MORE VINDICATION FOR ULYSSES GRANT. I have expressed my belief that Ulysses Grant has been unfairly treated because the losers wrote the history of the Civil War for over a century. For example, I posted here six weeks ago about a review by Jennifer Maloney of AMERICAN ULYSSES: A LIFE OF ULYSSES S. GRANT by Ronald White. Now Harold Holzer has a review of White’s book in the Wall Street Journal (October 22-23) which puts White’s book in the context of Civil War histories.
Kids, I remember that the portrayal of the Civil War as the Lost Cause, with Lee as a brilliant general and Grant as a clumsy butcher, was still in fashion when I was young. Holzer contrasts White’s book with a book by William McFeely which argued that Grant “had been good for nothing in his life except waging war. That demeaning interpretation has clung tenaciously….” To show that this view lingered long past the centenary of the Civil War, McFeely was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for his book.
The harsh view of Grant has lingered for what is now 150 years after the Civil War. Holzer points out that White “charts important new territory”. The new territory is Grant’s role as president in fighting for civil rights.
In addition to waging war and actions on behalf of civil rights, Grant wrote what is generally considered to be a great book, his autobiography.