CLEVELAND, Grover (1837-1908), President. Letter signed ("Grover Cleveland") as President, to Oliver Hoyt, Washington, 31 July 1885. 1 page, 4to (9 5/8 x 7¾ in.), lined Executive Mansion stationery, integral blank, very light offset of text from another letter, otherwise in fine condition.
PREPARING THE FUNERAL OF GENERAL ULYSSES S. GRANT
By the Spring of 1885, it had become clear to Ulysses S. Grant that he would soon succumb to throat cancer. Although his post-Civil War career had been marked by misfortune due to political scandals during his Presidency and a failed business venture which depleted the family fortune, Grant still hoped to make amends by publishing his memoirs. The "splendid struggle" consumed the last years of his life. Grant's biographer William McFeely notes: "He pressed himself, not to write, for that he did with disconcerting ease, but to finish the book before he died...He was performing this task to support the family, and, of absolutely essential importance, there was fulfillment for him in the nature of the job itself...All his life he had struggled to get his story out" (Grant: A Biography, p. 504). The family retreated to a resort at Mount McGregor in upstate New York, where Grant, surrounded by his loved ones, completed the task only days before his death on July 23.
Grant's elaborate funeral procession through New York City was planned. Here, the President requests that Hoyt participate: "Having been requested by Mrs. Grant to name the pall-bearers to officiate at the funeral of Genl. Grant in New York City on the 8th proximo, I have designated you as one of the number and have to ask that you give me early notice of your acceptance of the appointment." Hoyt was a well-known New York merchant and an admirer of Grant who had contributed to the General's Presidential campaign.
On August 8, one million people lined the streets of New York to watch the solemn procession which escorted the casket of the General. Joining Hoyt as pall-bearers were men who had worn both blue and gray: Union Generals William T. Sherman and Philip Sheridan and Confederate Generals Simon Buckner and Joseph Johnston. 40,000 men in uniform soberly followed the catafalque which was drawn by 24 black horses. The procession wound its way to Riverside Park where the General was temporarily laid to rest until the body could be transferred to a magnificent tomb completed twelve years later.
Provenance: Jerome Shochet (sale, Christie's, 20 May 1994, lot 19).