Ulysses S. Grant
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
New York, New York
August 15, 2004 10th Visited

Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?
The answer to this question -
popularized by comedian Groucho
Marx - is Ulysses and Julia Grant,
who are interred in the building's
lower level crypt.

The Grant Monument Association formed
three days after the former president's
death, and over the next few years it
raised $600,000 for the construction of the
luxurious tomb. Its groundbreaking was
on April 27, 1891 - the sixty-ninth
anniversary of Grant's birth - and it was
dedicated exactly six years later. Control
of the mausoleum was transferred to the
National Park Service in 1959.

"Let Us Have Peace," carved into the
tomb's facade, was Grant's campaign
slogan for the 1868 presidential election.
The two stone allegorical figures that sit
on either side of the saying represent his
leadership as commanding general in
the Civil War and his tenure as president
in peacetime afterward.

When I first visited Grant's Tomb in 2004,
interior photography was banned, fallout
from the September 11th terrorist attacks
three years prior. This photo was taken
discretely with the permission of a
sympathetic park ranger to whom I am
eternally grateful. The embargo was lifted
by the time I returned in May 2011.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Julia Boggs Dent Grant
- Spouse: Julia Boggs Dent Grant (m. 1848-1885)

- Political Party: Republican Party

- Term: 1869-1877
- Vice President: Schuyler Colfax, Jr. (1869-1873)
   Henry Wilson (1873-1875)

- Born: April 27, 1822

- Died: July 23, 1885

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Throat Cancer

- Last Words: "Water."

Cemetery: General Grant National Memorial, New York, New York
- GPS Coordinates: 40°48'48.4"N 73°57'47.0"W

* * * Background on Ulysses S. Grant * * *

* In 1839, seventeen-year-old Hiram Ulysses Grant - later known as Ulysses S. Grant - had no inclination for military service. Yet, through his financially-strapped father's machinations, he was accepted to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where he was educated at the federal government's expense. Grant
graduated in June 1843, ranked twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine, and was assigned to be a brevet second lieutenant at the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. His infantry was later relocated to Louisiana, and then to Texas as part of General Zachary Taylor's Army of Observation when the border dispute between Mexico and the U.S. grew tenser. Grant got his first taste of combat during the ensuing Mexican-American War, a difficult experience since he was sickened by the sight of blood. Yet Grant benefited from his participation by observing the implementation of military tactics firsthand. He resigned from the army with the rank of captain in 1854 and toiled as a farmer and clerk until the Civil War broke out in 1861. In support of the Union, Grant traveled to Springfield, Illinois, to drill volunteers who answered the call to arms issued by President Abraham Lincoln. Governor Richard Bates installed Grant as colonel of the 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment, and his quick success earned him a promotion to brigadier general. In early 1862, Grant's forces captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson - rebel strongholds which had prevented Union troops from entering Tennessee. His aggressive tactics caught the attention of President Lincoln, who promoted him to major general. He was given command over all the western armies in 1863, and then the entirety of the Union's forces in 1864, making him the first American since George Washington to achieve the rank of lieutenant general. The strategies he employed over the next year diminished CSA forces and forced General Robert E. Lee to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, on April 2, 1865. A week later, Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House, symbolically - though not officially - ending the deadly four-year conflict.

* Talk of Grant’s prospects of being elected president began as early as 1862, after his army’s victory at the Battle of Shiloh. His chance came six years later, when he became the nominee for a Republican Party seeking to retake the White House. The Democrats declined to nominate the incumbent chief executive, Andrew Johnson, and put forth former Governor Horatio Seymour of New York instead. Grant won the November 1868 election by a margin of 134 votes, coupling a GOP president with a Republican legislature intent on continuing to reverse Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction policies. Together, Grant and Congress enacted legislation that crippled the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist organization that formed in 1866 to terrorize black Americans. In October 1871, the president used the powers vested unto him by the Ku Klux Klan Act and ordered federal troops to South Carolina, where freed people were being denied equal protection under the law. There was also momentum toward reforming the civil service system, which was run by patronage. President Grant handily won re-election over Liberal Republican Horace Greeley in 1872, despite the fact that his administration was embroiled in a scandal that involved the sitting vice president - Schuyler Colfax - and Henry Wilson, the man chosen to replace him on the ticket. Grant’s second term was plagued by scandals, and although the president himself was not implicated, the corruption exhibited by his underlings reflected poorly on him. Misgivings about the administration and the economy – which took a downturn with the Panic of 1873 – contributed toward support dwindling for ongoing intervention in the South. In the 1874 midterms, Democrats wrested control of state governments in three former Confederate states, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives. Hoping to improve the odds for Republicans in elections moving forward, Grant began to refrain from using the military to support Southern freed people, which emboldened the whites who sought to oppress them.

* After he left the presidency in 1877, Ulysses embarked on a costly two-year world tour with his wife, Julia, that brought them to lands such as Egypt, Ireland, Siam, India, and Japan. They returned to the U.S. in September 1879, welcomed home by elated crowds who still hailed Ulysses as the hero of the Civil War. He remained popular enough that stalwart Republicans attempted to secure him the nomination for an unprecedented third presidential term the next year, which went instead to Congressman James Garfield. In 1883, the general invested $100,000 with a fraudulent banker, which put the Grants in dire financial straits by the time the scheme was uncovered in May 1884. The couple depended on donations from well-wishers to pay their bills, as Ulysses had forfeited his military pension when he became president. Matters grew worse in June, when the former president experienced discomfort swallowing a bite of a peach. At first he believed he had been stung by a bee, but the pain persisted for months. All the while, Ulysses refrained from consulting a physician. When he finally relented in October, he was diagnosed with cancer - Grant's habit of smoking twenty cigars a day had taken its toll. Though he had long resisted requests to write memoirs of his wartime experiences, the general did an about-face when he envisioned his wife living in poverty after his death. Grant toiled over the ensuing nine months, churning out a 336,000 word manuscript, of which his publisher, Mark Twain, proclaimed there was "no higher literature." As Grant scribbled away - first at his Manhattan brownstone, then at a friend's mountaintop cottage upstate - he was aided in research by his son, Frederick, and his former wartime secretary, Adam Badeau. Grant's decline in health was excruciating, and he was treated with morphine injections and a mixture of water and cocaine to dull the agony. He managed to complete his memoirs a mere week before his death on July 23rd. The volumes paid immediate dividends for Julia Grant, who received roughly $450,000 in royalties within the first few years. General Grant's memoirs are considered by some as a masterpiece of American literature.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

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Cash, James B. Unsung Heroes: Ohioans in the White House: A Modern Appraisal. Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 1998. Reprinted. Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 2000.

Chernow, Ron. Grant. London: Penguin Press, 2017.

Esposito, Paul. "A criminal scheme of the 1880s brought presidential treasures to the Smithsonian." National Museum of American History, December 9, 2016. https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/criminal-scheme- presidential-treasures.

"The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871." history.house.gov. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail/15032451486?ret=True.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

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McFeely, William. "Ulysses S. Grant." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 214-227. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

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The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. "Executive Retreat 1865-1901." History Channel, 2013.

"Ulysses S. Grant's Memoirs." C-SPAN video, 59:30. November 17, 2018. https://www.c-span.org/video/? 454458-6/ulysses-s-grants-memoirs.

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