When Leftist rioters topped a statue of Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park last Friday, they were ridiculed for apparently not knowing that Grant was the general more responsible than any other for the defeat of the Confederacy and the end of slavery. And as J. Christian Adams pointed out here at PJ Media, “Grant’s Presidency also saw the enactment of the 15th Amendment and a stack of civil rights laws still in force.” But Adams added: “Never mind all that. The mob is on the march.” Indeed it is, and there is a simple and important reason for that: the objective behind their destruction of statues is not the eradication of all apparent glorification of racism and slavery. It is something far more insidious.
Grant not only fought against and destroyed the slave power and enacted civil rights laws. When our history is being denigrated, attacked, and erased, it is all the more important for each of us to know it. Rating America’s Presidents: An America-First Look At Who Was Best, Who Was Overrated, and Who Was An Absolute Disaster is an attempt to aid in that. It shows that from the very beginning of his presidency, Grant demonstrated a consistent commitment to the equality of rights of all people. He declared: “I have no prejudice against sect or race but want each individual to be judged by his own merit.” Just weeks after taking office in 1869, he approved an act stipulating that the word “white” be struck from all requirements to hold office or serve as a juror in the District of Columbia. When Southern states resisted Reconstruction measures, denied blacks the right to vote, and allowed the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize black populations, Grant sent federal troops to restore order and enforce the law.
Grant’s determination to protect the rights of the freed slaves made him extremely unpopular in the South, and increasingly in the North as well, particularly among Democrats, whose 1868 campaign slogan was “Our Motto: This is a White Man’s Country; Let White Men Rule.” This was their guiding principle throughout Grant’s presidency, and when they won control of the House of Representatives in the 1874 midterm elections, the Democrats were able to stymie almost completely Grant’s efforts to protect the civil rights of black Americans.
Those who destroyed Grant’s statue know none of this, of course. Some have pointed out that before the Civil War Grant owned a slave (whom he received as a gift and quickly freed), but it’s unlikely that they know that, either. Grant’s crime in their eyes is not that he was a racist or a slave-owner, it was that he was an American patriot and hero. The current civil war is in this sense like the one in which Grant fought with such distinction: the biggest heroes on one side are the biggest villains on the other. Grant was an American who strove to establish justice and equality of rights in his country; the statue-topplers are Marxist internationalists who hate any manifestation of national pride, boil with hatred and rage against America as a free republic, and want to establish an authoritarian socialist regime that would follow the pattern of all earlier such regimes and deny basic rights and freedoms to those whom they fear and hate. As such, the toppling of the Grant statue was no anomaly; there will be much more of this to come.