Ulysses Grant’s Missouri
Before Ulysses S. Grant led Union forces to victory in the Civil War and moved on to the White House, he spent six of the most formative years of his life in Missouri.
Assigned to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis after graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843, Grant met the woman who would become his wife. On her family’s nearby estate, he first experienced slavery as a part of everyday life. While he later owned a slave himself, that first-hand exposure may have influenced his thinking in his role as the Union general who won the war abolishing that "peculiar institution," then as a champion of civil rights over two terms as U.S. president.
That crucial time in the state and Grant’s legacy are spotlighted in the traveling exhibition Ulysses Grant’s Missouri, on display for five weeks at the downtown Central Library. Created by the Missouri Humanities Council, it is part of the national celebration of the bicentennial of Grant’s birth on April 27, 1822.
The exhibition is informed by Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, composed by the former president as he was dying in 1884-85. A final Missouri connection: It was Mark Twain who advised him to undertake the writing project and helped facilitate the publication of the two-volume set after Grant’s death.