I think we sometimes forget the magnitude of what Ulysses S. Grant did: he saved the United States of America. That’s no small thing, saving the country. And he did so in a way that ensured the end of slavery, giving force to the political vision laid out by Lincoln through victory on the battlefield.
The nearly 160 years since Appomattox hasn’t always been kind to Grant, unfortunately. To prop up the vanquished Robert E. Lee, Lost Cause apologists had to tear Grant down. His presidency, tarred by the scandals of subordinates, was long considered one of the worst—a legacy that ignored the fact that Grant was the most important Civil Rights president until LBJ.
Today marks Grant’s birthday—born 200 years ago in Point Pleasant, Ohio. As our friend Patrick Young, author of The Reconstruction Blog, was kind enough to compile for us, events are being held all across the country to commemorate the day. (See Patrick’s list here.)
In 2019, I visited Point Pleasant to finally see Grant’s birthplace for myself (you can read about that visit here). This year, I’ll commemorate the day with an afternoon visit to the site of Grant’s headquarters in the Wilderness. (Keep an eye on Facebook–hint, hint.)
If you’re not able to get out and about today to take advantage of any of the Grant-related activities, consider spending some time with Grant by checking out some of the many resources ECW has shared over the years.
From the ECW YouTube page:
- An interview with Curt Fields to commemorate Grant’s 200th birthday (51:12)
- A 2020 interview with Curt about his work portraying Grant (1:02:02)
- “Grant’s Last Battle” from the 2021 ECW virtual Symposium (1:02:27)
- A 2017 “On Location” video from Grant Cottage (2:15)
- “Grant Cottage to Become a National Historic Landmark” with Ben Kemp (32:33)
- An exploration of the last two photos taken of Grant (3:44)
- “Grant’s Last Line” (3:14) and “Lick ’em Tomorrow” (1:19) from Shiloh
- A discussion with Dave Powell about Grant at Chattanooga (6:31)
We have a TON of Grant stuff on the blog. I urge you to explore by typing “Ulysses S. Grant” into the search bar and then scrolling through the results that pop up. Here are a few favorite Grant pieces I’ve written:
- “You Can Do a Great Deal in Eight Days”: Ulysses S. Grant’s Forgotten Turning Point
- “The” Turning Point of the War: The Wilderness, not Gettysburg
- Grant: “I should change Spotts if I was able, and could improve N. Anna and Cold Harbor.”
- Grant the Butcher?
- July 1, 1884: Grant’s “New Disaster of Shiloh”
And here is a list of other EXCELLENT content from ECW contributors:
Scenes from Vicksburg – Series
Grant Memorial Poetry – Series
And, for our Patreon subscribers, we have exclusive content on the ECW Patreon page. To become a subscriber is easy and only costs a couple bucks, and your financial support there helps support our podcast production. (click here!)