There’s something appealing about this pensive photograph of Ulysses S. Grant, from his somber clothes to his wistful gaze. He doesn’t seem like someone who saw some of the bloodiest fighting at Shiloh.
Unlike many of our other featured Facial Hairs of the Civil War era, Grant’s beard is not a runaway avalanche of hair, nor is it attempting to creep out from under his collar and up his face.
Grant’s beard is neatly trimmed, and his hair tidily slicked back. It’s an oddly timeless look.
When I go to museums and look at portraits of Americans, I like to imagine them in modern clothes. Some people, like the Leavenworth inmates, seem firmly rooted in thier time. But I can imagine Grant in modern-day clothes, perhaps headed off to teach a college history class.
This month marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War. For Grant, April would be an important month. On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops to Grant, ending the Civil War.
Of course, General Grant went on to other things after the Civil War. He was the 18th President of the United States, from 1869-1877.
But this picture seems even more poignant considering the end of his life. After the Presidency, Grant was a partner in a financial firm that went bankrupt. He also developed cancer of throat. Grant frantically wrote his memoirs in an effort to leave his family in a secure financial position. The memiors earned nearly $450,000, and it was just in time. According to this website, “Soon after completing the last page, in 1885, he died.”