Ulysses S. Grant: Politician

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

Chapter VI Grant Acts, Seymour Talks, Blair Blows

THE interchange of recriminations between Grant and Johnson turned the two men into bitter personal enemies. Before the epistolary clash, Grant had sought to preserve an outward appearance of harmonious subordination to his chief, and so skillfully had he maintained an apparent impartiality that even Johnson had been partly deceived as to his real opinions. When their correspondence tore the mask of reticence from Grant's face, he became an open and implacable enemy. Aside from the most formal communications, contact between them entirely ceased. For the Cabinet members who had confirmed Johnson's ingenious statements, Grant developed a rancor which was only surpassed by his hatred of the President. Welles noted that he and the Radicals were even attempting to "establish a Radical ton or condition of society, in Washington." Excluded from social contacts with the Administration's cohorts, Grant and Stanton ostentatiously attended only Radical receptions. Cabinet officers replied with open scorn for Grant's "publicly advertised jams."1

Not only socially did the general and President seek to damage one another. Already Johnson had made efforts to win Sherman from Grant, dangling before the lieutenant-general's eyes the supposedly tempting lure of the War Department. But Sherman was obsessed by a distrust of politicians, and spurned the offer. Each time that Johnson offered the department, Sherman gave an evasive answer, and turned to Thomas Ewing to save him from the President's designs.2 Failing to make Sherman Secretary of War, Johnson tried another scheme. With both Stanton and Grant aligned with the Radicals, the President had good reason to fear that his congressional enemies would use the army to seize the government and place him under arrest. In desperate need of an army friend, Johnson planned to give Sherman the brevet rank of general, and place him in command of a new district with headquarters in Washington.3

Advisers close to the President warned him that Sherman would

____________________
1
Welles, Diary, III, 298.
2
Milton, Age of Hate, 500; Welles, Diary, III, 254; Badeau, Grant in Peace, 127.
3
Welles, Diary, III, 270-272, 279.

-112-

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