Rethinking U. S. Grant seems to be the in thing right now. History has no judgment, but historians do, and these tend to run in cycles (witness views of the Confederacy). So it is with Grant, who seems to be on the upswing. Claremont Review of Books reviews some of the latest scholarship, including books by Ronald White and Ron Chernow.
Chernow’s conclusion that Grant “got the big issues right during his presidency, even if he bungled many of the small ones” is perhaps too generous; dividing the Republican Party over side issues like Santo Domingo, retaliating against honorable critics, overlooking corruption among his friends and appointees, and waffling on civil rights were not “small things.” And yet Chernow is no apologist. He acknowledges Grant’s flaws and makes them understandable by examining not only his subject’s psyche but his times, placing Grant in proper historical perspective.
In keeping with the times, director Steven Spielberg and and actor Leonardo DiCaprio are in talks to produce a biopic of Grant. DiCaprio as Grant, I dunno…
Meanwhile, the historical cleansing of America continues. A statue of a settler standing over a defeated Native American has been deemed offensive and removed in Michigan.
“Silent Sam” — the statue of a Confederate soldier at the University of North Carolina—has been defaced and continues to be a magnet for vandalism. The name is derived from the statue’s suppose magical power. Sam’s gun is said to fire whenever a virgin walks by, and it hasn’t fired yet.
General Lee may be coming down, but don’t worry about Comrade Marx—he’s doing just fine. A massive statue of him went up in his home town of Trier, courtesy of the Chinese (who, ironically, didn’t get rich until they started practicing capitalism). Hard to think of anyone who caused more misery, poverty, and death in the 20th Century than Marx, yet he continues to be revered.
Perhaps Seattle will put one next to their Lenin statue.