We are a house divided. The country is in turmoil. The latest poll shows 55% of Americans support the impeachment inquiry; 45% oppose it. The President tweets that we are on the verge of civil war and his supporters are armed.
It’s time to take a deep breath. This is the United States of America. We have been in turmoil before. We have been divided before. It’s time to revisit our history, which has been full of crises, but which also shows our resilience and our ability to learn from our mistakes.
We need to know and study past times that tried men’s souls. We need to find inspiration from American men and women who dealt with trouble. It’s also time to thank those who have had the foresight to preserve our history, so that we can actually recall the past.
Locally, we need to thank the good folks who saved Grant’s White Haven. This is the time to make a pilgrimage to The Ulysses Grant National Historic Site and think about a very brave fellow.
Grant, who served at our Jefferson Barracks and who married into a South County family, is our local claim to a U.S. President. Grant was the military genius whom Lincoln called upon to win a real Civil War when America faced real division and an ultimate test for survival.
After leading a Union Army to victory over the traitorous Confederacy, Grant became President from 1869 to 1877. He strived to lead America to remove all vestiges of Confederate white nationalism, racist imperialism and slavery.
Grant was elected the youngest 19th Century President. He worked hard to stabilize a post-war economy, to create the U.S. Department of Justice, and to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan.
Grant was a lifelong learner:
•His time at his farm home in South County was formative in his growth intellectually on such issues as white supremacy. As he worked with slaves on his father-in-law’s farm, he began to feel a passion that all men should be free.
•Grant was given a slave, perhaps by his father-in-law, whom Grant freed rather than sell for $1,500 at a time when he was in desperate straits for money.
•Grant came to question his role in the Mexican-American War. He called it a war of imperialism – “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.”
Grant’s convictions are displayed on the walls at the White Haven site on Grant Road Among Grant’s words:
“My oft expressed desire is that all citizens, white or black, native or foreign born, may be left free, in all parts of our common country, to vote, speak & act, in obedience to law, without intimidation or ostracism on account of his views, color or nativity.”
This Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m., there will be a roundtable on site of “how” our Grant landmark was saved. The crucial question of “why” it was so important to save a jewel of local and national history will be up for discussion as well.