Showing posts with label The Art of Dying Well. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Art of Dying Well. Show all posts

Thursday, 26 March 2020

The Art of Dying Well : U.S. Grant

“Manifestly, dying is nothing to a really great and brave man.”

- Samuel Clemens, 
Letter to Olivia Clemens, 
7/1/1885 (referring to General Grant)


Of Appomattox Surrenders at Last,
This Morning at 8:30 O’clock
To the Conqueror of All,
After Nine Months Struggle and Fortitude
Surrounded by His Family, Friends and Physicians,
At Mt. McGregor

Surrendered at Last.

Mt. McGregor, July 22. – [Special.] – Gen. Grant this morning left his chair for the last time. When asked by Fred. if he would like to lie down, he nodded and in attempting to rise, fell back. The nurse came to his aid and he was put to bed. The family were all gathered at the bedside of the sick man and again Dr. Newman at Mrs. Grant’s request knelt beside the general and prayed, heads were bowed down, tears were on the cheeks of men as well as women. The doctors stood somewhat apart and the family was near its fast-sunk head, and then after an hour death seemed a little less rapidly going on, on the man it has pursued just nine months today, for it is just nine months ago today that General Grant walked into Dr. Douglass’ office to seek his professional aid for the cancer that has done what foes and war could not.

The general answered “yes and no” to several questions. Time passed slowly indeed and at length at fifteen minutes past eight, Dr. Douglass left the cottage. “How is it, doctor?” was asked him. “He is dying,” said the gray-haired physician. “Will he live an hour?” was asked again. “Oh yes, and possibly more, but he is passing away,” was the response, and after a little time at the hotel Dr. Douglass returned to the cottage. At nine the general’s pulse was up to [the] point of one hundred and sixty-five to the minute and was fluttering. After his rally at about nine o’clock General Grant sank into sleep that was described by a witness as the peaceful and beautiful sleep of a child. The general continued in a somnolent condition during the day, the respirations growing more shallow.

Barely Alive.

Mt. McGregor, July 23, 5:25 a.m. – The respirations have increased to sixty, and the death rattle occasioned by the filling up of the lungs and throat with mucous, is heard. He now recognizes his friends by opening his eyes.

8:30 a.m. – The General is dead, having just breathed his last surrounded by his family, friends and physicians. The remains will be taken to New York, where they will probably lie in state and be placed in charge of Gen. Sheridan according to the general’s request.

Washington, D.C., July 23. – [Special.] – The death of Gen. Grant, though not unexpected, casts a pall over all classes and conditions of men. All the departments will be promptly closed and draped in honor of the dead hero. The usual proclamations will be issued.


Ulysses S. Grant was born April 27th, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Ohio. It is generally asserted that his father, Jesse R. Grant, was of Scotch descent. He received a common school education and later a military education at West Point, where he graduated 25th in a class of 35, June 30, 1843. He entered the U.S. service as brevet, 2nd Lt. infantry at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Mo., where he became acquainted with Miss Julia B. Dent, whom he married August 22nd, 1848, after his return from the Mexican war, where he served under Taylor to Monterey, at which place he was Adjutant. He served also under Scott from Contreras to Mexico, and at Chepultepec was promoted to 1st Lieutenant for bravery.

After his marriage he moved to Sackett’s Harbor, New York, where they commenced housekeeping. He then lived at various points at periods down to March, 1860, when his father made him a clerk at Galena, Ill. That year he cast his first vote, which was for Buchanan. He had, however, been a quiet Democrat. He was, however, dissatisfied with Douglas, and when Lincoln was elected, joined in the rejoicings.

When the war broke out, he went to Cincinnati to apply to McClellan, who was then organizing the militia of Ohio, but failing to see that officer, returned again to Galena without making known his errand. On his return he was soon put in command of a regiment forming at Decatur, quite accidentally, and marched to Southern Missouri. He occupied Paducah, Ky., and headed off a Confederate column at Belmont which he defeated.

Much delay followed. In February 1862, however, he was permitted to move against Fort Henry which was captured by Foote before the land forces arrived. His first signal victory was at Fort Donelson where he captured Gen. Buckner who lately visited him, and about 10,000 men. He here won the name of “Unconditional Surrender” Grant because he replied to Buckner’s message, “What terms?” “Unconditional surrender.” Then followed Pittsburg Landing [Shiloh], and Vicksburg, the latter place surrendering with 40,000 men under Pemberton., July 4th, 1863, on the same day that Lee was driven back broken and dismayed from Gettysburg, by Meade.

His subsequent operations in Tennessee were the prelude to his transfer to Washington and the command of all the armies of the United States with untrammeled power. March 9, 1864, he was made Lieutenant General. Then followed the series of heavy and bloody, but indecisive battles in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, in which the losses on both sides were terrific, and later the siege of Petersburg which after a series of bloody contests terminated in the surrender of Lee at Appomattox and the virtual end of the war, April 9, 1865.

In 1868, the American people rewarded Grant with the highest gift – the presidency, and in 1872 he was re-elected by the greatest popular majority ever obtained by any president – and that over Horace Greeley, the leading spirit of the war, who had been enticed by the “possum policy” of the Democrats. He was the Republican candidate and pursued a vigorous Republican policy both terms. After his second term, he made a trip to Europe and Asia having been granted an ovation wherever he went, as a representative of our Republic and a distinguished soldier. In 1880 some of his warm and loyal friends sought to re-nominate him for a third term at Chicago, but a combination was produced which resulted in the nomination of James A. Garfield.

He took up his residence in New York soon after his return from Europe and resided there until his removal to Mt. McGregor about a month ago. His last days have wonderfully lifted the veil of his life and stamped his character with not only heroism but fortitude. First came the failure of his banking house, which so nearly prostrated him, and the accident by which he was lamed for the rest of his days and then the fatal and insidious cancer which has sapped away his life and palsied his energy.

His literary labor during the past six months now ended by death, will be one of the marvels of his life. The spectacle of the “silent man,” as his adversaries were wont to call him, making history in the face of death, has but one known prototype – the dying Socrates teaching the immortality of the soul to his weeping students, with the hemlock poison in his hands.