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Crédit Mobilier

August 21, 2019

The second term of a President is often not a happy time for the occupant of the White House, and Grant’s second term was no exception.  One of the problems he encountered was the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal.

In the 19th century there was a French banking institution called Société Générale du Crédit Mobilier, but despite the similar name this organization was not connected in any way to the American corporation.  They are not even pronounced the same.  Whereas the French institution was called kray-dee maw-beel-YAY, the American corporation was known as KRED-it moh-BILL-yer.

Grant had nothing to do with the scandal, but both of his Vice Presidents – Schuyler Colfax from the first term and Henry Wilson in the second term – were implicated.  Several members of Congress had been involved, and some careers were irreparably damaged.

Although the Crédit Mobilier story broke during Grant’s re-election campaign, the scandal had its origins five years earlier, which was the year before Grant had been elected the first time.  However, because the investigation occurred during the time Grant was President, it is often carelessly listed as one of the scandals of the Grant administration.

The New York Sun, whose editor had old ties to both Grant and Greeley, broke the Crédit Mobilier story during the 1872 campaign.  Despite reporting that should have favored Greeley, Grant won re-election handily.

The editor still had some residual respect for Grant, but he seems to have had no regard for a certain Ohio Congressman who had become entangled in the scandal in a most remarkable way.  Some have even concluded the Congressman committed perjury.  Others have been disappointed by what they consider uncharacteristic carelessness on the Congressman’s part.  Neither fault would prevent him from eventually becoming President.






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