Grant, Grant, The Tanner’s Son…

Presidential History Blog

Held his nose and away he run…

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The quintessential Ulysses S. Grant

Jesse Grant, Tanner

Jesse Root Grant (1794-1873) was Pennsylvania-born, but migrated to southern Ohio as a small child. He had a decent education for his time and station in life, but possessed a strong desire to get ahead, and a fair aptitude for business.

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The parents Grant

As an adult, he became a tanner. He bought horse and cow carcasses, processed them in vile-smelling chemicals to make them pliable, and sold the leather to saddle makers, shoemakers, harness makers, and anyone else who worked with leather. Occasionally he sold those finished goods in his store.

By his late twenties, he was considered a prosperous middle-class businessman, with several holdings. He had sufficient means to begin his own family, and courted and married Hannah Simpson, also Pennsylvania-born, but migrated to Ohio as a young woman.

The two were polar…

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November 30, 1782: Preliminary Articles of Peace

Almost Chosen People

treaty1783

Complete victory for the US is the only way to interpret the preliminary articles of peace signed on November 30, 1782 that would be embodied in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  American independence was recognized, American granted a huge territory between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, Americans obtained the right to fish on the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, the Americans undertook no obligation to compensate Loyalists for damage or seizure of to their property during the War and the Brits and Americans agreed they would each have free access to the Mississippi.  Here are the preliminary articles:

Articles agreed upon, by and between Richard Oswald Esquire, the Commissioner of his Britannic Majesty, for treating of Peace with the Commissioners of the United States of America, in behalf of his said Majesty, on the one part; and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, four of the Commissioners of the said…

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Thanksgiving Proclamation

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Eat Turkey- Be Thankful

Spare us your phony indignation over the Thanksgiving holiday… Stop posting the painfully naive memes about American Indians being killed or robbed by the Pilgrims- cease with the historically ignorant platitudes about rightful ownership and true “Native Americans.”   You are only showing your ignorance of history; but in addition, on full display is your gullibility.  An intellectual capacity so lacking it can be manipulated by a mundane utterance or passing snicker.

Give thanks this holiday… as Abraham Lincoln intended it.  Carve the turkey, pass the stuffing, and enjoy some pumpkin pie.  Instead of watching three meaningless football games, pick up a book and learn something about the first Thanksgiving.  Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower is a good place to start. History is complicated and sometimes rather messy.  If you can accept 140 characters or less as your teacher, your thoughts on any matter are insignificant.

Kennedy and Vietnam

Cold Warriors

Kennedy wanted to end the Vietnam war.   Conspiracy theorists on both sides point to National Security Memo #263 as the smoking gun in Kennedy’s secret plan to get our troops out of Vietnam; and, also Memo #273 as proof the warmonger Johnson wanted to escalate the war.  Both accounts are demonstrably false.  Memo #263 simply states that Kennedy wanted to follow the recommendations of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor following their visit to South Vietnam(withdrawal was not one of them.)   The second memo was drafted November 21, 1963 and is clearly a Kennedy document approved by Johnson.  In an interview given on the Huntley-Brinkley Report Kennedy reaffirmed our commitment to South Vietnam and his belief in the “domino theory.”  Kennedy did not want to end the war in South Vietnam and Johnson did not personally choose to escalate it. 

September 9, 1963: “I think we should stay. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw.”

Far too many amateurs historians have duped… suspicious  Americans for academic credibility and financial gain.  Oliver Stone lends his tarnished credibility to the misreading of a complicated series of policy decisions.  Stone does not deal in complexities- as a film maker, he prefers stories with heroes, villains, and tidy plots.  For reasons unknown, Stone and his acolytes refuse to accept Jack Kennedy for what he was- a Conservative Democrat committed to the policy of containment as laid down by his Democratic predecessor, Harry Truman.  Vietnam was a national tragedy and a painful scar on our history- trying to make John Kennedy the martyr of it is a fraudulent endeavor.

Finest Two Minutes

Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862

Lincoln thought he failed November 19, 1863…  obligatory applause from a damp crowd in Gettysburg offered him little consolation.  Lincoln had just followed a masterful two-hour speech from America’s greatest orator, Edward Everett.  The President sat down in his seat and commented to his friend, Ward Lamon, that the speech wouldn’t “scour” (would fail to clear away.)  He left Gettysburg concerned with the bad press and his message resonating.

The Chicago Times recorded, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”

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Edward Everett put the ceremony in the proper perspective:

“Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

Abraham Lincoln’s Will

Almost Chosen People

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He didn’t have one, which is curious considering that Lincoln had been an attorney for almost a quarter of a century prior to being elected President.  Mary Lincoln called upon his friend Supreme Court Justice David Davis to act as administrator of the Estate, which he did, charging no fee and asking for no reimbursement for his expenses.

Congress donated the sum of $25,000.00 a years salary, to Lincoln’s family.  The Estate was closed in November 1867 showing a balance of $110,296.80, in today’s cash that would be :$1,750,742.86.  Lincoln’s estate was equally divided between Mary and her two sons.  Mary could have asked for a widow’s cash allowance, but she waived it.

Although Davis agreed to serve as administrator of the Estate he had no high opinion of Mary Lincoln.  In 1873, according to a diary entry of Senator Orville Browning (R. Il.):

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Grant and Lincoln at City Point

Presidential History Blog

In 1864-5, City Point, VA briefly became the tenth largest city in the United States.

Grant in the East

On February 29, 1864, President Lincoln promoted General Ulysses S. Grant as General of the Army – outranking everyone. Since Grant had never been to Washington, his good friend General Sherman advised him to avoid the capital at all costs, and make his headquarters “in the West” where he believed the war would be won.

Grant and Lincoln: an illustration

Within a few days of his promotion, Grant decided to take Sherman’s advice – partially. He declined to make his HQ in Washington, a morass of political and social distractions, but he realized that the war in the east required his presence, for many reasons. His HQ would primarily be in the saddle, attached to the Army of the Potomac, still commanded by General George Meade. The two generals (who…

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Little Mac Says Goodbye

George McClellan said goodbye to his beloved… Army of the Potomac on November 11, 1862.  He cared deeply for their well being(much too deeply it turned out) and they repaid him with unwavering affection.  Lincoln had to make the decision- The “Young Napoleon” was fighting like the war could go on for decades.  But to his troops, he would forever be “Little Mac.”  He left them with this thought….

“In parting from you I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As an army you have grown up under my care. In you I have never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have fought under my command will proudly live in our nation’s history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds and sickness have disabled—the strongest associations which can exist among men—unite us still by an indissoluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the Constitution of our country and the nationality of its people.”

Playing cards made history

Pacific Paratrooper

Playing cards to pass the time

War can be hell… and war can be absolute boredom.  There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards.  They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear.

Plus – they’re cheap!

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft and even teach American history.  In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The U.S. Army and the United States Playing Card Company cooperation goes way back.  But it was their brand Bicycle that took it to a whole new level.

During WWII, Allied Intelligence officers contacted the card company to produce the most clandestine deck of cards…

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