2022 6:41 a.m. PST

Hi Legionarius,
Am I correct in recalling that Grant was also responsible for conducting the Overland Campaign on a 365 day per year basis, denying the Confederate Army any opportunity to rest or recover.

Re Grant's status as an operational commander, my understanding is that his Vicksburg campaign is still held up as a tour de force. What do you think?


donlowry29 Apr 2022 9:14 a.m. PST

Halleck compared Grant's Vicksburg campaign to Napoleon's finest.

Au pas de Charge Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2022 9:41 a.m. PST

Halleck compared Grant's Vicksburg campaign to Napoleon's finest.

It would be interesting to have a round table with Grant, Napoleon, Alexander, Patton and Frederick the Great.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2022 1:38 a.m. PST

According to Wiki, the US Army Field manual of 1986 calls Vicksburg the most brilliant campaign ever conducted on American soil.

It was a great example of Grants determination and drive, his willingness to explore every avenue of action, and to deliver the goods. As Lee discovered, he just would not back down, he kept on coming. And there is a pervasive feeling in Chernow and Whites books that he was a decent man.

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