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tv   The Presidency Ulysses Grant Capitol Hill Bicentennial Ceremony  CSPAN  August 12, 2022 2:48pm-3:27pm EDT

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good morning. today we gather with joy
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good morning. today, we gather with joy, to honor president ulysses s grant, who fought to preserve the union in battle and falls 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 historical society is a chartered, nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing stories of the capital and those who work there in a manner that inspires, informed patriotism. the day, as we celebrate three significant events, all related, the 200th anniversary of ulysses s grant's birth, the 100th anniversary of this grant
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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 am going to introduce first. architect of the capital, brett plantain, who oversaw the restoration and oversees the capital, and distinguished historian ron white. so, now you know what is going to happen. let me present see you our first speaker. senator roy blunt built on his background as a public service servants, a university presidents, and the history teacher. the people of missouri elected him to the united states senator in 2010. you shares the senate republican policy committee. he is the ranking member of the
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senate rules committee. he is on the senate appropriations committee. the ranking member of the appropriate -- and if that is not enough. he is also on the senate congress committee, the science and transportation, and the senate select committee on intelligence. so, we are lucky he is here with us for a hot minute. we want to be thankful to the people of thousands of mystery, who overwhelmingly elected him. 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 it's senator blunt, we are so sorry you're
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retiring, because we know you want a life, but we surely enjoy what you have added to the lives 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. [applause] >> well, thank you, jane. in terms of having a life, i'm an incredibly fortunate man. 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 see what happens after that. just like ron white's book, i'm always ready for the next chapter. i did that as i read the american ulysses and ron white was one of, i think, one of
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three historians that really have restored general grant to his place in history. ron white's book, h. w. grant's book, the subtitle, the man who saved the union. if that doesn't say everything that needs to be said, i don't know how i would say. it's of course, ron chernow's book, and to be here in the restored grants monuments, that hasn't gotten the attention it deserves overtime. in fact, yesterday, we were driving somewhere else and one of my staff asked, where is the grinch monument? i said, it's right down there by that reflecting pool at the base of the capital, and brett's plantain, who went to the naval academy with my son,, matt responsible for restoring this monument to one of our great army heroes, one of our great military heroes, i think ron white and others have made the case that he was a great
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president in 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 bicentennial of his birth. and wagner from st. louis, who represents the dense home in st. louis, which is a national park, because it's a grant association with whitehaven, and then, my other good friend, sherry brown. when i went to -- and i have a missouri reason for this, and additional to a personal reason. -- ohio, and you should have a reason to want to be the other sponsor of this bill, and he was glad to do that. i think he will have some remarks, virtually, a little bit later. but graham missouri history is pretty deep. his first appointment after his first posting after west point
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was at jefferson barracks, which was the first posting for an awful lot of graduate of west point. and his roommate, fred, from west point was there as well. so, he wound up going with his roommate to whitehaven, a place for his roommate had grown up, and he would have said i think, the most important moment of his life was meeting fred. fred dent sister, julia, later, they are married and his life is better and more stable and more focused when julia dent, then juliet grant, was around. that proved true for the rest of his life and the rest of their life. they spent quite a bit of time at white haven. five years of living there, but even asked president, grant spent a lot of time at whitehaven. his family has a stable that is still teared today. his mastery and love of horses
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was very much evident at whitehaven, and on grants farm, we are eventually, the house he built at whitehaven's moved, named with some humor, i guess, hard scrabble farm, and it's the only house standing house, and maybe the only house built by hands by an american president. and you can go to that location. the grants didn't live there very long, but he built that house, and lived in that house, and still standing today. so, that's important. grant comes back to the army, the civil war starts, another missouri moment for him is the first battle he really commands is in northern missouri. it's during that battle, ron white, i think he discovers that however many concerns he had about meeting the enemy,
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the enemy was just as concerned about meeting him, and he never forgot that as he began to move forward. 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. he was really get in the paper called the daily missouri democrat. that's when grant found that he was going to be general grant, and of course, was from then on. the civil war story, i, think's well told. it's better told overtime and better told by the three people i mentioned. one of whom it's going to speak here after me. i don't want to get into too much detail about what i think versus what i know about general grant. we've got somebody here who knows everything about general grant's, and it's going to talk about that. when i see the statue, sort of grant hobbled on that horse, in
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broad light. people who sought general grant on a horse, whether it was at west point or he did unbelievable things and horsemanship, or during his entire career, the battle of bell, monsey wrote a horseback. the last person to get on the boat they were using to move the army, he wrote a horse down the game plank, which is almost impossible to do, but general grant was truly a master of horsemanship. here on a horse, huddled sort of against all of the elements, when i see this, i always think of that moment i read about that shiloh where at the end of the first day of shiloh, where the army had been surprised, grants have been previously injured and was not as connected the day before as he might normally be, to what was going on there. the army had a bad first day. grant, at the end of the day, in the dark, sort of leaning against a tree under some light
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rain, and sherman comes up and says, well, we really had a bad day today or something like that. and the grants response, as he's huddled bear under that tree is, will whip them tomorrow,. though and he always was able to look towards the future and never, according to sherman and others, never really upset in the middle of the battle. he could keep his wits about it when everybody else lost theirs, and it made him truly a great general. and that's, under some dispute, frankly, the centennial of the civil war. but by the 150th anniversary of the war, the true greats generalship of grant was more deeply appreciated than it had been, and because of those three books i mentioned, i think grant's presidency, seen in a different way than it was after the really, the return of
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a sense of the lost cause, the birth of the nation. if you didn't respect the efforts of reconstruction, which was incredibly important in the eight years after the war, if you didn't appreciate the efforts of 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, after that demonization. in fact, driving over to that saying, when was the bill passed to create the grants memorial? which was created 100 years ago at the grant centennial, and the answer was 1901. we are americans were still referring to grant as one of
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the three great presidents. if you look back and read the history of reconstruction, where everything that grants did was wrong, everything the governments did was wrong, 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. in that's not somebody who, on the centennial of his birth would've been howled in disrepute, but still greatly respected. i'm glad to see the monument restored, i'm glad to see grants reputation being reviewed nobody is perfect. rant certainly would've understood he wasn't perfect either. but as we look in a different view and the lost cause here in the civil war as we look at a different way of the importance
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of reconstruction, as we look in the sadness of the wilson administration with a federal rope before three segregated. we have reason to think about grant in a way that these great historical's 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
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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. [applause] >> 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
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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
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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
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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. [applause] [applause] [applause] >> 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,
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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 a question monument in the united
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states. -- we've undertaken -- 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 to painstakingly clean the bronze to model the original color and 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
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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 --
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. and i think maybe what we need to do now, is to listen to ron white, tell us about why we come together to honor president grant today. doctor way. [applause] >> 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
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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 accept 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
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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
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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.
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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 not with any particular dress that would make him outstanding to the soldiers who watched and waited for him. he crossed the rapid and river and walks to what's called the wilderness. i've walked the wilderness. it's an area of scrub oak forest, we are grants 221 advantage in military artillery horses was of no effect. so, he walked, plunged into the
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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,
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he's going to divide us, and he is going to -- and grant, who was 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's general lee it's 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 goose person 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 over to general grant and that, is there anything you want me to say to president lincoln? and general grant, a man of few
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words, simply replied with the six words. please tell 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 petraeus. frank spots hero is here today, who is president of the grants monument association. tomorrow evening the grant monument association will present a colloquy in new york, hosted by general petraeus and in conversation with ron chernow and myself. general petraeus ranks grant as the greatest american general with no comparison. he will tell the story we did a convocation 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.
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well, as senator blunt mentioned in his final remarks, grants star fellow. aloft calls came forward 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. at his unlucky to address, he
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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 grow weary and well doing, and how even though republicans have passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment, by the time grant becomes president, the republican party was becoming weary in well doing. let the south we build solve that problem. the ku klux klan was founded in 1866, originally simply if a fraternal organization. but now we would call it today a white supremacist terrorist organization.
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and as those ku klux klan men, who would rape, beat, hang african americans, would be convicted, would be caught by police or military, 36% of the union military in the south we're african americans 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 the entry was the party of states 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.
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so grant, in his presidency, stands for them. frederick douglass, who had a kind of not quite sure attitude towards abraham lincoln, campaign for grant in both 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. a ticket on a railroad, or other conveyance, should entitle you to all that it does other men.
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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.
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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 grant biography, don't you think grant is due for an upgrade? >> yes he is. thank you very much. [applause] >> 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
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our public memory is presented in a way to inspire informed patriotism. mr. blunt in, thank you for your work. thank you for your creation, and dedication to recreate the statue to the glory it belongs. we think senator blunt for sponsoring us to be here, for sponsoring the legislation. we thank senator brown, congresswoman anne 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. who's on the staff, jonathan?
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[applause] and we can only operate because we have an incredibly dedicated board. and so many of our board members are here with us today, wave 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
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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. featured speakers were retired u.s. general general petraeus, and grant biographers. general petraeus interviewed the two historians. 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. [applause]


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