2 pages, 8vo, Executive Mansion stationery." />
15 November 2005
GRANT, Ulysses S. Autograph letter signed ("U. S. Grant"), as President, to Adolph E. Borie, Washington, D. C., 20 December 1871. 2 pages, 8vo, Executive Mansion stationery.
THE "OLD FOGIES" HAVE "HAD OUR DAY": A WISTFUL GRANT LAMENTS HIS FLED YOUTH
A jovial, self-deprecating Grant writes to his former Secretary of the Navy: "Mrs. Grant has just asked me whether I had included Miss Borie, your niece, in the invitation to return to Washington with us on the 8th of January. I did not, but now wish to ask that she will accompany you, with assurances that a young lady can find more to amuse her in Washington society than old fogies like you and I. We get along pretty well but cannot conceal from ourselves the fact that before the present generation of happy people were born we had our day. This is not a pleasant subject and I promise not to review it." It's surprising to hear Grant speak so warmly of the halcyon days of his youth, for they were filled with difficulties, failures and frustrations. Only in the war years did he come out from under the thumb of an odd, undermining father and flourish as both a man and a soldier. Borie (1809 - 1880), however, was all too typical of the wrong-headed Cabinet appointments that plagued Grant throughout his presidency. The Secretary's tenure lasted just three months and he wisely stepped aside upon realizing that his career as a successful businessman in no way equipped him to head an important military department. "I am only a figure-head," he acknowledged when leaving office, "the department is managed by Admiral Porter" (DeGregorio, Complete Book of U. S. Presidents, 270).
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