Preface
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xi PREFACE When Fred Woodward of the University Press of Kansas invited me to write this book, I accepted the honor with pleasure. But I also knew that the task that lay ahead was daunting. No scholarly work focusing on Grant’s presidency had appeared since the 1930s. Biographies tended to dwell on the war years and gave short shrift to his administration, even though Grant spent twice as much time in the White House as he GLGÀJKWLQJLQWKH8QLRQDUP\$VSUHVLGHQWKHFRQIURQWHGPRPHQWRXV issues, and his administration was steeped in controversy. Yet most biographers drawn to examine his military career seemed relatively uninterested or unversed in the deeply consequential questions that marked his two presidential terms. Those issues of politics and governance have stood at the center of my scholarly concern for more than forty years. My aim in this book, therefore, was to try to “get it right” in treating the important questions of the Grant era. To do that, I realized that I would need to go beyond secondary works and resort primarily to a close examination of original sources. That has taken time—and space. Assembling the story often required a treatment of some controversial issues or events in considerable detail in order to dispel myth and misinterpretation . It also underscored that a “presidency” is created not only by the president but also by myriad other actors—antagonists as well as allies—and in the chapters that follow, others occasionally take the foreground. In many ways, rethinking Grant’s presidency reveals xii PREFACE his administration as almost sui generis, for perhaps no other president IRXQGKLVWLPHLQR΀FHVRHPEDWWOHG,KDYHQRWHQJDJHGLQUHKDELOLWDWLRQ VRPXFKDVFODULÀFDWLRQDQGFRUUHFWLRQUHFRJQL]LQJWKDW*UDQWGHserves to be regarded as a better president than his reputation suggests, but also acknowledging that he sometimes fell short of his aims. The image of the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant occupies an important place in our political culture. My aim has been to revisit his administration to arrive at an account more serviceable to our usable past. In preparing this book I incurred a staggering list of debts. For the numerous individuals and institutions that aided me, mention here is compensation wholly inadequate. Historians’ principal coadjutors are librarians and archivists. Of the many who helped me, none exceeded WKHSURIHVVLRQDOLVPRUGHGLFDWLRQRI-HͿ)ODQQHU\DQGWKHVXSHUEVWDͿ in the Manuscript Reading Room of the Library of Congress. Others who went far beyond the call of duty in meeting my requests include Ryan Semmes of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Sarina Rodrigues and Erin Mullen of the Special Collections and Archives Department of the University of Rhode Island Library, Irene Axelrod of the Peabody-Essex Museum, Elerina Aldamar of the Oregon Historical Society, and Claude Zachary of the Special Collections Department of the University of Southern California Library. William Gee and Rebecca +DUULVRQRIWKH,QWHUOLEUDU\/RDQ2΀FHRI(DVW&DUROLQD8QLYHUVLW\·V Joyner Library provided me with unfailing assistance. ,DPDOVRJUDWHIXOIRUWKHFRXUWHRXVDQGH΀FLHQWVHUYLFHSURYLGHG by librarians and archivists at the National Archives; Prints and PhoWRJUDSKV 'LYLVLRQRIWKH/LEUDU\RI&RQJUHVV6HQDWH+LVWRULFDO2΀FH New Hampshire Historical Society; Massachusetts Historical Society; Concord, Massachusetts, Public Library; Yale University Library; Princeton University Library; Columbia University Library; New York Public Library; New-York Historical Society; University of Virginia Library; Western Reserve Historical Society; Ohio Historical Society; Cincinnati Historical Society; Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library; Oberlin College Library; Indiana State Library; Indiana Historical Society; Newberry Library; Illinois State Historical Society; Chicago Museum; Wisconsin Historical Society; and University of Louisville Law School Library. A portion of the material presented here grew out of research conducted while I held a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. I also thank John F. Marszalek and the Ulysses S. Grant xiii PREFACE Scholars Research Program for helping to fund my research in the Grant Presidential Library. At East Carolina University I received research assistance from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Faculty Senate, and the Department of History’s Brewster Fund. I am grateful to ECU chancellor Steve Ballard for his encouragement and support and for his understanding of the importance of political history. Over the course of my academic career, I have had the good fortune to receive good wishes and material aid from several department chairs, including Preston Hubbard, Roger Biles, Michael Palmer, and Gerald...


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