Books

Our collections include nearly 12,000 published monographs on various aspects of Grant’s life and times.

Published by Library-affiliated authors and editors

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant

Grant, Ulysses S, John Y. Simon, and John F. Marszalek. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967.

The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant were published in 31 volumes by Southern Illinois University Press between 1967 and 2009. These materials contain thousands of letters written by Ulysses S. Grant (1837-1885), and to him; his military and presidential documents; and a small number of photographs. These manuscripts are extensively annotated to explain their significance. There is also an extended calendar synopsis of letters in each volume. In total, this is the largest and most comprehensive published collection of Ulysses S. Grant correspondence available for scholarly use.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: The Complete Annotated Edition

Grant, Ulysses S, John F. Marszalek, David S. Nolen, and Louie P. Gallo. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2017. With a preface by Frank J. Williams.

President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was one of the most esteemed individuals of the nineteenth century. His two-volume memoirs, sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers, have never gone out of print and were once as ubiquitous in American households as the Bible. Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Matthew Arnold, Henry James, and Edmund Wilson hailed these works as great literature, and presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both credit Grant with influencing their own writing. Yet a judiciously annotated clarifying edition of these memoirs has never been produced until now. The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs, fully representing the great military leader’s thoughts on his life and times through the end of the Civil War and his invaluable perspective on battlefield decision making. An introduction contextualizes Grant’s life and significance, and lucid editorial commentary allows the president’s voice and narrative to shine through. Compiled by the editors in the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Presidential Library, these selections enrich our understanding of the antebellum era, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Grant provides insight into how rigorously these events tested America’s democratic institutions and the cohesion of its social order. The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant preserves and extends a work of profound political, historical, and literary significance and serves as the gateway for modern readers of all backgrounds to an American classic.

Cover art for The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant.

The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant

Marszalek, John F.  Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2015.

Famous for his military acumen and for his part in saving the Union during the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant also remains known for his two-volume memoirs, considered among the greatest military Memoirs ever written. Grant’s other writings, however, have not received the same acclaim, even though they show the same literary skill. Originally published in the thirty-two volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, the letters and speeches are the major source of information about Grant’s life and era and have played a key role in elevating his reputation to that of the leading general of the Civil War and the first of the modern presidents. In this collection, editor John F. Marszalek presents excerpts from Grant’s most insightful and skillfully composed writings and provides perspective through introductory comments tying each piece to the next. The result is a fascinating overview of Grant’s life and career.

In sixteen chronological chapters, selections from Grant’s letters and other writings reveal his personal thoughts on the major events of his momentous life, including the start of the Civil War, the capture of Vicksburg, Lincoln’s reelection, Lee’s surrender, his terms as president, the Panic of 1873, and his bouts of mouth and throat cancer. Throughout, Grant’s prose reveals clearly the power of his words and his ability to present them well. Although some historians have maligned his presidency as one of the most corrupt periods in American history, these writings reinforce Grant’s greatness as a general, demonstrate the importance of his presidency, and show him to be one of the driving forces of the nineteenth century.

With this compendium, Marszalek not only celebrates the literary talent of one of America’s greatest military figures but also vindicates an individual who, for so long, has been unfairly denigrated. A concise reference for students of American history and Civil War enthusiasts as well as a valuable introduction to those who are new to Grant’s writings, this volume provides intriguing insight into one of the nineteenth century’s most important Americans.

Cover art for Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth.

Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth : Ulysses S. Grant's Postpresidential Diplomacy

Campbell, Edwina S. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2016.

In 1877 former president Ulysses S. Grant, along with his family and friends, embarked on a two-year world tour that took him from Liverpool to Yokohama with stops throughout Europe and Asia. Biographies of Grant deal briefly, if at all, with this tour and generally treat it as a pleasure trip filled with sightseeing, shopping, wining, and dining. Far from an extended vacation, however, Grant’s travels in fact constituted a diplomatic mission sanctioned by the U.S. government. In this revealing volume, Edwina S. Campbell chronicles Grant’s journey – the first diplomatic mission ever undertaken by a former U.S. president – and demonstrates how it marked a decided turning point in the role of the United States in world affairs. Grant met with monarchs, ministers, and average citizens, creating the model for the summitry and public diplomacy practiced by future American presidents while articulating concepts of national self-determination, international organization, and the peaceful settlement of international disputes decades before Elihu Root’s advocacy of binding international arbitration and Woodrow’s Wilson’s proposal for the League of Nations. Campbell reveals Grant to be a skillful envoy who brought to his travels the deep interest in foreign policy issues he had shown during his administration. By illuminating the significance of Grant’s often overlooked postpresidential travels, Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth establishes the eighteenth president as a key diplomat whose work strongly influenced the direction of future U.S. foreign policy and contributes substantially to the study of American international relations.

Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians

Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians

Stockwell, Mary. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2018.

In this first book devoted to the genesis, failure, and lasting legacy of Ulysses S. Grant’s comprehensive American Indian policy, Mary Stockwell shows Grant as an essential bridge between Andrew Jackson’s pushing Indians out of the American experience and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s welcoming them back in. Situating Grant at the center of Indian policy development after the Civil War, Interrupted Odyssey: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Indians reveals the bravery and foresight of the eighteenth president in saying that Indians must be saved and woven into the fabric of American life.

In the late 1860s, before becoming president, Grant collaborated with Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian who became his first commissioner of Indian affairs, on a plan to rescue the tribes from certain destruction. Grant hoped to save the Indians from extermination by moving them to reservations, where they would be guarded by the U.S. Army, and welcoming them into the nation as American citizens. By so doing, he would restore the executive branch’s traditional authority over Indian policy that had been upended by Jackson.

In Interrupted Odyssey, Stockwell rejects the common claim in previous Grant scholarship that he handed the reservations over to Christian missionaries as part of his original policy. In part because Grant’s plan ended political patronage, Congress overturned his policy by disallowing Army officers from serving in civil posts, abandoning the treaty system, and making the new Board of Indian Commissioners the supervisors of the Indian service. Only after Congress banned Army officers from the Indian service did Grant place missionaries in charge of the reservations, and only after the board falsely accused Parker of fraud before Congress did Grant lose faith in his original policy.

Stockwell explores in depth the ousting of Parker, revealing the deep-seated prejudices that fueled opposition to him, and details Grant’s stunned disappointment when the Modoc murdered his peace commissioners and several tribes—the Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Sioux—rose up against his plans for them.

Though his dreams were interrupted through the opposition of Congress, reformers, and the tribes themselves, Grant set his country firmly toward making Indians full participants in the national experience. In setting Grant’s contributions against the wider story of the American Indians, Stockwell’s bold, thoughtful reappraisal reverses the general dismissal of Grant’s approach to the Indians as a complete failure and highlights the courage of his policies during a time of great prejudice.

The Personal Memoirs of Julie Dent Grant

The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant

Simon, John Y. (ed.) Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2019.

Written in the early twentieth century for her children and grandchildren and first published in 1975, these eloquent memoirs detail the life of General Ulysses S. Grant’s wife. First Lady Julia Dent Grant wrote her reminiscences with the vivacity and charm she exhibited throughout her life, telling her story in the easy flow of an afternoon conversation with a close friend. She writes fondly of White Haven, a plantation in St. Louis County, Missouri, where she had an idyllic girlhood and later met Ulysses.

In addition to relating the joys she experienced, Grant tells about the difficult and sorrowful times. Her anecdotes give fascinating glimpses into the years of the American Civil War. One recounts the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Grant insisted she and her husband turn down an invitation to the theater. Her decision saved her husband’s life: like Lincoln, he too had been marked for assassination.

Throughout these memoirs, which she ends with her husband’s death, Grant seeks to introduce her descendants to both her and the man she loved. She also strives to correct misconceptions that were circulated about him. She wanted posterity to share her pride in this man, whom she saw as one of America’s greatest heroes. Her book is a testament to their devoted marriage.

This forty-fifth-anniversary edition includes a new foreword by John F. Marszalek and Frank J. Williams, a new preface by Pamela K. Sanfilippo, the original foreword by Bruce Catton, the original introduction by editor John Y. Simon, recommendations for further reading, and more than twenty photographs of the Grants, their children, and their friends.

The Decision Was Always My Own: Ulysses S. Grant and the Vicksburg Campaign

The Decision Was Always My Own: Ulysses S. Grant and the Vicksburg Campaign

Smith, Timothy B. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2018.

The Vicksburg Campaign, argues Timothy B. Smith, is the showcase of Ulysses S. Grant’s military genius. From October 1862 to July 1863, for nearly nine months, Grant tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate river city. He maneuvered and adapted numerous times, reacting to events and enemy movements with great skill and finesse as the lengthy campaign played out on a huge chessboard, dwarfing operations in the east. Grant’s final, daring move allowed him to land an army in Mississippi and fight his way to the gates of Vicksburg. He captured the Confederate garrison and city on July 4, 1863, opening the Mississippi River for the Union.

Showing how and why Grant became such a successful general, Smith presents a fast-paced reexamination of the commander and the campaign. His fresh analysis of Grant’s decision-making process during the Vicksburg maneuvers, battles, and siege details the course of campaigning on military, political, administrative, and personal levels. The narrative is organized around Grant’s eight key decisions: to begin operations against Vicksburg, to place himself in personal charge of the campaign, to begin active operations around the city, to sweep toward Vicksburg from the south, to march east of Vicksburg and cut the railroad before attacking, to assault Vicksburg twice in an attempt to end the campaign quickly, to lay siege after the assaults had failed, and to parole the surrendered Confederate garrison rather than send the Southern soldiers to prison camps.

The successful military campaign also required Grant to master political efforts, including handling Lincoln’s impatience and dealing with the troublesome political general John A. McClernand. Further, he had to juggle administrative work with military decision making. Grant was more than a military genius, however; he was also a husband and a father, and Smith shows how Grant’s family was a part of everything he did.

Grant’s nontraditional choices went against the accepted theories of war, supply, and operations as well as against the chief thinkers of the day, such as Henry Halleck, Grant’s superior. Yet Grant pulled off the victory in compelling fashion. In the first in-depth examination in decades, Smith shows how Grant’s decisions created and won the Civil War’s most brilliant, complex, decisive, and lengthy campaign.

The Impulse of Victory: Ulysses S. Grant at Chattanooga

The Impulse of Victory: Ulysses S. Grant at Chattanooga

Powell, David A. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2020.

Union soldiers in the Army of the Cumberland, who were trapped and facing starvation or surrender in the fall of 1863, saw the arrival of Major General Ulysses S. Grant in Tennessee as an impetus to reverse the tides of war. David A. Powell’s sophisticated strategic and operational analysis of Grant’s command decisions and actions shows how his determined leadership relieved the siege and shattered the enemy, resulting in the creation of a new strategic base of Union operations and Grant’s elevation to commander of all the Federal armies the following year.

Powell’s detailed exploration of the Union Army of the Cumberland’s six-week-long campaign for Chattanooga is complemented by his careful attention to the personal issues Grant faced at the time and his relationships with his superiors and subordinates. Though unfamiliar with the tactical situation, the army, and its officers, Grant delivered another resounding victory. His success, explains Powell, was due to his tactical flexibility, communication with his superiors, perseverance despite setbacks, and dogged determination to win the campaign. Through attention to postwar accounts, Powell reconciles the differences between what happened and the participants’ memories of the events. He focuses throughout on Grant’s controversial decisions, showing how they were made and their impact on the campaign. As Powell shows, Grant’s choices demonstrate how he managed to be a thoughtful, deliberate commander despite the fog of war.