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Under These Circumstances

May 17, 2017

The answers to the following questions are taken from chapter 16 of Grant’s memoirs.

Q: President Grant, who did you vote for in 1860?

A: When the election took place in November, 1860, I had not been a resident of Illinois long enough to gain citizenship and could not, therefore, vote.

Q: Who would you have voted for?

A: My pledges would have compelled me to vote for Stephen A. Douglas.

Q: So, you were a Democrat?

A: I was a Whig by education and a great admirer of Mr. Clay.  But the Whig party had ceased to exist before I had an opportunity of exercising the privilege of casting a ballot.

Q: When did you first vote in a Presidential election?

A: The Presidential election of 1856.

Q: Why didn’t you vote in 1852 or 1848 or 1844?  You were old enough and could have voted for the Whig candidate each time.

A: I had been in the army from before attaining my majority and had thought but little about politics.

Q: So, when you voted in 1856, you voted for the Whig candidate?

A: The Whig party had ceased to exist before I had an opportunity of exercising the privilege of casting a ballot; the Know-Nothing party had taken its place, but was on the wane.

Q: Did you vote Republican in 1856?

A: It was evident to my mind that the election of a Republican President in 1856 meant the secession of all Slave States, and rebellion.  Under these circumstances I preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell… I therefore voted for James Buchanan for President.

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