tv The Presidency Ulysses Grant Capitol Hill Bicentennial Ceremony CSPAN August 12, 2022 8:46am-9:25am EDT
in battle? and fought as president. to preserve the values of our country. we are so excited to be here. for those of you who don't know the united states capitol historical society is the congressionally chartered nonprofit organization. dedicated to sharing the story of the capital and those who work there in a manner that inspires informed patriotism. today as we celebrate three significant events all related. the 200th anniversary of ulysses grant's birth. the 100th anniversary of this grant memorial and the dedication of the incredible restoration of this monument that was finished in 2020. we have a distinguished group of
speakers. senator roy blunt our hero who i'm going to introduce first architect of the capitol brett blanton who oversaw the restoration and oversees the capital and distinguished historian ron white. so now you know, what's going to happen. let me present to you our first speaker. senator roy blunt built on his background as a public service servant a university president and history teacher. and the people of missouri elected him the united states senator in 2010. he shares the senate republican policy committee. he's the ranking member of the senate rules committee. he's on the senate appropriations committee the ranking member of the appropriate and if that's not enough, he's also on the senate commerce committee the transportation science and transportation and the senate select committee on
intelligence. so we're lucky that he's here with us for a hot minute. and we want to be thankful to the people of southwest missouri who overwhelmingly elected now our senator, but first to the house of representatives seven times. when roy blunt went to the house of representatives he was the elected majority whip earlier in his career than any other member of congress. he came to the senate and was immediately included in senate leadership. one of the things that people are all saying. is center blunt? we're so sorry you're retiring because we know you want a life, but we surely enjoy what you have added to the life of the senate and to the life of the historical society. so maybe those four children and
six grandchildren will get more time with you. but today talk to us about president grant. well, thank you jane and in terms of having a life, i'm an incredibly fortunate man and one of the great opportunities i've had is to serve in public office particularly to serve in the house. and then the senate to be in leadership in both places and i intend to make the most of every day of the rest of this year and then see what happens after that. just like ron white's book. i'm always ready for the next chapter and i did that as i read the american ulysses and ron white was one of i think one of the three historians that really have restored general grant to his place in history. ron white's book hw brands book the subtitle, which was the man who saved the union if that
doesn't say everything that needs to be said, i don't know how i'd say it and of course ron cherno's book and then to be here in the restored. the restored grant monument that hasn't gotten the attention it deserved over time. in fact yesterday. we were driving somewhere else and one of my staff asked where is the grant monument? and i said, well, that's right down there by that reflecting pool at the base of the at the base of the capitol and brett blanton who went to the naval academy with my son matt responsible for restoring this monument to one of our great army heroes, but one of our great military he rose and i think ron white and others have made the case the great president and an important time. and i want to talk about that a little bit. but first, let me talk about my two sponsors of the grant resolution honoring the the bicentennial of his birth the
ann wagner from st. louis who represents dent home in st. louis whitehaven, which is a national park because of the grant association. with whitehaven and then my other good friend of shared brown and when i went to share this and i've got a missouri reason for this in addition to a personal reason but certainly is an ohio when you should have a reason to want to be the the other sponsor of this bill and he was glad to do that. i think he'll have some remarks virtually a little bit later the grant missouri history is really pretty deep his first appointment after his first to posting after after west point. was that jefferson barracks, which was the first posting for an awful lot of of graduates of west point and his roommate fred dent his roommate from west point was there as well and so
he wound up going with his roommate to whitehaven a place where his roommate had grown up and at the maybe the he would i think have said the most important moment of his life met fred grant fred dent's sister julia and a few years later there married and his life is always better and more stable and more focused when julia when julia dent julia grant is around and that proved true for the rest of his life and the rest of their life together. they spent quite a bit of time at whitehaven five years living that living there, but even as president grant spent a lot of time at whitehaven they established a stable that still there today his mastery and love of horses was very much evident at whitehaven and then on grant's farm where eventually the house he built at whitehaven is moved named it with some
humor, i guess hardscrabble farm and it's the only house the only house standing house and maybe the only house built by hand by an american president and you could go to that location there. the grants didn't live there very long, but he built that house and lived in that house and still standing today. so, you know that's important grant comes back to the army as world as the civil war starts another, missouri moment for him is a bad the first battle. he really commands northern, missouri. and a steering during that battle ron white that i think he discovers that however this is a closed captioning test. this is a closed captioning test. this is a closed captioning test. this is a closed captioning test. this is a closed captioning test. moving forward he got in that northern,
missouri service his first notice that he personally got that he had been appointed to a general's position was reading in a paper called the daily, missouri democrat, and that's when grant found out that he was going to be general grant and of course was from then on the civil war story i think is well told but it's better told over time and better told by the three people. i mentioned one of whom is going to speak here after me so i don't want to get in too much detail about what i think is what i know about about general grant we've got somebody here who most everything about general grant and is going to talk about that. but when i see this statues sort of grant huddled on that horse. and by the way, people who saw general grant on a horse whether it was at west point where he's he did unbelievable things in horsemanship or during his entire career at the battle of belmont. he wrote a horse back the last
person to get on the boat that they were using to to move the army. he wrote a horse down the gangplank, which is almost impossible to do but general grant was was truly a master of horsemanship, but here on a horse huddle sort of against all of the elements when i see this i always think of that moment that i've read about it shiloh. we're at the end of the first day of shiloh where the army had been surprised grant had been previously injured and was not as connected the day before his he might normally be to what was going on there. the had been surprised had a really bad. first day grant was at the end of the day in the dark sort of leaning against a tree that under some light rain and sherman comes up and says, well, we really they really we really had a bad day today or something like that and grants response as he's huddled there under that tree is we'll whip them tomorrow
though. and he always was able to look toward the future and never according to sherman and others never never really upset in the middle of the battle. he could keep his wits about him when everybody else had lost theirs and it made him truly a great general and that's it was under some dispute frankly at the centennial of the civil war but by the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the war the true great generalship of grant was was more deeply appreciated than it had been and because of these three books i mentioned i think grant's presid. seen in a different way than it was after the really the the return of of a sense of the lost cause and the birth of the nation if you if you didn't respect effort at reconstruction. which was incredibly important in the in the eight years after
the war if you didn't expect if you didn't appreciate the effort at reconstruction, you couldn't appreciate grant. and reconstruction was demonized particularly under the wilson administration that movie that was shown at the white house the birth of a nation and grants reputation suffered for more than 50 years after that in my after that demonization in my opinion. in fact driving over to dad said well, when was the when was the bill passed to create the grant memorial which was dedicated a hundred years ago at the grant centennial. and the was 19 and one. where where americans were still referring to grant as one of the three great presidents? you know if you look back and read the the history of reconstruction where everything that grant did was wrong and everything the government did was wrong it.
you wouldn't believe that years decades after his death. many people including theodore roosevelt during his presidency would refer to washington lincoln and grant as the three great presidents now, that is not somebody who for in on the centennial of his birth would have been held in disrepute but still greatly respected. that is not somebody who on the centennial of his birth would've been held in disrepute. but still greatly respected. i am glad to see the monument restored, i'm glad to see grants reputation being reviewed. nobody is perfect. and grant certainly wouldn't have maintained that he was perfect either. but as we look at a different view at the lost cause a narrative of the civil war, as we look at it in a different way at the importance of reconstruction. as we look at the sadness in
the wilson administration where the federal workforce is resegregate it, we have reason to think about grant in a way that these great historians have presented what i think is a much more appropriate story of grant. and so here we are at a restored monument at a time when president grant is being viewed in a way that general grant was generally always viewed. i'm glad to see those things happen. i am certainly glad to be here with you today. stand wagner, sharon brown, and i, yesterday yesterday sent a letter to the secretary of defense asking that grant to be given the rank of general of the armies. only two people have ever had that rank. one was purging after world war one and one was washington. it was given to washington as part of the bicentennial in
1976. it would seem to me that the bicentennial of grant's birth would be exactly the right time to bestow that rank on this person in age show iran's work. the man who saved the union. i am delighted to be able to be here today. thank you to all of you. be >> thank you senator blunt. it is so such an honor to have a historian in the senate. senator blunt mentioned senator brown from my state of ohio who is the companion spar sponsor and we do have video remarks which will be included in the video that you will be able to look at from our website. and so let me bring you a couple words from his remarks that you will be able to see if you take your program.
there is a little qr code and that will take you to our website and so you will be able to see where you will eventually get the entire video of today. senator blunt said, 200 years ago president grant was dropped raised in georgia in ohio before going on to serve his nation with honor distinction. as you know, grant six exemplary leadership on the battlefield could only be overshadowed by his commitment to a more just nation for all americans during the reconstruction era. his life is a lesson and perseverance, despite the many setbacks he faced in his professional and personal life he never quit. his integrity propelled him to command our union army, and ultimately to be the leader of our nation as the 18th president. and so we appreciate senator
brown for his involvement in this event virtually. and now i have the honor to present to you the architect of the capital, jay brand plantain. he is the 12th architect of the capital. on december 20th 2019 the united states senate confirmed mr. plantain. and on january 16th, 2020, he was sworn in as the architect of the capital by supreme court justice john roberts junior. can you imagine the time that he came to be the architect of the capital. mr. blunt and, as the aoc as we call him, is responsible for facilities management and operation, not just of this capital building but for the care and improvement of 570 acres of grounds and operations,
maintenance of 18.4 million square feet of buildings, including the house and senate congressional office buildings, the capital visitor center, the library of congress, the united states supreme court, the thurgood marshall judiciary building, and all of the outdoor sculptures. such as the one that is preserved today. senator blunt talks about mr. plantain's work and his education at the naval academy. it is my honor to present to you we're in latin architecture of the capital. >> thank you for that warm welcome. good morning, and thank you for being here. i'm honored to join senator blunt, miss, kimball mr. white, and members of the united states capitol historical society in celebrating the 200th anniversary of president
grant's birth, and the 100th anniversary of this memorial. now i am not going to talk about president grant, and i do agree that he is one of the greatest presidents and our union, and i will also acknowledge it as well that i firmly believe that he could save the union. and we would not have a capital complex like we have today if it wasn't for president grant. not only was he a crazy leader in the military, he was a great leader for our nation. i am truly honored to be here. as many of you know, this memorial was sculpted by henry maher win tree win over the course of 20 years. not only is it a testament to president grant, but it is also recognized as the largest -- we have undertaken meticulous conservation effort to bring the monument back to its original
splendor. in a combined effort by aoc's talented in-house staff and contractors we work diligently to remove disfiguration corrosion and stains. restore missing and broken pieces and to refurbish the original marble. we utilized finally powdered calcium carbonate. as a microabrasion of media to painstakingly clean the bronze to model the o as a micro abrasion and media to painstakingly clean the bronze to model the original colored finish. we also had to recast over 150 million pieces of the statue. in addition to refurbishing component so that viewers can appreciate the saddle detail the original sculpture, we
replicated the lamppost of the original design by edward pierce casey, who was the architect of the pedestal. across the capital we continue to work hard to preserve treasured monuments every day. i am struck by the schooled work taking place by aoc employees who are preserving and maintaining these priceless works of art. i appreciate your support report and reckon in recognition of everybody here, thank you for joining together with the ceremony. [applause] >> thank you mr. plantain for your work in your words. and now we have the highlights of our day. everybody who has spoken has talked about -- . ron white distinguished historian, author of two new york times bestselling
presidential biographies. the one we've talked about today, american ulysses, the white one life of ulysses s grant, and also the author of a link, in a biography. i could go on about his work and his words, but i think maybe what we need to do now is to listen to ron weight tell us about why we come together to honor president grant today. doctor white. >> how delightful and what an honor it is to be here with you today, and those who will be watching this online. grant is rising in 2022. i am not referring simply to this marvelous statue, but in
the c-span presidential historians historical surveys, four have been done in the 21st century. they are done each time there is a change of american presidents. and in those four surveys, grant has risen 13 places. 13 places. dwight eisenhower has risen for places, in second place. so what i would like to do today is to just give two photographs, so to speak, of grant the general. and as senator blunt referred to grant the president. the story that really intrigues me, many of you know the story, is the first and the grant arrived in washington. he came to accept president lincoln's invitation to now lead the combined union armies. it was march 8th, 1864. he and his son arrived at the baltimore and ohio railroad station. he took a carriage, arrived it was then called willard hotel,
walked to the front desk, and asked for a room. the desk keeper said, a room? do you not understand where you are? this is the finest hotel in washington d.c.. this is the middle of the civil war, let me see what i can do. so finally he said to general grant, i would like to offer you a small room on the top floor. and general grant and his typical way said, that will be fine. he said, please sign the register. he signed the register, and when he turned it around the desk clerk saw, general grant and son galina illinois, he turned pale. he gasped. why didn't you tell me who you were? and if i might intercede by asking ourselves, how many celebrities, politicians, sports figures, entertainment figures, would have said don't you know i am? but of course, that's the last
thing that general grant would've ever said. so now he looked underneath the duster that he was wearing, he saw he was wearing a blue union uniform. he almost always wore privates uniform. the only way you knew his rank was the stars on his shoulder. he had a general grant and envelope which was an invitation to the white house that evening to meet president lincoln for the first time. i think that story just captures so much of who grant is. we don't, 19th do not and use the word humility. they used the word self effacement. and grant to me is so compelling by herself effacement. so let me tell two stories. i think that they really capture who he is. if grant was offered the command of the union army by president lincoln, we have to remember that he was not yet offered command by the union soldiers. four behind his back, they whispered, you've not met bobby lee. you've not met bobby lee.
you've been out in the minor leagues, which they internment shiloh, vicksburg, chattanooga. you have not met bobby lee. four times the union army had entered into virginia, four times it had retreated industry rule. so they were willing to wait and see who would grant be. on may 4th, he started what would become known as the oberlin campaign. riding his toll horse, cincinnati 17 hands high, not with any particular address it would make about standing to the soldiers who watched and waited for him. he crossed the rapid in river, and entered into what is called the wilderness. i have walked the will address. it is an area of scrub oak forest where grants to 21 advantage in military artillery horses was really have no effect. and so he walked, plunged into the wilderness. we later on use the term
friendly fire. well, friendly fire began to take place that day as men falling out of formation, shooting at what they thought might be the enemy sometimes were shooting at their own men. and then, and then, the forest caught fire. it began to burn. and men were burned to death. or they shot themselves, killed themselves, before they would be burnt to death. so, at the end of the second day, grant had suffered more casualties than he expected. you've seen the lincoln movie, you know the president lincoln was sitting often in that telegraph office, waiting to hear what was taking place. but the confederates had suffered the telegraph lines so president lincoln and others in washington did not know what was taking place. at the end of the second day, a general union, general rode into the camp and said, i know what lee is going to do. he is going to do this and that, he's going to divide us, and he
is going to -- . and granted is often called grant the silent, grant the sphinx, was sitting there and rose slowly, you raise himself up and he said, i am heartily tired of hearing what generally is going to do. it almost seems like some of you think he is going to turn a double symbol somersault and land on both sides of our ranks. i want us to decide what we are going to do. well, shortly after, that a veteran said i will give $1,000 for anyone who is willing to get through the confederate lines and give the word to president lincoln. and young henry wing, four years of age, said i will make that effort. but before he did so you watch it was a general granted he said, is there anything that you want me to say to president lincoln? and general grant, a man of few words, simply replied with the
six words. simply stop president lincoln, there will be no turning back. there will be no turning back. one of the great joys after my biography of grant was published was to meet general david crisis. franks to terrell was here today who is president of the grand monument association. tomorrow evening the grant monument association will present a colloquy in new york, hosted by general petraeus and in conversation with ron -- and myself. general petraeus ranks grant as the greatest american general with no comparison. he will tell the story we did a complication at west point together, how he read grants memoirs of a prepared to leave the surge in iraq. and then he asked his generals, his leaders, to read grants memoirs. because grant is this person there will be no turning back. well, as senator blunt
mentioned in his final remarks, grants star fellow. a lost cause scheme for it quickly after the civil war put forward by both confederate generals, and by newspaper editors, arguing that the best side have lost. the more christians, side the more chivalrous side. and they lost only because they were overwhelmed by the larger union army, the industrial might of the north, and that butcher grant. and then as the south goes forward, we have recently been learning how monuments were raised in the south at the end of the 19th century, no one was willing to celebrate general ulysses s grant who was willing to stand up for freedom. so one of the things that i think we have done most in the last 15, 20 years, is try to restore grants presidency. restore his presidency. there's many many aspects of that presidency that we could talk about today. and at his inaugural dress, he says we have to have a new policy for american indians. we have treated them badly.
he negotiates a treaty with england. there was a great anglo phobia, anxiety, because england have helped build confederate radio ships. he understood that england going forward into the 20th century would become our greatest ally, and he wanted to settle that treaty with them and begin that friendship. but most importantly, was his standing up for the freed men and women. there's a biblical verse about how we go weary and well doing, and how even though republicans have passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, but it time grant becomes president, the republican party was becoming weary and well doing. let the -- solve that problem. the ku klux klan was founded in 1866, originally simply if a turtle organization. but now we would call it today a white supremacist terrorist organization. and as those ku klux klan men,
who would rape, be, hang, african americans, would be convicted, would be caught by police or military, 36% of the union military in the south where african american because they entered the military later than the white soldiers. they were routinely let go by state corps, local corps. so grandsons forward and says of this is what is going to take place, i will use the power of the federal government to prosecute the ku klux klan. what is so interesting in our american history, the democratic party in the 19th century as the party of state rights. the republican party in the 19th century was the party of a strong central government. and the reason the klan went after african americans, why? because they knew that they would vote overwhelmingly for republicans in local, state, and national office. so grant, in his presidency,
stands for them. frederick douglass, who had a kind of not quite sure attitude towards abraham lincoln, campaigned for grant about 1868 and 1872. and i conclude this story of his presidency by this to me remarkable story. in 1872, after his reelection, a group of african americans from philadelphia came to thank him. they said to him, you are the first president elected by the whole people. they wanted him to know that he was the practical establishment of our republican theories. grant responded, in your desire to obtain all the rights of citizens, i fully sympathize. he spelled out what he meant. aid to get on the railroad, or other conveyance, should entitle you to all that it does other men. i wish that every voter of the
united states should stand in all respects alike. it must come. it would be 90 years before it began to come. grant was the last president to stand up for african americans. senator blunt, in his remarks, mentioned the first plan to build this wonderful monument. theodore roosevelt, in 1900, offered the words that he said. and i'm going to go further than what he said this morning. theodore roosevelt said, of all the living dead, the three greatest americans are george washington, abraham lincoln, and ulysses s grant. but he didn't stop there. he went on to say, a second rank are benjamin franklin, alexander hamilton, andrew jackson, of second rank. so this is the way theodore
roosevelt understood ulysses s grant in 1900. i am so pleased that in 2022, we are restoring him to his rightful place. as my editor said, when we talked about doing a grand biography, don't you think grant is different upgrade? >> yes he is. thank you very much. >> doctor white, you are as good a storyteller in person as you are when you read the book. president grant comes alive, both in the challenges and in the opportunity. today we gather as part of our understanding of public memory, the capital historical society is dedicated to ensuring that our public memory is presented
in a way to inspire informed patriotism. mr. plantain, thank you for your work. thank you for your creation, and dedication to recreate the statue to the gloria belongs. we think senator blunt for sponsoring us to be here, for sponsoring the legislation. we thank senator brown, congresswoman and wagner, and we thank each of you. . this event would not be here if it was not for the incredible dedication of the staff of the united states capitol historical society. i stand here, but i didn't do all of this work. so i want sam, and cherice, everybody, wave your hands.
and we can only operate because we have an incredibly dedicated board. and so many of our board members are here with us today, we have your hands. jeanne. all right, everybody. we hope that this, our first in-person event in 25 months, will be the beginning of new opportunities. one of the silver linings of the pandemic is that we learned how to live stream. so, those of you who are here great. those of you who are here virtually, great. and everybody will be able to get this video and watch it at another time. today, we honor president grant. as a military leader, who fought to preserve the union. as a president who fought to preserve the values of our
union. and thank you all for being here, and being part of this effort. have a great day. the grand monument association hosted a dinner commemorating the bicentennial of the 1822 birth of ulysses s grant. speech careers included general petraeus, and grant biographers. general petraeus interviewed the two historians. all for joining us tonight. welcome everyone, good evening. i want to thank you all for joining us tonight. on the evening of general and president ulysses s grant's 200th birthday.