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TIL Ulysses S. Grant was broke and dying of throat cancer, when Mark Twain offered an unheard of 75% of royalties to his widow for him to write his memoirs. Julia Grant received $450,000 dollars from royalties.

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3.2k points · 5 days ago

That's over 10 million in 2018 dollars.

Thank you, this put things more into perspective.

I saw the numbers once, I believe the exact amount was somewhere in the neighborhood of $12.5 million in today's money.

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That’s over 5.5 million drumsticks at KFC.

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Mark Twain was not well off at the end of his life. Facing going broke, he was forced to go on tour, which back then meant exhausting train rides, to give live shows in which he regaled his audience with his funny stories.

Original Poster1.4k points · 6 days ago

That must have been amazing to see though.

896 points · 5 days ago

Twain would have been a TV personality in modern times. Switching train rides with jets

And cigars with barely legal female prostitutes

It's the American dream.

Big American teetees!

Ay mark its your cousin nico, do you want to go bowling play stick and hoop?

In the Philippines, teetee is a penis lol.

25 points · 5 days ago

In Thailand you can have both

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14 points · 5 days ago

I read that as "Barely female" but hey that sounds even more metal. Hmm...

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21 points · 5 days ago

The first stand up comedian?

71 points · 5 days ago

“🎵What’s🎵 the deal🎵 with train food?”

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21 points · 5 days ago

One of God's own prototypes.

12 points · 5 days ago

A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production

8 points · 5 days ago

To weird to live. To rare to let die.

6 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Too rare to let die


The only thing that really worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon. Probably at the next gas station.

9 points · 5 days ago

I see what you did there .

He considered himself an american writer/satirist and all around bullshitter/yarnspinner.

I loved his books as a child.

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12 points · 5 days ago

He would have been The Tonight Show host.

41 points · 5 days ago

but he was funny

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74 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

I once heard a rumour that there is a series of extremely early recordings of Mark Twain reciting some of his tales sonewhere. I guess the quality is pretty poor, but still kind of cool to put a voice along with the iconic stories.

Edit: probably not Twain, but a close aquaintance that could imitate his speech well: What Mark Twain Sounded Like

Sounds like a slightly higher pitched, Midatlantic Garrison Keillor.

7 points · 5 days ago

Thanks for sharing that. Good stuff.

There's also a wax cylinder recording of Tennyson performing Charge of the Light Brigade. Cool shit when it comes through clear of all the static noise.

Hal Holbrook was wonderful in his portayal of him in Mark Twain Tonight.

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Ticketmaster took 75% of the proceeds.

TIL Mark Twain is a stand-up guy comedian.

If you want to see some weirdo close version. Go see Val Kilmer do 'Citizen Twain' it's a trip.

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137 points · 5 days ago

At 4.20 P.M., Sunday, we rolled out of the station at Omaha, and started westward on our long jaunt. A couple of hours out, dinner was announced -- an 'event' to those of us who had yet to experience what it is to eat in one of Pullman's hotels on wheels; so, stepping into the car next forward of our sleeping palace, we found ourselves in the dining-car. It was a revelation to us, that first dinner on Sunday. And though we continued to dine for four days, and had as many breakfasts and suppers, our whole party never ceased to admire the perfection of the arrangements, and the marvelous results achieved. Upon tables covered with snowy linen, and garnished with services of solid silver, Ethiop waiters, flitting about in spotless white, placed as by magic a repast at which Delmonico himself could have had no occasion to blush; and, indeed, in some respects it would be hard for that distinguished chef to match our menu; for, in addition to all that ordinarily makes up a first-chop dinner, had we not our antelope steak (the gourmand who has not experienced this -- bah! what does he know of the feast of fat things?) our delicious mountain-brook trout, and choice fruits and berries, and (sauce piquant and unpurchasable!) our sweet-scented, appetite-compelling air of the prairies? "You may depend upon it, we all did justice to the good things, and as we washed them down with bumpers of sparkling Krug, whilst we sped along at the rate of thirty miles an hour, agreed it was the fastest living we had ever experienced. (We beat that, however, two days afterward when we made twenty-seven miles in twenty-seven minutes, while our Champagne glasses filled to the brim spilled not a drop!) After dinner we repaired to our drawing-room car, and, as it was Sabbath eve, intoned some of the grand old hymns -- "Praise God from whom," etc.; "Shining Shore," "Coronation," etc. -- the voices of the men singers and of the women singers blending sweetly in the evening air, while our train, with its great, glaring Polyphemus eye, lighting up long vistas of prairie, rushed into the night and the Wild. Then to bed in luxurious couches, where we slept the sleep of the just and only awoke the next morning (Monday) at eight o'clock, to find ourselves at the crossing of the North Platte, three hundred miles from Omaha -- fifteen hours and forty minutes out." Excerpt from Twain, Mark. Roughing It. 1872. 

Doesn't sound too exhausting to me.

Damn, he made that train ride sound fun and the food delicious!

47 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Oops, turns out he didn't write it.

In this excerpt from the book's fourth chapter, Twain describes his 1861 journey by mule-drawn express mail coach, in the days before the railroad, and compares it to a newspaper article from the early 1870s reporting on the trip by rail.

So maybe he wasn't travelling in style at the end of his life.

EDIT: Seems he did :

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It is still a great way to travel.

For a while I regularly rode the Amtrak from DC to Hampton and back. I sat in a large, comfortable seat with a table in front for my laptop. when I wanted a break I would get up and go to the dining car and have a drink and maybe something to eat.

It beats the hell out of squeezing yourself on an airplane.

Literally a standup comedian tho.. TIL Mark Twain did stand up

He was savage af, i bet he was hilarious to listen to: "In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards."

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Comment deleted5 days ago(2 children)

She did try, but he just called her an "Ethiop waiter".

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Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever. By forever, I mean thirty years.

6 points · 5 days ago

I visited his home in Connecticut briefly. First impression was "this is a huge home for that day and age!" Wouldn't even think he was going broke.

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Mark twain was a brilliant writer but an awful business man , in today's money he lost 8 million on one investment alone . Living a very extravagant lifestyle didn't help either.

11 points · 5 days ago

Because of that he is considered the first stand up comedian

4 points · 5 days ago

In 1896, he even toured Australia. Touring the globe was a big deal at that time and would have been taxing.

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3.3k points · 6 days ago

Proving once again that Mark Twain was awesome.

1.2k points · 6 days ago

He was a good friend of his and it wasn't like he needed the money

938 points · 6 days ago

But the book still turned out to be the single most profitable investment in Twain's entire business career.

490 points · 5 days ago

I think Twain was shrewd enough to realize the potential of a Memoir about Grant could have. He may have figured he'd make money even if the deal was frankly a charitable act in itself.

Probably wouldn't have cared either way though.

You would think that but you would be wrong. He was an ATROCIOUS businessman, always falling for one scheme or another. His friendship with Henry Huddleston Rogers pretty much is the only thing that salvaged his finances despite being immensely talented.

He and his friend Tesla had that in common.

That guy makes some really rad cars!

I've literally met people who think Elon Musk is actually named Tesla

21 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

The way you worded that sounds like people think it's an only name:

Sees Elon Musk

"Hey, there's Tesla!"

"Tesla who?"

"You know...Tesla!"

"Is that his first name or last name?"

"It's his only name, like Sting, or Prince!"

22 points · 5 days ago

"Is that his first name or last name?"

Pretty sure his last name is SpaceX.

Full name : Tesla SpaceX, like Malcolm X

52 points · 5 days ago

Can't seem to find any of his older models though.

Huh. Have you tried looking at any of the websites where they sell cars?

I hate when i can’t tell if i don’t get the joke or if you don’t get the joke

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21 points · 5 days ago
3 points · 5 days ago

so disappointed that’s not a sub ...yet

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I need to learn more about American literists.



sorry its late, I need to learn words as well it seems.

Literati would have worked also, but has a slightly different meaning. You need not be an author to be a literati though.

20 points · 5 days ago

No, people who litter.

9 points · 5 days ago

Littering and... Littering and... Littering and...

5 points · 5 days ago

Smokin' the reefer.

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Well, Mark Twain spent a fair deal of his life trying not to be broke. Spent his younger years working the Mississippi. Later he made most of his money publishing books, traveling and lecturing and writing books on his travels.

If any of that's wrong ... well that's what I remember from the foreword the last time I read Huck Finn.

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125 points · 5 days ago

Twain was undeniably a singularly terrible businessman. Look into it. He was right about Grant's memoir, but he was wrong about virtually everything else. He lost all his money because he was definitely not shrewd in regard to business. He worked his ass off and paid everyone off...and lost piles of money again in silly, bad investments.

are we talking about Kenny Rogers?


I forgot all about this. Now I have to order a MadTv box set

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80 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Not entirely true. Twain was known for being very bad with money. He was extremely bad with investments. He lost a lot of his money in bad investments and was forced to do speaking engagements just to get by. Alexander Graham Bell once offered him the chance to be one of the first investors in ATT and he turned it down. He thought the telephone was a fad.

One of the original telephones hand built by Bell hangs in the Mark Twain house in CT. The tour is fascinating. In the basement is some giant machine called the Paige Compositor that Twain invested a lot of his money in that never worked.

"I have been swindled out of more money than there is on the planet... I oughtn’t to say I was swindled out of all the money. Most of it was lost through bad business. I was always bad in business.” -Mark Twain

holy crap... nice cool 6mil investment. Talk about putting your eggs all in one basket.

12 points · 5 days ago

It’s always been strange to me that men who are otherwise brilliant in many other fields but into get rich quick schemes or go into extreme debt

6 points · 5 days ago

men who are otherwise brilliant in many other fields but into get rich quick schemes or go into extreme debt

It continues to surprise me too, but it is actually not uncommon. In fact, I've always worked for small business owners and all of my bosses have been like this, in one way or another.

Every one of them was more of a risk taker than most people. Every one of them had a big idea and worked to make it work. Sometimes, their idea wasn't even anything brilliant but they convinced themselves it was and somehow made it work regardless.

My most successful boss's big idea was nothing but a call center/fulfillment house. Our employees would answer toll-free phones lines for our clients, answer questions from their customers and mail out literature about the clients' products. Starting with nothing but connections he had made, he built it to the point where we were doing this for a half-dozen Fortune 500 companies.

Guys like this often dress nicer than they can afford, drive nicer cars than they can afford and entertain clients and potential clients at fancy restaurants.

These guys are susceptible to falling for other's BS too. At least twice, this same boss accepted a client who went bankrupt owing us a lot of money.

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I was a PBS Documentary about Mark Twain, he did need money. I remember that his burn rate was crazy when he settled down with his wife and he had to go on tour because he was spending too much money at one point. He didn't want to do tours but had to.

9 points · 5 days ago

Twain was very broke a lot of his life. He was a bad investor

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Mark Twain would have been a great lightning rod salesman

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321 points · 5 days ago

The memoirs are amazing, btw. Beautifully written.

Just finishing reading them. Absolutely amazing.

60 points · 5 days ago

They're so clearly written, and yet sometimes so poetic.

I once read some of his staff officers comment on how he would sit down and just quickly write order after order without pausing or revising, and all would be so clear that every recipient always knew exactly what he wanted. That skill really comes through in the book.

Sounds like Porter in Campaigning with Grant.

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Super interesting to read his descriptions of the war. But I was surprised how little he talks about anything else, especially his presidency and family.

I get it though. He won the biggest American war of all time. No other general has comparable accomplishments, besides George Washington. I'd be pumped about it too.

*Maybe Admirals Dewey or Nimitz can compare, but their victories were at sea, so its kind of apples and oranges.

I'd argue that Eisenhower would also be comparable.

Actually Eisenhower is a funny one, certainly not without controversy. I remember reading Jean Edward Smith's biography of him and never realised the degree to which he was seen as a political operator rather than a pure military man by a number of his peers. Other allies even accused him of extending the war after the British and Canadian columns were rapidly cutting through Northern Germany, so that Eisenhower could ensure the US took the German surrender and have more leverage on the following peace, and place him for a Presidential run. There were accusations that in doing so he strengthened the USSR's hand in the German split. He also antagonised Montgomery by claiming credit for the strategy of D Day, and had a famously strained later relationship with Patton after years of trying to get on Patton's staff, ending the guy's military career.

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19 points · 5 days ago

IIRC they grew out of magazine articles he wrote about specific battles. People really wanted to know his take on the war, not so much his fairly mediocre presidency or that apparently he was a loving father and husband.

And, y'know, he died five days after finishing, he wouldn't have had time to expand the memoirs.

I think he was also just not very keen on talking about himself. You see again and again how much he didn't like pomp and circumstance and seems to be pretty modest and even shy at times.

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They are very good.

6 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

I’ve always heard this but never read the book. Can someone give a good representative excerpt/example?

29 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Grant's supply base in Mississippi was burned:

The news of the capture of Holly Springs and the destruction of our supplies caused much rejoicing among the people remaining in Oxford. They came with broad smiles on their faces, indicating intense joy, to ask what I was going to do now without anything for my soldiers to eat. I told them that I was not disturbed; that I had already sent troops and wagons to collect all the food and forage they could find for fifteen miles on each side of the road. Countenances soon changed, and so did the inquiry. The next was, "What are WE to do?" My response was that we had endeavored to feed ourselves from our own northern resources while visiting them; but their friends in gray had been uncivil enough to destroy what we had brought along, and it could not be expected that men, with arms in their hands, would starve in the midst of plenty.

24 points · 5 days ago

Yes, they are fantastic - very clear, concise prose compared to the fluffy Victorian style that was popular back then. Here is how he described the end of Don Carlos Buell's career:

In regard to restoring officers who had been relieved from important commands to duty again, I left Sherman to look after those who had been removed in the West while I looked out for the rest. I directed, however, that he should make no assignment until I could speak to the Secretary of War about the matter. I shortly after recommended to the Secretary the assignment of General Buell to duty. I received the assurance that duty would be offered to him; and afterwards the Secretary told me that he had offered Buell an assignment and that the latter had declined it, saying that it would be degradation to accept the assignment offered. I understood afterwards that he refused to serve under either Sherman or Canby because he had ranked them both. Both graduated before him and ranked him in the old army. Sherman ranked him as a brigadier-general. All of them ranked me in the old army, and Sherman and Buell did as brigadiers. The worst excuse a soldier can make for declining service is that he once ranked the commander he is ordered to report to.

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246 points · 5 days ago

This happened to Grant like 4 times in his life. One of his biggest flaws was believing everyone else to be as honest and genuine as he was. Many a business “partner” swindled him.

56 points · 5 days ago

I know I saw a Johnny Walker tv ad years ago about this, saying how he was a failed business man but became a highly regarded General, and finally president. I can't find the ad anywhere, I even contacted Johny Walker a few years ago to find a copy but they gave a generic response.

It was almost comical how much bad luck he had in pretty much every endeavor besides warfare. Every business venture he attempted was immediately beset with insurmountable failure. Like, the type of thing you could survive if you had been doing it for a while, but not the first time out.

My favorite was when he was stationed on the west coast. He and a few other young officers commissioned a ship to go up north, pack it with ice, and sail down to San Francisco and sell it at a high price. Except, when they got to the SF, high winds and choppy water prevented them from making into the harbor. They sat stuck just outside with a ship full of soon-to-be water. So then Grant decided, "fuck that, I'll make an honest buck farming." That year was unseasonably warm up north and caused an early thaw which flooded his field and turned his crops to mush. Dude could not catch a break.

Not what I expected at all but I enjoyed that.

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61 points · 6 days ago

Sums up his time in office too.

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11 points · 5 days ago

Who knew leading a government would have different issues than leading a military?

31 points · 5 days ago

Well he trusted his Cabinet to not be corrupt. Whoops. I don't think the corruption was quite as bad in his second term after he cleaned house a bit.

25 points · 5 days ago

It’s quite telling that a man who can lead armies, hush the egos of his subordinates, and can handle the stresses of seeing his friends and soldiers die by the thousands can be so easily manipulated and screwed over by a handful of guys with money and political influence

20 points · 5 days ago

Different kind of enemy. Lot easier to tell who is out to hurt you on the battlefield.

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137 points · 5 days ago

For anyone (like me) wondering how an ex-president died broke, it’s because unbeknownst to Grant, he invested in a Ponzi scheme with his son and Ward’s bank

I have a question. In the article it said the business was run like a Ponzi Scheme

From my understanding Ponzi Schemes imply fictitious companies, ans their whole business is finding newer and newer investors while retaining part of the money that was being invested and paying off older investors with newer investors money.

Does it mean that running a business like a Ponzi scheme is running an actual business but simultaneously losing the investment money until it runs out of it and collapses?

Or the business basically just breaks even, while the masterminds hoard all the money invested.

My interpretation of a Ponzi scheme is collecting money that you promise to invest and grant investors returns and then just running away with the money.

I'd like to believe that's the explanation for it

Fucking stamps.

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798 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

A lot of people don't understand how great of a general Grant was. He was the only general to have three armies surrender to another general during the war. He won the western and central theaters of the war for the USA before he was given supreme command of USA forces within the final year of the war. Within one year he also won the Eastern theater for the USA as well. He gets called a butcher but this incorrect. He had fewer casualties under his command then the average for both the North and the South. This myth comes from his Overland campaign which defeated Lee. Lee was the true butcher of men.

At the time the Napoleonic strategy was accepted by the majority of Northern and Southern generals. Lee was a major student of Napoleonic warfare which was outdated but Grant understood modern and total war. He was an amazing strategist who developed the strategy that ultimately destroyed the CSA. He was an architect of modern warfare in terms of continental coordinated war. A lot of the hate he receives is the result of the South's Lost Cause movement and politics. Seriously study his tactics at Vicksburg and the Overland Campaign. He implemented a coordinated effort to extend CSA forces so that he could destroy Lee's forces. Lincoln had nothing but respect and positivity towards him. He was a great American.

As president, he also contributed the most to civil rights until LBJ. Grant was an amazing man. It's too bad the South has successfully demonized him. Same with Sherman.

Edit: /r/askhistorians and /u/beondTheGrave can explain it better than I can.

I love General Sherman's quote about Grant:

I am a damned sight smarter man than Grant. I know more about military history, strategy, and grand tactics than he does. I know more about supply, administration, and everything else than he does. I'll tell you where he beats me though and where he beats the world. He doesn't give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell. … I am more nervous than he is. I am more likely to change my orders or to countermarch my command than he is. He uses such information as he has according to his best judgment; he issues his orders and does his level best to carry them out without much reference to what is going on about him and, so far, experience seems to have fully justified him.

It will be a thousand years before Grant's character is fully appreciated. Grant is the greatest soldier of our time if not all time... he fixes in his mind what is the true objective and abandons all minor ones. He dismisses all possibility of defeat. He believes in himself and in victory. If his plans go wrong he is never disconcerted but promptly devises a new one and is sure to win in the end. Grant more nearly impersonated the American character of 1861-65 than any other living man. Therefore he will stand as the typical hero of the great Civil War in America.

179 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Sherman's warning to the South before war:

"You people of the South don't know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don't know what you're talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it … Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.

Wtf, this is so easy to understand, seems this should have talked sense into people. It's always jarring to me to read something so old yet so comprehensible in a modern English sense

56 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

Always fear someone who is aprehensive about going to war but is willing to finish it for you. Grant and Sherman were both Ohio boys and best friends. They planned the final strategy to end the war together. Total war.

Up until Lincoln was re-elected in 1864 there was always the chance of a political settlement with the north, which is what the south was hoping for. A war weary north making peace rather than continuing the struggle. And if McClellan had won the 1864 election it probably would have happened. Possibly it was only Sherman's capture of Atlanta in Sept. of '64 that clinched the election for Lincoln.

When each state left the Union they made clear that they were seceding because they were for slavery and against states’ rights. So, no. There was no “settlement” to be made and that is a load of neo-confederate bullshit. Lincoln even tried paid emancipation and the South refused.

I think you're talking past each other. You're entirely correct that the South left explicitly because of slavery. But OP is very much correct in stating that without Lincoln's re-election (secured in large part by Sherman's victory in Atlanta) the war would likely have ended before the South was emancipated - whether that would have happened as one country or two is an open question, but slavery would have very much remained in the South.

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I love their friendship. One of my favorite quotes from Sherman is about their friendship: "Grant stood by me when I was crazy, I stood by him when he was drunk."

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Grant is an all around criminally underrated figure in American history. A 150 year old hit job by Southerners and "lost cause" folks is to blame.

He was a monumentally progressive president for the 1870s. No man until the civil rights leaders of the 1960s would do more to further the cause of equality than Grant. A true American hero.

I took an American History class in a tech school in South Carolina, Grant and Sherman were talked about with the same intense dislike as someone as say...Mussolini garnered later.

I think this is what will end up setting the old confederate South apart from places like Oklahoma/Texas where both are regarded as heroic patriots, and only really Lee from the Confederacy is regarded any respect.

Dont forget Stonewall Jackson.

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178 points · 5 days ago

Did you just summarize the previous comment?

Grant also liked to drive his cart at full gallop down a road on the way to capital Hill after drinking and was actually stopped and taken to the station by local police for speeding. They ended up letting him go because they weren't sure they could arrest the president without having him formally impeached, but warned him not to do it again.

We can go further.

Grant is greatly undervalued in American history despite his progressive policies, and is a true American hero.

U.S. Grant: What a guy!

Grant good


29 points · 5 days ago

I am Grant.

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EA bad

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The hero we needed.

Tbh I read the first few sentences of op's comment and then decided to chime in with my own thoughts. Reading the rest of it, it appears you are correct. Op's is obviously more in depth so I suggest people read it as well as the /r/askhistorians post he linked :P

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idk, in 1901 Teddy Roosevelt had Booker T. Washington dine at the White House which was a real hair across the ass of half the country.

African Americans built the White House. They worked in the Whites House. They’d been to the White House for a meeting.

But to dine with the President at his table?

Like some kind of equal? (/s)

50 years after the civil war and the south was still incensed. There were death threats and vulgar cartoons and Roosevelt was lambasted by the media.

It was decades (into the fucking 20th century) before the White House would officially invite an African American to dine again.

It’s a small gesture (vs actual legislation) but it was an incredibly progressive one.

Yes, Teddy's gesture was progressive, but what did it accomplish at the end? Grant did far more for civil rights than Teddy ever did. Grant enforced reconstruction, using federal troops to protect African Americans and their rights. He also prosecuted and destroyed the first Ku Klux Klan. Grant's gestures were far more consequential and achieved far more than Teddy's. To be fair, Teddy did try to do more (such as making lynching a federal crime) but southern opposition prevented him from doing much.

Oh, there's absolutely no question Grant is the first champion of civil rights, and accomplished an order of magnitude more than Teddy.

I suppose I read that wrong when you said "no man would do more for the civil rights."

There's no argument there.

I just meant Teddy was more Progressive than most for his time. I mean shit, he had an African American in a White House before the resurgence of the Klan, a generation before they'd feel soo empowered an emboldened they'd mob lynch and march by the thousands on Washington.

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31 points · 5 days ago

Grant did a lot of amazing things, but you're leaving out the most important: the time he stared down a monkey who was trying to knock him from a wild pony.

In the spring of 1861 he was a middle-aged failure who'd been reduced to moving back home and working for his father's business with his younger brothers as his supervisors.

In the spring of 1865, he was hailed as the greatest hero of the land - the general who'd saved the union - and he was famous all over the world.

Who else in history has such a story?

I mean...he was amazing and he also had alot of corruption in his admin.

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He also knew Morse code and could read telegraph messages by sticking the wire to his tongue. His use of mobile telegraph stations during battles gave him an unprecedented battlefield awareness.

I'm a US history professor/teacher. He's one of my favorite generals to teach about.

7 points · 5 days ago

Not Napoleonic, but rather Jominian. Grant on the other hand, though likely unfamiliar with his work, employed strategies more in line with Clausewitzian theory.

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Amazing to believe John Tyler's grandchildren are alive and he was 8 presidents ahead of Ulysses S. Grant.

26 points · 5 days ago

Holy crap! This is true!! 😮

"Both my grandfather — the president — and my father, were married twice. And they had children by their first wives. And their first wives died, and they married again and had more children. And my father was 75 when I was born, his father was 63 when he was born."

No ED in that family.

8 points · 5 days ago

Powerful Tyler seed

Can you imagine tho? Being 75 and having no sexual issues. The 50 year olds I known can't even run up the stairs.

2 points · 5 days ago

Buddy, I’m 30 and I already experience the occasional ED.

Same here, although I'm healthy so it's all psychological. It's a self-fulfilling cycle tho so I just gave up on it altogether. Let's just say life is not that joyful anymore and I don't see the point in anything day-to-day.

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Good lord r/titlegore

18 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

No kidding. Money was offered to his widow while he was dying? That's quite the feat.

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Especially the "double dollars"

$20 = "20 dollars"

came here for this.

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16 points · 5 days ago · edited 5 days ago

It's also now free and one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

Edit: it's probably the best memoir I've ever read. It's honest, like Grant. The dude wasn't the best man for the job but rose to it (as a general). His presidency might be the most complicated in American history as well. He should have never been president but thank god he was all at once?

The dude wasn't the best man for the job but rose to it (as a general).

I would say he showed himself to be the best man. He just wasn't the obvious man, for a long time.

That's spot on.

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61 points · 6 days ago

Is that book Ulysses?

84 points · 6 days ago

Nope...Matrix 2

Electric Boogaloo

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And that book? Ulysses Einstein.

This title is weird.

His soon-to-be widow?

bro he's like "you get rich when he is finally de- OMG WHAT DO YOU DO WOMAN YOU SHOT A PRESIDENT"

19 points · 5 days ago

He died almost immediately after completing his memoirs. Grant himself never saw any of the money, but he knew completing them would secure his family for the rest of their lives. So the title is correct.

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6 points · 5 days ago

He had cancer. It wasn't a surprise. He was already on his deathbed when he completed them.

That much money was generational wealth back in those days.

US Gr-Ant should get movie royalties too.

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4 points · 5 days ago

This has been posted quite a few times in TIL lol

Yeah I hit refresh a few times because I thought reddit might have been showing me the screen from the last time I had it open on this computer.

5 points · 5 days ago

So she received 450 grand for 1 Grant.

I'll leave myself out.

16 points · 5 days ago

450,000 dollar dollars is a lot of money!

10 million in today's money

Had to come a long way for this

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Grant was a very interesting man to look up on. Just did it on a whim one day after our Civil War 101 for the end of the year. Sure he was an alcoholic, but was really captivating to me. Really enjoyed the Mark Twain fact too.

Too many pronouns in that title. Also, the word widow is confusing in that sentence. "TIL Ulysses S. Grant was broke and dying of throat cancer, when Mark Twain offered an unheard of 75% of royalties to his (Ulysses) widow (soon to be) for him (Mark Twain) to write his (Ulysses) memoirs. Julia Grant received $450,000 dollars from royalties."

I was just going to say “pronouns are hard, huh?”

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The title doesn't make much sense. Grant wasn't given "75% of royalties" (which implies Twain would have taken the other 25% of the royalties), but a royalty of 75% (i.e., 75% of the price of each book was given to Grant).

3 points · 5 days ago

Now I want to read that. Thanks Reddit!

Go for it! Grant was an excellent writer, and the observations he slips in about the nature of man made for a surprisingly introspective read. The last chapter alone is incredibly powerful.

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3 points · 5 days ago

Grant's memoirs are some of the best reads of that era

3 points · 5 days ago

I'm reading through his biography now, and it's extraordinary.

I had a copy of that when I was a kid. Two fancy volumes.

My parents donated it to the historical society when they moved.

Worth a few grand.

It came with the house we bought when I was ten.

Ron Chernow's excellent biography of Grant published in October, 2017, recounts this tale and many more of his fascinating life. Check out a free sample of an overview of Grant's life from Amazon books. Grant was one of our more interesting presidents, and is surprisingly, one of the more interesting.

McPherson's Biography of Grant is better IMO but US Grant lived a truly fascinating and amazing life. A Great American.

3 points · 5 days ago

How was she his widow if Grant was just dying when the offer was made?

7 points · 5 days ago

What is the royalties adjusted for inflation?

Around $11million. About 24x the value.

12 points · 5 days ago


This would be the equivalent of about $10.8 million in today's time

2 points · 5 days ago

And that money benefits the Grant legacy to this day. His presidential library is in Mississippi of all places. At Mississippi State.

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$450k in 1885 is roughly $11.3 mil in 2018

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