Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction, 1861-1868

Overview

Historians have traditionally drawn distinctions between Ulysses S. Grant's military and political careers. In Let Us Have Peace, Brooks Simpson questions such distinctions and offers a new understanding of this often enigmatic leader. He argues that during the 1860s Grant was both soldier and politician, for military and civil policy were inevitably intertwined during the Civil War and Reconstruction era. According to Simpson, Grant instinctively understood that war was 'politics by other means.' Moreover, he ...
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Let Us Have Peace: Ulysses S. Grant and the Politics of War and Reconstruction, 1861-1868

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Overview

Historians have traditionally drawn distinctions between Ulysses S. Grant's military and political careers. In Let Us Have Peace, Brooks Simpson questions such distinctions and offers a new understanding of this often enigmatic leader. He argues that during the 1860s Grant was both soldier and politician, for military and civil policy were inevitably intertwined during the Civil War and Reconstruction era. According to Simpson, Grant instinctively understood that war was 'politics by other means.' Moreover, he realized that civil wars presented special challenges: reconciliation, not conquest, was the Union's ultimate goal. And in peace, Grant sought to secure what had been won in war, stepping in to assume a more active role in policymaking when the intransigence of white Southerners and the obstructionist behavior of President Andrew Johnson threatened to spoil the fruits of Northern victory.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Deserves to take a well-merited place in Civil War and Reconstruction literature. It is a fine work of scholarship.

Journal of Southern History

Other historians have touched on this aspect of Grant's career, but Simpson's work surpasses them all.

Choice

It stands as essential reading for all those interested in that pivotal era.

Eric Foner, Columbia University

Library Journal
Both of these Civil War commanders led the Army of the Potomac at separate times during the war; Burnside later served under Grant's command; and both entered national politics after the war. Marvel's book is the first full-length evaluation of Burnside's military career. Burnside has always been remembered as an incompetent leader who sacrificed thousands of lives in the Battle of Fredricksburg; however, Marvel shows a more capable Burnside who managed to acquit himself creditably. Burnside's major problem was not his lack of ability as a military strategist but his laissez-faire way of delegating authority and responsibility to his subordinates. His downfall as a military leader may have been his own honest, humble, and trusting manner. Politically, Grant has been depicted as the outstanding general of the Civil War and as one of the worst presidents. Simpson argues that during the Civil War, ``Grant was both soldier and politician for military and civil policy were inevitably intertwined . . . .'' The author studies Grant's political actions during the Civil War and during President Johnson's administration, but stops with his election as president. He devotes most of the book to Grant's relations with Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, Secretary of War Stanton, and the radical Republicans in determining the policies of war and Reconstruction as well as the policies of dealing with the freed slaves. Both volumes are well written and documented and help fill a void in our understanding of two people who played a major role in the Civil War. Academic libraries will need to purchase both.-- W. Walter Wicker, Louisiana Tech Univ. Lib., Ruston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807846292
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/1997
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 359
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Brooks D. Simpson is professor of history and humanities at Arizona State University and the author of several books, including Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, and coeditor of Sherman's Civil War.
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