The collection includes general and family correspondence, speeches, reports, messages, military records, financial and legal records, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, memorabilia and other papers. The collection relates to Grant’s service in the Mexican War and Civil War, his pre-Civil War career, and his postwar service as U.S. secretary of war ad interim under President Andrew Johnson, his 1868 presidential campaign and two-term presidency, his unsuccessful 1880 presidential bid, his extensive international travels and the financial difficulties late in life that spurred the writing of his memoir, which he completed just days before his death from tongue cancer in July 1885.
The collection is supported by a finding aid and index, timeline, selected bibliography and teaching resources. Published versions of many items in the collection can be read online through the website of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University.
Items in the collection provide a comprehensive and complex picture of a figure best known as a Civil War general, but who was also a devoted family man, world traveler and admired former president. Highlights include:
• Personal letters to his wife, Julia, written throughout their engagement and marriage, including a letter written in 1846 during the Mexican War in which he enclosed a wildflower;
• 111 volumes of headquarters reports, comprising correspondence, orders, reports, dispatches and accounts providing a magnificently detailed picture of the Civil War;
• Grant’s first inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1869;
• Newspaper articles chronicling the Grants’ around-the-world tour from 1877 through 1879 to Europe, West Africa, Russia, China and the Middle East;
• A letter from a young student, Maria M. Casagranda, in 1885 about her classmates following the news of his cancer and prayers for his recovery;
• Notes from Grant to his son Frederick regarding the progress of his memoir.
The handwritten draft manuscript of the memoir, comprising more than 1,000 pages, is online in its entirety, revealing Grant’s edits and notes inserted by his son Frederick. Grant, who wrote letters, reports and other communications prolifically throughout his life, turned to writing as a source of income after losing most of his family savings in a Ponzi scheme. As the public became aware that Grant was dying of cancer and writing his memoir, press camped outside the Grants’ home. The first royalty check presented to Grant’s wife, Julia, was $200,000, the largest ever at the time. The memoir has never been out of print since its original publication in 1885.
The Library’s efforts to assemble the Grant Papers began in the early 1900s and continued throughout the 20th century with multiple deposits from Grant’s descendants, including his grandson and namesake, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant III. The collection was digitized from microfilm scans.
The Grant Papers are among collections newly available online during the past year. Others include the papers of Alexander Hamilton, U.S. Presidents Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and James K. Polk; the papers of Sigmund Freud; a collection of more than 4,600 newspapers from Japanese-American internment camps; a collection of web-based comic books; and 25,000 fire insurance maps from communities across America, the first installment of the total 500,000 in the collection.
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