Read a Moving Encounter Between Ulysses and Julia Grant - & my Interview with Christian Authors Net
I know you have a deep interest in history, but what inspired you to write this book?
My interest in the final two years in the life of Ulysses S. Grant began sometime in the 1990s when I first viewed The Civil War by Ken Burns. Living in Virginia during those years, I began a tradition of visiting Civil War battlefields and museums that continues to this day. I am grateful to the amazing battlefield guides and expert staff at the numerous museums, national parks, and historical sites I have visited since that time. Check out the list of the historic sites I visited while doing research for Victor!
And what do you hope readers will take away from this book?
In the midst of the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant emerged to guide the United States first to victory and then to the beginnings of reconciliation. As president, he called for renewed good will among his fellow Americans, declaring, “Let Us Have Peace.”
As incredible as these events were, perhaps the most dramatic season in Grant’s life came in his final two years. After leaving the White House, he lost all his money in a massive Ponzi scheme. Only months later, he was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer. Without income and facing a painful death, Grant teamed with his friend and publisher Mark Twain to write his personal memoirs in an attempt to restore his family’s fortune. He finished the book four days before his death. Twain published the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant later that year. In the end, the book made $450,000 for Julia Grant—the equivalent of more than $10 million today, securing her future and restoring the Grant family fortune.
In this amazing act of selflessness and love, Grant restored his family’s fortune. At the same time, he fought the growing “Lost Cause” school of historical thought, which argued that the Civil War was about state’s rights and not about slavery. On both counts, Grant triumphed as a result of his courage, his perseverance, his strong family bonds, his education, and his faith in God. I believe he is a role model for our times—and for all time.
So inspiring! What’s your favorite scene in this book?
There are many amazing and moving scenes in this book, but one encounter between Julia and Ulysses poignantly shows their affection for each other—a glimpse into a love affair that lasted their entire life. After his tremendous victory at Vicksburg, Ulysses was being spoken of as a future presidential candidate, Julia Grant realized that she too was becoming something of a public figure. Suddenly self-conscious of her strabismus—the condition of crossed eyes that she had from birth—Julia consulted an old medical acquaintance to see if surgery could correct the problem.
“I had often been urged in my girlhood by Dr. [Charles A.] Pope, the most distinguished surgeon in the country at that time, to permit him to make a very simple operation on my eyes,” Julia explained. “I had never had the courage to consent, but now that my husband had become so famous I really thought it behooved me to try to look as well as possible. So I consulted the Doctor on this, to me, most delicate subject, but alas! he told me it was too late.”
Ulysses was surprised when Julia gave him this news. “What in the world put such a thought in your head, Julia?”
“Why, you are getting to be such a great man,” Julia responded, “and I am such a plain little wife. I thought if my eyes were as others are I might not be so very, very plain. . . .”
Ulysses drew Julia to himself and said gently, “Did I not see you and fall in love with you with these same eyes? I like them just as they are, and now, remember, you are not to interfere with them. They are mine, and let me tell you, Mrs. Grant, you had better not make any experiments, as I might not like you half so well with any other eyes.”
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