About Ulysses S. Grant
& Mark Twain
Many scholars are puzzled by Ulysses S. Grant’s personality, even though he was direct, open and always honest about what he believed and felt. Nevertheless, one eminent Civil War and Grant scholar calls him “an enigma.” His enemies have called him a drunkard, a butcher, a failure, etc. - all off the mark completely. Virtually everyone agrees that he was a man of complete honor. One of his few failings was that he trusted others to be as trustworthy as he was himself.
He grew up in far Western Ohio in what was then the frontier. When he went to West Point, he was one of the few cadets not from an Eastern or Southern elite family. He looked a bit like a country bumpkin, but soon had many friends because of his calm nature, good humor, honesty and optimism. He was shy with strangers, but loved to talk with friends.
He was acknowledged by the world to be the greatest horseman of the 19th century. Every biography mentions this, but few understand the depth of his affinity with horses. He was an early “horse whisperer.”
His many other fascinating traits make him an irresistible study: a great warrior who hated war, a man with little ego or ambition who rose to greatness, a relentless soldier who wrote passionate love letters to his wife.
After failing as a silver prospector‚ Samuel Clemens began writing for the Territorial Enterprise‚ a Virginia City‚ Nevada, newspaper where he used‚ for the first time‚ his pen name‚ Mark Twain. Seeking change, by 1864 Clemens headed for San Francisco where he continued to write for local papers.
In 1865, the writer's first “big break” came with the publication of his short story “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog ” in papers across the country. A year later, Clemens was hired by the Sacramento Union to visit and report on the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii). His writings were so popular that‚ upon his return‚ he embarked upon his first lecture tour‚ which established him as a successful stage performer.
Hired by the Alta California to continue his travel writing from the east‚ the now popular journalist arrived in New York City in 1867. He quickly signed up for a steamship tour of Europe and the “Holy Land.” His travel letters‚ full of vivid descriptions and tongue-in-cheek observations‚ met with such audience approval that they were later reworked into his first book‚ "The Innocents Abroad," published in 1869.
In perhaps his most famous work‚ "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884)‚ Clemens attacked the institution of slavery‚ railed against the failures of Reconstruction and the continued poor treatment of African Americans in his own time.
"Huckleberry Finn" was also the first book published by Clemen's own publishing outfit, The Charles L. Webster Company. In an attempt to gain control over publication as well as to make substantial profits‚ he had created the company in 1884. A year later he contracted with Ulysses S. Grant to publish Grant’s memoirs; the two-volume set provided large royalties for Grant’s widow and was a financial success for the publisher as well.