Skip to content

“I Was Mistaken”

May 24, 2017

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

Q: President Grant, you have told us that in 1856, instead of voting for the antislavery candidate, you voted for James Buchanan, whose party supported slavery.  This seems out of character for you.

A: With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there could be no pretext for secession for four years.  I very much hoped that the passions of the people would subside in that time, and the catastrophe be averted altogether; if it was not, I believed the country would be better prepared to receive the shock and to resist it.

Q: You seem to have been a disciple of that great Whig compromiser, the late Henry Clay.

A: I was a Whig and a great admirer of Mr. Clay.

Q: Even though you had not met the residency requirement and were not eligible to vote in 1860, and even though you felt obligated to Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, were you happy when Mr. Lincoln was elected President?

A: Stephen A. Douglas… had no possible chance of election.  The contest was really between Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Lincoln; between minority rule and rule by the majority.  I wanted, as between these candidates, to see Mr. Lincoln elected.

Q: But didn’t you believe that Mr. Lincoln’s election was going to cause the Slave States to secede?

A: I still had hope that the four years which had elapsed since the first nomination of a Presidential candidate by a party distinctly opposed to slavery extension, had given time for extreme pro-slavery sentiment to cool down; for the Southerners to think well before they took that awful leap which they had so vehemently threatened.  But I was mistaken.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: