Grant's World Tour: A Triumph of American Democracy


CHATHAM – At the conclusion of Ulysses Grant’s presidency, he and his wife and a small entourage, set off on a world tour.  They were (semi-secretly) sponsored by the State Department.  It was the first time such publicity was attempted, and it was a huge success for America.


On Saturday, September 15th, the Chatham Library is hosting playwright Elizabeth Diggs for a lecture entitled “Ulysses Grant: Myth and Reality” at 3:30pm. The event is FREE.  Diggs is the author of GRANT & TWAIN, a new play being debuted at PS 21, Chatham on September 27th.  She has spent the last several years researching the two main characters including their development as “rock stars” of the late 1800s and the myths that have developed around them both.


“Grant was greeted everywhere as a hero,” Diggs said.  “There were gigantic crowds of working people and endless receptions by royalty.  Plus, a newspaper reporter who was traveling with them sent home a steady stream of articles about Grant’s adventures in each country.  I believe this enormous success was one of the biggest reasons for his popularity at the end of his life.” 


“Grant was not a very adept public speaker either,” Diggs continued, “but, because he was touched by his reception in every port, he worked at speaking more eloquently.  He felt an obligation to be a great representative of democracy.”


Sadly, due to strong opposition by some Southern organizations – stinging from their loss of the Civil War and resentful of the stipulations of Reconstruction, they worked hard at creating negative publicity about Grant.  Ultimately, it was successful and until quite recently, had been difficult to reverse.  “Books like Ron Chernow’s Grant and Ronald White’s American Ulysses have helped to restore this great military man’s reputation,” Diggs explained.  “He was revered 150 years ago for his writing, his excellent leadership on the battlefield and in the White House. And, now, slowly, he’s regaining that status.”


The library lecture is the third presented by Diggs and is part of the Authors & Artists series.  It will be at the Chatham Library, 11 Woodbridge Avenue, Chatham on Saturday, September 15th at 3:30pm.  For more information, go to  For more information about the play, GRANT & TWAIN, go to




PHOTO CAPTION: Ulysses Grant (seated center w/ light helmet) and his wife visiting the pyramids in Karnak, Egypt in 1879.  

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