Description

    Pres. Grant writes to an old friend about his recent visit to Chicago after the Great Fire: "The city is building up beyond all conceptions. It seems now to be prosperous, and no doubt about it will ultimately be permanently so."

    Ulysses S. Grant Autograph Letter Signed "U.S. Grant" as President, four pages, 5.5" x 9", front and verso. Executive Mansion, Washington, May 25, 1873. To "Jones," his old friend J. Russell Jones, a Chicago businessman and investment counselor, appointed by Grant as U.S. Minister Resident in Belgium (1869-1875). It seems that he had shared a letter he had received from Grant with King Leopold II. In full, "Pure indolence is the only thing I have to offer as an excuse for not writing to you oftener unless indeed I should plead the bad use you make of my letters. What excuse can there be for a man turning over a private letter to a Sovereign, or furnish extracts for a historian: We will let that pass however hoping you have learned better. On my last trip west, or rather returning, I stopped four or five days in Chicago. The city is building up beyond all conceptions. It seems now to be prosperous, and no doubt about it will ultimately be permanently so. The people however are so fearfully in debt for foreign capital and in re-building this city, and starting afresh in business, that I do not see how they are to avoid a general smash up and changing of hands of much real estate. If I was out of office, when I could attend to my own private affairs, I would sell my land about Chicago with the confidence that at some period within the next five years it, or other property of equal value could be re-purchased for half the money. Ultimately however the City will soon cover all our property and it will then be worth from Ten to Fifteen thousand dollars pr. Acre. That on Madison Av. will now bring $3000.00 per Acre, (a gentleman sent me word he would pay that) and the balance of it about $2000.00. I would much prefer the money to the land, but I will not sell until you desire to sell also. Buck returned a week ago to-day and after spending a day or two at home pushed off to Harvard. He says he is going through with his class. I hope he may, but it looks to me that he will have a tough pull. Mrs. Grant & Nellie join me in kindest regards to Mrs. Jones & the children. I have no other family, at home, but them now. Fred is about starting from Chicago for the Yellow Stone with an expedition to protect surveyors and builders of the N. Pacific Rail-road. Jesse is on his own hook in California. A letter from him a day or two ago announced that he was about starting for the Yosemite. He has already pretty much traversed the state and feels a little important."

    President and Mrs. Grant had four children. Buck is 20-year-old Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. who received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1874 and his Bachelor of Law from Columbia two years later. He was admitted to the bar in New York in 1876. Nellie is Ellen Wrenshall Grant, his 17-year-old daughter. Fred is 23-year-old Frederick Dent Grant. In March 1873, he was appointed to the staff of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was with Gen. David S. Stanley on the Yellowstone expedition. He commanded the escort of the surveying parties on the Texas Pacific railroad. In 1874, he was with Custer in the Black Hills expedition. President Grant had signed the act establishing Yellowstone as the first national park in 1872. Jesse is 15-year-old Jesse Root Grant. The phrase "on his own hook" is defined as "on his own initiative or responsibility."

    Accompanied by an eight page, 8" x 10.5" printed biography of this letter's recipient, Joseph Russell Jones, by Gen. James H. Wilson. The first sheet is chipped at the edges. The final page is not present. There is a browned vertical fold on the first page of Grant's letter and browning of both sheets at the lower edge, including at Grant's signature. The President has clearly penned "Grant" at the top of the signature page when he refers to Mrs. Grant. The vertical fold on each sheet is partially separated at the top and bottom edges. Each sheet is also nicked at top and bottom, one touching the beginning of the "S" of the President's signature.

    This is truly an extraordinary Grant presidential ALS penned to an old friend to whom he had given a diplomatic appointment in 1869. Since he had not written to his Minister Resident in Belgium for a while, the President keeps him up-to-date as far as his family and talks in length about the city of Chicago, recovering from the Great Fire of 1871, and how he could profit by selling his land in Chicago " if I was out of office." Lengthy presidential ALsS of Grant rarely appear on the market, especially ones including family content.


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    Auction Dates
    February, 2008
    21st-22nd Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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