Talk:Ulysses S. Grant

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The drinker[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

It would be a real service for whomever will work on the reputation article, to deal in detail (NPOV, of course) with the "alcoholic" reputation. [1] [2]. Thanks. Alanscottwalker (talk) 20:09, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Well, one of the links you offered, the history net, has an article whose title seems a bit pov'ish, i.e."Ulysses S. Grant’s Lifelong Struggle With Alcohol", which more than suggests there was a problem. Most of the sources I've come across acknowledges that there were no bonafide instances of Grant staggering about drunk and disorderly, and that most of the rumors of excessive drinking came from jealous enemies, and disgruntled and/or enterprising reporters, while McFeely, the one who's supposed to have this overall negative view on Grant, says that he's been falsely stereotyped by modern media. I've no doubt Grant drank, and 'got mellow' from time to time, as did many soldiers of his time, esp with the weight of war and battles on their shoulders, or because of prolonged loneliness. We must remember that anyone 'at the top' automatically gets a bull's eye painted on their back. Having said that, I've no problem with outlining the facts, such that they are, and how they've been received by historians, past and present. However, we should do it with reliable published sources, ones used extensively in the biography, and stay away from high profile media sources aimed at People magazine and National Enquire readers. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 04:39, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
the cites by Alanscottwalker are a good start--the standard study is Dorsett, Lyle W. "The Problem of Ulysses S. Grant's Drinking During the Civil War." Hayes Historical Journal 4 (1983): 37+ online at Dorsett is a leading scholar. he states: "It is my thesis that Ulysses S. Grant was an alcoholic. Furthermore, his alcoholism had a profound effect upon his generalship. " Rjensen (talk) 05:24, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Profound? In what way? Grant was primarily responsible for winning the war. Bear in mind, given some of the modern mindset, even gambling is a "disease". Asking a woman for a date in the work place is "sexual harassment" in the eyes of some individuals. Subjective speculations aside, was McFeely wrong to say Grant was wrongfully stereotyped? It would seem assessment of Grant's drinking is indeed largely the product of speculation, even among scholars who possess no crystal ball at this late date, and esp since there are no accounts of Grant walking around pie-faced. This of course is not to say Grant never in his life tied-one-on to the point of ineffectiveness -- but at the brink of battle? There are just too many witnesses that say otherwise, e.g. at the battle of Shiloh. Given Grant's well established character, it doesn't seem likely that drinking impacted Grant's generalship, his decision making, at least to me. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 06:47, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Dorsett makes a very good case. Grant took risks because he had nothing to lose. Rjensen (talk) 06:59, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Nothing to lose? Like the Union he loved dearly? No concern for the fate of family and fellow officers and soldiers? A heartless drunk? Generals have always made sacrifices. Remember, Grant put his life in harm's way, in spades, during the Mexican war when he volunteered to ride through sniper filled streets to get help, stopping to assist the wounded. This assessment just doesn't add up, imo.-- Gwillhickers (talk) 07:14, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Acknowledging that the drinker reputation is a very real strand of scholarship, regardless if any Wikipedia editor likes it, is still the issue. It would therefore be a service to cover it directly in depth in the reputation article. Alanscottwalker (talk) 08:04, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
yes: no status to lose personally. Instead of imagining the article's contents and trying to refute it, I recommend people here read the article--it's really quite good. Rjensen (talk) 10:30, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the drunkenness angle is certainly one that people have talked and written about for a long time now, and should be explored in depth in the sub-article. Let's approach it with an open mind and try to summarize the sources. (We should probably continue this conversation on that article's talk page.) --Coemgenus (talk) 11:51, 7 July 2017 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Gilded Age[edit]

Is there a specific date when the Gilded Age began ? I think that that article needs more clarifiation on the time line and definition of the Gilded Age. Did low moral values in the American people cause the Gilded Age ? Was Grant the only Gilded Age president ? Cmguy777 (talk) 17:15, 7 July 2017 (UTC)

I redefined the Gilded Age and added historians debate on how much Grant could have stopped the corruption. Used White (2016) as references. Cmguy777 (talk) 18:02, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
See the Gilded Age article, the first sentence of which suggests "from the 1870s to about 1900" as a timeframe. --Coemgenus (talk) 18:46, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
The term was not used until 1873. It must refer to events that took place before 1873, such at Black Friday in 1869. Mark Twain was not a historian. It is a literary term he invented. I used White (2016) to redefine the term emphasizing extravagance and unethical behavior. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:29, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
I see some books which give the date as 1877, which is the year Reconstruction ended. But it's possible to have two eras going on at the same time. It's usually not possible in history to pinpoint an exact date in which one era ends and another begins. One of the characteristics of the Gilded Age was corruption in politics, and that was definitely a feature in Grant's administration. So I'd certainly say it was part of American life before 1877. Display name 99 (talk) 15:08, 10 July 2017 (UTC)

Questionable source about drinking[edit]

The new source and citation [66] recently added to a statement, one already sourced by White, 2016, is sort of second rate, compared to other reliable and recognized sources. Lyle W. Dorsette has not written any books about the Civil War, much less one on Grant. His specialty is urban history. For some reason, he has zeroed in on Grant over a speculative controversy that most other sources have not made any conclusions over, including McFeely and White. They, and as far as I know, no other sources, goes as far as to call Grant an "alcoholic", much less claiming that drinking had a "profound effect" on Grant's military capacity. Dorsette's article, upon close scrutiny, is actually an opinion piece. It presents no facts in support of a "problem" or of being an "alcoholic", and is filled with a lot of tangential conjecture about what alcoholics are, how they were viewed in the 19th and 20th centuries, etc. Dorsette makes several conclusive statements, but not once has he qualified them. Example. Dorsette claims :

"Furthermore, his alcoholism had a profound effect upon his generalship.".

Where is this profound effect evident? Dorsette offers no example. We know rumors of drinking at Fort Humboldt caused Commander Buchanan, a rival of Grant, to give him an ultimatum of resigning or face court martial. But how did drinking have a "profound effect" on Grant's generalship? Dorsette fails to say. Grant won the first major victory for the Union by taking forts Henry and Donelson. Could someone, even half drunk, have seen those campaigns through to conclusion? Grant then went on to Shiloh and won that major battle, after facing a serious setback on the first day of the battle. He then went on to win the Vicksburg campaign, which lasted six months. Again, could a drunk have saw that long and grueling campaign through to conclusion? There was also other major battles Grant saw through, not to mention Appomattox. Where was this "profound effect"? Dorsette actually torpedoes his own article with this statement:

"Grant did not have a drink the moment he put his feet on the floor each morning, and inasmuch as he could go
for weeks, even months, without taking a drink, his admirers could not really believe that he was an alcoholic."

If Grant was truly an alcoholic, he would have needed to drink every day, and more than just once a day. There are many people who drink everyday, esp in countries like France, Ireland and Germany, where wine, beer and spirits are part of their culture. And how easy would it be to single one of them out and spin stories about their drinking, esp if they were in the public eye and had many jealous rivals ready to perpetuate the rumor? That was actually Grant's only "problem". I've no doubt Grant drank to excess on one occasion or another, like many non alcoholics, but to call him an alcoholic is not only a leap to a conclusion but a distortion. Grant was never seen drunk, i.e. incapacitated or disorderly. Dorsette may have a Phd, but that by itself doesn't cut it. We should not use sources that link to website opinion pieces, esp when they don't offer any facts to support subjective conclusions. With all due respect to Rjensen, I'm not sure why he felt the need to use an opinion piece as a citation, when there are many other recognized sources on Grant to use. Imo, this is not a reliable source for Grant. If we 'must' corroborate White, 2016, we should do it with McFeely or Brands or Smith, etc.-- Gwillhickers (talk) 21:58, 8 July 2017 (UTC)

Note: this is not a continuation about reputation, but a discussion about reliable sources used in the article. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 22:09, 8 July 2017 (UTC)

Please don't argue with the RS. Our job is to report what they say. Dorsett is a leading scholar on American culture in the era and wrote a major scholarly article in a major scholarly journal. It's not an "opinion piece" see Dorsett, Lyle W. "The Problem of Ulysses S. Grant’s Drinking During the Civil War," Hayes Historical Journal vol. 4, no.2 (1983): 37-49. online He gives far more in-depth attention to the issue than anyone else. Dorsett puts Grant in the category not of "drunkard" but of "alcoholic" and uses 20th century scholarship on how alcoholism affects people. Gwillhickers thinks that "alcoholism:" means doing a lot of drinking and often being drunk. Not true. It means a person who is pulled toward alcohol but cannot handle it well. The point is that Grant had a strong urge to drink and could not handle liquor very well when he did drink. all RS agree on that point. Dorsett explores how Grant knew he had a major problem and made serious efforts to overcome it. For example he joined & became an officer of the Sons of Temperance, a group like today's AA. Grant made solemn pledges to stay dry: that's what alcoholics do then and now to overcome their problem. Dorsett focuses on Grant's enormous efforts to overcome alcoholism and shows the intense drive helped shape his determination in military decisions. Dorsett's credibility is verified by other scholars citing his work such as E Longacre, Farina and Rafuse and Simpson. Rjensen (talk) 22:24, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Dorsette may know about 19th century culture, etc, but he is not an expert on Grant. If Grant could not handle drinking well, and if he had drank as frequently as some would have us believe, it would have panned out somewhere along the line and there would be at least one bonafide example of Grant acting drunk and disorderly. There's not one such account, and he was always surrounded by military people. Remember, editors decide what RS's to use. There is no official list of reliable sources that we must blindly use without question, and having a Phd doesn't automatically qualify one as such. If Grant did drink as much as they say, given his record, I'd say he handled it very well. However RJensen, since you have not added a statement to the narrative, calling Grant an alcoholic, I can live with the added citation if others can. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 22:35, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't think we should apply 20th Century or 21st Century standards of alchoholic drinking on Grant. Dorsett maybe correct in his assumption on Grant and Alchoholism, but we are applying his standard of alcholism on Grant. White suggests that Grant inherited alchoholism from his grandfather Noah as does Dorsett. That it did not take much alchohol to get Grant drunk. He also says alchohol did not affect Grant while he was on duty. Grant may have had a few drinks off duty, how impaired he was is speculation. He may have fallen off his horse a few times. Could those incidents been alchohol been related? Potentially. But they did not have sobriety tests for drunken horse riding, as far as I know, in Grant's time. A few times alchohol may have affected Grant during the war, but it did not have anything to do with the actual battle of Shiloh. He was sober enough to rally his troops. Shiloh turned out to be a victory on the second day. That would be the closest incident where alchohol may have affected Grant's judgement. But again that is all speculation. His drinking at Fort Humbolt forced his resignation from Buchannan. That is talked already about in the article. Grant was the most successful general of the American Civil War. Was he drunk when he out foxed Robert E. Lee at Cold Harbor, slipped accross the James, and laid seige to Petersburg ? It is not that Dorsett's assessment is incorrect, it is applying alchoholic standards that did not exist during Grant's times. The Dorsett article was written in the Fall of 1983 in a Rutherford B. Hayes website. Is Dorsett biased towards Hayes and anti-Grant ? Cmguy777 (talk) 22:39, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Agree on some points. There are cases where a sobriety test is given and a person is found to be "drunk". It doesn't matter if that person can hop around on one foot, do cart-wheels and recite the Magna Carta, the person is still 'considered' to be "drunk". With that in mind, we may indeed be using 20-21st century views when we try to assess Grant's so called "problem" with drinking. Imo, given his military performance, Grant had no "problem" and handled any drinking he did very well. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 23:04, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Gwillhickers said Grant had no "problem." I think the historians are agreed he had a major problem and overcame it. 21st century moral standards are not at issue. Dorsett says Grant's 19th century body reacted exactly the same way 20th century bodies react. There is a very good collection of excerpts by historians online at and a good collection of quotes from 19th century contemporaries at Here's a leading scholar: McPherson: But even when the myths have been stripped away, a hard substratum of truth about Grant's drinking remains. He may have been an alcoholic in the medical meaning of that term. He was a binge drinker. For months he could go without liquor, but if once he imbibed it was hard for him to stop. His wife and his chief of staff, Rawlins were his best protectors. With their help, Grant stayed on the wagon nearly all the time during the war. If he did get drunk (and this is much disputed by historians) it never happened at a time crucial to military operations." (McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom. 1988, pages 588-590). I am also struck by the analysis by H W Brands (p 73): Army practice allowed for officers who drank, but not for those who couldn't hold their liquor." I think Grant realized that his career depended on his ability to overcome his intense craving for liquor; Dorsett says his overcoming of his alcoholism made him a much better general. Rjensen (talk) 23:11, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
That's another discrepancy with Dorsette's account. He says drinking had a "profound effect" on Grant's gereralship, but then turns around and says Grant overcame it and became a great general. Grant was several times accused of drinking, while a general. i.e.Accused by Hallack during Fort Donelson, and by others during the battle of Shiloh. It would be easier to accept Dorsett's account if there wasn't a contradiction here and he explained this "profound effect" drinking had on Grant's generalship. However, I can accept McPherson's account, that Grant was given to drinking here and there. Grant's wife Julia wrote memoirs also. Does she have anything to say on the matter? I'll check. Being protective of her husband, perhaps not. We'll see. In any case, as I said, Grant may have taken to drink, but to what extent, how often and to what effect, has largely been exaggerated by Grant's rivals, disgruntled reporters ( Shiloh), etc, which is where many of the accounts come from. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 00:17, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
Here's the problem: Dorsett wrote "Furthermore, his alcoholism had a profound effect upon his generalship" and Gwillhickers has twice mis-stated this as 'drinking had a "profound effect" on Grant's generalship." Wrong. Heavy "drinking" is one thing (and Grant never had more than a few drinks) and "alcoholism" is something else. We know far more about the difference in 2017 than people did in 1857. Alcoholism is a condition that involves a) he has a powerful urge to drink and b) he cannot hold his liquor--gets intoxicated quickly. Grant had alcoholism and that was a huge problem that would destroy him--he fought back hard over many years and thereby learned how lecles of self control that other generals did not have. Rjensen (talk) 02:24, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
  • From Julia's memoirs: 1, 2 -- Albeit a cursory search. Don't quite know at this point if this clarifies matters, or just adds another round of inconsistencies in the accounts on Grant. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 00:53, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
"All of us here are 21st century Wiki editors and our culture tells us that alcoholism is a medical condition--the 19th century standard was that a) alcoholism and frequent drunkenness were identical and b) they were caused by moral weakness and c) moral weaklings should not be generals. Wiki editors are NOT using those debunked ideas. The idea that Grant was a strong decision-maker because he fought so hard for so long against a serious condition that threaten to destroy him is not a fringe viewpoint. I strongly recommend people read Dorsett closely for his explanation, which has been accepted by Bonekemper, McPherson & others. Bonekemper p 252 asks "what made him such a successful general?" he answers himself: "Grant's battle against alcohol problems may have made him not only a better man but also a better general." Bonekemper p 252 quotes McPherson: G's "predisposition to alcoholism may have made him a better general. His struggle for self disciplined enabled him to understand and discipline others; the humiliation of prewar failures gave him a quiet humility that was conspicuously absent from so many other generals... Because Grant had nowhere to go but up, he could act with more boldness and decision and commanders who dared not risk failure." Rjensen (talk) 02:15, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
I think we can agree that Grant was an alcholic in that he was genetically predisposed to alcholism from his grandfather Noah. Grant was a successful general and at times a successful twice elected president. How much did alchohol have an effect on his life as a whole is speculative. Buchannan did not have any way to test if Grant was drunk or depressed at Fort Humbolt in 1854. Field sobriety testing did not exist by police until 1981 in the United States. We can say Grant was drunk, but what was his blood alchohol level at Fort Humbolt. We don't know. Grant fell off horses a few times during the Civil War and injured himself twice. Was he drinking ? There was no scientific method to test Grant's drunkness. That is why I think Grant should not be judged by modern standards that did not exist until 1981. Dorsett was a Hayes historian. Is it unquestionable that Dorsett is biased against Grant and favorable of Hayes, who abstained from drinking ? Cmguy777 (talk) 03:27, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
After two or three drinks Grant had all the slurred talk and other physical characteristics of drunkenness--same in 1817 as in 2017. Not being able to hold your liquor was "unmanly" and unacceptable in the U.S. Army. I think historians are unanimous that Grant was drinking often out in California, and every account says that he could not handle his liquor. Blood-alcohol tests are not the issue. The 2017 medical literature does not say much about people strongly disposed toward drinking who stay sober, who overcome that temptation and do not drink. They do not show up in the police arrests for drunken driving. But they do show up winning battles on the battlefield, because Grant mastered the art of self-control in a highly challenging environment. Grant was seldom drunk both because of the self-control, and because his wife and top aides were extremely vigilant. General William Farrar Smith, Grant's top engineer, wrote in his autobiography: "I found that Rawlins, aided by some of the staff, were unceasing in their watch of Gen. Grant and their efforts to keep him from being tempted to drink. His appetite was such that if he tasted a drop his desire became uncontrollable till he had sufficient to satisfy him.... it was perfectly understood that if anyone of us saw Gen. Grant walking in the streets we were to join him and stay with him until he went home or went to his office. This was to prevent him from diving into some low drinking places and getting imprudently filled with vile liquor. The first time I ever saw Grant intoxicated was on the night of Sherman's arrival at Chattanooga (Nov-14-1863) where he himself brought out an placed upon a table... a bottle of whiskey from which Gen. Grant drank... after a time, Gen. Grant came in very drunk. " (William Farrar Smith. Autobiography of Major General William F. Smith. (Morningside: 1990), pages 108-109.) Rjensen (talk) 04:33, 9 July 2017 (UTC)

edit break[edit]

Grant earned his reputation for drinking at Fort Humboldt, and even then, it's largely the stuff of rumors, and those rumors, true or not, were perpetuated by rivals and others. As for any bias against Grant here, per Dorsette, it's difficult to ascertain this unless the writer comes right out and says he was e.g. a "monster", as Finkleman did regarding Jefferson. Doresset doesn't speak in that capacity, however, it appears to me he's reading more into matters than were actually there when he flat out refers to Grant as an "alcoholic". He qualifies it, yes, but in such a way that actually undermines the term "alcoholic", esp in the way the naive reader may chose to interpret that term. Bonekemper indeed says Grant's "predisposition to alcoholism 'may have' made him a better general", but I believe Grant already possessed the character that made him perform and act as he did. There's a lifetime of facts to support that. It would seem that character is what made Grant use alcohol in a measured and discretionary manner, and certainly not at the brink of battle. Grant sometimes drank, as Smith mentions in his autobiography, a singular account, but not in a way that was foremost in what shaped Grant's character and decision making. I have no doubt Grant was seen 'over the legal limit' at one time or another, but not in a frequency that's suggested by some accounts. Grant's military track record more than substantiates that idea. The modern definition of "alcoholism" aside, let's not forget the basic facts that surround Grant, coming and going. He was a competent general 99.99% of the time. Given that fact, how serious was Grant's "problem" after all? -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:11, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
all historians agree it happened. the RS emphasize it was a "problem" that bedeviled him all his adult life and actually did destroy his military career when he was forced to resign in 1854--He was a miserable failure in civilian life for 99% of the next seven years. So how did he turn himself around? He overcame his terrific handicap by enormous effort, which the biographers say deserves our attention. Ignore his achievement? No real problem--anyone could have done that...It's like asking an athlete at the Special Olympics whether they really have much of a problem if they can compete in international competitions so well. Every biographer makes a big deal out of it-- Brands brings it up to 11 times in his biography Smith does so 20 times and Simpson under the heading "drinking (real and rumored)" has 30 different pages that consider the issue. I suggest we follow the reliable sources. Rjensen (talk) 09:16, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
What sources say Grant was had slurred speech ? Was Grant really unsuccessful as a "drunk"? He ran his father-in-laws plantation and supervised his slaves. He created business for his father's business. Grant was not rich, but he kept his marriage together. He never was homeless. He had enough resources to build a house. His "log cabin" home Hardscrabble was his Julia's father's idea, not Grants, who wanted to build a standard framed house. It's true Grant hit rock bottom selling his gold watch at Christmas, but it was to buy his children gifts. It is true drinking put Grant in a position of forced resignation at Fort Humbolt. Buchanan had every right to court martial Grant, but why did he give Grant a choice to resign? That has been addressed in the article. Apparently there was some turn around with Grant and drinking prior to the Civil War. We can't apply the modern standards of sobriety testing including breath analyzers to Grant. There were no modern treatments available for Grant's alchohol problem. Is there a proposed addition concerning Grant's drinking in the article ? Cmguy777 (talk) 16:05, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
"two drinks of a couple small swallows each was as much as he ever ventured upon a sitting, and even this small quantity would slur his speech." Harrison Terrell, Grant's valet. (Charles Ellington. The Trial of U.S. Grant, 1852-54. Glendale: Arthur Clark, 1987, page 170); as for St Louis--the scene went from bad to worse: Smith p 95 "He looked desperately for work. He was behind his rent, could not meet the families daily living expenses, and was going deeply into debt to maintain a semblance of a normal lifestyle... Grant was disconsolate... He was shabbily dressed, his beard was unshorn, his face anxious, the whole exterior of the man denoting a profound discouragement at the results of his experiment to maintain himself in St. Louis." Bruce Catton writes: "desperate, he sold the farm, taking a cottage in St. Louis in part payment. There he went into a partnership in a real estate office. The event quickly showed that whatever US Grant might be fitted for, selling real estate and collecting rents did not belong on the list... In 1860 Grant was driven to unconditional surrender....Now he was 38, he had three children, debts, no income and no prospects; and he went to Jesse Grant and asked for a job." Catton US Grant in the American military tradition. Rjensen (talk) 22:54, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
Grant wanted to leave Fort Humboldt and return to Julia and an infant son whom he had never seen yet -- his life was hardly destroyed. Buchannan in his report never mentioned anything about drinking. If it was something to speak of, something more than passed on (and embellished?) rumor he would have said so it seems. However, I have little doubt that Grant was part of the "drinking culture" among officers at the isolated Fort. I also don't recall any accounts that drinking is what made Grant a failure in business. They say he just wasn't business minded and had hard luck. This is nothing amazing and not uncommon among farmers and common folk. Grant was out in the fields tilling soil along side his slave. Hardly someone with an actual drinking problem. There are a number of accounts, about McClelland, Hallack, reporters etc, that spread the drinking rumor around in cases where Grant was surrounded by witness who say otherwise, and who rigorously defended him, as he was concerning the events before and during Shiloh. If Grant's "problem" was of any consequence, he would have been roundly opposed for promotion, at least on one occasion, and would have not been an outstanding general. Those are the facts -- all else seems to be speculation and supposition. I will say this -- the 'idea' of alcoholism was more of a problem for Grant than his actual drinking, such that it was. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:15, 9 July 2017 (UTC)
Two drinks, I take that is whiskey, since that is a pretty strong drink. Then Grant had slurred speech. He can't hold his liquor. Maybe the article is not emphasizing Grant's poverty enough in St. Louis, but was his condition caused by drinking or the desperation that comes from poverty. Is all this boiling down to some addition to the article, such as a note that Grant by modern day standards was considerned and alcholic ? Apparently he was able to keep from drinking, but not all the time. Cmguy777 (talk) 03:23, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
our job is to report what the RS say and the recent biographers each give one or two dozen mentions in their biographies. I think the argument that he learned how to overcome adversity from overcoming his propensity to drink (& not hold his liquor) has been embraced by numerous RS and deserves full treatment. The key statement for me is Brands p 73: the Army tolerated drinking but it did NOT tolerate any officer who could not hold his liquor and Grant certainly fell in the "can't hold it" category. Rjensen (talk) 04:53, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Then how was it that they "tolerated" Grant?? Grant's performance, supported by the (very) many facts, seems to contradict that notion. Again, there are no accounts of Grant being intoxicated to the extent that it got in the way of his military performance, per his advancement in rank. However, we should acknowledge that Grant was found of drink, as were many officers in his day (and no doubt our day) and that he had to keep it in check at various points in his life, which he handled very well. I will leave it to your better judgement to come up with a statement that reflects Grant's drinking, but one that also reflects the idea that it was something that never got in the way of his military career -- the very same career that 'saved the Union' and got him elected president, twice. Rumors by rivals is also an idea that should not be glossed over. Sherman had to deal with the same sort of descending rumors. When he said that it was going to take 200,000 troops to fight the Confederates in the Western theater he was deemed by some individuals to be "insane", and thereafter many (esp in the press) 'piled on' to that rumor, which he, also, overcame with his performance. Preponderance of facts have this way of getting in the way of exceptions, speculations and assumptions from afar. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:30, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
None of the RS I have seen tells what Washington knew about Grant's behavior in California. His achievements after the Mex war were pretty routine, and his promotion was perhaps "routine" in a day when lots of talented young officers were quitting the Army (like Sherman and McClellan did, also Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson and Henry Halleck )--they needed captains. The point I would like to make from the RS is that the "problem" helped shape his personality--no other serious explanation has been offered that I know of for what McFeeley calls his "remarkable degree of self-confidence" (p xiii). As for rumors, wiki editors have to trust in the RS to decide what to put in the article. the RS know all about rumors and nasty personality conflicts. Rjensen (talk) 10:26, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the RS authors all know more about Grant than we do--they spend years writing these books, which are then edited and reviewed by other experts. That's what makes them reliable in the first place. --Coemgenus (talk) 12:30, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Insert: Many of those reliable sources speak of rumors and jealous enemies and meddlesom reporters who had (have) a well established reputation for lies and exaggerations. Sherman and others were the victims of false reporting. Some reporters we arrested for it, or for tipping off the enemy. Some of those reliable sources offer varying accounts. As usual, we present the facts, per reliable sources, and mention the varied opinions. i.e.There's not one account of Grant actually being seen drunk, disorderly, or hung over before a battle, etc. What they do emphasize is promotions, one after the other, and a man who was largely responsible for ending the Civil War. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:59, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Is there a proposed addition for the article ? Harrison Terrell, Grant's valet said that it took two drinks for Grant to have slurred speech. That would mean that Grant was an alchoholic in the sense it did not take much for Grant to get drunk. We need to leave room for the reader to think. A neutral article allows readers to come to their own conclusions about Grant. Are there sources that say Grant overcame alchoholism ? We don't know how often Grant was "drunk", and as a whole, his drinking did not affect his ability to fight in the American Civil War. It did not affect his ability to serve as President for two terms. It did get him fired from the military at Fort Humbolt. It would help if there was a proposed addition to the article that has sources so editors can review. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:53, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
Actually, rumors of drinking are what got Grant fired, and by a commander who heard of the rumor second hand, and who was a rival of Grant who had past issues with him, and who, for some reason, didn't include allegations of drinking in his report. He probably didn't want to commit (perjure?) himself and simply had the record indicate that Grant resigned of his own accord. Allegations made by disgruntled or enterprising individuals, and copy cats like Halleck who piled on to give needed weight to their other complaints, seem to be the common denominator behind nearly all the rumors, which is the context we should include in any statement. -- Gwillhickers (talk)
Gwillhickers, Grant admitted he was drinking at Fort Humbolt. He said his resignation had to do with his drinking, if I am interpreting his statement correctly. Buchanan would have court martialed Grant if Grant did not resign. That is why I said Grant got fired. Rumors and gossip might have some truth to them. Grant was second in command at Fort Humbolt. Maybe Buchanan saw Grant as a rival and wanted to get rid of him. I think it is better to say Grant was an alchoholic, rather then a drunk. He made efforts afterwards to abstain from alchohol. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:23, 10 July 2017 (UTC)
The article already says Years later, he said, "the vice of intemperance (drunkenness) had not a little to do with my decision to resign.. No one seems to know to what extent Grant drank in terms of being drunk, and again, Buchanan didn't mention it in his report, which, for someone giving ultimatums to resign or face court martial, seems a bit odd. All we can do is speculate about that, along with everything else. Grant mentioned his drinking at Fort Humboldt in his memoirs, and it's the only mention. Evidently, rumors of Grant's drinking at Fort Humboldt are what dogged him for the rest of his military career by rivals who had to play on incidents in the distant past to get over on Grant in the present (Civil War). There is the case referred to by engineer William Smith, per his autobiography, but that was an exceptional event it seems. I'm sure Grant like many other officers had a few drinks, even one too many, from time to time while off duty. Is this the only basis to the idea of Grant being an incorrigible alcoholic? Again Grant's promotions and continued performance are ample evidence that any drinking he did was incidental and while off duty. McFeely says Grant was falsely stereotyped, and other sources say rumors were spread by jealous enemies and reporters. Let's be careful not to take 2+2 and try to present it as 100 as they did. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 01:41, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Buchanan gave the option of resigning with no mention by anyone, or a court martial that would go on his record and if found guilt would be a very bad public humiliation. Brands p 73 Rjensen (talk) 04:15, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes. Court martials are designed to humiliate. Buchanan never said why he did not pursue a courtmartial, as far as I know. John C. Frémont was arrested in California 1847 and dragged accross the country to face a courtmartial by General Stephen W. Kearney for insubordination, probably unfairly, Frémont had formed the California Battalion during the Mexican American War and spurred on the California revolt in 1846. It was likely Kearny was jealous of Frémont. There was a dispute over who would be California governor, had nothing to do with alchohol. It would not be surprising of Buchanan was jealous of Grant, who was second in command at Fort Humbolt. Why Buchanan let Grant off the hook is unknown. Had Grant been courtmartialed he probably would have been marched accross the continent to face courtmartial in Washington D.C. Had Grant been convicted, he probably would not have been allowed in the Army when the American Civil War started. If Grant admitted to drinking at Fort Humbolt, then he did drink. That is a self confession. Maybe Buchanan did not have enough damaging evidence to convict Grant. Cmguy777 (talk) 04:54, 11 July 2017 (UTC)


The discussion has been interesting but at this point I'm not sure why were going through all of this. The article already makes a good number of statements on this topic, and we have among the several sources, Dorsette:

  • While serving at Fort Humbolt, Grant was bored with little to do and upset at being separated from his wife Julia, he began to drink heavily.<Dorsett essay><White, pp.118–120; Encyclopedia of the Mex'War, p. 271>
  • Years after Grant's departure, gossip widely persisted among Army officers of Grant's drinking, however the idea was often exaggerated by jealous enemies, while the evidence remains elusive.<McFeely, p.; Catton, p.68> Years later, he said, "the vice of intemperance (drunkenness) had not a little to do with my decision to resign.<Smith, pp. 87–88; Lewis, pp.328–332>
  • He made several efforts through his professional contacts, including Major General George B. McClellan, who refused to meet him, remembering Grant's earlier reputation for drinking.<Flood, p.43>
  • Three days later Halleck followed up with a postscript claiming "word has just reached me that...Grant has resumed his bad habits (of drinking)".<Groom, pp.138, 143-144>  Lincoln, regardless, promoted Grant to major-general ...
  • In response to allegations of Grant's drinking, his staff officer, William R. Rowley, maintained that "The man who fabricated that story is an infamous liar". Other witnesses claimed that Grant was sober on the morning of April 6.<White, pp.224-225>  Lincoln dismissed Grant's critics ...

Seems we've covered the topic well, with an acknowledgment by Grant himself of his drinking at Fort Humboldt. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:35, 10 July 2017 (UTC)

Proposal for a new section on drinking[edit]

I have a suggestion on the drinking question. 1) we have a separate section on brand spanking, that includes the scattered information we now have. The resignation episode should also have a section on drinking has a cause of resignation. All the biographers give extensive attention to the question, from dealing with it from 10 to 30 times in their books, and we have a major scholarly study by Dorsett. The popular image of grant as a drunkard is quite strong, and I think many readers will expect coverage in Wikipedia. [“Ulysses Grant drunkard” turns up thousands of citations. I think the section should include the following points: 1) Grant at the time, and since has a reputation as a drunkard; and that reputation was often used by his political enemies during the Civil War. Longacre says “Many of the anecdotes on which his reputation as a drunkard were built are exaggerations or fabrications….That said, Grant became inebriated on too many occasions.” Longacre says it was “alcoholism.” 2) Grant was never a heavy drinker and cannot be called a drunkard. 4) Grant was never drunk in the course of making any military decision. 5) Grant was in modern terminology an alcoholic: his body had an incessant demand for alcohol. The drugs to overcome addiction that medicine uses today did not exist at the time. 6) “Definition - an alcoholic is a person, while alcoholism is the illness. An alcoholic suffers from alcoholism. Alcoholism is a long-term (or “chronic”) disease. Alcoholics are obsessed with alcohol and cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work, and financially.” Cite 7) grant’s wife Julia and close friends and especially his top wartime aide Rawlings realized the problem early on and tried to protect him; He apparently never had a binge episode while they were around. 8) Grant recognized that he had a problem, and said so. He explicitly mentioned in connection with his army resignation. White reports that Grant said "I have become convinced that there is no safety from ruined by liquor except by abstaining from it altogether" so he joined the Sons of Temperance. He pledged never to drink & organized a Sons Lodge at his barracks--White p 105. 9) he was a binge drinker – many drinks at one sitting-- and often drank alone. 10) he had no outside hobbies or activities even Congress and no conversational skills; he was extremely lonely when separated from Julia. Drinking was a solution for this. 11) Grant could not hold his liquor -- two or three drinks of whiskey made him intoxicated, with ruddy face and slurred speech. 12) the Army tolerated heavy drinking off-duty; drinking on duty was an offense; being intoxicated on duty was a court-martial issue. Army customs disparaged a man who could not hold his liquor. 13) a major point introduced by Dorsett and endorsed by Longacre, Bonekemper, McPherson, Farina and others: Grant work very hard his entire life to overcome his weakness. The argument is that his intense focus proved successful . There are no reported episodes while he was president or on the world tour-- when the news media was watching very closely. Biographers have noted “his remarkable degree of self-confidence enabled grant to make a very great Mark in the terrible American Civil War” (McFeeley p xiii), and Dorsett provides an explanation that is solidly based on the scholarship and will provide a fresh perspective for many of our readers. Rjensen (talk) 08:20, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

I'm not sure. I agree that it's a major issue that all Grant's biographers address, and I think it should have a larger section in the historiography sub-article, but I think we already do well here to address specific accusations and incidents within the flow of the narrative when they happened. --Coemgenus (talk) 12:50, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
That section is inadequate and hagiographical. Which, I suppose, I should say there as well as here. YoPienso (talk) 16:39, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
it's very hard to split up the 13 main points in chronological order with a sentence or two here and there--for example the key point #13 (willpower rejection of liquor) took place over decades and apart from 1854 the drinking episodes were not especially important. Rjensen (talk) 14:29, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
I think there is too much speculation, possibly unintentional original research, involved in applying modern medical information on alchoholism to a 19th Century President. Grant was off duty when he was found "drunk" at Fort Humbolt. If it was okay for an officer to drink off duty, then why did Buchanan threaten Grant with a courtmartial or forced resignation ? Also, from Rjensen's information, Buchanan then was upset because Grant could not hold his liquor, not because he was drinking. It was being "drunk" that upset Buchanan, not that Grant was drinking. If there is a source that says Grant by modern standards was an alchohilic and that he abstained from drinking to keep from being intoxicated I don't have a problem with that being added to the article. I don't think a whole new section is necessary. Smith says Grant did not drink when he went to a bars with a friends in St. Louis. Grant knew he had a drinking problem. There is an inherant problem with the military protocol of allowing officers to drink, but don't get drunk. Grant was not a very big man, and alchohol would have more of an affect on him. Is there a source that says Grant was an alchoholic ? Cmguy777 (talk) 15:05, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Dorsett says Grant was an alcoholic. Here is a one sentence note proposal: "Historian Lyle Dorsett in 1983 said that Grant was an alcoholic binge drinker, who could function amazingly well without drinking for extensive periods of time." Cmguy777 (talk) 15:47, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
That makes it sound like one guy 35 years ago thought Grant was an alcoholic. Grant had a drinking problem, and this article should be unequivocal on the matter. YoPienso (talk) 16:41, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
You are absolutely right YoPienso, Dorsett "one guy" 35 years ago said Grant was an alcoholic binge drinker. Historians debate the extent of Grant's drinking or alcoholism and how it affected his life. That is the problem with this issue is that it is hard to sort out all the differing opinions on Grant and drinking intermixed with modern information on alcoholism and military policy that says drink but don't get drunk. The above sentence is accurate and reliable. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:54, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Is there any historian who doesn't say Grant had a drinking problem? I didn't think this was actively debated. He did. He talked about it himself in his memoirs. --Coemgenus (talk) 16:59, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Right, but we see one or two editors here trying to obfuscate the issue and paper over the very real problem Grant struggled with. YoPienso (talk) 17:14, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Historians are not always clear like Dorsett, who just came out and said Grant was a binge drinking alcoholic. I was addressing Grant as an alcoholic, without the negativity associated of being a "drunk" or the Lost Cause. The extent of Grant's alcoholism is debatable and speculative. I am not against calling Grant an alcoholic in the article. I am not obfusating the issue or papering over Grant's alcoholism. If Grant is viewed as an alcoholic, without endorsing the Lost Cause view of the Civil War, Grant's presidency and Reconstruction, in the article, then I have nothing against that. Cmguy777 (talk) 18:02, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Alternative suggestion: While most historians accept Grant was an alcoholic, the exent of how much his drinking problem affected his military and political careers, and public-private life, is debated. Cmguy777 (talk) 18:21, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

Ideas for statements[edit]

Alternative suggestion: While most historians accept Grant was an alcoholic, the exent of how much his drinking problem affected his public, political, and military career is debated. Cmguy777 (talk) 18:21, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
  • There is no official designation for "alcoholic", which is a subjective term that has a wide variation of interpretations. It can mean, one drinks every day ,excessively; one has more than two drinks a day; one drinks occasionally on a binge, or that one is a falling down drunken slob. Best to refer to it as the biographers do. "Drinking". -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:26, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
  • This seems to be getting blown way out of proportion. Most if not all biographers address Grant's drinking in passing, per other topics associated with it, like Fort Humboldt, rumors perpetuated by Halleck after the fall of Fort Donelson, and rumors at Shiloh, perpetuated by a disgruntled reporter who was expelled by Grant from the district after the battle and who retaliated by 'piling on' to the old stand-by rumor of drinking. None of them have committed a chapter to the incidents and resultant rumors. Likewise, we don't create an entire section based on the opinion of one or two sources -- who offer no new facts, but lots of conjecture, embellishments and opinions. We should do the same, mention drinking in context, per topic, which we already have. We are giving this topic way too much weight, and based on speculations from exceptional and inconclusive facts when Grant was in California, alone and away from wife Julia and a child he had yet to see. Grant had a problem with drinking in California, however, if Grant's "problem" was that much of a factor in later years the army would not tolerated him during the Civil War, they would not have given him commands, one after the other, and he would have been roundly opposed for promotion, which never happened. We already have at least five statements for Grant's drinking, and we now say it effected his performance while at the fort in California. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:26, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Gwillhickers, can you offer any alternative to my proposed suggestion ? That would help. Cmguy777 (talk) 19:34, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
While most historians accept that Grant took to drinking during his early military career in California, the exent of how much his drinking affected his public, political, and military career is debated, as the evidence remains elusive. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:46, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
It's a start. A reference would be needed. One thing I would like to mention is that Grant is not on trial. We don't need to present this as a court case. Dorsett said Grant was an alcoholic. We can't ignore that. I think most historians accept Grant had a drinking problem. Dorsett says Grant was a binge drinker, meaning he drank occasionally, but it did not take much for Grant to become intoxicated. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:20, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
McFeely, Brands and Smith cover this. "Binge drinker" makes it sound as if Grant just up and went off and pickled himself, as if some awful calamity fell on his shoulders all at once. Grant had a "problem", alone in his room and apparently at the Paymaster's desk -- yet the account there doesn't say he messed up the pay meted out to soldiers. Keeping facts and figures and names in order requires a certain amount of sobriety. So how much drinking did Grant do at that juncture really? It seems that a scornful Buchanan, given a second hand account, seized the opportunity to get over on Grant who was longing to 'get out of Dodge' to begin with. Buchanan chose not to nail the allegations down in his report, apparently not wanting to commit in the face of Grant's fellow officers and others who said he (re)acted too harshly over a minor incident. However, there must of been an occasion where Grant indeed had 'one more for the road' when his duty wasn't on the line. That's not to say he ever fell over. As RJensen points out, per Dorsette, this entire trial caused Grant to face the music and helped him to strengthen an already innate sound character. When Grant returned home after resigning he was active in a church organization and lectured about the misgivings of drinking. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 06:04, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
re how much his drinking affected his public, political, and military career is debated,. Not much debate in 2017. I think historians are agreed: 1) he never made a major decision while under the influence. 2) his enemies (like Halleck) hurt him badly through repeated attacks on his "drunkenness." 2a) I added mention of its use in the 1868 election campaign. 3) his popular reputation into recent times = drunkard. (Ike said he thought so, for example. Perret biography 1997 p 432 says " Just as surely as the one thing that Americans know about Grant the soldier is that he was a hopeless drunkard") 4) we should add the argument of Dorsett -McPherson etc that his long-term battle against the powerful urge to drink built up a very strong personality charateristic that made him a much better general. Rjensen (talk) 09:42, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree with all of that. Now: can we get it down to one or two sentences? --Coemgenus (talk) 12:08, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
a couple of paragraphs will do the job. The article has lots of topics that people can read or skip. Rjensen (talk) 12:29, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
That seems like overkill, considering how much we already discuss it. Or did you mean to cut all of the in-context discussion of drunkenness in favor of one section on the topic. --Coemgenus (talk) 13:08, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Let's try this: 470 words in one paragraph:
Grant's drinking Grant’s critics in the army, and in politics, repeatedly stressed that he was a drunkard and therefore unsuited for high command. The reputation continues to persist; biographer Geoffrey Perret noted in 1997 that “the one thing that Americans know about Grant the soldier is that he was a hopeless drunkard".[1] Historians are agreed he was not a drunkard-- he was seldom drunk in public, and never made a major military or political decision while inebriated. However he could not hold his liquor-- a couple of drinks would slur his speech. Much more important, he could never shake a profound longing for alcohol, especially when he was lonely and separated from his family. It troubled him all his life, even though he knew it was damaging to his career. His wife Julia, and during the 1860s his top aide John Rawlins worked indefatigably to keep him away from the bottle. They succeeded – his binges happened when they were not around. Biographer Edward Longacre says “Many of the anecdotes on which his reputation as a drunkard were built are exaggerations or fabrications….That said, Grant became inebriated on too many occasions.”[2] Longacre and numerous modern historians have concluded he was probably an alcoholic in terms of craving liquor. [3] The issue was how well he could control himself. The Army tolerated heavy drinking off-duty, but it did not tolerate drinking on duty, and being inebriated on duty was a court-martial offense.[4] American notions of maleness at the time said a person who could not hold his liquor was not a real man. [5] Grant knew he had a problem, saying "I have become convinced that there is no safety from ruined by liquor except by abstaining from it altogether." He was joined the Sons of Temperance and pledged never to drink. [6] Biographers have emphasized how “his remarkable degree of self-confidence enabled Grant to make a very great mark in the terrible American Civil War”.[7] Historians led by Lyle Dorsett [8] have argued that Grant worked very hard his entire life to overcome his weakness. There are no reported episodes while he was president or on the world tour, even though the media was well aware of the rumors and watched him closely. His intense dedication proved successful and it not only resolved the alcoholism threat it made him a better decision maker and general. McPherson states that Grant's::predisposition to alcoholism may have made him a better general. His struggle for self disciplined enabled him to understand and discipline others; the humiliation of prewar failures gave him a quiet humility that was conspicuously absent from so many other generals... Because Grant had nowhere to go but up, he could act with more boldness and decision and commanders who dared not risk failure."[9] [end] Rjensen (talk) 13:20, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
I have to agree with Coemgenus on this Rjensen. One or two sentences will work on the subject in the bio article. More information would add undo weight to Grant's drinking. Grant has a reputation article. This information could be put in that article. I added comments that historians debate the extent and affects Grant's drinking had on his career. I added Dorsett called him an alchoholic. Drinking was very common at the 4th Infantry in California at Fort Humbolt. Maybe Buchanan was trying to make Grant an example for other officers. I recommend the above paragraph be put in Grant's reputation article and have a serperate section on his drinking reputation. Cmguy777 (talk) 14:30, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
  • I am amenable to something a bit more in this article (less than Rjensen and more than cmguy, perhaps), but I will let you all work out the details -as I won't be getting back to the library soon. But speaking of the library, I was in it several months ago, and one of the articles I pulled up on my screen was Wikipedia's US Grant, at that moment, an extremely well educated librarian friend of mine walked by, and made the comment "Grant? Sad example of someone who ruined things because of alcohol." I know it means nothing here, but just FYI - it's out there - that librarian is no Grant scholar but if educated people casually toss of things like that - it's out there. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:02, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
"Grant? Sad example of someone who ruined things because of alcohol." What things did Grant ruin ? Grant did defeat the Ku Klux Klan. Was he drunk then ? He was President for two terms. You think Queen Victoria and Bizmark would have dinner or conversation with a drunk. Was Grant drunk when Robert E. Lee signed Grant's surrender terms. If Grant was drunk how could he write down the terms of surrender. With all do respect to the librarian, it is difficult to say Grant's alcoholism destroyed Grant's life. Were Grant and Julia divorced ? No. Did Grant occasionally get drunk off of a few drinks. Yes. Andrew Johnson who was a drinker himself does not get this much scrutiny. Besides. This article is starting to look like an alcholics anonymous program. Is Wikipedia advocating to its readers to stop drinking ? Cmguy777 (talk) 19:09, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Uh, it should be clear from my comment that there is no point in picking apart that librarian's casual comment - I did not pursue it with her, it just was a striking reaction, to me, that is all. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:19, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Yes. Grant was an alcoholic. In that sense the librarian was correct. The extent that it affected his personal, public, political, religious, and military life is subjective and speculative. Cmguy777 (talk) 21:35, 12 July 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Geoffrey Perret (1997). Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President. p. 432. 
  2. ^ Edward Longacre (2007). General Ulysses S. Grant: The Soldier and the Man. p. 12. 
  3. ^ “Alcoholics are obsessed with alcohol and cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work, and financially.” Cite
  4. ^ Brands, 73
  5. ^ Roy Rosenzweig (1985). Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870-1920. p. 63. 
  6. ^ White p 105.
  7. ^ McFeeley p xiii
  8. ^ Cite Dorsett also Longacre, Bonekemper, McPherson, Farina.
  9. ^ McPherson, Battle Cry p 589

Grant drinking reputation continued[edit]

Agree with Cmguy and Coemgenus. We already have at least five statements that touch on drinking that are presented in context with the given topics. I've no problem with mentioning Grant's efforts to keep his drinking in check in his earlier life, i.e.facts, and how it may have strengthened his character, i.e.speculation. However, this is a biography, not a historiography, so I am strongly opposed to adding more than two or three extra statements, in addition to existing coverage. There could be undue weight and pov issues, per the many sources who cover Grant's alleged drinking in context. Again, drinking never got in the way of Grant during the Civil War. He was always surrounded by his staff and other officers during the various campaigns, was promoted time and again, and went on to win major campaigns and the civil war. There are a list of statements I have ready that discuss rumors by people not around Grant, that could also be added, if it comes to that. Overall we should present the facts, and mention that opinions vary. If we want to expand on historical speculations we now have a dedicated article, with a dedicated section for this sort of thing. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:05, 12 July 2017 (UTC)

I would not oppose adding the bit at the end about how Grant's "struggle for self-discipline enabled him to understand and discipline others; the humiliation of prewar failures gave him a quiet humility that was conspicuously absent from so many other generals... Because Grant had nowhere to go but up, he could act with more boldness and decision and commanders who dared not risk failure." That's a valuable insight that could be added, for example, in the last paragraph of the "Chattanooga and promotion" section. --Coemgenus (talk) 21:27, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Since this is a summary article and not a book, it is difficult to speculate Grant's motivations for fighting the Civil War. He was a fighter. Frémont, a military outcast, saw that in Grant, and promoted him to Cairo. I have no doubt Grant was drunk a few times during the war. Maybe it was to take the edge off all of the violence and human casualties. This was the 19th Century and there was limited help for alcoholism. It seems we are getting a bit "preachy" in describing how bad alcohol is, in my opinion. Grant was drinking during the Mexican American war. He had no issues until Buchanan forced him to resign. I am sure Grant's fall from horses a few times was to do with alcohol intoxication. But that is speculation. It's ironic that Grant really only received support from Frémont known for his insubordination. McClernand, Grant's supposed rival, was the only General to support Grant's risky Vicksburgh campaign. I think we are putting weight too much weight on Grant's alcoholism. Grant himself was insubordinate like Frémont, and that is what made his successful. Cmguy777 (talk) 00:25, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
If this puts any perspective on Grant, Andrew Johnson was rumored to have a drinking problem too : Andrew Johnson: A Biographical Companion (Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, Richard Zuczek, 2001) Also, Grant suffered from migrains and maybe alcohol was used as a medication. A Brief History of Presidential Drinking Christopher Klein (February 13, 2015) Cmguy777 (talk) 01:39, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
Johnson was totally drunk on his inauguration as VP in March 1865 and gave an incoherent speech before hundreds of top national leaders and reporters. Rjensen (talk) 04:09, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
Our job is to report what the RS say and the overcoming-problem them has been set out by numerous scholars and denied by zero. Keep in mind the point that his popular reputation = drunkard and that sets the scene for many readers. Rjensen (talk) 04:13, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
It's not our job to change the reputation of Grant by the general public. Over emphasizing Grant's drinking problem or alcoholism could only exacerbate the issue. Klien says Grant drank brandy to overcome migraine issues. There are two issues here. 19th Century medical treatments were extremely limited. Was alchohol Grant's problem or was Buchanan Grant's problem ? I think it was both. Why was Buchanan's reaction to Grant's drinking so martinet when Buchanan allowed other officers to drink ? Did Grant ever go to a Sober Houses, the treatment for alcoholism that started in the 1840s ? The first single purpose treatment center for alcoholism was started in 1864 in New York: History of Rehab Facilities. Keeley institutes did not start until 1879. I have recommended that your paragraph Rjensen on Grant's alcoholism be put in Grant's reputation article. Coemgenus gave a paragraph compromise for Grant's bio article. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:28, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
I added Rjensen's paragraph on Grant's drinking to the Ulysses S. Grant historical reputation article. Cmguy777 (talk) 21:06, 13 July 2017 (UTC)

Insert :The section in that article is way too large, even five times as large is the Presidency section. There is not much coverage about the many incidents of rumors made by rivals and others which is largely what inflated Grant's "reputation" as a heavy drinker, not actual accounts, as there were none to speak of. There is only one account of "slurred speech" yet the section more than suggests Grant slurred every time he drank. Being unable to hold his liquor is also a subjective claim, and runs contrary to the fact that Grant functioned at the paymasters desk when it was reported that he had been drinking. The section needs to be trimmed down considerably and needs a lot of rewriting. It should have been presented as a draft before this huge amount of text was just stuck in the section. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 02:40, 14 July 2017 (UTC)

Is there support for information on Grant's drinking suggested by Coemgenus to be added to the Chattanooga and promotion section ? Cmguy777 (talk) 21:32, 13 July 2017 (UTC)
yes, good idea. Rjensen (talk) 02:16, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
Since Grant's biggest struggle with alcohol was after resigning in 1854 it seems mention of this would be better placed at the end of the Pacific duty and resignation section. Somewhere in there Grant also participated in a church group and discussed the perils of excessive drinking. Will have to check again for the name of the church and date. Who knows, maybe this was the predecessor to Alcoholics anonymous. (jest) -- Gwillhickers (talk) 02:23, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Rjensen. I think Sober Houses were the only treatment for alcoholics in the 1840's. How bad was Grant's drinking at Fort Humbolt ? Did Buchanan overreact? Why wasn't he given a demerit as the other officer mentioned ? We will never know. There was no court martial where all of this would have been brought up. How could a drunk actively look for work in St. Louis and hold his family together ? Speculations and unanswered questions abound. I don't mind treating Grant as an alcoholic in the article if it is viewed in terms of disease or inability to metabolize alcohol. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:39, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
Grant was not a drunk in Saint Louis as there are no accounts to that effect. The fact that Grant did function, worked in many places, albeit not very successfully business wise, and indeed held his family together, should put any such notion to rest. Grant had an affair with over drinking in 1854. He got over it, and from then on any account of Grant drinking, when he drank, was incidental and commonplace in terms of average men who drank with no problems. Drinking was only an issue for Grant during the Civil War when various individuals tried to make it an issue for their own sordid reasons. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 02:46, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
no--it was a lot more than "rumor" in 1853-4. Lt George McClellan spent a month in 1853 living with in Grant's shared house at Vancouver and was disgusted at his drinking, and the RS say McClellan "never forgot it." [Smith p 83; Brands p 73; Bonekemper p 9-10; White p 117; Buntin p 31; Charles King 1914 p 137; The notion that Grant's drinking after 1854 that was "incidental and commonplace in terms of average men " is not stated by any of the RS. Average alcoholics drank a lot and were often drunk. Grant worked enormously hard to do zero drinking. That was very unusual behavior and made him a better general say the experts like Dorsett & McPherson. This emphasis gives Grant a lot of credit and helps explain some of the mystery of how he was so self-confident as a general. Rjensen (talk) 14:57, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
According to White, p.117, the account about McClellan comes from Henry Hodges. Another second hand account. Did McClellan speak of the matter himself? We know he declined to see Grant during the beginning of the Civil War because of this incident. Like many other officers, I don't doubt Grant did some drinking in those days and had an encounter with McClellan, but the accounts are still elusive in terms of how much and how often Grant took to drinking, and to what extent it effected him. We don't know if Grant 'struggled' with alcohol all his life. Grant already had natural self confidence, even as a boy, with horses, and with making long journeys carrying passengers to other towns, etc, before he was ten years old. The idea that Grant 'became' confident because of trying to resist alcohol puts the cart before the horse. If he had to struggle with alcohol and did "zero" drinking, it was because Grant already had a strong constitution. He resorted to drinking in 1853-1854, being alone for a long time away from Julia and his children, idle, with not much to do around the fort during peacetime, and there are no accounts to what extent. The men around him claimed that an unfriendly Buchanan was making a big deal over a minor incident. If Grant was an actual drunkard it seems he would have not gotten the support from the men around him at the fort. All other accounts of Grant drinking thereafter occurred in public, on occasions or with a friend here or there, and indeed was a common form of drinking. After 1854, rumors are largely what have kept the idea of Grant's drinking alive and are greatly responsible for the "reputation" this functioning, committed and accomplished man has been saddled with. Like the sources say, rumors were spun from the 1854 incident, and the evidence remains elusive. All else has been speculation, regardless if it comes from an individual with a Phd. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:58, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
No -- Hodges is an excellent reliable source--he was there, he knew everyone, he was a friend of Grant, and historians trust him. He stated clearly that McClellan saw the binges in person and always held it against Grant--note that McC was a major power in Dem politics after 1864 so the Dem party attacks in 1868-72 were based on solid evidence. Rjensen (talk) 16:36, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
Gwillhickers. That is all speculation. We don't really know what went on in 1854 because Buchanan did not file a report. Certainly Grant deserved a reprimand from Buchanan, but why did Buchanan insist that Grant resign? We don't know all the times Grant was drinking or not drinking. We do know through circumstanial evidence, and possibly a few witnesses, that Grant drank and sometimes got drunk. Buchanan never witnessed Grant being drunk. From the information we do have I think it is safe to say Grant was an alcoholic who knew he could not hold his liquor and he made successful efforts to abstain alcohol after 1854. In my opinion Buchanan did not like Grant, possibly was jealous, and the drinking was an excuse to get rid of him. I don't think Buchanan had Grant's best interest in mind. A similar case took place between Frémont and General Kearney. Frémont was humiliated by Kearney, arrested in 1847 and forced to march back to Saint Louis from California. Frémont lost the court martial in 1848, but was reinserted into the military and given a partial pardon by Polk. Frémont resigned in protest. Why am I mentioning Frémont, because Frémont was Grant's commanding officer and gave him a promotion to Cairo. Frémont knew all to well the visciousness of army gossip he had to endure at his court martial. He sympathazied with Grant. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:25, 14 July 2017 (UTC) Cmguy777 (talk) 05:18, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
. Well, you say we don't know what went on in 1854, then turn around a say "certainly" Grant deserved a reprimand. Buchanan got the rumor second hand, and by the time the rumor reached him it no doubt got embellished along the way, as is typical of rumors. This is no doubt why Buchanan didn't commit himself to something that could have come back and haunted him as perjury, ruining his career. It was know grant was depressed and longed to leave the army. Seems Buchanan took advantage of that idea. As long as we're speculating, let's consider all probabilities. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:58, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
Since the sentences in question deal with Grant's triumph over adversity, it makes more sense to but them in the section where he actually triumphed, winning major battles and being promoted over his detractors. --Coemgenus (talk) 12:00, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
I agree Coemgenus. But we need a few sentences for the proposed section. Thanks. Cmguy777 (talk) 14:35, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
As mentioned, I'm not opposed to mentioning Grant's efforts in his dealings with drinking after 1854 -- just as long as we don't say this struggle lasted his entire life. Aside from the account with the Sons of Temperance, and a church group, after 1854, there is nothing more than speculations about any life long struggle. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 18:58, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
"Speculation" that every single Grant biographer credits to some extent. All of the reliable sources discuss Grant's struggles with drinking after 1854. When you say "All else has been speculation, regardless if it comes from an individual with a Phd.", I can't disagree more. Our job is to summarize the reliable sources, not to give our own opinions. When you dismiss the analysis of a wide swathe of historians, you're substituting your judgement for theirs. Surely you can see the problem with that. --Coemgenus (talk) 20:01, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
More succinctly: you seem to be looking for truth; Wikipedia seeks verifiability. --Coemgenus (talk) 20:04, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't think it is speculation Grant was an alcoholic or had a drinking problem by most historians, but the extent of his drinking is speculation. Grant admitted he had a drinking problem. Accounts of his drinking are from witnesses and hearsay. We know Grant fell and injured himself while riding horses. He could have been drunk, but don't know without sobriety testing that did not exist until 1981. I am not against a brief paragraph that mentions Grant made efforts to stop drinking and stay sober. His drinking may have been used as a 19 Century medication to relieve his migraine headaches. Cmguy777 (talk) 21:00, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
I'd like to see what RS's articulate Grant's "struggle" after 1854, more over, during the Civil War. There are no actual accounts. From what I've read, in a good number of sources, drinking after 1854 is mentioned only in passing, often presented as rumors after the fact, or when e.g.McClellan declined to see Grant at the onset of the Civil War, because of an incident in 1854. Again, Grant's several promotions in rank, per his continual performance, seem to negate any speculations that he was struggling with alcohol after his service in California. After California, most if not all Grant's biographers have nothing to say about any relationship with alcohol in terms of actual accounts. None of them have committed paragraphs, or a chapter, on the idea. Likewise, we should do the same, proportionately. i.e.We have a giant sized section in the reputation article. What biographers do mention are allegations from individuals like Halleck, and from disgruntled reporters, as occurred at Shiloh, along with eye witness accounts from people surrounding Grant which maintain that rumors which surfaced during the Civil War were BS. McFeely maintains Grant has been wrongly stereotyped, and actual evidence is elusive. Again, rumors are largely what have inflated Grant's reputation in modern times as an excessive drinker. This idea seems to have been roundly ignored here in Talk. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 07:35, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
Giant Sized section in his article on his reputation ? How can that be ? His reputation of drinking caused his forced resignation at Fort Humbolt and seven years of financial stress. His reputation for drinking caused him not to be admitted to the military on the onset of the Civil War. It was Frémont, who had himself endured a humiliating court martial, that empathized with Grant, and gave him a break. We can't sweep how damaging the rumors of Grant's drinking ruined his early military career under the rug. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:04, 15 July 2017 (UTC)

reputation versus reality on drinking[edit]

Reputation and reality are different dimensions. There is no doubt among historians that Grant's reputation during the Civil War, during his presidential campaigns, and in recent decades was severely adversely affected by widespread statements about his drinking behavior. We have the interesting case of General Eisenhower – whose own military-political career most resembles that of Grant – firmly believing Grant was a drunkard until he looked into the matter. The debate in 1862 included top generals as Halleck and McClellan, and finally had to be resolved by Lincoln himself. Grant ran twice for president, and made a third try in 1880. Each time his drinking reputation was a significant weapon used by his opponents. As for our own times, we have multiple recent statements by scholars (like Waugh) to the effect that his popular reputation includes a major drinking factor. The reality issue is somewhat different, and I think includes two propositions: a) did Grant ever get drunk? the RS historians we have been citing agree that the answer is yes. b) Grant's drinking ever affect a major decision? . RS agree on "no" c) Did his battle against alcoholism make him a better general? Here we have multiple historians who agree that indeed it did. We have zero RS who deny this. This of course is a very favorable theme for Grant's reputation. Given the general public view of the importance of the drinking issue, I think it is the responsibility of Wikipedia editors to clarify the situation so that a reader will understand the issues and have a guide to the RS for possible follow-up, for example by student term papers. Downplaying the issue in Wikipedia tends to leave the public misperception in place, which I consider an unfortunate result. Rjensen (talk) 12:24, 15 July 2017 (UTC)

The extent of Grant's drinking is speculation. I don't mind seperating rumors versus realities if it can be done. It was war that made Grant a better general. He focused. His object was to defeat the enemy. He had a "will to kill" like Robert E. Lee. His men dying on field battle did not bother him. He faced death at Belmont during the retreat. He faced death routinely during battles. Did he drink to take the edge off at times? I would say yes. But we really need a proposal. Endless talk on Grant's drinking is not helping the matter. Where is the brief paragraph ? Cmguy777 (talk) 16:16, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
Insert : -- We don't really need a paragraph, but a good statement. If it's well written the idea can be expressed with one or two sentences. The statement should express the idea as something subjective, not factual, with at least two sources, ideally, from biographers, not from an account that roundly puts down historians and biographers, past and present, that does little more than assert opinion, with no new facts to offer. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:30, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
the war made everyone a better general--previously almost no one (except Scott) had commanded large units or fought big battles. but Grant was very special in his learning ability because he had less to lose say the RS. Rjensen (talk) 16:31, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Agree with your first point -- the war made everyone a better general, but I fail to see where Grant had nothing to lose. What about his family, his reputation, the respect of family, friends and fellow officers? What about his own self respect? Seems all the biographers say he had a lot of that. Which source(s) actually explains how Grant had less to lose?-- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:16, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
  • For whatever it's worth, your last few edits to the Reputation article are fine. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:23, 15 July 2017 (UTC)
I added Rjensen's paragraph to the Grant's reputation article. What is the difference between a statement and a paragraph ? Grant's reputation article needs to have room for expansion. That is why it was started in first place. Where is this statement proposal for editors to address for Grant's bio article ? Cmguy777 (talk) 01:02, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

I made myself clear about one or two sentences for this article. Call it a paragraph if you prefer. Coemgenus might be better to ask regarding your other question. The Drinking section in the Reputation article is far too big. Grant drank, opinions vary. We don't need an entire page+ of text to cover that. The article looks ridiculous, with a Presidency section only a few sentences long, while the Drinking section has Grant under a microscope with a lot of subjective text. The Presidency section is what needs to be expanded, greatly. Time to step back and look at the bigger picture, as historians and biographers have done. We cover drinking in context and in proportion to their coverage. The jest of the coverage on drinking has improved, but it needs to be condensed. Grant is famous for winning the Civil War and ascending to the Presidency for two terms, not for any drinking he may have done. We need to correct this flagrant undue weight problem. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 04:29, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Gwillhickers. One article at a time. Did you have a paragraph or statement proposal for this article on Grant's drinking ? As far as Grant's Presidency goes, historians are critical of Grant's administration abilities, and his handling of the economy, but give him more credit for pursuing equal justice, according to the 2017 CSPAN Rankings. Historians are critical of Grant corruption scandals and his conservative response to the Panic of 1873. Cmguy777 (talk) 14:48, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Questions about sections of a lead paragraph[edit]

Sections of the third lead paragraph are in question. Specifically, the following:

  • "He also used the army to build the Republican Party in the South".
Where in the article body is this stated? And what citations support this claim?
Grant's army propped up the Republican governments of several states. "The Republican governments, the first of which did not appear until 1868, were propped up by the Republican dominated federal government, northern Republican money, and the presence of an army of occupation. " says Richard K. Scher - 2016
  • "After the disenfranchisement of some former Confederates, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices".
The term "disenfranchisement" isn't used in the article body. This sentence implies Republicans gained majorities because of their disfranchisement. Where in the article body is this stated? And what citations support this claim?
it's now stated as the disfranchisement clause of the 14th amendment Rjensen (talk) 23:08, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Rjensen It's still not clear to me where in the article body this is stated? And what citations support this claim? Perhaps I'm overlooking it. Mitchumch (talk) 14:50, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
  • "In his second term, the Republican coalitions in the South splintered and were defeated one by one, as a faction of white Southern "Redeemers" regained control of Southern state governments using violence, voter fraud, and racist appeal. In response, Grant signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 into law".
To my knowledge, the 1875 Act had nothing to with political violence. Again, where in the article body is this stated? And what citations support this claim? Smith p 552-53

Thanks. Mitchumch (talk) 22:03, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

It's in Brands 552-53 he told Congress in January 1875 he could not, "see with indifference Union men or Republicans ostracized, persecuted, and murdered."[1] He asked Congress to act. "Grant's appeal produced results" says Brands-- and he signed the 1875 law.Rjensen (talk) 23:27, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Whites in the South did not accept blacks as citizens. Violent tactics, threats of intimidation, were used to scare blacks, who were denied motels or other public places. It shows that laws can't change hearts and stubborn pride. Grant had to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan to keep blacks from violence. Blacks who stayed at whites only motels were subject to being lynched. Thousands of blacks were lynched in the South in the 1860s and 1870s because they were not considered citizens by whites. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:06, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
My concern about the sentence in the article surrounds the disconnect between the violence described in the first sentence and the legislative intent of the CRA 1875. The entire quote from Brands states, "'... persecuted, and murdered on account of their opinions, as they now are in some localities.' But to continue his defense of equal rights and to have a prayer of success, he needed a show of support from the legislative branch." This excerpt implies (at least to me) a different motive for the CRA 1875 - "to continue his defense of equal rights" not to prevent violent attacks upon African Americans.
No matter the interpretation of Brands excerpt, the sentence in the article doesn't inform the reader that the act was not crafted to address violence, but racial discrimination. I was confused by the article sentence, because I knew what the CRA 1875 was designed to do. It needs to be rewrote to match the clarity of the content in the article body. Mitchumch (talk) 13:15, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
there are two separate issues: a) what was the 1875 law designed to do by its sponsors? (ans: more equality esp public accommodations) and b) what did Grant want (end to violence against Republicans says Brands and also Smith p 567 and especially White p 555--that is the thrust of his special message to Congress Jan 13 1875 that does emphasizes election violence, atrocities & murder. It contains no call for general equal rights re public accommodations. The new law was not what he asked for --so maybe we should just drop any mention of 1875 law. see ). This article is about Grant and what he wanted so we should go with b). Rjensen (talk) 14:14, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
I would say the article is about Grant and what he did. Signing the CRA 1875 is an often noted deed, so retaining it should proceed. However, it is not integrated into the lead paragraph clearly. A simple rewrite should suffice.
To piggy-back off your idea "This article is about Grant", the only sentences in the lead that do not describe what Grant did are,
"After the disenfranchisement clause of the Fourteenth Amendment removed the political rights of many Southern leaders who supported the Confederacy, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. The Democrats and Liberal Republicans united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but were unable to defeat his reelection."
Mitchumch (talk) 14:50, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Mitchumch, what would happen to a black who stayed at a hotel room with whites in the South? Violence or the threat of violence would be the result because whites did not view blacks as citizens. Grant was trying to prevent violence againt blacks and whites who supported black citizenship. 1,000s of blacks were being killed between the 1860s and 1870s from white violence. The law's intent was to stop violence against blacks. It was not an enforcement act like Klan Act of 1871. It was a civil rights act, the first to be signed by a President of the United States. But what is civil rights? The freedom to stay at a hotel or go to the theater without the threat of violence or intimidation. The article merely says the Act was a response to violence against black citizens in the South. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:23, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
"To say that the murder of a negro or a white Republican is not considered a crime in Louisiana would probably be unjust to a great part of the people, but it is true that a great number of such murders have been committed and no one has been punished therefor; and manifestly, as to them, the spirit of hatred and violence is stronger than law." Ulysses S. Grant (January 13, 1875) Special Message Blacks were being killed without punishment. There was lawlessness in the South and the Civil Rights Act was a response to restore law and order. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:41, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
I understand the purpose of the act. However, the legislative history of the act is unrelated to the violence in the South. And it appears the passage of the act in Congress is less connected to Grants message to Congress, than to the passing of Charles Sumner. Mitchumch (talk) 16:44, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
  1. ^ Brands 2012a, p. 552.
I rewrote the sentence "To protect blacks from discrimination in the South, Grant signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1875." Cmguy777 (talk) 16:14, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
it was not the bill Grant asked for --he wanted protection against election-day violence which it did not provide--and he played no role beyond a one-minute signature. Rjensen (talk) 20:22, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Rjensen His signature was not an autograph. It's part of the law making process. Along with the Enforcement Act of 1870, First Enforcement Act of 1871, and Second Enforcement Act of 1871 the CRA 1875 constituted the bulk of his legislative accomplishments to extend and protect the rights and privileges of citizenship for African Americans. No different than the civil rights legislation of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson. Mitchumch (talk) 20:38, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Congress rejected the law he wanted and gave him something he never supported. Mentioning it misleads readers into thinking he supported it. Rjensen (talk) 20:46, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Rjensen When a president signs a bill, instead of veto or pocket veto, that means the president supports it. Besides, reliable sources routinely mention the bill as part of his accomplishments as president. It is not our job to cherry pick, only summarize. Mitchumch (talk) 21:44, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
"support" only in the sense he did not veto it--but you don't get much encyclopedia credit for that. Congress refused the authority he urgently demanded and passed a law he cared nothing about. Grant gets no credit from Smith (who has no mention of the 1875 act) or from McFeeley p 418 or Simpson ("Reconstruction presidents" pp 180-8` who stresses how Congress refused to give him authority to suppress violence. Simpson says the 1875 act was "an empty declaration" p 181 Rjensen (talk) 22:10, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Grant did want the South to accept blacks as citizens and stop sectionalism. No one forced him to sign it. The article does not directly say Grant supported it. But we can't tell the reader he vetoed the bill when he in fact signed the bill. That is not true. Cmguy777 (talk) 00:46, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Rjensen, I think you are extrapolating Grant's assessment of CRA 1875 when the authors you cited were silent on the matter. Simpson's statement "an empty declaration" is Simpson's assessment of the CRA, not Grants. You need to find a source to support your claim "gave him something he never supported". You failed to mention Brands pp. 552-553. It provides more substance than the sources you cited. I'm not asserting you're wrong, I only saying you have not provided a source that states explicitly either way.
As to your point about "Congress rejected the law he wanted". According to Xi Wang, The Trial of Democracy (1997) beginning on pp. 115–119, "The new enforcement bill (H.R. 4754) was introduced into the House by John Coburn (R-Ind.) on February 18, 1875. The original bill had thirteen sections and largely reinforced federal power over elections - but with important improvements." Wang goes into greater details about the legislative history of that bill. Obviously, the bill was never signed into law, but I think we need to calibrate our language to reflect what happened. One could infer from your statement "Congress rejected the law he wanted" that no action was taken what so ever. Mitchumch (talk) 02:53, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Congress did not pass the bill Grant urgently wanted--and instead passed one he did not want--he never mentioned the 1875 law and he never tried to enforce it. Giving him "credit" is highly misleading in my opinion. The law had almost no impact on people at the time and was declared unconstitutional. Meanwhile Unionists & Republicans were getting shot and Grant was really angry about that. Rjensen (talk) 06:21, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
We can't deny that Grant signed the legislation, ambitious for its times. It certainly is not the legislation Grant wanted. He wanted another stronger force act. But is was ground breaking. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 emulated some of the language from Grant Civil Rights Act. It also serves as neutrality for the article. The legislation ultimately failed, but we don't want to put too much weight on the redeemers, without mention the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that Grant signed into law. It does not matter if he supported or was against the law. Once he signed it then it was the law of the land. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:15, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Grant never enforced nor commented on 1875 law says John Hope Franklin, "The Enforcement of the civil rights act of 1875" Prologue (1974) 6:225-35. Historians agree it was designed primarily as a memorial to Charles Sumner, who was Grant's most bitter enemy (and whose career Grant helped destroy). Grant's Justice Department ignored it and did not send copies to US attorneys, says Franklin. Many judges called it unconstitutional before the Supreme Court shut it down. Franklin says public opinion North and South was strongly opposed; only blacks supported it. Franklin concludes regarding Grant and Hayes administrations, "The Civil Rights Act was never effectively enforced." [p 235] Rjensen (talk) 11:08, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

It was the "law of the land" that no one enforced -- it never actually operated. Rjensen (talk) 10:42, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Yes, as soon as anyone tried to enforce it, the Supreme Court overturned it (1883). --Coemgenus (talk) 13:57, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
If I understand this dispute correctly, according to most sources the Act was a 'dead letter', which means we cannot represent it more than it was. However, if most sources give credit for it to Grant, we can give whatever credit there is for a 'dead letter' -- on the other hand, if most sources do not, we cannot - related, my recollection is that Grant's 'civil rights' reputation in sources comes from his first term -- during his second term, reconstruction, at least in favor of blacks, irretrievably fell. -- Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:30, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
It was enforced but it got overturned. It was only "dead letter" when the Supreme Court overturned it in 1888. There may have been a few cases of enforcement before it got challanged. This is very odd Wikipedia editors are saying that a law signed by a President is not a law. Are Wikipedia editors in mutiny or of denial of federal laws ? The talk page is not to encourage the breaking of federal laws or challanging federal laws on the books. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 incorporated the much of the Civil Rights Act of 1875. As far as I know the Civil Rights Act of 1964 public accomadations is enforced by the Department of Justice. In that sense the Civil Rights Act of 1875 has been revived or reimplemented. I am a U.S. Citizen. I am not allowed to break federal law. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:12, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
No--Franklin says it was never successfully enforced in court. - there were some cases --Franklin summarizes them--but the plaintiffs lost. the Supreme Court waited 8 years to overturn it. Rjensen (talk) 16:26, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Laws are either enforced not enforced. It does not matter if the plaintiffs lost and the judges were racist and refused to enforce the law. It was an act signed into law by Grant. That is all that matters for this article. Does Franklin advocate not to obey laws that are signed into law by a President ? That is a seperate issue. Will readers assume that any laws signed by the President are "dead letter" and not to be obeyed ? It was an ambitious law. McFeely links it to the 13, 14, and 15 amendments. When the South rebelled, all the Union laws were "dead letter" to the Confederates. The South then was in rebellion during Grant's Presidency. Is Wikipedia saying the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is "dead letter" too ? What is the difference ? Cmguy777 (talk) 20:21, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
the law was a symbolic act to honor Sumner (who had been Grant's #1 enemy). No one enforced it, the media was almost unanimous in opposition, calling it unwise and unconstitutional. Plaintiffs who tried to use it lost in court (did they ALL lose? that is my impression from Franklin's article) It had little or no impact on anyone. So why mention it at all--several biographers follow Smith in totally ignoring it. Rjensen (talk) 20:38, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
That last point is the most important one. Can we emphasize what the biographers ignore? We cannot. --Coemgenus (talk) 21:25, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Brands and McFeely, you know the man who one the Pulitzer for his Grant biography, both mention the CRA1875 in their respected biographies. So now we are ingoring McFeely won the Pulitzer. Can we emphasize what biographers put in their books ? Yes. It's true Smith and White suprisingly ignore CRA1875. And no, we can't reference Smith and White on CRA1875. Editors can reference Brands and McFeely. Pulitzer prize winner historian William S. McFeely writes, "The three postwar amendments to the Constitution, the civil-rights legislation of 1866, 1870, 1871, and 1875, and the creation of the Justice Department were monumental achievements." Can Wikipedia editors ignore a Pulitzer prize winning historian such as William S. McFeely ? I think not and dare say no. Since CRA1875 was a monumental achievement, it should be kept in the lede. Cmguy777 (talk) 01:56, 22 July 2017 (UTC)
I mentioned the passage of three civil rights laws by Grant. Took out direct mention of CRA1875 Cmguy777 (talk) 02:18, 22 July 2017 (UTC)

Lede statement not supported by text[edit]

The below lede statement seems to pertain to the Fifteenth Amendment, not the Fourteenth Amendment, which is not even mentioned in the text. The Fifteenth Amendment is what is mentioned, at least eight times.

After the disenfranchisement clause of the Fourteenth Amendment removed the political rights of many Southern leaders who supported the Confederacy, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices.

Should not we reword this passage like so?:

After the disenfranchisement clause of the Fifteenth Amendment outlawed removed the political privileges rights of many Southern leaders who supported the Confederacy, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices.

Also, there was no such constitutional "right" -- seems we should specify privileges. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 20:32, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

1) It's clause 3 of 14th amendment: No person shall ...hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability. that applied in every state; they could still vote. 2) Secondly, many of the southern and border states tried to disfranchise all ex-confederates so they could not vote in any election. #2 deeply divided the GOP and Grant usually opposed it. Rjensen (talk) 20:41, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The Fourteenth Amendment is not mentioned in the text, while the Fifteenth Amendment is mentioned eight times -- yet the Fifteenth Amendment is not mentioned in the lede. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 20:46, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
As stated by Gwillhickers, the entire text needs to be removed because it has no presence in the article body. Mitchumch (talk) 20:44, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Grant played little role re 14th but he played major role re 15th and it needs to be in the lede. the 14th is essential background & is best covered in separate articles like "Reconstruction" Rjensen (talk) 20:55, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Content in the lead only summarizes content in article body. I didn't make the rules. If not in body, then remove it. Mitchumch (talk) 21:46, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
No there is no "rule" only a flexible guideline that says: " Apart from basic facts, significant information should not appear in the lead if it is not covered in the remainder of the article." 14th amendment is a basic fact covered in every textbook. Rjensen (talk) 22:30, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
RjensenThat is not a basic fact. It needs to be sourced and stated in article body. I've asked three times now for citations. Mitchumch (talk) 22:46, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
the 14th amendment is online at What do you suppose "basic fact" means -- the Constitution is pretty basic in articles on US history it seems to me. Rjensen (talk) 22:53, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
Rjensen For the whole sentence, not fragment. After the disenfranchisement clause of the Fourteenth Amendment removed the political rights of many Southern leaders who supported the Confederacy, Republicans gained majorities, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. Wikipedia:Verifiability - " verifiability means that other people using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source." Please stop playing games lol. Mitchumch (talk) 23:28, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
the text in the lede has been revised, and the cites needed are at footnotes 219-222 Rjensen (talk) 23:32, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Franklin source[edit]

@Rjensen: I can't seem to locate the John Pope Franklin source you just employed in one of your most recent edits. The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 is not mentioned in his biography either. Would like to get this source into our Bibliography with all the related info (i.e.publisher, url), if possible. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 17:36, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

the cite = John Hope Franklin, "The Enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875" Prologue (1974) 6:225-35 there is an online version at it's not copyright-- PROLOGUE is a government document published by the National Archives; see Rjensen (talk) 18:08, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Rjensen. This source can be used to expand the Civil Rights Act of 1875 article. (talk) 21:34, 22 July 2017 (UTC)

New book[edit]

A relatively new book on Grant came out : Timothy B. Smith, 2016: Grant Invades Tennessee: The 1862 Battles for Forts Henry and Donelson that might be of interest to editors. No viewing available, but it might be a good addition to one's library. Much of Grant's success in the Western theater can be attributed to the Navy. i.e.Foote, Porter, Farragut, Phelps. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 05:11, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Frémont and Department of the West[edit]

I think there needs to be more information on John Charles Frémont and the Department of the West, that was in chaos at the begining of the Civil War, when Frémont took control. I don't want to expand the section too much. Frémont was trying to keep Missouri from succeeding, a heavily entrenched slave state. The Department was without organization, trained recruits, or war materials. Frémont chose Grant over senior officers to be in charge of Cairo. The Confederates were planning on invading Illinois and Springfield. There no mention of the Battle of Wilson's Creek. Maybe this information could be mentioned in a note or the article. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:20, 27 July 2017 (UTC)

Proposal: "After the Union defeat of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, the Confederates took Columbus and planned to advance into Illinois. To prevent Confederate northern invasion and start a Union advance on the Mississippi River, Frémont sent reinforcment troops to Cairo." Cmguy777 (talk) 16:58, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Was Nathaniel Lyon Grant's commander prior to Frémont ? Cmguy777 (talk) 18:11, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Sounds like a good addition to the John C. Frémont article, but not needed here. --Coemgenus (talk) 21:02, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Disagree. The reader has no idea of the situation in the Department of the West. Grant was part of the Department of the West, and there is no answer why he was appointed to Cairo by Frémont in the first place, to protect the North from invasion. Cmguy777 (talk) 21:31, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
I could also see a reason to add it to Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War, where there is room to grow. Readers who want to know more could visit that page. I think you ought to get a good cite for the idea that the rebels planned to invade Illinois, though. That's not how I recall it. --Coemgenus (talk) 21:36, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Nevins 1931 page 22 says the Confederates menaced Cairo. That is why Frémont gave Grant the job of defending Cairo over Grant's superiors because he believed Grant was an aggressive General. Cmguy777 (talk) 23:12, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Nevins 1939 page 521 Volume 2 Grant took Paducah because it was very close to Cairo. Polk was about to seize Paducah. What else could this be but to invade Illinois ? Cmguy777 (talk) 23:23, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Frémont himself wrote to Lincoln that Polk was going to attack Cairo. Nevins 1939 page 522 Volume 2 Cmguy777 (talk) 23:30, 27 July 2017 (UTC)
Agree with Coemgenus. This should go to those other articles. We already say enough for this article about why Fremont sent Grant to Cairo. Alanscottwalker (talk) 02:00, 28 July 2017 (UTC)
There is zero explanation why Grant was given command of Cairo or why capturing Padach was vital or that the objective of Polk was to attack Illinois. Grant was fighting for the Union Army. It's clear the Confederate Army was the aggresive army and the article does not present that. Cmguy777 (talk) 03:15, 28 July 2017 (UTC)