Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Chicago monuments under assault, Part 22: Ulysses S. Grant

As I noted in my John A. Logan post in this series, only three people are named in Illinois' state song, named, appropriately enough, Illinois. Logan is one of them--as are two other targets of the Chicago Monuments Project, Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln, you know, is that Land of Lincoln guy, and Grant was the commanding general of the victorious Union army during the Civil War, which brought forth the end of slavery in the United States.

New York, Pennsylania, and Ohio produced more soldiers and sailors for the Northern armies but Illinois was the home of Lincoln and Grant when the Civil War began in 1861. Grant and Lincoln, along with Barack Obama, were the only US presidents who were residents of the Prairie State when they were elected. Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico and grew up all over northern Illinois, but he has no Chicago statues. Reagan lived briefly in Chicago as a child.

Grant's Galena home is owned by the state of Illinois and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Lincoln's Springfield home is owned by the National Park Service. I've visited both.

The statue of Grant on horseback--click here to see it--in Lincoln Park, designed by Louis Rebisso, is among the 41 monuments, statues, plaques, and reliefs that are "under review" by Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Chicago Monuments Project. It's her response to what I call the rioters' veto after a violent protest outside Grant Park's Christopher Columbus statue. 

Our 18th president's life story is amazing. I heartily recommend History Channel's Grant documentary series to learn more about him. as well as Ron Chernow's biography. In just a decade Grant, a West Point graduate who had fallen on hard times, went from selling firewood on street corners to the White House. In between he prosecuted the successful Vicksburg campaign that split the Confederacy in two and a couple of years later he accepted the surrender of southern general Robert E. Lee. The Confederate States collapsed shortly afterwards. 

Amazingly, the Chicago Monument praises Grant in its explanation of his inclusion in what John Kass calls "Mayor Lori Lightfoot's woke committee on problematic statuary," but ends with, "Grant's American Indian policies were well intentioned, but ultimately disastrous." His most notorious Native American measure was allowing white settlement of the Black Hills, which was in violation of a treaty with the Sioux. Lincoln's prosecution of the Dakota War in 1862 is probably why Lincoln's five statues are now in jeopardy in Chicago.

Grant had trouble managing his own finances throughout his life and was broke when he arrived in Galena in 1860. The year prior Grant freed the only slave he owned--at a time when he desperately needed money. He was the last slaveholder to serve as president. But as president Grant pursued a strong Reconstruction policy and undertook forceful actions to undermine the Ku Klux Klan

But that may not be good enough for the sneaky Chicago Monuments Project.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project's "Feedback page." Please be courteous but firm in your comments. 

Please Tweet this post. When you do so use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Earlier posts

Related posts of mine at Da Tech Guy

No comments: