Ulysses S. Grant




Williams, Charles Richard (ed.). The Diary and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes. Columbus: Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, 1922

Rutherford B. Hayes

Below are some excerpts from the diary of Rutherford B. Hayes that relate to Ulysses S. Grant. Hayes was a Brigadier General at the conclusion of the Civil War and the nineteenth President of the United States (1877-1881). Hayes knew Grant reasonably well and his diary entries throw considerable light on Grant and his family.

WASHINGTON, D. C., January 10, 1866:

Mrs. Grant is an unpretending, affectionate, motherly person who makes a good impression on everybody. Her naiveté is genuine and very funny at times. Boston sent a fund for a library to Grant. Sumner, Hooper and I called to see Mrs. Grant about it. They asked her how much library room or space she had. "Well," she said, "I have given no attention to that. We have an old bookcase upstairs that isn't half full. It has a few Patent Office Reports and some other books in it. I don't think any of them are interesting books. I never read much. When I was a little girl my father gave me Josephus and another history. I forget what it was. I tried to read it and couldn't." Sumner suggested "Rollins' Ancient History." "Yes, that is it. I couldn't read it and I haven't read much since. The Patent Office Reports I tried to read once, but couldn't. I put a lounge in the room where the bookcase is. I thought anybody who read the Patent Office Reports would want to lie down."

Sumner asked her if she had read her husband's report. She said: "When he was writing it, he was sometimes a little cross if interrupted. I came into his room and looked over his shoulder. He was pretty short. I asked him how he got along. He handed me three pages and I read them, but he didn't seem to want me, and I went out. I read what the New York Herald said about the general's report. It said it was the best since Caesar's reports. So I called the general Caesar. But after awhile he didn't seem to like it, and said I must stop it." (Page 13, Volume 3)

WASHINGTON, D. C., January 10, 1866:

We went General Grant's first reception, and the same night to Senator Sherman's. General Grant's was very enjoyable from the large numbers of notice- able people to look at. I have always wanted to be the first, the very first at a big party. I never heard of anybody who was first. We did it at Grant's. There were a goodly number of ladies and gentlemen in the clothing-rooms all waiting for somebody to break the ice. Lucy and I hurried off our things and got down first. It was right jolly. General and Mrs. Grant, a sister, and a staff officer's wife were waiting anxiously for an attack. We charged and had a good merry time of it all to ourselves. (Page 17, Volume 3)

July 1, 1870:

I called at the White House in the evening, Monday, 27th. It was a sultry night after a blazing day. General Grant with ladies and children was sitting on the portico looking out to- wards the Washington Monument. The doors were open through the house from the front for the draft. I gave my name to the servant at the front door. He went back and soon returned with the words, walk in. General Grant came into the house and met me very cordially and going through the parlors introduced me to the party on the portico. Mrs. Grant, old General Dent, Mrs. General Rucker, Mrs. General Dyer, Nellie Grant , and the the little fellow, and myself made the party sitting on the great portico.

The general was not smoking. The conversation was of West Point, the President's fishing excursion, and the hot weather. General Grant gave the heat of the day before in many cities, but New York was hottest, 106 degrees in the shade. He spoke of the heat in the Senate Chamber; hoped it would be so hot that there would be no extension of the session. General Grant was polite in tone and language. The talk was turned to the rapid growth and change in this country by Mr. Thornton saying that on a map of 1827 there was no such town as Chicago. Mrs. Rucker remembered being at Fort Dearborn, near the busiest part of Chicago, when there was no town!

General Grant rode a fleet pacing black mare to Chicago twenty years when he was a first lieutenant. He could have swapped his fast mare for an eighty-acre lot where ground on Wabash Avenue is worth now three hundred dollars a foot. After the callers left the ladies retired. The General called for cigars. The son, a five-foot-eleven boy, weighing one hundred and sixty, who graduates next year at West Point, and a comrade came down. I asked the general as to his health, his headaches, etc. He said his health was excellent. That he quit drinking water at his meals and for a year had had no headache. He had now an easy time in his office. The first three months was hard, but now all comfortable. San Domingo was his pet topic. He did not expect it to be ratified (the treaty). Thought the committee on Foreign Relations badly constituted. Sumner as chairman, a man of very little practical sense, puffed-up, and unsound. Carl Schurz, an infidel and atheist; had been a rebel in his own country--as much a rebel against his government as Jeff Davis. Casserly, a bigoted Catholic who hated England; a learned man and a good man, but his prejudices made him unsafe. I told him I did not know upon what grounds the Administration wanted San Domingo.

Grant in a rapid, brief, but comprehensive way set forth its advantages, described the island, its productions, people, etc., etc., in a most capital way. He said he felt "much embittered" against Sumner for unjust attacks on Major Babcock. Major Babcock could not defend himself; gave him a fine character. "I can defend myself, but he is merely a major of engineers with no opportunity to meet a Senator." (Page 110, Volume 3)

March 16, 1871:

The Administration of Grant has been faithful on the great question of the rights of the colored people, and has been successful in dealing with the debt. These are the great matters, and for this the people ought to sustain it. The San Domingo business is a blunder. It ought not to have been entered upon at all at present, and if entered upon it ought not to have been pushed in a way to offend needlessly the men of the party who opposed it.

The personal affairs of the Administration have been badly managed in many instances. General Grant's acceptance of gifts from friends ought not to have been followed by promotion of the givers. Better not to have taken the gifts, but taking them ought to have disqualified the givers. Grant is not a man of policy. Senator Henry Wilson says he is no politician. He does openly, instantly, without regard to effect or time, what he thinks ought to be done. His quarrel with Sumner has been wretchedly managed. Sumner has no prudence and was destroying himself by his unreasonable and violent speeches and conduct. But he is made a martyr of and Grant weakened by his removal from the Committee on Foreign Relations. If he had instead been given full rope, he would have hanged himself. This trouble for the first time leads sober people to consider the question whether Grant ought to be renominated. (Page 135, Volume 3)

December 27, 1879:

We had a quiet nice time last night. A most agreeable talk with General Grant for two hours alone. He looks well and is in excellent spirits. (Page 583, Volume 3)

June 5, 1880:

This is the fourth day of the Chicago convention. It is probable that no nomination will be made today. The friends of Grant are apparently working for delay. It now seems impossible to nominate Grant. Blaine's chances are good. The defeat of Grant is due to the unpopularity of the managers of his canvass and of their methods. The third term and the general lack of availability on account of his failure as President are also powerful elements in producing the result. I greatly regret that Grant, our first soldier and a man of many sterling qualities, should be so humiliated and degraded as he has been by his unprincipled supporters. (Page 667, Volume 3)

January 19, 1885:

I called on General Grant. Soon after we were seated in his parlor I heard the general's voice upstairs saying: "Fred, General Hayes is in the parlor. Go down and see him." Soon Colonel Fred came down, and in a moment I heard the general's voice again: "Badeau, General Hayes is in the parlor. Come down and see him"; and in a moment after General Grant came in, very lame, but otherwise looking well. He said he felt much better than he had been; that he had walked some distance that day notwithstanding the cold wind; that in December he had a number of teeth pulled and the shock was too great, and his nervous system had been injured; that for two weeks also his tongue was sore and gave him much pain. He had scarcely been able to speak. He spoke of reading General Force's book, "From Donelson to Shiloh" as an authority of value. He spoke easily and cheerfully, but he did not smile! (Page 186, Volume 4)

July 23, 1885. Thursday:

I have just heard "General Grant died at 8 A. M. this morning." I sent to N. E. Dawson, Mount McGregor, New York: "Please assure Mrs. Grant and the sorrowing family of the deep sympathy of Mrs. Hayes and myself. I wish to attend the funeral. Advise me of the arrangements.--R. B. Hayes." (Page 223, Volume 4)

NEW YORK, August 6, 1885. Thursday P.M.

We had a comfortable and interesting trip. I am put next to the Grant children. They occupy the northeast corner of the train and are shut off from the rest of the house by a screen. I took Mrs. Nellie Sartoris (USG's daughter) out to lunch in the Peabody dining-room, with the rest. Mrs. Grant remains at Mt. McGregor and may not come down. Mrs. Sartoris is very charming and talks beautifully about her father. Mrs. Fred Grant--"Ida" -- is also noticeably beautiful. Fred looks more and more like his father. Sherman (the general) says he is the counterpart of the father, but somewhat better-looking. We are told there is a great crowd visiting the remains at the City Hall. (Page 226, Volume 4)

August 6, Thursday. Fifth Avenue Hotel:

A s I was going to return call of Senator Sherman, I met Colonel F. Grant, Jesse, and their wives. They asked me to go with them to lunch. I took Mrs. Nellie Sartoris. She spoke warmly of our interest in her father. Mrs. Grant is not here. She remains at Mount McGregor. Rather a cheerful party under the circumstances. Mrs. Sartoris is indeed a very sweet woman. Mrs. Colonel Grant, Ida, is very lovely. While we were in the hall General Sherman, General Sheridan, and General Van Vliet called on me. It is a sad yet interesting and not gloomy reunion. (Page 227, Volume 4)

December 9, 1885:

I am greatly gratified today by receiving from Colonel Fred D. Grant (USG's son) a fine copy of General Grant's (first volume) "Personal Memoirs" with this inscription, "Sent by the direction of General U. S. Grant and with the compliments of his family.- F. D. Grant." This is a souvenir of the great man, direct from his own hand in his dying hours. (Page 253, Volume 4)


DEAR COLONEL.--I am in receipt from you of the first volume of an elegant copy of your father's intensely interesting and very valuable "Personal Memoirs." Nothing could be more prized by me than this precious token of your father's friendship, and of the good will of yourself and the rest of his family.

I have read with liveliest interest the first one hundred and twenty pages. If anything could add to the fame of General Grant, it would be such a book from his pen. It is graphic and simple and as truthful as truth itself. It furnishes in sufficient detail a capital picture of the life of one in whom the world will always be deeply interested. A few sentences on pages 99 and 100 describe as far as they go General Grant himself, although written of General Taylor: "No soldier could face either danger or responsibility more calmly than he." I beg you to present the kindest regards of Mrs. Hayes and myself to your mother. With thanks and best wishes. Sincerely, R. B. HAYES. (Page 450, Voume 4)



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