Who is buried in Grant’s tomb? Groucho Marx once asked that now infamous question. Technically the answer is no one. General Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president of the United States, and his wife Julia Dent Grant are entombed (not buried) there.
As a general, Grant had many achievements. His most high profile successes were during the Civil War. He helped lead the Union to victories at the Battles of Vicksburg, Chattanooga and Appomattox (one of the last battles of the Civil War, where Robert E. Lee surrendered). The following year he was made the first General of the Army of the United States. Two years later in 1868, he was elected President of the United States. He served two terms following Andrew Johnson, who had inherited his position following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Let us have peace is the epitaph engraved above the entrance to the tomb. Grant first used those words in his acceptance letter for the Republican Nomination. Those words became his campaign slogan. In many ways they characterize the man himself. Despite the fact that he was involved in many military actions and saw so much bloodshed, his actions as president show a man who wanted peace. As president during the period of Reconstruction, he had his work cut out for him. He still managed to get the Fifteenth Amendment ratified (granting African American men the right to vote), attempted to create peace with the Native Americans, and narrowly avoided war with Spain. He even established the first national park (Yellowstone).
While Grant’s second term was not nearly as successful as the first by the time of his death his popularity had bounced back after a successful world tour. When you add this to what he accomplished as both a general and a president it is easy to understand why the public funded Grant’s tomb. After the world tour and some bad business investments Grant was left broke at the time of his death, the reason donations were necessary.
Some facts about Grant’s tomb:
- Grant had only one condition for where he was buried: that they allow his wife to be buried next to him.
- The flags of Ohio and Illinois are displayed in Grant’s tomb (Grant was born in Ohio and later lived in Illinois).
- The busts of five Civil War Generals who served with Grant are displayed in his Tomb. Those Generals are William Tecumseh Sherman, George Henry Thomas, Edward Otho Cresap Ord, Philip Henry Sheridan and James Birdseye McPherson.
- In May 1897, a Chinese representative planted a gingko tree behind Grant’s tomb in his memory. Grant made friends in China on his post presidential world tour. He even helped China and Japan settle a disagreement and avoid war. Again, he did this while on vacation.
- Eventually the maintenance of the tomb was transferred over to the US National Park Service which Grant had established while President.
- There are murals inside the tomb depicting Battles of the Civil War.
- Grant’s Tomb is the largest mausoleum in North America.
I send postcards with my photos on them. You figure out the location from the clues in the message.