General Grant

General Grant

General Grant

General Grant

Synopsis

General Grant by Matthew Arnold with a Rejoinder by Mark Twain presents conflicting essays and cultures. Matthew Arnold's 1886 essay on Grant praised the general and his posthumously published Memoirs, but to many Americans its tone seemed patronizing of their hero and country. Grant's friend and personal benefactor, Mark Twain, delivered a caustic rejoinder to the Army and Navy Club of Connecticut in April 1887. Thus Arnold became a pet prejudice of Twain's and may have served as an inspiration for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In this volume, Twain's rejoinder is published in a correct text for the first time since the Hartford Courant printed his speech.

Excerpt

Publication twenty-eight years ago of Matthew Arnold's notable essay on Ulysses S. Grant's Memoirs, accompanied by Mark Twain's rejoinder, represented an attempt by the Ulysses S. Grant Association to announce and publicize its project of preparing a comprehensive edition of everything written by Grant. Soon after organization of the Grant Association in 1962, I had developed a plan to publish these documents in fifteen volumes. I have long since forgotten how I arrived at that number, which was probably influenced by the statement in the Dictionary ofAmerican Biography that Grant wrote "as little as possible" and by William B. Hesseltine's complaint about "the almost complete lack of Grant manuscripts." Unfortunately, we disseminated the fifteen-volume figure so widely that it returns to haunt us after the publication of twenty plump volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant has only carried the correspondence into the second year of the Grant presidency.

Grant was a prolific writer, one who rarely wrote at length but wrote often. He maintained friendships, conducted business, waged war, and administered the government all through handwritten communications. The Grant correspondence proved rewarding because Grant played a crucial role in momentous historical events both as general and president. Beyond that, he was so much a man of his time, representing both strengths and weaknesses of the American character, that to understand him was a step toward understanding millions of his countrymen. Simultaneously, Grant was unique and even mysterious. After leaving the White House he stated that he had never en-

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