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ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT
18th President (1869-1877)
Education: West Point
Occupation: soldier, businessman
Political Affiliation: Republican
Religious Affiliation: none
Summary of Religious Views:
Grant is often listed as a Methodist, but Franklin Steiner asserts that, although his wife was Methodist, and he sometimes accompanied her to church services, Grant himself never joined any church.
Here is what James L. Crane, Chaplain under Grant's first Civil War command, had to say about Grant's religious views: "Grant belongs to no church organization, yet he entertains and expresses the highest esteem for all the enterprises that tend to promote religion. When at home he generally attended the Methodist Episcopal church, with which some of the members of his family were connected. While he was colonel of the Twenty-first Regiment he gave every encouragement and facility for securing a prompt and uniform observance of religious services, and was generally found in the audience listening to preaching."
Views on Religion & Politics:
Grant was a strong supporter of the separation of church and state, especially in the area of education.
"Now, the centennial year of our national existence, I believe, is a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundations of the structure commenced by our patriotic forefathers one hundred years ago at Lexington. Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees for the security of free thought, free speech, a free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men irrespective of nationality, color, or religion. Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar, appropriated for their support, shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian schools. Resolve that neither the State nor Nation, nor both combined shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford to every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistical dogmas. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the Church, and the private school, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the Church and State forever separate. With these safeguards, I believe the battles which created the Army of the Tennessee will not have been fought in vain." -- speech before the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines Iowa, 30 September 1875
"A large association of ignorant men can not for any considerable period oppose a successful resistance to tyranny and oppression from the educated few, but will inevitably sink into acquiescence to the will of intelligence, whether directed by the demagogue or by priestcraft. Hence the education of the masses becomes of the first necessity for the preservation of our institutions. They are worth preserving, because they have secured the greatest good to the greatest proportion of the population of any form of government yet devised. All other forms of government approach it just in proportion to the general diffusion of education and independence of thought and action. As the primary step, therefore, to our advancement in all that has marked our progress in the past century, I suggest for your earnest consideration, and most earnestly recommend it, that a constitutional amendment be submitted to the legislatures of the several States for ratification, making it the duty of each of the several States to establish and forever maintain free public schools adequate to the education of all the children in the rudimentary branches within their respective limits, irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions; forbidding the teaching in said schools of religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets; and prohibiting the granting of any school funds or school taxes, or any part thereof, either by legislative, municipal, or other authority, for the benefit or in aid, directly or indirectly, of any religious sect or denomination, or in aid or for the benefit of any other object of any nature or kind whatever.
"In connection with this important question I would also call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the nineteenth century. It is the accumulation of vast amounts of untaxed church property.
"In 1850, I believe, the church property of the United States which paid no tax, municipal or State, amounted to about $83,000,000. In 1860 the amount had doubled; in 1875 it is about $1,000,000,000. By 1900, without check, it is safe to say this property will reach a sum exceeding $3,000,000,000. So vast a sum, receiving all the protection and benefits of Government without bearing its proportion of the burdens and expenses of the same, will not be looked upon acquiescently by those who have to pay the taxes. In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority and through blood.
"I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation, exempting only the last resting place of the dead and possibly, with proper restrictions, church edifices." -- Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives, December 7, 1875
"As this will be the last annual message which I shall have the honor of transmitting to Congress before my successor is chosen, I will repeat or recapitulate the questions which I deem of vital importance which may be legislated upon and settled at this session:
"First. That the States shall be required to afford the opportunity of a good common-school education to every child within their limits.
"Second. No sectarian tenets shall ever be taught in any school supported in whole or in part by the State, nation, or by the proceeds of any tax levied upon any community. Make education compulsory so far as to deprive all persons who can not read and write from becoming voters after the year 1890, disfranchising none, however, on grounds of illiteracy who may be voters at the time this amendment takes effect.
"Third. Declare church and state forever separate and distinct, but each free within their proper spheres; and that all church property shall bear its own proportion of taxation." -- Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives, December 7, 1875
"Three times have I been in the valley of the shadow of death, and three times have I returned thither." -- words supposedly spoken by Grant during his prolonged final illness, according to Methodist minister, Rev. J.P. Newman. According to Adam Badeau, who was present, what Grant actually said was: "The doctors are responsible three times for my being alive, and -- unless they can cure me -- I don't thank them."
References, Links, & Further Reading: Books, Articles, Links
Works by Ulysses S. Grant
"The Nicaragua Canal," The North American Review, Vol. 132, Iss. 291, February 1881, pp. 107-117
"An Undeserved Stigma," The North American Review, Vol. 135, Iss. 313, December 1882, pp. 536-547
"The Battle of Shiloh," The Century, Vol. 29, Iss. 4, February 1885, pp. 593-614
"The Siege of Vicksburg," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 5, September 1885, pp. 752-767
"General Lew Wallace and General McCook at Shiloh," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 5, September 1885, pp. 776-777
"General Grant to his Father," The North American Review, Vol. 141, Iss. 347, October 1885, pp. 397-399
"Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant: Chattanooga," The Century, Vol. 31, Iss. 1, November 1885, pp. 128-146
"Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant: Preparing for the Wilderness Campaign," The Century, Vol. 31, Iss. 4, February 1886, pp. 573-582
"General Leggett's Brigade Before Vicksburg," The Century, Vol. 31, Iss. 4, February 1886, pp. 623-624
"Generals Sherman and McPherson," The North American Review, Vol. 142, Iss. 353, April 1886, pp. 330-332
"General Grant on the Terms at Vicksburg," The Century, Vol. 34, Iss. 4, August 1887, pp. 617-618
"Reasons for Accepting the Presidency," The North American Review, Vol. 146, Iss. 378, May 1888, pp. 558-559
Adam Badeau, "General Grant," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 1, May 1885, pp. 151-163
Adam Badeau, "The Last Days of General Grant," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 6, October 1885, pp. 919-939
Leslie J. Perry, "The Rise of General Grant," The Century, Vol. 53, Iss. 1, Nov 1896, pp. 153-157
Horace Porter, "Lincoln and Grant," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 6, October 1885, pp. 939-947
Horace Porter, "Appomattox: 'Grant's Last Campaign'," The Century, Vol. 35, Iss. 1, November 1887, pp. 126-153
Horace Porter, "Campaigning with Grant," The Century, Vol. 53, Iss. 1, November 1896, pp. 16-32
W. T. Sherman, "Grant, Thomas, Lee," The North American Review, Vol. 144, Iss. 366, May 1887, pp. 437-451
James Harrison Wilson, "Reminiscences of General Grant," The Century, Vol. 30, Iss. 6, October 1885, pp. 947-955
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