There’s a lot to be said for the genteelness of days gone by.
Imagine someone running for president today whose wife was large AND cross-eyed?
1. Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but he so hated his initials -H.U.G.- that he began using Ulysses as his first name.
2. Ulysses S. Grant’s father bestowed the nickname “Useless” on him. Nothing like a little negative reinforcement to set a kid off on the right path, eh?
3. While president, Grant was once arrested for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. He insisted on paying the fine and wrote a letter to the cop’s boss complimenting the officer on his respect for the law- regardless of who the lawbreaker was.
4. Canaries were supposed to sing at Grant’s inauguration. However, it was so cold that day they all froze to death before singing a note.
5. He was a hard-drinker, a cigar-smoker and a war hero, but Grant did not like profanity or off-color stories.
6. Grant ate his meat cooked black.
7. Grant never let anyone see him naked. Except maybe his own wife. On the battlefield, soldiers bathed by stripping down and having their comrades-in-arms pour water over them. Not Grant. He hid in a sealed tent so no one could see him.
8. After a successful Civil War battle, appreciative American citizens sent Grant ten thousand boxes of cigars. If each box held twenty-five cigars, that comes to a staggering quarter of a million cigars Grant would ultimately smoke. (No wonder he died of throat cancer!)
9. Grant’s wife, Julia, was cross-eyed from birth and would sometimes walk sideways to avoid crashing into people. Or furniture. Or walls. Julia Grant almost always was photographed in profile instead of full-faced because of her condition.
10. The sight of blood made Grant nauseous.
11. Grant’s favorite breakfast was cucumbers in vinegar.
12. We all know the riddle, “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?” Groucho Marx came up with this for his game show You Bet Your Life so that everyone could win at least something on the show. He’d always accept “Grant” as the correct answer, but the truth is Grant was not buried in Grant’s tomb. He is entombed there.
13. Grant smoked up to twenty cigars a day, every day of his life, from a young age.
14. Grant’s habit of smoking caused the throat and tongue cancer that eventually killed him. in his final days, the retired president became addicted to the cocaine that doctors were using to swab his throat and he needed regular morphine injections for the intractable pain.
15. Grant’s last word was “water.”