On Chernow’s Grant

I recently read Chernow’s Grant. It is magnificent, and continues the important work of refuting the denigration of Grant and Reconstruction by racist Twentieth Century historians of the Dunning School and politicians like Woodrow Wilson who catered and truckled to white supremacy.

Grant was right on the big issues of his day: Reconstruction, the 14th and 15th Amendments, and white supremacy. He crushed the original Klan and opposed the first stirrings of segregation and anti-black terrorism. Not to mention having won the Civil War, destroying a would-be slave state bent on expansion. His errors came in staffing his administration poorly, and he was an easy mark for confidence men in public and private life.

Racist revisionists of the 20th Century would view his presidential achievements in Reconstruction as at best misguided or failed, and the pursuit of equality not even an accomplishment at all, leaving only his cabinet’s corruption scandals of his second term to judge him by.

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