Joan Waugh on Grant v. Reagan (yes, as in Ulysses S. and Ronald)

Have you heard? Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has sponsored a bill to replace U.S. Grant on the $50 bill with Ronald Reagan. In an op-ed for the LA Times, Grant biographer Joan Waugh offers a brief history lesson in defense of the Union general and 18th President of the United States and cautions against further erosion of Grant’s legacy. An excerpt:

There was a time when Republicans did celebrate Grant. In a speech delivered in 1900, for example, Theodore Roosevelt maintained that among the past presidents, the trio emerging as the “mightiest among the mighty [were] the three great figures of Washington, Lincoln and Grant.” Roosevelt’s deeply appreciative comments reflected the widespread respect of his generation for Grant, and for good reason.

Yes, Grant’s administration was marred by corruption and controversy. But Grant himself remained steadfast in his belief that the goals of the war — unity and freedom — should be preserved even as the country’s enthusiasm for biracial reconstruction of the South faded away.

He proudly signed off on the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870, describing the law enabling black suffrage as “a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day.”

Grant’s final task as president hearkened back to his first and perhaps most important achievement: to ensure a stable transition, this time in the disputed election of 1876. He succeeded, and the country reconciled for good.

Read the full text of Waugh’s full piece: Ulysses S. Grant earned his $50 bill.

One Comment

  1. How ironic that a Representative from a state that lost the civil war wants to erase the General Grant from the $50 bill. The Republican party has been guided by the Southern branch of so called conservatives. The one General who had a vision to win the war and United the country was the definition of a hero. I know his administration was marred but I think of one of the greatest autobiographies of all time done while he was dying of throat cancer. His wife was going to be left penniless but he fought pain to finish the book published by Samuel Clemans. Reagan get too much credit for ending the cold war. Time did that. THe President who hated big government left with more federal employes then any previous administration. The Southerners were beat by a Northern General and they want to replace him with Ronald Reagan. Reagan never made a western to equal the real work done on horseback by the General of the Potomac.

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