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Tag: Ulysses S. Grant

Now on display: Whitman’s Report on Cemeteries

In honor of Memorial Day, the 1869 Whitman Report on Cemeteries is on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building from May 22 through June 5. Today’s post comes from curator Alice Kamps.

Drawing of Shiloh Cemetery from Whitman’s Report on Cemeteries. National Archives, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General

Drawing of Shiloh Cemetery from Whitman’s Report on Cemeteries.
National Archives, Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General

Memorial Day traditions began in the aftermath of the Civil War. The American people were just beginning what historian Drew Gilpin Faust called “the work of death.”

An estimated 750,000 soldiers died between 1861 and 1865—about 2.5 percent of the population. Never before or since has war resulted in so many American casualties. The task of locating, identifying, burying, and mourning the dead was overwhelming.

Walt Whitman wrote of the nation’s shared suffering in his epic 1865 poem, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d:

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war,
But I saw they were not as was thought,
They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

In his Personal Memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant described an open field after … [ Read all ]

History Crush: Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner, from the Encyclopedia Britannica

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to launch our new “History Crush” series. Staff from across the National Archives will share which historic person in our holdings makes their heart beat a little faster! Our inaugural guest post comes from Natalie Rocchio, who is an archives specialist at the Center for Legislative Archives in the National Archives.

Since starting at the Center for Legislative Archives, I’ve been crushing on a certain former statesman from Massachusetts . . . and no, he’s not a Kennedy.

 My history crush is Senator Charles Sumner, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1833. He was a world traveler (it’s said that he spoke at least three languages fluently!). He was a gifted orator and a well-known pacifist. As a member of Congress, he worked to end slavery in America and ensure civil rights for African Americans. 

Sumner began his political career in 1848. He was elected to the Senate in 1851 as a member of the Free Soil Party and later reelected as a member of the Opposition, Republican, and Liberal Republication Parties from 1855 to 1874.

In 1856, he delivered a speech called “Crime Against Kansas” during the Kansas statehood debate in which he denounced slavery and attacked other senators who supported the institution. On May 22, after the Senate had adjourned for the day, … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Shiloh and Sideburns

Grant, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S.; three-quarter-length, standing. ARC 558720

Grant, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S.; three-quarter-length, standing. ARC 558720

There’s something appealing about this pensive photograph of Ulysses S. Grant, from his somber clothes to his wistful gaze. He doesn’t seem like someone who saw  some of the bloodiest fighting at Shiloh.

Unlike many of our other featured Facial Hairs of the Civil War era, Grant’s beard is not a runaway avalanche of hair, nor is it attempting to creep out from under his collar and up his face.

Grant’s beard is neatly trimmed, and his hair tidily slicked back. It’s an oddly timeless look.

When I go to museums and look at portraits of Americans, I like to imagine them in modern clothes. Some people, like the Leavenworth inmates, seem firmly rooted in thier time. But I can imagine Grant in modern-day clothes, perhaps headed off to teach a college history class.

This month marked the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War. For Grant, April would be an important month. On April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his 28,000 troops to Grant, ending the Civil War.

Of course, General Grant went on to other things after the Civil War. He was the 18th President of the United States, from 1869-1877.

But this picture seems even more poignant considering the end of his life. After the Presidency, Grant was a partner in a financial firm that went bankrupt. He … [ Read all ]

Cloudy with a chance of records

Denver, Colorado, December 20, 2006 (311-MAD-27666)

Denver, Colorado, December 20, 2006 (311-MAD-27666)

Weather has been front-page news across the country for the last couple of weeks. Winter storms have left up to 50 inches of snow in places, and even in Dallas, TX, snow and ice made the Packers and Steelers feel right at home at the Super Bowl.

What’s the outlook for sunshine, snow, or rain in the future? The groundhog may have predicted an early spring, but for a more scientific forecast, we have the National Weather Service, whose birthday is today.

On February 9, 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a joint resolution of Congress authorizing “meteorological Observations at the military Stations and other Points in the Interior of the Continent, and for giving Notice on the northern Lakes and Seaboard of the Approach and Force of Storms.”

In the National Archives you can find weather-related records in Records of the Weather Bureau (Record Group 27) and Records of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (Record Group 370).

So, Happy Birthday, Weather Service! Here’s hoping you can give us all good news soon.… [ Read all ]