U.S. Grant on slavery?

“In all this I can see but the doom of slavery. The North do not want, nor will they want, to interfere with the institution. But they will refuse for all time to give it protection unless the South shall return soon to their allegiance.”
– April 19, 1861, in a letter to his father-in-law, Frederick Dent.

“My inclination is to whip the rebellion into submission, preserving all Constitutional rights. If it cannot be whipped any other way than through a war against slavery, let it come to to that legitimately. If it is necessary that slavery should fall that the Republic may continue its existence, let slavery go.”
– November 27, 1861, in a letter to his father.

“I never was an abolitionist, not even what could be called anti-slavery, but I try to judge fairly and honestly and it became patent in my mind early in the rebellion that the North and South could never live at peace with each other except as one nation, and that without slavery. As anxious as I am to see peace established, I would not therefore be willing to see any settlement until the question is forever settled.”
– August 30, 1863, in a letter to Elihu Washburne.

“As soon as slavery fired upon the flag, it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle… there had to be an end to slavery.”
– In a conversation with Bismarck, 1878.

“The cause of the great War of the Rebellion against the United States will have to be attributed to slavery. For some years before the war began it was a trite saying among some politicians that “A state half slave and half free cannot exist.” All must become slave or all free, or the state will go down. I took no part myself in any such view of the case at the time, but since the war is over, reviewing the whole question, I have come to the conclusion that the saying is quite true.”
– U.S. Grant, in his Memoirs, 1885.

From Ulysses S. Grant Home Page

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Ulysses S. Grant
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3 comments

  1. U. S. Grant in a letter to The Chicago Tribune in 1863 wrote: “The sole object of this war is to restore the Union. Should I be convinced it has any other object, or that the government designs using its soldiers to execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge to you on my honor as a man and a soldier, I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side.”
    Grant and his wife did not free their slaves until after ratification of the 13th Amendment.

    1. Could you provide some evidence for that final statement? As far as I know Grant only ever owned one slave, who he freed long before the Civil War.

      1. I would love to, however, my wife and I just moved into an older home which we are refurbishing and all of my books and research notes are still packed away.
        I don’t normally post without my source materials in front of me, but my recollection is that you are partially correct. The general did, individually, own one slave whom he freed before the war. Mrs. Grant brought slaves into joint ownership via the marriage (her ownership through either gift or inheritance if memory serves me correctly).
        If you will remind me in a couple of months, I will be happy to check my materials and furnish my sources.
        Thank you for asking. I look forward to our continued dialog.
        By the way, your question is dated a few days short of five months after my post, and I received your question by email today, a few days short of five months after it is dated. Do you have any idea why?

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