Ulysses S. Grant: First Inaugural Address(1869)
As both general and president Ulysses S. Grant played a major role in preserving the Union, destroying slavery, and battling for equal rights for blacks in the face of white supremacist terrorism. At the outset of the Civil War, Grant predicted the collapse of slavery, if for no other reason than that the wear and tear of military operations would erode the viability of the institution. At first he was reluctant to strike at slavery out of fear that doing so would deepen the resistance of white southerners. By 1862, however, he had come to accept the destruction of slavery as a critical part of the Union war effort, and by 1863 he had come to embrace emancipation and black enlistment as essential to Union victory, although he still defined that victory in terms of reunion.
While the Confederacy was crushed under Grant’s relentless and repeated blows, it remained an open question as to what the United States would look like after reunification, especially when it came to...
Ulysses S. Grant (Library of Congress)View Full Size