Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln Compared to Other Great Presidents

How about Lee’s great adversary, Ulysses Grant?

The truly wonderful thing about Grant is that he did not take himself all that seriously. His task—that of winning the war—was all-important, and his letters to subordinates are models of clear, effective planning, but Grant never puffed himself up or put on airs. No phrenologist, or pseudoscientific analyst, ever determined the reason for Grant’s singular success; we suspect that it derived from the ability to drop all else from his mind and concentrate on whatever task was at hand. There was, as well, a deeply fatalistic part of Grant: he did his best and did not concern himself whether the odds were in his favor. At one time during the Wilderness Campaign of 1864, some of his top subordinate generals mused over what Lee might do next to thwart them, and Grant stifled them with these words: “You’re always gabbling about what Lee might do; you seem to think he’s going to turn a somersault and land in our lines. Concentrate on what we’re going to do next.”


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