Brooks Simpson
Brooks Simpson
Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity
ISBN: 0395659949
Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity
Simpson brings Grant's strange story to life in a biography that is readable, compelling, and definitive.
—from the publisher's website
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Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity
Program Air Date: July 16, 2000

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Brooks D. Simpson, author of "US--Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865," why did you stop right after the Civil War?

Professor BROOKS D. SIMPSON, Author, "Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822-1865": A natural breaking point in Grant's career and his life. In 1865, he's accomplished what he needs to accomplish in--in life, and, in fact, he thought that after the Civil War, he would a--be able to live out the rest of his life as a retired general, bask in adulation. That wasn't to be. But I wanted to divide the life at this point, even though the argument that the two books together will be that there's a lot more in common between the general and the president than has been popularly assumed.
LAMB: When did you first start studying U.S. Grant?
SIMPSON: Well, I have to blame my father's mother, in part, for that. As a young boy, she--she and my aunt took me to Grant's Tomb in 1865--excuse me, 1965 or '66, and the interest started from there as a curiosity. But, really, as serious a topic of scholarly study, probably when I was an undergraduate in the University of Virginia.
LAMB: Give us the short course. Where was he born?
SIMPSON: Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on a--April 27th, 1822, the son of a--a tanner and businessman, Jesse Grant, and Hanna Simpson Grant. Grew up in south Ohio, outskirts of a little town called Georgetown, not too far from Cincinnati; in 1839, goes to West Point, graduates in the middle of his class in 1843, 21st out of the class of 39; sees duty in the Mexican-American War; resigns from the Army in 1854, struggles for several years as a farmer, real estate agent and a--and a--several other mini careers that all end disastrously for one reason or another; in 1860, moves to Galena, Illinois, in the northwest corner of that state, where he is working at a general store owned by hi--his father and younger brothers. That's where we find him at the outset of the American Civil War.
LAMB: Who'd he marry?
SIMPSON: Married Julia Dent in 1848. Met--Julia Dent was the sister of one of his West Point roommates, Fred Dent. He was stationed in Jefferson Barracks just outside of St. Louis and visited the Dent family home at White Haven, and there met Julia and fell head over heels in love for her and vice versa; corresponded with her during the Mexican-American War and then, when he came back, married her on August 22nd, 1848.
LAMB: How many children did they have?
SIMPSON: They had four children between 1850 and 1858.
LAMB: And what was she like?
SIMPSON: Julia Grant is a--an interesting person. She had a great deal of faith in her husband. She w--on the other hand, was also a slaveholder's daughter, had a--a very sort of paternalistic view of American slavery, very romanticized view of it. She was also very much attached to her own father, creating some tensions in the Grant marriage because Grant himself, let's say, was ambivalent towards his father-in-law. But she clearly had a great deal of faith in him and was one of the few people who had faith in him even when things weren't going well.
LAMB: And what were U.S. Grant's parents like?
SIMPSON: We don't know much about Hanna Grant. She was a very quiet, reserved person, and some people later claim that that's where Grant got his own taciturn sense. Jesse Grant, on the other hand, was a boisterous businessman, active in politics, bragging openly about his son and, in fact, made young Ulysses' life somewhat difficult at times because people looking to strike back at the old man found in his oldest son a--a--a--a rather vulnerable target. And so, as a young man, Grant often found himself the butt of jokes. And so it did not help to have a father like that.

And some of the most frank correspondence we have from Ulysses Grant is towards his father, essentially telling his father to, `Butt out. Stay away. I have no person imp--no person who I'm half as worried about as you.' Jesse did not get along with Julia Grant. There was friction between the families. Part of it was political, part of it was personal. Jesse was an Abolitionist and a--a--a buttinsky in his son's life, always looking to--for the main chance, and created a lot of tension between father and son.

LAMB: How did you go about doing the book? What I mean by that, research, on-site inspections, things like that.
SIMPSON: I--I did several things. I went to the major archives: the Library of Congress, National Archives, Chicago Historical Society, Ohio Historical Society. W--we did some traveling, also, the West Coast. So I went ahead and looked at archival materials. I drew upon the published papers of Ulysses S. Grant, as well as some of his associates. I also went to various places where Grant had been to get a sense of those communities. So I've been to Georgetown several times. I've been to Point Pleasant, his birth birth place, Galena. I've been to his Civil War battlefields, so I have a sense of what the ground looked like to--to him, where he happened to be positioned a--at that time. So I have a good idea of the world in which Ulysses S. Grant inhabited, at least in the United States.
LAMB: Now y--are there places, other than Grant's Tomb, where you can--and the Point Pleasant home and things like that, like at City Point in Virginia, where his headquarters was last--end part of the war, is there anything there?
SIMPSON: Yes. The--the National Park Service now has both the main house that was there, and Grant's cabin is set up there. Of course, it's--it's somewhat distorting now. You just see the single cabin there where, in fact, it was part of a row of cabins in 1864-'65. But for those willing to go out there, you can see that. You can go to Appomatox Courthouse. You can go to other battlefields and find the locations of Grant's headquarters and--and look at the terrain, more or less, as he saw it during the war itself.
LAMB: Is Hard Scrabble there?
SIMPSON: Hard Scrabble is near White Haven. Hard Scrabble got moved around several times, and it's now on the--it's in St. Louis. It's on the Busch estate, and you can go in there at various times...
LAMB: The Anheuser-Busch estate?
SIMPSON: Yeah, the Anheuser-Busch estate right next to the White Haven site, run by the National Park Service.
LAMB: Tell us about White Haven. And what is Hard Scrabble?
SIMPSON: Well, White Haven was the home of Colonel Dent, as he liked to call himself, a colonel by custom in this case, and it was a plantation. It was a--Colonel Dent was a slaveholder, and he owned a rather extensive tract of land south of St. Louis. White Haven is a--a nice, but not overly ornate structure. People at White Haven, under the National Park Service, are now restoring that a--as much as possible to its condition when Grant himself owned the home in the 1870s. And so we have a model of what a plantation was really like. The Dent plantation never had that many slaves. It's not like a plantation from the--the movies, "Gone With the Wind" or something like that.

Hard Scrabble was Grant's attempt to carve out his own home on that plantation lot. It w--originally located elsewhere. Again, it's been moved around and now resides on the estate. Julia didn't like it very much, and Grant, in fact, did not live very long in--in Hard Scrabble. But Hard Scrabble's actually a fairly impressive structure for a log cabin. We have a notion of a very small building, but, in fact, Hard Scrabble has ample living quarters for the growing Grant family at the time. But when Julia's mother died, the colonel decided that it was time to bring the family back together again, and so Hard Scrabble was abandoned.

LAMB: Go over it again. Born in Point Pleasant, lived in Georgetown, Ohio...
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: ...near Cincinnati. Where did he go then?
SIMPSON: He went to a--a few prep schools, basically, on--in southern Ohio, but then, in 1839, goes to West Point.
LAMB: How'd he get there?
SIMPSON: His father dearly wanted to get him an appointment at West Point and first corresponded with a senator, a fellow named Tom Morris, who said, `Well, I'm not going to handle that this time. You must loca--you must contact your local con--congressman,' a fellow named Tom Hamer. Well, Tom Hamer and Jesse Grant had been friends, but had grown apart due to political disagreements, and so it was a very painful process for Jesse, a very proud man, to write to Tom Hamer and say, `Please give an appointment for my son, Ulysses, to West Point.'

The request came to Hamer just as he was cleaning out his desk at the end of a session of Congress. He rushed through the papers, didn't know the boy's name, which was formally at that time Hiram Ulysses Grant; filled out papers for Ulysses S. Grant, assuming that--everyone had always called the fellow Ulysses. So that would be the first name. And the middle name, well, he thought the middle initial would--the `S,' would come from Hanna Simpson's name. And--and that's how Ulysse--Hiram Ulysses Grant became Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant went to West Point, asked for an appointment for Hiram Ulysses Grant or Ulysses Hiram Grant; was told, `The only appointment we have was for Ulysses S. Grant. If you don't like it, you can go home.' And he decided to stay.

LAMB: Did you have to have academic credentials then to get into West Point?
SIMPSON: No. No. West Point, at that time, was an engineering school, but, no, you didn't have to turn with a high school diploma. There were entrance exams to make sure the candidates were qualified. And certainly one subject in which Grant excelled was mathematics, and that was a--a key part of the West Point curriculum. He was, however, awful at foreign languages, as he freely admitted. So whereas he'd be near the head of the class when it came to math, he was quite near the other end when it came to French.
LAMB: How many in his class again?
SIMPSON: Well, the class, when it entered, was in the 70s. The accounts differ whether it's 75 or 77. So when entering, a class of 77. Out of that entering class, 39 received commissions four years later, and Grant's 21 out of 39. So usually we see the citation of the 21 out of 39 as Grant's a middling student, but, in fact, he survives whereas a lot of other people were farmed out or couldn't make it.
LAMB: How many of those have we heard of?
SIMPSON: In Grant's own class, not many. The surrounding classes, we hear of lots of people and--and people maybe just a year or two before: James Longstreet, for example, in the class of 1842. When Grant comes to West Point in 1839, it's the senior year, the final year for William T. Sherman and George Thomas. You hear about those people an awful lot. But Grant's class itself was not terribly distinguished.
LAMB: What happened to Longstreet?
SIMPSON: Well, Longstreet and Grant forged a friendship that went through the Mexican-American War. Longstreet was present at Grant's wedding, and, in fact, Longstreet married a woman who was related to Julia Grant. And--and these two men kept that friendship alive, in terms of knowing each other, when they came to face each other a little bit in 1863 and certainly in 1864, when Grant comes East as commander of all the Union armies and takes the field against Robert E. Lee. And after the war, that--the relationship renews, and Longstreet becomes a political operative in the Republican Party and st--still a friend of Grant's.
LAMB: But they were on opposite sides during the war.
SIMPSON: They were on opposite sides during the war, but Longstreet was one of the Confederate commanders that had an idea that his old buddy might be a rather compelling component for--opponent for Robert E. Lee.
LAMB: After West Point, he moves directly to where?
SIMPSON: Well, after West Point, he's assigned to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, in St. Louis, and that's where--just south of St. Louis--that's where he meets Julia. Then he gets a series of assignments, moving closer and closer to the Texas-Mexican border, as people are awaiting for the outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Mexico.
LAMB: What's going on in the country then? Who's president?
SIMPSON: James K. Polk is president in 184--takes office in 1845. The United States has already acquired Texas by annexation. There are hungry eyes looking westward for other parts of what's, at that time, northern Mexico. There is a border dispute between Mexico and the United States about: Exactly where does Texas end and Mexico begin? And Polk, very aggressively, moves to place American forces in a disputed area, and among those people in that contingent is Grant.
LAMB: Who's leading the military then for Polk?
SIMPSON: Well, though Winfield Scott is, at that moment, the general in chief of the Army of the United States, Zachary Taylor is in command of--of the expeditionary force sent into Texas.
LAMB: Zachary Taylor becomes president how much after that point?
SIMPSON: He becomes president in 1849; he's elected in 1848.
LAMB: And what year are we talking about again, the Mexican War?
SIMPSON: We're talking about 1846 through '48. So...
LAMB: So it's right there.
SIMPSON: It's right there.
LAMB: What was the party in which Grant belonged to at that point?
SIMPSON: Well, Grant really didn't have firmly developed political allegiances, but to the point that he had them, they--he--they were Whig. At Polk--he--he often questioned Polk's use of patronage and making military appointments and trying to get Democrats in--in positions of influence. Grant and his father were both Whigs at this time, and--and one of Grant's political idols, it appears, is Henry Clay.
LAMB: But you say somewhere in the book that he was a Democrat--or voted Democrat--Democratic at some point.
SIMPSON: That's right. After the demise of the Whig Party in the mid-1850s, Grant is sort of left without a party. He has--he's never voted in a presidential election because he's always been on duty. In 1856, he decides that he will vote for James Buchanan, the Democratic candidate for president; he said, in part, because he didn't know anything about Buchanan, but he did know about Buchanan's Republican opponent, John C. Vermont, and didn't trust Vermont to be president.
LAMB: Again, back in the--in the Mexican War--Mexican-American War, what role did he play?
SIMPSON: Grant was given various staff duties at--at the beginning of the war; that he'd be regimental quartermaster and a commissary officer, etc. So he was not given a line command with a company at--at the front lines. And what would happen in many a battle in the Mexican War is that when the firing started, Grant would make sure that his mules were in line and that all the supply issues were taken care of, and he'd ride off to the front and get himself involved as quickly as possible. You just couldn't keep him out of action once the firing began, and he would pick up squads of troops and lead them forward and--and, basically, act on his own as an officer. But he was not, in fact, supposed to do that.

He was supposed to stay behind, and he protested against that rear assignment as not giving him the sort of service he--he--he wanted to have. Nevertheless, it was probably a critical service for Grant's later formation because Grant began to understand the importance of logistics and--and obtain the sort of experience that many Civil War generals did not have in terms of: How do you manage an army? How do you keep it supplied? How do you feed it? How do you move it forward? Grant got that experience during the Mexican-American War.

LAMB: When was the first time you saw evidence of drinking?
SIMPSON: There's evidence of drinking as early as the Mexican-American War; that there were some letters home from other people in Ohio, who were visiting, who were saying that, `Grant i--is drinking and does not know how to hold his alcohol.' So, certainly, it begins to appear then. And...
LAMB: How quickly could you tell he was drinking?
SIMPSON: Well, apparently, what the--one of the things about Grant was that it didn't usually take very long to see that he was drinking. He didn't need too much to consume in order to--for it to show. And so I think that's one thing that we--he--he--he'd be--some people today would call him a cheap date; that only a couple of glasses might send him to a--a--you know, an intoxicated state; that he'd blush, his speech would slur, and he would look a little bit uncertain. So it wasn't that Grant drank. Lots of officers in the United States Army drank. It was that Grant couldn't hold his liquor that was held against him.
LAMB: What was the worst thing he ever did, that you know of, from drinking that you're sure that happened? Because I know you talk about a lot of things that are myths.
SIMPSON: There doesn't seem to be any sort of truly harebrained thing that Grant did under the influence. That--there are all these stories that, while under the influence, he did this or that, but there are--always seemed to be fairly minor things.

He, nevertheless--I mean, the fact of the matter is that defenders of Grant like to say, `Well, this proves that Grant never drank when it was important.' When he's a major general and he's intoxicated, the--in fact, there are not lulls in the action. One time he fell off--he was thrown by a horse in September, 1863, and turned up lame, an injury which hurt him for quite some time, and there are some suggestions that he may--having--having a drink or two before mounting this horse and--and becoming rather careless with--with this rather spirited mount.

The most famous story of Grant drinking during the Civil War, during the Vicksburg campaign in June 1863--a lot of people like to discuss that as if it was just a lark and there was a lull in the action. Grant, in fact, was on an inspection tour because he was terribly worried about the security of his lines from a threatened Confederate attack from Jackson, Mississippi. He was going into enemy territory. He was not feeling well. My suspicion is, from what I've read, that, in fact, he had taken a couple of drinks to make himself feel better, and it had a very negative effect on him. But a--a drunken general headed towards enemy territory during the Vicksburg siege, that's not a lark for no reason at all. Rather, that could have imperiled the Union cause.

LAMB: How much--we know that there have been 7,000, 8,000 books written on Abraham Lincoln. How many books written on U.S. Grant?
SIMPSON: Oh, it's still in the hundreds, and we've had a series of biographies in the last 30 or 40 years; two full-scale biographies and more focused studies, usually, of his generalship, not as much attention given to his presidency.
LAMB: Did you attempt at making this different in any way?
SIMPSON: No. I mean, I was aware of the people who'd gone before me, and I was aware of the degree to which they had become either advocates or detractors of Grant's military career and his political career later on. I found, for myself, that one of the most important things is to--to step away from that; that it--that you're--it's a bad thing to fall in love with--with dead people and just stay away from those issues and to try to find out what the story is. I have found that that, just looking at the sources and trying to piece together what happened, can often be as daunting as anything else.
LAMB: How about your own view of--of General Grant, at this point?
SIMPSON: Oh, I--I guess it would be positive, on--on the whole. I mean, I think he's an extremely able commander, who was able to master the challenges that felled other men; that his success was not inevitable, by any means; that he was a--a master at improvising, responding on the spur of the moment to changes in plan and changes in circumstances. I think he did that well. I think, on the other hand, he played favorites and sometimes was a little too stubborn and--and--in adhering to those favorites and not taking a second look at some people he did not like. Sometimes he was so interested in offensive action that he forgot that the enemy also had a will and might try to impose it upon him. So I think there were things that Grant did that weren't so shrewd.
LAMB: When did he first start smoking cigars, and how many did he smoke a day?
SIMPSON: Well, Grant was a pipe smoker, and if you go to the Smithsonian, in fact, you'll find in th--General Grant's pipe, and that strikes people as somewhat odd. What happened, the popular story, is that in 1862, at the Battle of Ft. Donaldson, February of that year, Grant was off conferring with the nav--his naval counterpart, Andrew Holt Foote, and as he came back, he found that his army was under attack. Grant had very little use for swords and the like. He just saw them a--as obstructions more than anything else. And so when he came on the battlefield, Foote had given him a cigar, and Grant began to direct military operations not with a sword, but with a cigar in his hand pointing back and forth.

Well, that image got back to the newspapers. Grant was one of the first great Union heroes of the war. People called him Unconditional Surrender Grant; taking those initials, U.S., and giving them a new meaning from his surrender demand of the Confederate garrison. And all of a sudden people began to send him cigars, and sure enough, he became addicted to them. And in Grant's case, a lot of ways he is the calm exterior is in fact, the cigar, the tobacco acting as a--a suppressant, has a calming influence on him.

We have a story that--that during the Battle of the Wilderness, he went through two dozen cigars in the course of one day. And people see Grant during the Wilderness as being calm, collected, whittling away. Well, if you look carefully, Grant's nervous. He's shredding his kid gloves as he's doing the whittling, and he's going through cigar after cigar because, in fact, he's very nervous about what's going on. He's commanding a new army for the first time, and he doesn't know what to expect from it. And he, in fact, is using cigars to calm down.

LAMB: Let's go back again. The Mexican War--he got out of there when?
SIMPSON: He got out in 1848. The war ends in 1848 with a formal treaty. They--American forces occupy Mexico City in 1847, and so he's out. And he comes back to several post-ti--post-war duty posts in Detroit, in New York. And in 1852, he is sent to the West Coast.
LAMB: Again, what year did he marry?
SIMPSON: He married in 1848.
LAMB: So he's married, and his wi--his--his wife, Julia, with him in all these places?
SIMPSON: She is with him in most of these places, although she goes back, for example, for the birth of their first son, Fred, in 1850. She goes back to St. Louis. She is pregnant with their--the second child, who ends up being called Ulysses Jr. when Grant is sent out to the West Coast in 1852. At that time, you either went all the way around South America, or you went across Panama by foot. Given the mortality rates, Grant advised his wife not to go with him, but rather to go back to White Haven and--and live it out--live out with her father a--and mother. It was, in fact, a risky crossing. Many people did die. And it would have been a very chancy crossing for Julia and her children to have survived.
LAMB: Four kids.
SIMPSON: Four kids.
LAMB: How'd he get along with them?
SIMPSON: He was a very indulgent father. I think that one thing you learn about parents is that parents' greatest model for ill or for good are their own parents, and he was a supremely indulgent father and loved his kids dearly; brought his kids, especially his oldest son, Fred, to the front. Fred actually was wounded during the Vicksburg campaign.
LAMB: Which one of these are Fred?
SIMPSON: Fred's the tallest one in the middle, wearing a--a military uniform. Fred's born in 1850 named, again, after the Dent side. Ulysses Jr. born in 1852. And then Nellie born on July Fourth, the only girl. Grant used to say, `The fireworks are in celebration of her birthday as opposed to Independence Day.' And then sort of the rapscallion of the family, young Jesse Grant is born late in the 1850s, and Jesse's named after Grant's own father.
LAMB: Now how does he get to Galena?
SIMPSON: W--after Grant resigns from the Army in 1854, he goes back to St. Louis and works on h--farming. That doesn't work out.
LAMB: Did he--did he decide just to give up the service?
SIMPSON: He decided to give up the service, and the reason he decided to give up the service--he was very depressed at being apart from his family; that he missed his wife terribly. Correspondence was infrequent. Missed his children. He now had a second son, whom he'd never seen. And people noticed that he was depressed. He did not like life out on the West Coast. He tried everything he could to bring his wife out, tried all kinds of money-making schemes. None of them panned out.
LAMB: What rank was he?
SIMPSON: By the time he resigns from the Army, he was a captain. And so in 1854, he does resign, and there are stories that drinking has something to do with it and probably was drinking because he was depressed. But he resigns because he's had enough.
LAMB: Anybody recognize him at this point as being a genius in military strategy?
LAMB: And had he done anything at all that people respected from the military days that he'd served?
SIMPSON: They saw him as a very courageous, young officer; that he had done things under fire in the Mexican-American War that were pretty astonishing: took advantage sometimes of his horsemanship; sometimes took advantage of his ingenuity. And so he was known as a young, brave officer, but then the Mexican-American War was filled with young, brave officers. So there would seem to be nothing exceptional about him, except he was cool under fire.
LAMB: And--and he went to Galena in what year?
SIMPSON: He goes to Galena in 1860, and what has happened again is he has failed as a farmer. He goes into St. Louis. He fails in various business concerns. He fails to get a--a political position. And by 1860, his father, taking pity on him, says, `OK, come to work in the general store.'
LAMB: How did his father get from the Cincinnati area to Illinois?
SIMPSON: Well, Jesse was an ambitious businessman and began expanding that leather business all over the place and--and gets a--an interest in a general store in Galena and sets up both his sons, hi--hi--the two younger sons, Orville and Simpson, in that--in that business. And so although Grant's the oldest son, he had--had a separate career, and it's not until 1860 that, basically, he becomes part of the family business, and not as a tanner--he--he despised that--but as a--a clerk in a general store.
LAMB: And how do you get to Galena?
SIMPSON: He--he took a steamer.
LAMB: No, I mean, how do--how would people today? How would they come...
SIMPSON: How would they--well, you'd really have to look carefully in the northwest corner of the state. There are a lot of antique stores there. Main street is more or less preserved. Both the Grant houses are there, Grant's house that he lived in before the war and a house across the river given to them after the--the--there's a valley in the town that separates them. There's a second house that was given to them after the war.
LAMB: So he'd have been--What?--38 years old in 19--in 1860?
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Then what are the circumstances when Abraham Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers?
SIMPSON: Well, Grant is known at the time as a Mexican War veteran, a West Point graduate, and Galena's going to raise a company and--and parts of a regiment. And all of a sudden who--who knows how to drill the boys, who knows how to tell the women in town how to assemble uniform--flags but Grant? And so, all of a sudden, Grant has this reputation as being a man for the situation. He's asked to preside at meetings, much to his consternation, and somewhat flustered because--never good at public speaking at this time, and he himself would admit that later on. He--he wanted, however, to fight. He thought he should be a colonel; that he had that commensurate military experience for such a position. Took an awful long time to get that commission.
LAMB: How did he get it?
SIMPSON: He got it because there was a regiment, the 21st Illinois, who Grant had--members of whom Grant had sworn in, and they had a colonel, Colonel Simon Good, who, in fact, was no good as a colonel, had lost the respect of his men--had become a very unruly regiment outside of Springfield. It was clear to the governor, Richard Yates, that something had to be done, and there was Grant, who, by this time, was doing odd jobs in Springfield, helping to run clerk's office in the old state capitol. And all of a sudden, people said, `Well, why not try Grant? Grant's been around.' And the men of the regiment had met him, and--and so there's a fit.
LAMB: So it was up to the governor to decide whether he got a colonelcy or not.
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: Who is the congressman from Galena?
SIMPSON: Elihu B. Washburne, a Republican, an early supporter of Lincoln, a--a fellow who was interested in Grant and a--certainly instrumental in Grant's early career. When President Lincoln makes available several commissions for brigadier generals, from the state of Illinois, Washburne shrewdly makes sure that his man, Grant, is included that mix. And so Grant earns his first star, not because of anything he accomplishes on the battlefield, but rather because he had a patron in Congress.
LAMB: Go over that some more because--and relate it to today. He was a colonel that had gotten his colonelcy from the governor of the state.
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: Just because he liked him.
SIMPSON: It--well, he was seen as someone who could actually do something. I mean, he had professional training, and that--and it was clear that this unruly regiment needed a disciplinarian who knew what he was about.
LAMB: But you tell a story about him going to a restaurant, where the governor's sitting in the restaurant, and he ignores him.
SIMPSON: That's right; that he was not seen to be--Grant was not singled out as being an important figure.
LAMB: I mean, kind of paint the picture. It's 1860...
SIMPSON: It's 1860--1861.
LAMB: '61. The--Abraham Lincoln's already been elected. What is it? In the first...
SIMPSON: And so he's in his first term, and we've just had the fire in Ft. Sumter, and everyone gravitates to the state capital at Springfield to go ahead and--and bring folks together and--and organize them into fighting regiments.
LAMB: So he's l--he's looking to be a--come a colonel.
SIMPSON: He's looking to become a colonel, and they use him in all sorts of other capacities because of his administrative experience during the Mexican-American War. You go to the old state capitol today, there's a room at--which is supposed to be Grant's office for a while, but Grant found out after a while that all he's doing is filling out forms. He wasn't getting the combat command he wanted. Several times he's about to leave. He keeps on--we--we keep on saying he wasn't pulling strings, but he's making himself achingly available. And that's when he walks in the restaurant and tries--you know, `Here I am. Could you pick me?' And--and nothing's happening.

He thought he was about to go home, either that or search for a colonelcy elsewhere, and actually takes a trip to Cincinnati to visit the headquarters of a young, promising general, George McClellan. And somehow McClellan never quite grants the old West Point buddy an interview.

LAMB: Let's stop there just for a second. George McClellan went to West Point with him?
SIMPSON: George McClellan was in the cl--class of 1846, so McClellan was a young rising star, brilliant, second in his class.
LAMB: But quickly jumped to--what is his top job in the US military?
SIMPSON: He's major general of volunteers at this time, and he was about to get a full commission in the United States Army, but...
LAMB: But--but...
SIMPSON: ...he was in--is the--is the bright boy of his decade.
LAMB: But jumping way ahead, I mean, General Grant--or at the time, whatever, civilian Grant...
SIMPSON: Civilian Grant...
LAMB: ...wants a job through McClellan.
SIMPSON: That's right. And thinks that McClellan might remember their--their fai--fairly slight acquaintanceship. And McClellan--if he remembered anything about Grant, there was the story that McClellan had gone out West in--in charge of an expedition. Grant was in charge of outfitting that expedition, and while he had done so, he'd become intoxicated. McClellan had observed that. McClellan understood the stories about that drunkard Grant from the old Army gossip circles and--and didn't want anything to do with Grant.
LAMB: But the point I want to make is that he goes--he goes to try to talk to General McClellan. McClellan becomes head of the Army of the Potomac...
LAMB: ...and then runs against Abraham Lincoln...
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: 19--in 1864.
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: And loses.
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: What--in history, by the way, where--where do people put George McClellan as a general?
SIMPSON: Although there's a little bit of what we call McC--every Civil War general enjoys his revisionist biographers who se--seek to move reputations up or down, generally, however, that McClellan is seen as--as--as a fellow, who, when push came to shove, wouldn't fight; too cautious, too overtly involved in politics. There's even some dispute about his organizational abilities, so he's not viewed very highly by most historians, although he doesn't receive a lot of harsh criticism.
LAMB: But--but could you say that Ulysses S. Grant was kind of begging George McClellan for a job?
SIMPSON: He was begging anybody for a commission, at that point.
LAMB: And ends up being president of the United States and McClellan doesn't.
SIMPSON: That's right. And--and...
LAMB: Just a three- or four...
SIMPSON: And--and--but Grant--but Grant always had a high estimate of McClellan's military abilities and was very understanding. He--Grant would make harsh comments about other people, but he never made those comments about McClellan.
LAMB: Go back to the restaurant and Governor Yates of Illinois.
LAMB: He--he--he sees him in the restaurant, you say, he--he doesn't pay any attention to him, the governor doesn't, so he walks out and waits out in the--outside in the hallway.
SIMPSON: He was about to go.
LAMB: And--and if Governor Yates hadn't stopped him out there--or he hadn't stopped Governor Yates, he wouldn't be where he is today?
SIMPSON: That's possible.
LAMB: How did that happen? What was that meeting like?
SIMPSON: I--I think Yates wasn't--Yates had bigger things on his mind than the fortunes of poor Ulysses Grant at that moment and--and said, basically, I think, as much as anything else, Yates continued to be interested in Grant only because Washburne had some interest in Grant. And--this--there was this fellow who had some promise, but, you know, commissions as colonels were given out as political rewards. Grant had no political clout, no reputation at all. And it was only when they have this troubled regiment, the 21st Illinois, that they say, `We've got to do something about these folks,' that Grant becomes a--a candidate for colonelcy. There were other states that were sort of interested or other people pulling strings for him, but Illinois' offer comes through first.
LAMB: And then you go back to Congressman Washburne.
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: He's his congressman from Galena.
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: But he--later on in his life, in--in his pu--professional life, he--once again, jumping ahead--and people are going to have to read the book to get all the details on it--but he once again puts a bill in to make him a lieutenant general.
SIMPSON: Yeah. And that--that--in fact, that sort of leads to something that I found very interesting about Grant. A popular perception was that Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln were very tight, that Grant--that Lincoln had always chosen Grant as his general. And my research showed that wasn't true, that Grant--that Lincoln often kept Grant at arm's length, never went to the point of removing him, but had doubts about his ability in 1862 and 1863, that Lincoln probably never uttered the phrase, `I can't spare this man. He fights,' because at the time, he seemed awfully willing to spare Grant. And, in fact, the--the lieutenant general bill, adding a third star, reviving this rank that had not been a full rank in the United States Army since the days of George Washington--Winfield Scott had held it by (unintelligible)--that Washburne and congressional Republicans revived this rank and want Grant to fill it in part to take control of the Army away from people like Lincoln. And Lincoln does not support this bill until he finds out whether General Grant wants to be President Grant in 1864.
LAMB: And how does he find that out?
SIMPSON: Well, Grant, very shrewdly, writes letters to people who will see Lincoln. One of his former generals, Frank Blair, son of one of the Lincoln--excuse me--brother of one of Lincoln's Cabinet...
LAMB: At Blair House.
SIMPSON: That's right. So Montgomery Blair is postmaster general in--in--in the Lincoln Cabinet. Frank Blair, who's been in Grant's Army, has come East to take a turn in Congress, who's basically a henchman of the Gr--of the Lincoln administration. Grant writes Blair a letter and sa--says he doesn't have any presidential ambitions at all. And he says, `Don't show this letter to anyone unless it be the president himself,' which is a clear, `Show the letter to the president. Tell him I don't want to become a--a rival of his in 1864.' There are other messages leaked to Lincoln the same way and--and so Lincoln checks him out before he supports that bill.
LAMB: I mean, again, you relate it to today, it's like being in the Gulf War and somebody was promoting--pick your general, General McCaffrey, to be a four-star against the wishes of President Bush.
SIMPSON: That--that's right. This was a case that, in fact, the Lincoln administration did not frame this legislation and it did not support it until after the OK had been given.
LAMB: Washburne, the congressman, was--was he able to pass the bill in the House?
SIMPSON: He was able to pass the bill in the House, and, in fact, one of the components of the bill that was finally weeded out in--in committee was taking Grant's name out because at one point, Grant's name was explicitly put in the bill, so it wasn't just reviving the rank, but it was specifying that the person who would receive the rank would be Ulysses S. Grant.
LAMB: And what about the Senate? What'd they do?
SIMPSON: The Senate argued about this and talked about whether, in fact, it stripped away the president's right to nominate officers. And--and the bill was still log-jammed up in committee when Lincoln said, `I'--Lincoln basically leaked word that Grant was an acceptable candidate in part because of the lack of political ambitions.
LAMB: In 1864, what's the status of everything then and where is U.S. Grant?
SIMPSON: Well, Grant starts out 1864 actually in Tennessee, and his idea is that come spring, he's going to conduct military operations against the Confederate Army in Georgia and look to take Atlanta. He's a theater commander by that time. He commands basically all the Union forces between the Appalachia Mountains and the Mississippi River. And so he's thinking of a way to close down the Confederacy in the West. He then finds himself first coming to Washington in March 1864 to get the commission as lieutenant general, with a position as commander o--general in chief of the armies of the Unites States. At first, he didn't think he was going to stay--stay. He sort of bounced back and forth and be very mobile. But after he checks the political situation in Washington and he goes down and visits the Army of the Potomac, he begins to realize that he's going to have to stay with that Army as much as possible, shield it from political interference from Washington, and at the same time, Grant is quite concerned about the degree to which Robert E. Lee's image has ech--has control, has infiltrated the mind-set of the officer corps of the Army of the Potomac.
LAMB: Do you think he's a lot different than what he looks like in this picture?
SIMPSON: Well, the one thing that's interesting about that picture, which ta--is taken after Abraham Lincoln's death--and if you look at Grant's arm, there's a mourning band from--from the Lincoln death--is that Grant didn't really like Napoleonic poses. Those photographers had often forced you to jam your hand in--in your vest or something like that and look like Napoleon. And some generals, like George McClellan, were very happy to do that. Other generals were not. Probably the--the cover picture is much more the sort of Grant that--relaxing, thinking, that I like to see than the sort of more stilted photograph of 1865 you just showed.
LAMB: Really what I was asking, though, is he looks passive.
SIMPSON: He--he does look passive, although that was part of the 19th century photography. You didn't smile; you looked straight at the camera; you stayed as still as possible. And so he does look like a passive observer of events, but then so do most other people photographed at that time.
LAMB: Did--did you find that he had one slave?
SIMPSON: He owned a slave. We're not quite sure how he got title to the slave, a fellow named William Jones, whether it was given to him or sold to him by a member of the Dent family. His--his brother-in-law comes to mind as a likely source. And in 1859, he goes and sets the slave free. And the--didn't--didn't really care very much for owning a slave. He did have to make a lot of compromises in his own life because Julia owned slaves or at least had use of Dent family slaves. And Grant was her--we have testimony from one of the Dent slaves, a woman named Mary Robinson, that Grant used to go to the dinner table at White Haven and talk about, `If I ever have control of thi--this plantation, I'm going to free the slaves here.'
LAMB: Another character I want to ask you about is John Rawlins. Where is he in this photograph?
SIMPSON: John Rawlins is sitting next to Grant on the left-hand...
LAMB: Off on the left-hand...
SIMPSON: That's right. And Rawlins has a--a beard, so he's next to him. Rawlins was a Democrat in Galena. He was district attorney. He was a very passionate fellow. He liked Grant even before Grant became any sort of public figure. And Grant valued his abilities as well for various reasons.
LAMB: He's also in this photograph here. Where--off to the right?
SIMPSON: With--with the longer beard, that's right. And Rawlins, during Grant's early years, was sort of a one-man kitchen Cabinet that Grant could bounce ideas off Rawlins and Rawlins would bounce ideas off of him. And Rawlins was a gatekeeper, making sure to protect Grant.
LAMB: What about the--the drinking thing?
SIMPSON: Well, Rawlins' father was an alcoholic, so Rawlins was very, very concerned about anybody drinking and he sort of set himself up as Grant's protector with--with some uneven results. If Gr--if Rawlins had been so effective, then we'd have no stories of Grant drinking during the war. He probably overreacted, but saw himself as Grant's right-hand man on a number of issues. Grant--a--as Grant progressed through the war, Grant had less and less need for Rawlins, began to surround himself with West Point-trained officers who were professionals, kept Rawlins on, but didn't rely nearly so much on Rawlins' advice as he had heretofore. And Rawlins felt the slight. And one role that Rawlins took during the war that--that Grant later discovered and resented was in 1864 when there are discussions about Sherman's march to the sea, Rawlins takes advantage of the mission where he's to be sent to Missouri to stop off in Washington and raise questions about the march to the sea, so much so that there's another exchange of telegraphic correspondence from Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Stanton, questioning the wisdom of that move.
LAMB: I counted 10 books on the list in the front by the Brooks D. Simpson. Is that accurate? This will be the 11th?
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: Which one of those other books sold the most?
SIMPSON: Probably the--the first one, the "Let Us Have Peace," which was an outgrowth of a dissertation I did when I was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin about both the Reconstruction presidents and the--"Gettysburg: A Battlefield Guide," which I did with Mark Grimsley, also sold very well. I haven't kept track of the sales figures in some time.
LAMB: Where is your home originally?
SIMPSON: I grew up on Long Island in New York, originally in Seaford, which is on the South Shore of Long Island. We moved north then in the 1970s to Cold Spring Harbor, where my family is today.
LAMB: And where did you go to college?
SIMPSON: I went to college at the University of Virginia in 1975, graduated in '79 and then went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin.
LAMB: And where did you get your first job out of your graduate school?
SIMPSON: Well, the 1980s were not a good job market for academics, but I was fortunate enough to get two positions in the 1980s before I had completed my degree. In 1984, I got a job with the Andrew Johnson Papers of Knoxville, Tennessee, and worked there for a while and I found it interesting, although I did not have a lot of sympathy with the--Andrew Johnson. In 1987, I took a job at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and taught there for three years before coming out to Arizona State in 1990.
LAMB: What do you teach now?
SIMPSON: I teach American history.
LAMB: Go back to, though, your--your time with the Andrew Johnson Papers in Knoxville. There's a moment in here where U.S. Grant goes out of his way to meet Andrew Johnson, who is then in what job?
SIMPSON: Military governor of Tennessee. He'd been appointed to that in 1862, following, among other things, Grant's own victories at Forts Henry and Donelson. And so Grant does meet Johnson in 1863 and finds Johnson a--a--a--a--a sort of an odd person. We don't--there's not much feedback on that visit at the time. But Johnson certainly took the advantage, as he often did, of giving a long, windy speech, and Grant seemed somewhat flustered and embarrassed by--by the encounter.
LAMB: And it's not fair and we only have, you know--I don't know--10, 11 minutes left or something like that, but I want you to go briefly over some battles and just tell us what--what--what impact it left on Grant's image at the time. Start with Shiloh. Where was it? Where's Shiloh?
SIMPSON: OK, Shiloh is in western Tennessee off the Tennessee River, just above the border between Tennessee and Mississippi. Grant's forces are--are poised there for an advance in 1862. To the extent that Grant is not thinking too carefully about what the enemy is doing, the officer in charge of reconnaissance in front of him is none other than William T. Sherman. It's the first to--battle the men fight together. Sherman does not interpret evidence of Confederate activity very shrewdly, and on April 6th, 1862, the Confederates launch a massive attack upon Grant's encampment, overrun some encampments, and it is a rather fierce fight. In fact, we--what's interesting about Grant is we think of him as an attacking commander, but his early battles, he's involved in offensive campaigns, but, in fact, he's attacked by the enemy. He's attacked at Donelson. He's attacked at Shiloh. Shiloh was a bloody battle, by far the bloodiest one in American history at that time. There was a search for scapegoats afterwards. Grant came under heavy criticism, and for a while, it looked like he might find that that might be a very costly victory indeed to his reputation.
LAMB: Shiloh's named after what?
SIMPSON: Is a--a church there. There is a steamboat landing, and it's called Pittsburg Landing and there is a church called Shiloh.
LAMB: In Tennessee.
SIMPSON: In Tennessee.
LAMB: Vicksburg.
SIMPSON: Vicksburg is--is a tough nut for Grant to crack. He first is down there in late 1862 trying to figure out ways to take this city. It is the last major Confederate citadel on the Mississippi River. He is frustrated in effort after effort to take this city. There is lots of press attention given to Vicksburg, and on--finally, he devised--he devises a campaign whereby he will cross the Mississippi south of the city, go first to the capital of Jackson and then go west towards Vicksburg itself.

But it's a campaign of improvisation from the beginning. When he crossed the--the Mississippi, he first thought he was going to go somewhere else. He found the forces he was going to link up with were not going to be available and--and so at the spur of the moment, he says, `This is what we're going to do. We're going to go and take Jackson, then we're going to go in and--and--and take Vicksburg itself.' It--it's a campaign in which he's outnumbered. It's a campaign in which he has to live off the land. It's a very innovative campaign. Within a space of weeks, he wins five battles and lays siege to the city, and it was just astonishing. And it still held up in many circles as a model military campaign. But what's interesting about the campaign is he didn't plan it from the beginning. He planned it in response to circumstances and what he saw in front of him.

LAMB: Which generals were on the other side?
SIMPSON: At Vicksburg, Confederate forces are led by John C. Pemberton, who ends up in command of the Vicksburg garrison that surrenders to Grant on July 4th, 1863, and Joe Johnston, who was gathering the forces for the relief of Vicksburg.
LAMB: Now Pemberton was in the Mexican War, wasn't he?
SIMPSON: That's right. And, in fact, Grant and he had encountered each other during the Mexican War.
LAMB: As friends?
SIMPSON: As friends.
LAMB: Do you ever get any sense of this frustration when they had their friends on the other--like Longstreet on the other side?
SIMPSON: Well, one--one--one story was--where the--the friendship was--was--was vivid and--and--and important was the--Simon Buckner, who was the commander of the Confederate garrison at Fort Donelson, that prior to the war, when Grant was down and out, coming back from the West Coast--that Buckner helped him out as he awaited transportation back home. And so Buckner thought that Grant would remember this act of kindness. And so Pemberton was quite astonished to receive Grant's demand for unconditional and immediate surrender and thought this was unchivalrous. And--and after the actual surrender meeting, Grant takes Buckner aside and offers him his purses. `You know, you helped me out, if I--if there's anything I can do for you.'
LAMB: And we have Shiloh in 1862 and Vicksburg...
SIMPSON: In 18...
LAMB: ...right--right around the time of Gettysburg.
SIMPSON: That's right. The actual surrender itself takes place--Grant and Pemberton are meeting on July 3rd at just the point where Pickett's Charge is taking place in Gettysburg.
LAMB: Meade--General Meade is doing what in--at Gettysburg?
SIMPSON: General Meade is in command of the Army of the Potomac. He's just been put in that position at--in late June, and he withstands, fairly ably, Robert E. Lee's attacks on July 1 through 3.
LAMB: The other thing that comes through in your book is the rivalries between these generals and the kind of press they were getting. General Meade was not happy with the kind of press that Grant was getting?
SIMPSON: Grant knew--Meade knew that when Grant came East in 1864 that everyone was going to start writing about Grant all the time, and that--Meade did not like that. But that's understandable. Meade then sort of took out after several reporters, which increased his negative press coverage. And--and many times, reporters didn't even mention his name and there was a boycott of--describing the army--the commander of the Army of the Potomac by name because Grant, remember, did not command the Army of the Potomac. Meade stayed in command of that Army from Gettysburg until the end of the war. But people began to pay attention to Grant an awful lot, and sometimes, in fact, that sort of distorted our historical accounts. Meade remained in command of that army and did arrange some assaults, including the--the--the fateful one at Cold Harbor and showed that while he had great talents as a defensive commander, he--he was lacking in coordinating military operations.
LAMB: Best I could calculate, General Grant's son Fred was 13 at Vicksburg...
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and wounded?
SIMPSON: He was wounded.
LAMB: What was he doing there?
SIMPSON: He just got off on his own at--at a place called Big Black River Bridge. And he had been riding around the battlefields for--for weeks, and all of a sudden, got hit by a spent bullet.
LAMB: Why was he even there?
SIMPSON: He was there because, among other things, Julia thought it would be a wise idea for Grant's oldest son to be with him on the battlefields and--and--and go around and--and, all of a sudden, you know, like any other 13-year-old who goes scampering off on his own, looking for excitement and gets hit by a spent ball.
LAMB: What happened to him?
SIMPSON: Nothing serious. I mean, but he--he--he was certainly taken aback by what had happened to him. And if you go today to Vicksburg and go to the Illinois monument--in fact, his name is listed as one of the veterans from Illinois who participated in the campaign.
LAMB: Now when did Chattanooga happen and what impact did that have on General Grant?
SIMPSON: Chattanooga happens in--in November 1863. Grant is given theater command in October 1863, and ordered to supervise the relief of a besieged Union army in--in the city of Chattanooga. Grant comes down, reinforcements gather, and he launches an attack against the Confederate forces, which proves astonishingly successful, as much--a--a product of luck as skill. That cements Grant as the obvious top Union commander, more than anything else, what happens at Sh--at Chattanooga.
LAMB: You write about a lot of direct correspondence between these generals and the president of the United States.
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Could you write, `Dear Mr. President,' right from the battlefield?
SIMPSON: Yes, you could and that often became sort of problematic for Grant in that Grant had some subordinate commanders, notably a fellow named John McClernand from Illinois, who often--a rather backbiting fellow who wanted Grant's job and who knew Lincoln from pre--a previous political association...
LAMB: But he was a Democrat.
SIMPSON: He was a Democrat. But Lincoln valued a Democrat who was loyal to the war effort, and McClernand fit the bill. And--and McClernand sent letters critical of Grant and--seeking his own command for quite some time. And Lincoln did very little to discourage this sort of backbiting.
LAMB: Well, just for a moment, though, McClernand and Grant are from the same town, same area...
SIMPSON: They're both from Illinois.
LAMB: And then you had Abe Lincoln from Illinois.
SIMPSON: That's right.
LAMB: I mean, did any of that have anything to do with the--you know, the--the--during the war, that--that kind of loyalty to people from that state?
SIMPSON: Well, Lincoln's loyalty at the beginning was much more towards Elihu Washburne than anything towards Grant. But it certainly--Lincoln's connections with--with McClernand and--and the need to find some supportive Democrats at--at--at the outset of the war made McClernand quite a valued ally.
LAMB: When did General Grant move to City Point, Virginia?
SIMPSON: He sets up camp there in June 1864, after the Overland campaign or the Wilderness campaign, as it's various caused--called, his confrontation with Robert E. Lee, this grapple in the wilderness, Spotsylvania courthouse, the Cold Harbor and then Grant's crossing of the James in order to lay siege to Richmond and Petersburg in June 1864. And so Grant sets up camp there, and it becomes a gigantic supply depot.
LAMB: I've got this map, and it's not easy to see, but City Point's down here at the bottom. And you're looking at Richmond there above it. And it's in Virginia, on your way up to Fredericksburg, you can see, and then all the way up to Washington. Mrs. Grant seemed to be somewhere around him almost all the time. How much did she live with him during the Civil War?
SIMPSON: She came to visit him first in 1861 when he still had headquarters in--in Illinois. Came down in the fall of 1862 and spent time with him when he was in western Tennessee and--and northern Mississippi. Came down again and visited his command right at the outset of the successful Vicksburg campaign in--in April, 1863. Spent time with her husband during the winter of 1863-'64 in Tennessee, and then came down to City Point in late 1864 or early 1865 and--and spent time with him. By that time, the--the Grant--Grant family had moved to the East Coast, and Grant, in fact, had gone up several times to New Jersey to help arrange for housing for the family.
LAMB: Now we're leaving a lot out because time is slipping through, but Mary Todd Lincoln...
SIMPSON: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and Abraham Lincoln come to City Point how many times?
SIMPSON: The couple comes only once, and that's in March 1865 and that's actually at Julia's suggestion. She supposedly saw an--an--an image of the president and said, `He looks tired.' And--and Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, had been assigned as a volunteer aide on Grant's staff, so the Lincolns come down for an interestingly timed vacation because it's just as Grant is getting ready for his last big push against Richmond and Petersburg. And so even as Grant's worried about action at the battlefront, there's also con--some concern among Grant's staff officers about making sure that Julia Grant and Mary Todd Lincoln don't come to blows.
LAMB: OK. What, again, the date?
SIMPSON: This is in late March...
LAMB: Of 1865.
SIMPSON: ...1865. That's right.
LAMB: Abraham Lincoln is killed on...
SIMPSON: A--April--he--he's shot on April 14th, 1865, and dies on April 15th.
LAMB: So what is the relationship between Mary Todd Lincoln and Julia Grant?
SIMPSON: Well, it seems to have been pretty rough--that Mary Todd Lincoln was known to--to voice her dissatisfaction about certain things and also could be terribly jealous and--and protective of her husband. The two women did not seem to get along very well, and Mary Todd saw in Julia Dent a potential rival for the position of first lady of the land down the road. They--also, Mary Todd Lincoln had her own run-in with General Grant on April 13th. Grant had come to Washington right after Appomattox and start--shut down the war effort. There's no parade through Richmond or anything else. He goes right back to Washington. And he rides around in a carriage that night for a grand lumination in Washington. And Ma--it's the presidential carriage and there's Mary Todd Lincoln in it, and Mary Todd Lincoln becomes furious when people begin to cheer Grant instead of the presidential carriage, symbolizing the president, or Mary Todd. And...
LAMB: And you say they were invited to go to the theater.
SIMPSON: They were invited to go to Ford Theater the next day, and neither Grant wants to go out in public with Mrs. Lincoln around, and so they devise an answer, `No, we've got to go. We've got to go see the kids up in New Jersey.' And so they're not in the box at Ford's Theater that night.
LAMB: This is the first of how many books on Grant?
SIMPSON: This is the first of a two-volume study.
LAMB: When's the next volume coming out?
SIMPSON: If only I knew.
LAMB: Got some guess?
SIMPSON: No. I've learned not to predict those sorts of things.
LAMB: And this book starts with his...
SIMPSON: His birth and takes him all the way through middle of 1865.
LAMB: We've got 30 seconds. What's the most interesting thing you learned in this book that you didn't know before you started this?
SIMPSON: I'd say it's, first of all, the--the--the strained relationship that Grant had with Lincoln and how the two men managed to work things out. I also found it very interesting how Grant resolved personal problems through his military success at the end of the war, destroyed slavery, so he doesn't have a problem with his father-in-law anymore and sets him up as an independent person, which means he doesn't have to worry about his father anymore.
LAMB: Our guest is Brooks D. Simpson. This is what the book looks like: "Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph in Adversity, 1822-1865." We thank you.
SIMPSON: Thank you.

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