Talk:Ulysses S. Grant

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Featured articleUlysses S. Grant is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Featured topic starUlysses S. Grant is part of the United States presidential election, 1880 series, a featured topic. This is identified as among the best series of articles produced by the Wikipedia community. If you can update or improve it, please do so.
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December 4, 2013Peer reviewReviewed
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July 26, 2014Featured article candidateNot promoted
January 23, 2015WikiProject A-class reviewApproved
March 31, 2015Featured article candidatePromoted
March 2, 2017Featured topic candidatePromoted
Current status: Featured article


Image[edit]

Ulysses S Grant by Brady c1870-restored.jpg

I ran across this image, and really like it so I was wondering if it would be ok to switch with the one of him sitting at the table. Alanscottwalker (talk) 02:35, 21 July 2018 (UTC)

Yes. It is used in the Presidency article. It is a good portrait of Grant. He looks professional. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:54, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

Gilded Age has long been the standard term[edit]

The term "Gilded Age" is the usual term among historians and in textbooks for many decades now. Although originally coined for a novel, it has lost its literary connotations and now refers to social, economic and political history. See De Santis, "The Political Life of the Gilded Age: A Review of the Recent Literature." The History Teacher 9.1 (1975): 73–106. in JSTOR for evidence from 43 years ago. Rjensen (talk) 17:09, 12 September 2018 (UTC)

Is the term accurate ? I am not sure what it means. There were wealthy people before and after Grant. It was coined in 1873. Grant was president in 1869. That is a period of four years when the term did not yet exist or was published. The definition of the Gilded Age is that it began in the 1870s. No specific date is given. Is the term neutral ? It still has a connotation that back then the people were corrupt only during this period, but corruption existed before and after Grant. Clemen's book is fiction. It was not history. The characters from the book came from Clemen's imagination. In my opinion, respectfully, to be historically neutral, the article should say what took place during Grant's Presidency without a label. Cmguy777 (talk) 00:22, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
It's a standard term for those times. Pretty common in historical writing about the period. --Coemgenus (talk) 00:57, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
This is interesting. The book was co written by Clemens and Charles Dudley Warner. Who then coined the phrase ? Warner was from Massachusetts. Clemens was from Missouri. This is the 1874 edition: The Gilded Age A Tale of To-Day Cmguy777 (talk) 01:52, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Here is a quote from Calhoun (2017) page 404 : "But some contemporary observers drew finer distinctions and saw Grant and his administration's agenda as victims of congressional misbehavior." Gilded age corruption had to do with Crédit Mobilier and the Salary Grab. The only time Grant would have been directly involved would have been the Salary Grab Act, he signed into law. Is it neutral to equate the "Grant Era" with the "Gilded Age" ? The New York Herald said, "but the people still trust and honor the soldier President and look to him to redeem the national character from the stain left upon it by their dishonored representatives." I suggest keeping the term Gilded Age in the article, but put it in after the Crédit Mobilier and Salary Grab scandals. I am using Calhoun (2017) as a reference for this. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:37, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
"gilded age" is the standard term used in textbooks and monographs. It is not controversial and it covers the Grant years. Yes, he was personally close to some of the shady financiers of the era--that is he was abetting corruption. These "friends" wanted legitimacy and visibility and Grant gave it to them. And he paid for it as Grant's money disappeared in failed speculations. Grant was close to Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens who handled the unusual finances of Grant's Memoirs that made Grant's family rich. Rjensen (talk) 03:47, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
I am not objecting to the phrase in the article. Is/Are there any objection(s) to moving "Gilded Age" to the Crédit Mobilier and the Salary Grab information in the article? That is about the time the book was published ? Calhoun (2017) page 404 is the reference. Cmguy777 (talk) 04:07, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
This is how I would edit the passage: By 1873, public opinion of corruption in government was so low, the era was coined the Gilded Age.[1]
  1. ^ Calhoun 2017, p. 404.

Cmguy777 (talk) 04:16, 13 September 2018 (UTC)

ok by me. Rjensen (talk) 04:20, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Sure. --Coemgenus (talk) 18:14, 13 September 2018 (UTC)
Looks good. Btw, the wrong name (Chernow) was inadvertently used in the citations, here in Talk, and in the article. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 01:32, 14 September 2018 (UTC)
All I wanted to put in the article is that the Gilded Age terminology was created in 1873, and that the Salary Grab and the revelation of the Crédit Mobilier were extremely unpopular by the public. Thanks for the editor concensus. I think the issue of Grant only making one cabinet change after his reelection did not help matters either. Thanks. Cmguy777 (talk) 02:57, 14 September 2018 (UTC)

Orville E. Babcock[edit]

I have been trying to trim this article. It is 102 K. One of my edits was reverted. I believe this article should focus on Grant, not Babcock. There is an article written on Orville E. Babcock. Is there any evidence that Babcock indirectly controlled other departments ? He did interfere in the Treasury Department. He did interfere in the Whiskey Ring investigation by Bristow. What other investigations did Babcock interfere in ? And again, much of this could be in the Babcock article. How can we reduce ariticle narration when edits are reverted ? Cmguy777 (talk) 02:50, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

Suspected involvement of Babcock included the Gold Ring, New York Customs House, Whiskey Ring, and the Safe Burglary scandal. The only investigation Babcock interfered in was the Whiskey Ring. Babcock may have profited while he worked as commisioner of Public Buildings. This is information on the Washingtion Ring led by Alexander Shephard BOSS McFeely 1974 says that Babcock was possibly "linked the events to one another." Babcock was indicted for his involvement in framing reformer Columbus Alexander. Also Babcock may have received land for the Santo Domingon treaty. It is clear that Babcock was involved in crime. How many investigations did he interfere in ? The only one apparently is the Whiskey Ring. Babcock controlled the Treasury's secret service for his own benefit in the Safe Burglary Conspiracy and Whiskey Ring. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:02, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Proposal: Babcock was linked to involvement in multiple scandals and he used the Treasury's secret service to protect himself from investigation. I think this is a more accurate statement. Details of corruption can be put in Babcock's main article. Cmguy777 (talk) 05:18, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
The sentence there already was fine, I think. It established that there was no overarching scheme of fraud--thus demonstrating that Grant was not directing the corruption--while noting, as the sources do, that Babcock did have connections to more than one scheme. As it is, it's fair and not too wordy. --Coemgenus (talk) 13:27, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
It is not contested Babcock was linked to crime or corruption. Here is the full sentence from the article: "No person linked any of the scandals together, except possibly Grant's private secretary, army officer Orville E. Babcock, who indirectly controlled many cabinet departments and delayed federal investigations." The scandals were linked together by Babcock. That is evident. But the statement also says Babcock "indirectly controlled many departments". It is clear that is true in the Treasury Department. He had control of the Secret Service. What other departments did he control ? Babcock did delay or interfere in the investigation into the Whiskey Ring. That is true. What other investigations did Babcock delay ? Cmguy777 (talk) 14:43, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
In the Woodward cite, it says "In this, as in many similar cases, Babcock was the manipulating force at work" and "'He fished for gold in every stinking cesspool,' writes one historian of Babcock, 'and served more than any other man to blacken the record of Grant’s administration.'" --Coemgenus (talk) 15:01, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
No one is disputing Babcock's malicious profiteering or scheming or that he damaged Grant's reputation. The problem is that there is no biography of Babcock. All the information we get from him is always linked to Grant. My concern is the accuracy of the above sentence that is in the article. He did interfere in the Washington Ring and the Whiskey Ring investigations. Part of this discussion is to determine clarification of information. He controlled the Treasury Department. What other departments did Babcock he control ? I am only trying to verify what is said in the article. Woodward's quote is only a general statement. Did Babcock control the State Department when he went to Santo Domingo ? Cmguy777 (talk) 15:24, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Babcock apparently controlled the Navy, State, and Treasury Departments. He interferred in the Washington Ring and Whiskey Ring federal investigations. He was indicted and acquitted in two trials. He was involved in the Gold Ring, the Whiskey Ring, and the Washington Ring. Cmguy777 (talk) 15:43, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Proposal II: Grant's military secretary, Orville E. Babcock, was involved in many scandals, while he controlled federal departments and obstructed federal investigations. Cmguy777 (talk) 16:17, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

─────────────────────────That's OK, but it loses the part that exonerates Grant which, frankly, I thought you'd want to keep in. --Coemgenus (talk) 18:16, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

Why does Grant need to be exhonorated ? McFeely suggested Babcock was a leader or organizer of the corruption. Babcock may have been. Let's say Babcock was the leader of organized crime. Grant did nothing to stop Babcock's corruption. Either way, it makes Grant look bad. Calhoun (2016) says Babcock was a paid military officer. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:00, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Agree with Coemgenus. As President, Grant was automatically suspect for any illicit activity that occurred under his watch, so we should make clear that he wasn't complicit. We should restore the prior statement or edit it for clarity on that point. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 20:12, 4 October 2018 (UTC)
What in the edit makes Grant a culprit ? The edit clearly states it was Babcock who was linked to the scandals. Cmguy777 (talk) 22:55, 4 October 2018 (UTC)
Once again, as President, Grant was automatically suspect for any shady activity that occurred in his Cabinet, so we should make clear that he wasn't complicit, as do the sources who saw fit to add this important context. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 00:30, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
The article says Grant was not personally involved in scandal. How much more clear can that be ? In part this discussion was for more clarification on Babcock. He was indicted twice for the Whiskey Ring interference and Safe Burglary attempt to frame a reformer Alexander. Babcock must have made money as Superintendent of Public Buildings. Both cases would be obstruction of Justice in federal investigations, either by Congress or the Justice Department. The Alexander case probably was more detrimental than the Whiskey Ring case. Babcock was a dangerous individual. Blowing up a safe and then planning on planting the information on Alexander. Grant had nothing to do with that. That case does not get much attention. Nothing in the article says Grant profited from any of the scandals or was the cause of any of the scandals. Cmguy777 (talk) 00:40, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
Once again, as President, Grant was automatically suspect for any illegal or questionable activity that occurred in his Cabinet. Merely mentioning the complicity of a Cabinet member by itself would leave the intelligent and not so naive reader wondering. Even in modern times, a President is automatically suspect when a member of his administration is involved in questionable activity. Once again the sources thought it necessary to be clear on matters, so we should be clear also, which I see you have. Thanks. -- Gwillhickers (talk) 19:22, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
The only controversy was Grant's February 1876 deposition. McFeely said he committed perjury. More likely Grant held back the truth from his testimony to defend Babcock. Grant was not directly involved in the Whiskey Ring or financially profitted from it. Cmguy777 (talk) 20:11, 5 October 2018 (UTC)