Ulysses S. Grant touted as 'one of the great civil rights presidents'

Bee

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Along with the recent article about Timothy Good's presentation, I have also included an explanation of "Grant as a slave owner", as I believe that for those who are unfamiliar with the history, may assume that Grant owned all of the slaves at White Haven, which he did not.


By Edward Husar Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 28, 2018 9:45 pm

QUINCY -- National Park Service historian and author Timothy Good says Ulysses S. Grant should be considered "one of the great civil rights presidents in American history."

But Grant wasn't perfect. At one point in his life, Grant was actually a slave owner, but his views evolved over time as he went on to become a renowned Civil War general who fought to end slavery and later, as president, championed the 15th Amendment giving African-Americans the right to vote.

Good, who is now the superintendent of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, previously spent eight years as superintendent of White Haven, the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site south of St. Louis.

While at White Haven studying Grant's life and writings, Good said he came to know "another side of Grant that very few people know today."

In a talk Saturday at the Quincy Public Library as part of the two-day Ulysses S. Grant Symposium taking place at multiple locations in Quincy, Good told a capacity audience that Grant was raised in Ohio by strict abolitionist parents who preached against slavery.

His parents' teachings, however, were in conflict with the pervasive practice of slave ownership and the white supremacist beliefs that existed in much of the country back in the mid-1800s.

Slave ownership "was an incredibly powerful economic force" at that time, Good said. By 1860, 40 percent of all American wealth was invested in enslaved African-Americans, and 75 percent of all American exports were being produced by enslaved African-Americans, he said.

Amid this cultural backdrop, Grant entered the West Point military academy in 1839 and graduated four years later. His first assignment took him to Jefferson Barracks south of St. Louis. While there, he visited with the family of his West Point roommate, Frederick Dent, and met Dent's sister, Julia. They became engaged in 1844 and were married in 1848 at Julia's home, a slave plantation.

Grant's parents refused to attend the wedding.

"To them, this was appalling," Good said. "He was marrying into a slaveholder's family."

After he was married, Grant had several other military assignments before he eventually left the military and moved to his in-laws' property in the mid-1850s to farm, sell firewood and take on other jobs.

At one point Grant acquired a slave from his father-in-law. But in 1859, Grant decided to free the man, William Jones.

"He could have sold him for a significant amount of money, and Grant was desperately short of funds at this time. But he simply gives William Jones his freedom," Good said.

By doing so, Good said, Grant had taken "a subtle step back" to the philosophical teachings of his abolitionist parents.

more here: http://www.whig.com/20180428/ulysses-s-grant-touted-as-one-of-the-great-civil-rights-presidents#


Did Ulysses S. Grant Own Slaves During the Civil War?

Prior to the Civil War Grant lived with his wife Julia and their four children in St. Louis, Missouri, at his father-in-law’s White Haven plantation estate from 1854 until 1859. At some point during this experience Grant obtained a slave named William Jones. The sole document we have confirming Grant’s ownership of Jones is a manumission paper freeing Jones on March 29, 1859, written in Grant’s own hand

How, when, and why Grant obtained a slave are all unknown, although Grant’s mentioning of Frederick Dent suggests that he most likely purchased Jones from his Father-in-law (Grant also had a brother-in-law named Frederick Dent who was serving with the U.S. Army in the western frontier at this time. The brother-in-law could have sold Jones to Grant, but these circumstances suggest that it was unlikely). Grant never mentions Jones in any correspondence or in his Personal Memoirs, so we don’t know his thoughts on this matter. What happened to William Jones after his emancipation is also a mystery lost to history.

There are literally no other pieces of historical evidence to suggest that Grant ever owned slaves at any point after 1859. The quote about Grant not being able to find any good labor is a complete fabrication and you will not find it in his edited papers or any newspapers from the time. It’s simply not true.

More here https://pastexplore.wordpress.com/2...-the-civil-war/amp/?__twitter_impression=true
 

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DRW

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#2
The problem with these articles is that they hold Grant to a lower standard than we currently assign to antebellum Southerners. It's now common to view slaveholding as a household situation and not just examine the individual. The equally valid questions are if Julia owned slaves and, if so, did Grant benefit from their labor. I think this is all covered in Simpson's biography.
 

Bruce Vail

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#3
You don't have to a big admirer of Grant to concede that he was "one of the great civil rights presidents in American history."

The fact is there are d*** few presidents who have any kind of pro-Civil Rights record at all.

In the 19th century, there is really only Lincoln and Grant.

In the 2oth century, you have to look very hard once you get past the two outstanding names -- Truman and LBJ -- and none of those others really stands out as better than Grant. .
 
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Bee

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The problem with these articles is that they hold Grant to a lower standard than we currently assign to antebellum Southerners. It's now common to view slaveholding as a household situation and not just examine the individual. The equally valid questions are if Julia owned slaves and, if so, did Grant benefit from their labor. I think this is all covered in Simpson's biography.
I have seen/read this issue of Grant/slavery presented both ways. Nick is currently working on a peer reviewed article on this topic, so I will be interested in what he has to say in the expanded version.
 
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#5
You don't have to a big admirer of Grant to concede that he was "one of the great civil rights presidents in American history."

The fact is there are d*** few presidents who have any kind of pro-Civil Rights record at all.

In the 19th century, there is really only Lincoln and Grant.

In the 2oth century, you have to look very hard once you get past the two outstanding names -- Truman and LBJ -- and none of those others really stands out as better than Grant. .
Comparing Grant to LBJ is problematic at best. LBJ had a far more lasting effect on civil rights then then Grant. However American racial attitudes had changed drastically in one hundred years.
Perhaps it would be fair to say Lincoln ,Grant Truman and Lyndon Johnson did the best they could based on the political realities of their respective eras.
Leftyhunter
 

Bruce Vail

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Comparing Grant to LBJ is problematic at best. LBJ had a far more lasting effect on civil rights then then Grant. However American racial attitudes had changed drastically in one hundred years.
Perhaps it would be fair to say Lincoln ,Grant Truman and Lyndon Johnson did the best they could based on the political realities of their respective eras.
Leftyhunter
Agreed, in a general sort of way.

The thing that is problematic about Grant and the rest of the Republican Party leadership re: Civil Rights was that they were unwilling to sustain any commitment to black freedom in the face of competing demands for a return to "normalcy." They were willing to let the gains of the Civil War slip away in the pursuit of a superficial reconciliation.
 
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#8
Agreed, in a general sort of way.

The thing that is problematic about Grant and the rest of the Republican Party leadership re: Civil Rights was that they were unwilling to sustain any commitment to black freedom in the face of competing demands for a return to "normalcy." They were willing to let the gains of the Civil War slip away in the pursuit of a superficial reconciliation.
More so Hayes also a former Union General (Brevet Major General) in his 1876 election dispute over the electors in Florida. In polite language we can call it political expediency. In more direct language blacks got politically thrown under the bus.
Leftyhunter
 

Bee

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#9
Well, since we are entering into the old "under the bus" canards, I will make my general statement about the end of Reconstruction & Civil Rights in general.

1. The country as a whole -- North & South -- was tired of the financial & military commitment under the Military Reconstruction Act

2. The Democrats were rapidly returning to political power

3. The Freedman's Bureau was closed

4. The cruikshank vs us decision made it impossible for federal troops to oversee state elections

5. The compromise of 1876 involved removing the last of the federal troops from the south in return for the Republican win (what do you suppose would have happened to those troops with a Democrat in the office?)
In conclusion, the country "threw <fill in the blank> under the bus"

 

Bruce Vail

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More so Hayes also a former Union General (Brevet Major General) in his 1876 election dispute over the electors in Florida. In polite language we can call it political expediency. In more direct language blacks got politically thrown under the bus.
Leftyhunter
I've learned from reading the commentaries of Bee not to assign the blame for political developments to the President alone. The abandonment of black rights under A. Johnson, Grant and Hayes was enabled by other leaders of both parties (although I would argue the Republicans deserve the bulk of the blame). I think there is good reason to believe that Grant and Hayes would have amassed better Civil Rights records had there been a broader base of support for Civil Rights in the national Republican Party.
 

E_just_E

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#11
Cannot talk about Grant's Civil Rights record without examining his record against Native Americans. Civil Rights was not a "black or white" thing only, despite the polarized focus...

Any treatise on Grant's such record, which does not involve the Indian Wars, is at least incomplete...
 
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Bee

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Cannot talk about Grant's Civil Rights record without examining his record against Native Americans. Civil Rights was not a "black or white" thing only, despite the polarized focus...

Any treatise on Grant's such record, which does not involve the Indian Wars, is at least incomplete...
There ya go: Grant's Indian Policy. That darn post took a long time to read/review/compile. Maybe folks will argue about it now!

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/indian-policy.137160/#post-1608759
 
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Well, since we are entering into the old "under the bus" canards, I will make my general statement about the end of Reconstruction & Civil Rights in general.

1. The country as a whole -- North & South -- was tired of the financial & military commitment under the Military Reconstruction Act

2. The Democrats were rapidly returning to political power

3. The Freedman's Bureau was closed

4. The cruikshank vs us decision made it impossible for federal troops to oversee state elections

5. The compromise of 1876 involved removing the last of the federal troops from the south in return for the Republican win (what do you suppose would have happened to those troops with a Democrat in the office?)
In conclusion, the country "threw <fill in the blank> under the bus"

But no glory can go to the Republican Party. Betrayal is betrayal. The Republican Party in future elections would brag about being the party of Lincoln without mentiong also being the party of Hayes.
The irony is Hayes was attorney who in the antebellum era defended escaped slaves resisting going back to their kind masters.Hayes,was,also wounded four times during the Civil War. Hayes was unquestionably brave but something happened along the way.
Leftyhunter
 

Bee

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But no glory can go to the Republican Party. Betrayal is betrayal. The Republican Party in future elections would brag about being the party of Lincoln without mentiong also being the party of Hayes.
The irony is Hayes was attorney who in the antebellum era defended escaped slaves resisting going back to their kind masters.Hayes,was,also wounded four times during the Civil War. Hayes was unquestionably brave but something happened along the way.
Leftyhunter
Well, uh, the government does have three branches, so that no one president is going to be able to cast miracles. And yes, when I say "the whole country" was responsible for the collapse of Civil Rights, indeed, it does include Republicans.
 
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#15
But Grant wasn't perfect. At one point in his life, Grant was actually a slave owner, but his views evolved over time as he went on to become a renowned Civil War general who fought to end slavery and later, as president, championed the 15th Amendment giving African-Americans the right to vote.
This is a good, civilized thread, so far. I'm proud of you guys.

Just want to point out that Grant and his Army were fighting to preserve the Union and not to "end slavery." It's probably inevitable that this Narrative will gain more traction over time.

Oh, well. Carry on.
 

E_just_E

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There ya go: Grant's Indian Policy. That darn post took a long time to read/review/compile. Maybe folks will argue about it now!

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/indian-policy.137160/#post-1608759
Mostly you need to know is that Native Americans were denied the right to vote as well as other Civil Rights even when the 14th amendment came to pass (*) and that as soon as gold was discovered in Native holly land in South Dakota, all treaties were thrown out of the window. Add the destruction of the Lakota and the shrinking of their "Agencies", and the Nez Perce massacres, and you got pretty much in a few sentences Grant's Civil Rights record as far as the Native people are concerned.

Did he mean well? I think that he did. However, it did not turn that well and results are what matter. His CR approach was not unlike that of the antebellum abolitionists who favored the freeing and exiling of the slaves to Liberia...

(*) Weirdly enough the right to vote for the native people was controlled by State Laws until the 1960s (and from 1924)
 
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#18
Grant was not a true a Civil Rights president. Grant may have signed these Bills into laws but Grant was not the push behind these laws. Grant happens to be President in the early 1870's and his party wanted the freedmen vote.

Samuel Shellabarger (R-OH) on March 28, 1871
The Enforcement Act of 1870, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1870 or First Ku Klux Klan Act, or Force Act was a United States federal law written to empower the President with the legal authority to enforce the first section of the Fifteenth Amendment throughout the United States.

John Bingham (R-OH) on February 21, 1870
The Enforcement Act of 1871 (17 Stat. 13), also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Force Act of 1871, Ku Klux Klan Act, Third Enforcement Act, or Third Ku Klux Klan Act, is an Act of the United States Congress which empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and ...

Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) on May 13, 1870[1]
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 (18 Stat. 335–337), sometimes called Enforcement Act or Force Act, was a United States federal law enacted during the Reconstruction Era in response to civil rights violations to African Americans, "to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights", giving them equal treatment in ...


I like to point out later in life, he believed suffrage for the freedmen was a mistake... or given to quickly... He was proud that his army's victory brought an end to slavery but nothing more. I want to point out he wanted to buy part of an island to ship the freedmen there...

The Civil Rights Acts of 1870 and 1871 were to enforce the amendments to the constitution and fight the Klan...

The Civil Rights Act 1875 was groundbreaking and was later used as a guide to the Civil rights act of 1964

Edited by moderator.
 
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Bruce Vail

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#19
Cannot talk about Grant's Civil Rights record without examining his record against Native Americans. Civil Rights was not a "black or white" thing only, despite the polarized focus...

Any treatise on Grant's such record, which does not involve the Indian Wars, is at least incomplete...
Yes, if we want to talk about Grant as a Civil Rights president in the broad sense, then we should consider how his policies effected Native Americans and Hispanic Americans in the Southwest.

And then there is the whole question of women's suffrage...
 

Bruce Vail

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#20
There ya go: Grant's Indian Policy. That darn post took a long time to read/review/compile. Maybe folks will argue about it now!

https://civilwartalk.com/threads/indian-policy.137160/#post-1608759
This was Grant's "Peace Policy"?

The 1870s witnessed some of the most intense violence in the history of U.S.–Indian relations. The Great Plains and Far West erupted over the course of just a few short years. In 1870, the U.S. Army attacked a band of Piegan Blackfeet Indians in Montana Territory and killed more than 200 people, mostly women, children, and elderly men. In 1871, at Camp Grant in Arizona Territory, a coalition of American, Mexican, and Tohono O’oodham men attacked an Apache camp, killing nearly 150, all but 8 of whom were women and children. In 1872–1873, army soldiers fought a protracted war against the Modoc in northern California and southern Oregon. In 1874–1875, General Sherman’s troops engaged Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, and Kiowa soldiers in fourteen different battles in Northwestern Texas. In 1876, Lakota and Cheyenne troops with Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull clashed with General Crook’s soldiers and then General Custer’s 7th Cavalry in southern Montana.
 



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