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Grant

Ron Chernow

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Four Millions of people heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land, not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so, voters in every part of the land, the right not to be abridged by any state, 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 . . . The adoption of the 15th Amendment . . . constitutes the most important event that has occurred, since the nation came into life.” It was a stunning statement of Grant’s faith in the new black electorate. He further urged Congress to promote popular education so 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.”

“Walt Whitman, who ardently followed the Overland Campaign: “When did [Grant] ever turn back? He was not that sort; he could no more turn back than time! . . . Grant was one of the inevitables; he always arrived; he was invincible as a law: he never bragged—often seemed about to be defeated when he was in fact on the eve of a tremendous victory”

“The president of a democracy, he averred, had to show himself to the people, and some danger was an inescapable hazard of office. “To be absolutely safe,” he told John Nicolay resignedly, “I should lock myself up in a box.”

“The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a free 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 and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side—and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.”

“Nothing in all history,” William Lloyd Garrison wrote, equaled “this wonderful, quiet, sudden transformation of four millions of human beings from . . . the auction-block to the ballot box.”92 Grant termed it “the most important event that has occurred, since the nation came into life.”93 George Boutwell, who had introduced the proposed amendment in the House, said Grant had thrown his immense prestige behind it and that “its ratification was due, probably, to his advice . . . Had he advised its rejection, or had he been indifferent to its fate, the amendment would have failed.”

“Nothing alarmed the white South more than black power at the polls, which was why most terror was directed there.”

“In mid-May, he dictated a message for a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic that had a touching, patriarchal tone: “Tell the boys that they probably will never look into my face again, nor hear my voice, but they are engraved on my heart, and I love them as my children.”

“Bismarck commiserated with Grant upon the countless fatalities of the Civil War. “But it had to be done,” Grant replied. “Yes,” said Bismarck, “you had to save the Union just as we had to save Germany.” “Not only save the Union, but destroy slavery,” Grant added. “I suppose, however, the Union was the real sentiment, the dominant sentiment,” Bismarck inquired. “In the beginning, yes,” agreed Grant, “but as soon as slavery fired upon the flag . . . 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.”71 Grant’s comments reflect the militance he had felt as president about protecting black civil rights. He now interpreted the four-year war as providential, since a shorter war might have ended up preserving slavery. They had been “fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty was possible—only destruction”

“A lifelong Methodist, he had always viewed religious excess with a certain irony, having once told a clutch of ministers that America boasted three parties: Democrats, Republicans, and Methodists.”

“that there was always just enough virtue in this republic to save it; sometimes none to spare, but still enough to meet the emergency, and he”

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Book Keywords:

public-schools, grant

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