Tuesday, July 24, 2007

July 23, 1885: U.S. Grant Dies

Cancer caught up with Ulysses S. Grant in the summer of 1885, famously dying just after completing his memoirs, which are considered one of the finest of that genre. Another, more visible, monument to the life of Grant is in New York City -- officially the General Grant National Memorial, popularly Grant's Tomb.

"[Grant] was laid to rest in New York City on August 8th," notes the National Park Service. "Approximately 90,000 people from around the country and the world donated a total of over $600,000 towards construction of his tomb, the largest public fundraising effort ever at that time. Designed by architect John Duncan, the granite and marble structure was completed in 1897 and remains the largest mausoleum in North America. Over one million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony of Grant's Tomb, on April 27, 1897."

President McKinley led the event, held on what would have been Grant's 75th birthday. For the occasion, verse by Walt Whitman eulogizing Grant was read:

As one by one withdraw the lofty actors
From that great play on history's stage eterne
That lurid, partial act of War and peace -- of old and new contenting,
Fought out through wrath, fears, dark dismays, and many a long suspense;
All past -- and since, in countless graves receding, mellowing,
Victor's and vanquish'd -- Lincoln's and Lee's -- now thou with them,
Man of the mighty days -- and equal to the days!
Thou from the prairies! -- tangled and many-vein'd and hard has been thy part,
To admiration has it been enacted!

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