Little Known Stories from the Life of Ulysses Grant


CHATHAM – It all began when playwright Elizabeth Diggs picked up the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. “The first two paragraphs sold me,” she said recently.  “He had a clean, direct voice – incredibly honest and vigorous, yet unadorned and plain.  I’ve been in love with his writing and his story ever since.”  Part of that story is being told in Diggs’ brand new play (her eleventh), GRANT & TWAIN, debuting on September 27th at PS21 in Chatham. 



But with almost 6 years of research under her belt, she’s itching to tell other stories she’s come across.  Hence, her appearance at The Chatham Library on Saturday, September 15th at 3:30pm.  Part of the Authors & Artists series, the event is FREE.


“During Reconstruction”, Diggs explains, “some opponents worked diligently to discredit Grant.  While he was worshipped immediately following the War, and during his two-year world tour, negative press caught up with him and his reputation was sullied.  It is only recently that we’ve taken a deeper look into his accomplishments.”  Diggs’ lecture is called “Ulysses Grant: Myth and Reality”.


Here are a couple anecdotes.  During the World Tour (diplomatically, a first) Grant and wife Julia brought their youngest son, Jesse, then about 15.  He was high-spirited, good-humored and popular with the American public.  When the couple was invited to dine with Queen Victoria – sans Jesse, he protested vehemently.  His parents supported his desire to attend and the Queen relented.  When the American public read the story in the press, they were delighted.


Later, in Turkey, the Sultan knew of Grant’s reputation as a splendid horseman.  In respect, he brought forth several stallions and offered Grant his choice of two to take home with him.  To his chagrin, Grant chose the Sultan’s two grand champions.  With apologies, he was given only one along with a selection of slightly lower quality.  The Sultan wouldn’t give up both his prize winners. But the story reconfirmed Grant’s reputation as a “horse whisperer”.


“There is so much to learn about this man,” Diggs added, “and, since he spent his final days in the Saratoga region, there is a local component as well.  He is a fantastic example of American individuality, committed and passionate, dedicated to the Nation and his family.  I consider him to be a real hero.”


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. It is free.  For more information, go to  For more information about the play, GRANT & TWAIN, go to





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