You hear the expression all the time “history is written by the victor” and sometimes take it for granted. I am nearly complete reading Chernow’s biography on U.S. Grant and went into the book a fan. I thought, wrongly, Grant was a gritty general who managed to beat the far superior Lee in the field and became President and lived happily ever after.
I couldn’t have been further from reality.
Let’s start with Grant at West Point:
Forced to resign his commission because he was an alcoholic. Penniless, he needed to borrow money to afford a train back home.
His parents and in laws thought he was a loser — because he was!
His wife owned 4 slaves, personally, and her father had many many more.
After getting booted from West Point, Grant could not find proper employment and was swindled several times.
At the onset of the war, Grant could not find a commission, up until the north, in desperate need of officers, gave Grant a chance.
During the Civil War, Grant showed a keen awareness of the battlefield and this led to rapid promotion.
Once a General in the western front of the war, Grant employed “total war” tactics, the first northern general to conduct such warfare — leading to massive casualties on both sides.
Lincoln could not get the Army of the Potomac going — because Lee had DC in check and any attempts at moving into VA led to big losses of men and equipment.
Lincoln, another bastard, gravitated towards Grant’s style of warfare — because he got results. The amount of death was immaterial to Lincoln or Grant.
Once placed in charge of the Army of the Potomac, Grant’s chief of staff had to baby sit him — because he was a drunken fool.
Grant attempted to dislodge Lee from Virginia in the Battle of the Wilderness campaign and got his ass kicked so badly he was seen crying in camp — unsure what to do next. During the entire Civil War, Grant was unable to beat Lee in the field.
Thanks to a 2 to 1 population advantage and way more resources, Grant spent the lives of his men freely and would casually lose 10,000 in a single day on poorly thought out attacks, like at Cold Harbor.
Grant then unleashed Sherman to conduct TOTAL FUCKING WAR on the people of the south, not just the army. Sherman then burned down every city he occupied, raping and pillaging along the way.
In his infinite wisdom, Grant then deployed black men to the army to fight the south — due to personnel shortages and his intent to deprive the south of black manpower. This is a very important decision he made without discussing with Lincoln. What he did by using black troops was cause a permanent rift in the south between black and whites. It’s worth noting, Gen. Sherman did not use any black soldiers.
Grant then unleashed lunatic Gen. Sheridan to maraud the south — killing and maiming his way west and then south. Sheridan was very disappointed when Lee surrendered — because he said he wanted to kill the entire army of the south.
As President, Grant, still a boozehound fool, weaponized the black vote in the south to win Republican seats and his Presidency. At first, blacks were only permitted to vote in the south and 100% of them voted Republican.
Using bayonet rule, Grant and the GOP regularly used military forced to overturn elections — such as the Presidential election of Tilden v Hayes and in Grant’s case several S Carolina and Louisiana elections.
During his presidency, Grant imposed “reconstruction” rules on the south — which in many cases presided over rigged elections to vote blacks into office. Many of these men didn’t even know how to read. This rapid change in society, coupled with the 600,000 dead during the civil war, created such angst in the south that racist groups formed to lynch black people to prevent them from voting.
Eventually, the south imposed Jim Crow laws and segregated their society — all of this was born during the civil war era of a spiteful war and occupation campaign of the south. I do not offer pardon to the scum who killed innocent blacks — but it would be ridiculous to assume the south would accept former slaves one year to become rulers the next and this is exactly what the GOP did during the 1860s, 70s, and 80s.
Other things Grant presided over:
Extermination of native Americans. Many natives were in fact southern supporters and had black slaves. Since they were not citizens, Grant didn’t give a fuck about them.
Grant also tried to annex Dominican Republic — because his cronies bought up real estate and wanted to get rich after the US took it over. This was a major issue, one that failed. One of Grant’s schemes was to relocate freed blacks there. Congress told him to fuck off.
His administration was wholly corrupt. Grant regularly received homes and monetary gifts from robber barons.
Did I mention he was a bumbling fool of an alcoholic? The impression many were left with after meeting Grant was that he was an idiot.
Lastly, after his Presidency — Grant wanted to be a rich man. His cross-eyed wife wanted him to be President forever — because she loved socializing. He teamed up with a charismatic person called Ferdinand Ward and they formed a Wall Street investment firm called GRANT AND WARD. Ward used Grant’s name to raise money and for a while were the hottest firm on the street. The implication was, Ward used Grant to get sweetheart government deals that resulted in massive gains. People were making 10% per month and it wasn’t long before Grant was a rich man — walking about NYC with cigars — hanging out with the Vanderbilts. Well, it was the first major PONZI SCHEME and history now tells us Grant was an innocent in all this, in spite of his signature on all the docs.
Investors lost $16m and it crashed markets in 1884. Grant and his sons lost in excess of $500k in the collapse — but only Ward went to jail.
Grant also shit-talked President Garfield daily in the papers, because he refused to appoint the people he wanted in his administration. Shortly after a lunatic shot and killed Garfield — perhaps inspired by Grant’s animosity.
The evils of this person are never-ending, such as attempting a third term only to be defeated by Garfield at the convention who, as you know, was soon later SHOT AND KILLED.
sorry to bore you — needed to get it off my chest.