IntriguingHistory

HISTORY is MORE than just names and dates

Archive for the category “Presidents”

Confederate Monuments: Dealing with Tough History

Unveiling of Confederate monument, Arlington Cemetery, Va., June 4, 1914. National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)

In Ulysses S. Grant’s first inaugural address in March 1869, he discussed the way in which each section of the country should come together and settle their differences after the Civil War. He stated that it should be “approached calmly, without prejudice, hate, or sectional pride, remembering that the greatest good to the greatest number is the object to be attained.”

Grant’s words are more relevant than ever. The Civil War is still remembered in history books, museums, artifacts, reenactments, and preserved battlefields. It is a scar that is not going away any time soon. The memory of that war continues to shape social ideologies and political discourse in this country.

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The First Completely Annotated Edition of Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs

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The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant are widely considered to be one of the most well-written pieces of non-fiction American literature. Mark Twain, a close friend of Grant’s and whose company published the first edition of the memoirs, called them ‘a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece.’ The memoirs have been in continuous print since their original publication in 1885, which highlights the historical impact of the book. However, in those 130 years, no one has ever thoroughly contextualized the memoirs for the modern reader, until now. Just recently, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, under the management of the Executive Director John F. Marszalek, has announced an upcoming publication of the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs. Published by Harvard University Press’s Belknap imprint, it will be available for purchase in September 2017.

This newest edition of Grant’s memoirs contains over 2,000 explanatory notes, which identifies nearly every person that Grant mentions, elaborates on details that Grant might have missed, and corrects him if he made an error. All of the scholarly notes that are included in this edition will be invaluable to researchers, historians, academics, and more importantly the casual reader.

Interestingly enough, Grant did not see himself as a writer, nor did he assume that people were interested in hearing his take on the Civil War. However, in June 1884, Grant’s financial trouble, and a diagnosis of severe throat and mouth cancer, forced him to reconsider his abilities as a writer. Immediately after his diagnosis, he began to compose his life story. The oncoming threat of death did not deter Grant. He was determined to complete his memoirs so he could leave his family with a hardy income. With astounding clarity, Grant was able to capture the essence of his early life and detail his personal experience in the Civil War. The general public was enamored by Grant’s direct and lucid writing style.

Sadly, Grant passed away only four days after completing his manuscript, so he was never able to see just how successful and well-received his memoirs would become. Hopefully, this latest edition will add to the historical value of the memoirs, and provide every student of American history with a more nuanced perspective of Grant.

If you are interested in purchasing this invaluable piece of Grant scholarship, you can visit any bookstore or online retailer. Or, you can purchase the book through Harvard, here:
http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674976290

 

Louie P. Gallo

lpg58@msstate.edu

A Dithyrambic Poem by Platt Rogers Spencer

​A Dithyrambic Poem by Platt Rogers Spencer

Platt Rogers Spencer

Platt Rogers Spencer’s contribution to American history is not widely known, but it is right in front of your eyes. It can be seen when you drink a can of Coca Cola, or when you se e a Ford truck commercial. What is the connection you ask? In the late 1840s, Spencer created the American handwriting style known as “Spencerian Penmanship”, which utilizes dramatic embellishments and cursive elements. Spencer’s handwriting style was so influential that became the standard writing style for legal and business correspondence before the invention of the typewriter. This brings us back to the Coca Cola’s and Ford’s connection to Spencer- each of the companies logos are in Spencerian script.

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