Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The rehabilitation of US Grant

When I took classes in US history the conventional wisdom was that, although he may have been a great military leader, US Grant was a complete failure as President deserving to be considered one of the worst. That evaluation is changing according to Sean Wilentz's review of U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, by Joan Waugh. He summarizes his evaluation of Grant here:
.... A superb modern general who, with Lincoln, finally unleashed the force required to crush the slaveholders’ rebellion, Grant went on, as president, to press vigorously for the reunification of the severed nation, but on the terms of the victorious North and not of the defeated South. Given all that he was up against—not simply from Confederates and Southern white terrorists but, as president, from high-minded factional opponents and schismatics from his own Republican Party—it is quite remarkable that Grant sustained his commitment to the freedmen for as long and as hard as he did. The evidence clearly shows that he created the most auspicious record on racial equality and civil rights of any president from Lincoln to Lyndon B. Johnson. He also formulated some remarkably humane and advanced ideas on subjects ranging from federal Indian policy to public education. Given the limitations imposed on executive power by the Constitution, it is all the more remarkable that he acted as boldly as he did. .... [more]
The Return Of Ulysses | The New Republic