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As many of you know, Congressman Patrick McHenry recently introduced legislation to replace the portrait of Ulysses S. Grant on the fifty dollar bill with an image of Ronald Reagan.

Needless to say, this has many liberals outraged.  Reagan? we ask incredulously.  What is it with the conservative obsession with this guy anyway.  All he did was hike the national debt, skew the income distribution and usher in an era of plutocracy and robber barons.  Oh, and caused the deaths of countless innocents in Latin America in the most boneheaded quixotic anti-communist crusades since Dulles toppled Mosaddegh.

How could we possibly live in a country where they put a guy like THAT on the currency.

This is the wrong response.

The right response to this is the one we see in a brilliant op-ed piece by Sean Wilentz in today's New York Times.

It isn't just that Reagan shouldn't be honored.  It's that Grant should be.  In the past I have had my differences with many on this site about the use of force to accomplish political goals.  I have little patience for pacifism.  In my view pacifism is to peace as abstinence-only sex education is to the elimination of teen pregnancy: an impediment erected by those refusing to face some basic truths about our nature.

I understand that this is a minority and unpopular view here.  I also understand that the progressive aversion to war often makes people less likely to honor military heroes. Thus when it is proposed to put Reagan on the fifty, our reactions tend to be entirely negative.  Reagan doesn't deserve this many of us say, and rightly so.  But negative arguments can never win, and as Wilentz demonstrates there are many positive arguments to be made for honoring Ulysses S. Grant, a true champion of human rights.

Unfortunately, many on the left, and indeed many Americans more generally have had their opinions of Grant swayed by the influence of Lost Cause propagandists.  Grant was not only a military man, a man whose profession is to snuff out and destroy the sacred and divine gift of human life and to do so on an industrial scale all so that he may help to insure the achievement of profane political objectives, he was a butcher who wasn't even good at his job.  The only thing that could be said for him as a commander was that he was indifferent to slaughter and could thus subdue his opponent by sheer force of numbers.

The truth is that Grant was a military genius.  In a war in which Robert E. Lee, the supposed genius of southern arms was never able to force the surrender of a single enemy army, Grant captured three.  While Lee often performed well with the armies under his direct control, other Confederate armies did not do so well.  This was because Grant sent his best subordinates to independent commands while Lee rarely did so, preferring to keep his most talented Lieutenants at his side, thus insuring his own tactical victories, but hardly improving the strategic situation of the south.

Put simply, one of the primary reasons that the Union cause prevailed was that the South was simply out-generaled and the primary reason for that was Ulysses S. Grant.  As Wilentz writes:

When one Union general after another proved unequal to the task of leading the army, Lincoln personally elevated Grant, who, with William Tecumseh Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, devised the strategy of "hard war" to defeat the slaveholders’ Confederacy. "I cannot spare this man," Lincoln was reported to have said of Grant after the bloody Battle of Shiloh in 1862. "He fights."

Many, no doubt will point out that military genius should not qualify someone to be a hero of his country, after all, was not Patton a military genius?  Would we really want him on our currency?

This misses the point completely.  Grant was not one of those figures of history who happens to have a talent for taking life and would have been glad to employ that talent in any cause.  In fact, Grant was a civilian when the Civil War began and he joined the union cause because he believed in it deeply.  As he remarked at the beginning of the struggle, "There are but two parties now, Traitors & Patriots  and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter."

While it is true that Grant was never particularly involved in the struggle to outlaw slavery prior to the war, he became one of the greatest champions of civil rights that the country has ever known.  Again, Wilentz:

As president, Grant was determined to achieve national reconciliation, but on the terms of the victorious North, not the defeated Confederates. He fought hard and successfully for ratification of the 15th Amendment, banning disenfranchisement on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. When recalcitrant Southern whites fought back under the white hoods and robes of the Ku Klux Klan, murdering and terrorizing blacks and their political supporters, Grant secured legislation that empowered him to unleash federal force. By 1872, the Klan was effectively dead.

For Grant, Reconstruction always remained of paramount importance, and he remained steadfast, even when members of his own party turned their backs on the former slaves. After white supremacists slaughtered blacks and Republicans in Louisiana in 1873 and attempted a coup the following year, Grant took swift and forceful action to restore order and legitimate government. With the political tide running heavily against him, Grant still managed to see through to enactment the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which prohibited discrimination according to race in all public accommodations.

The fact is that one of the reasons that Grant is regarded so lightly is that Lost Cause revisionists reviled him for his civil rights record and sought to discredit him in the eyes of a country that once adored him.

In reality, what fueled the personal defamation of Grant was contempt for his Reconstruction policies, which supposedly sacrificed a prostrate South, as one critic put it, "on the altar of Radicalism." That he accomplished as much for freed slaves as he did within the constitutional limits of the presidency was remarkable. Without question, his was the most impressive record on civil rights and equality of any president from Lincoln to Lyndon B. Johnson.

Reagan doesn't belong on the fifty dollar bill not just because of his shortcomings.  He doesn't belong there because the place is taken.  It is occupied by a military genius and a man of greatness, decency and modesty, by a genuine champion of liberal values.  It is occupied by one of the few indispensable men in American history.

Not only does Grant deserve his place on the fifty, it is well past time that his military accomplishments be recognized.  Grant should, along with George Washington and John Pershing, be honored with six stars.

Originally posted to journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:35 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (29+ / 0-)

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:35:08 AM PDT

  •  Conservatives say... (19+ / 0-)

    ...we should dishonor a veteran so that we can honor a Hollywood actor??

    More proof that Conservatives Hate America.

  •  Meanwhile, bring back the $2 bill (5+ / 0-)
  •  It's funny since Wilentz is a pretty right-wing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    guy. I guess professionalism won in his case.

  •  Ronald Reagan = Traitor (9+ / 0-)

    Yes, I know that this is a strong accusation.

    I remember Reagan's trade deals that let Japan and Germany take over our Auto, Steel, and Electronics industries.  Reagan was minding the store and he gave the store away to the former Axis Powers.

    Then, after he left office, he took a $2 million "speaking fee" from the Japanese industries that had richly benefited from his "free trade policies". Even if this was not a bribe, it was highly improper.

    None dared call it treason, then. But we need to critically examine Reagan's methods, motivations, and alligences before we honor him any further.

    Your car is German. Your truck is Japanese. Your TV is Korean. For this, America has Reagan to thank.

    •  And cutting deals with Iran (7+ / 0-)

      to keep US hostages was also not the most patriotic policy choice.  He had his beliefs, even if he couldn't always remember them, and they entailed arming Iranian and Nicaraguan terrorists, breaking US and international laws, and causing mass death and suffering with a kindly, avuncular smile.

    •  Toyota car, Panasonic TV (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I drive a Toyota, use an HP camera of unknown origin and have a desktop PC built in the US using parts made in I don't know how many countries.

      I bought them because they had the best value avalabile.

      How is any of this bad?

      Results count for more than intentions do.

      by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:09:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Until your income is outsourced, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ManhattanMan, JeffW, Dirtandiron

        you may never understand.

        I believe in love as democracy - Salman Rushdie

        by crystalboy on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:36:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was laid off last May. (0+ / 0-)

          I haven't had a paycheck in 10 1/2 months.

          I still see no reason I should buy more expensive products just because they were "Made in America".

          In fact, I'm economizing everywhere I can.  Cheaper over-seas goods are a God-send to me right now.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:43:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You cannot understand... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mattwb, Dirtandiron

            ...that your former customers are saying the same thing, and that is why you are out of work?

            Just because something is written in an Economics textbook does not mean it is true. Ricardo was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

            You just need to look at your own life to see that Free Trade Doesn't Work.

            •  I'm trying to start a new business (0+ / 0-)

              1/3 of the guys I'm working with are Indian and we very much hope to be able to sell our services in Canada and Mexico, as well as the US.

              Let's hope free trade works.

              Ricardo was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

              You seem to think David Ricardo was wrong about something.  Care to elaborate or are we accepting proof by repetition now.

              Results count for more than intentions do.

              by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 05:08:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Selling to Canada... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ...and Mexico is a great idea. I wish you luck.

                However, under Reagan, US businesses could not sell to Japan, but Japan could sell here. Reagan turned a blind eye to Japanese protectionism and then accepted a Japanese payoff.

                Ricardo was wrong
                because he didn't understand technology. This is not his fault, there was not much technology in his day!

                If Toyota has 3 decades of a protected, captive market, they can make longer-term investments and build better technological capability. Then, when "free trade" begins, they start at an advantage.

                Most of the quality and productivity innovations of the "Toyota Production System" were developed in the USA. But American carmakers could never invest in competition from imports forced them to focus only on short-term results and take no risks.

                Meanwhile, protected industries in Korea, Japan, and Germany (and now CHINA) quietly built their capabilities. When they were strong, they attacked...and won.

                You are giving jobs to Indians, but you are selling in North America. Hmmm..? Did you ever ask yourself why you aren't selling to India? Could it be that the protectionist barriers are too high? If you are doing software, I hope you see that you are today where GM was in 1982. Please...wake up!

                •  More like Pontiac in 1907. (0+ / 0-)

                  you are today where GM was in 1982.

                  It's a start-up.  If we get to GM in 82, I'll buy you a round.

                  why you aren't selling to India?

                  Because I have no desire to go to India and I think there is enough business in North America.  If we get GM in 82 big, I'll reconsider.

                  dog-eat-dog competition from imports forced [US car makers] to focus only on short-term results and take no risks.

                  Bunk.  The Big Three were fat and lazy after decades of "competing" in a de facto protected market.  After that, they were addicted to SUV profits when the market turned to smaller cars.

                  Results count for more than intentions do.

                  by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 05:34:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  When was the US market protected? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Reagan was supposed to be protecting it! He was supposed to enforce our interests in those free trade deals...he chose not to.

                    You are like GM in 1982 because India can sell into your home market, but you cannot sell into India.

                    I am not against free trade. Free trade, when it is really free, with even market access, labor standards, government subsidies, and environmental care can be great.

                    But we don't often see that. We usually see other countries granted access to the US market, while we are locked out of theirs.  The Reagan years were a great example.

                    •  De facto protected. (0+ / 0-)

                      After WW II, when the rest of the world had been blown to Hell, our infrastructure was basically unscathed.  That gave us several decades of dominance in manufacturing.

                      you cannot sell into India.

                      Yes, I can.  I'm in IT and our balance of trade with Indian is pretty good, even considering the rampant piracy.

                      Also, you're over-estimating the beneficial effects of protectionism.  20 years ago, no one would have voluntarily bought a car, earth mover or anything else from Tata.  Now, after a few years of dog-eat-dog competition, they're making very good products.

                      Results count for more than intentions do.

                      by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 05:56:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

      •  They have the best value... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        journeyman, Dirtandiron

        ...because they are subsidized by Japan's protectionist trade policies.

        Reagan was supposed to be fighting for a level playing field. Instead, he let Japan be protectionist and destroy our industries.

        Not all of Toyota's market share is due to making better cars. Much of it is due to their captive, protected home market. This enables them to export cheap.

        •  Japan? They were the 80'sboogie man. (0+ / 0-)

          We hate China now.  Remember.

          The Toyota was built in the US from parts made all over the world.  Ditto for the PC.

          I haven't dissected my cell phone, but I'll bet it's the same story.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 05:12:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Look at... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            ...Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo. These are the blood-drained corpses of economic victims. The "80's boogie man", as you call Japan, actually got us!  We lost those industries: Steel, Autos, and Electronics.

            Now China comes for their slice.

            Yes, a Toyota is built in the US from parts made all over the world.".  You seem to think this is a good thing. Have you forgotten that cars used to be made with 100% American parts and American labor? We are worse off, not better off, thanks to Reagan.

            Trade policy is important, far too important to be left to the "free market".

  •  I Think Reagan Should REPLACE Mt. Rushmore (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, grada3784, Dirtandiron

    figures. Seriously.

    There's no viable movement in the United States to reverse his major core policies of eliminating protective progressive taxation, of free trade, of militarism on a scale beyond any plausible threat, and under-regulating media, markets and finance.

    By the time we finish blasting the other figures off the mountain, they will be irrelevant to the future of the country in any case. Reagan is appropriately the sole figure for Mt. Rushmore.

    He belongs on the currency as well.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:51:49 AM PDT

  •  Yes, This Is Our Country (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    litho, grada3784

    Reagan is our Patriotic Freedom President.

    Adam and Eve had Iraqi birth certificates.

    by bink on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:51:50 AM PDT

  •  not to worry (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, journeyman

    Don't worry. A bit of legislation introduced by some congressman does not a change in currency make.

  •  Patrick McHenry is the biggest tool (8+ / 0-)

    in the GOP cabinet.

    My favorite McHenry moment was when Waxman told him to crawl back under the rock from whence he came. That was during one of the contractor hearings a few years ago when McHenry was massaging Erik Prince in front of everyone....

    ...Fuck the High Priests...

    by Tirge Caps on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 10:56:36 AM PDT

  •  This isn't the first time this has been proposed (5+ / 0-)

    A few years ago they wanted to have Reagan replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. I guess they backed off given Hamilton's Founding Father status, not to mention his martyrdom at Aaron Burr's hands, but they still haven't given up on immortalizing St. Ronnie. And given that a nutty Southerner like McHenry probably has a grudge against Grant because he gave the South such a thorough spanking in the Civil War, he considers it killing two birds with one stone.

    Sorry, but while Grant wasn't much of a President (too much corruption in his administration), he was arguably the greatest general in U.S. history and won the Civil War. For that alone, he's more important to the history of our nation than Reagan.

  •  excellent, substantive diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, journeyman, LynneK

    thank you

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:08:57 AM PDT

  •  Yes, I agree (6+ / 0-)

    Sean Wilentz was someone I read in graduate school, but not on the topic of Grant.

    Wilentz is right about the role of Grant.  He is right also that negative arguments do no win.  Comparing the two Presidents, I think Grant did more for America, and less harm.

  •  President Grant, not General Grant (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, JeffW

    Note that the depiction of Grant on the 50 dollar bill is one of a gray-haired man  wearing civilian clothes. Thus it is President Grant, not General Grant, who is being honored.

    I respect Wilentz and some of the commenters here, but to pretend that Reconstruction was anything but a monstrous clusterfuck is ridiculous.

  •  Right but Repulsive vs Wrong but Romantic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's what you and all the sane historians and history buffs are bucking.

    It's even worse with the English Civil War, since Cromwell and the Puritans were right for the wrong reasons, and a more enlightened version of the Wrong but Romantic side eventually won the day.

    If it's
    Not your body
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    AND it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:37:07 AM PDT

  •  The Reagan $50 idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, Dirtandiron

    isn't going anywhere and never really had a chance. But I would think that conservatives would be keen on removing all graven images from our currency in recognition of God's express sentiments on the subject.

  •  As a Southerner, I want to go on record as saying (6+ / 0-)

    that I have far more respect for Grant than I ever had for Reagan. Everything he did during the Civil War was to bring the war to an end. Although he had a lot of scandals attached to his presidency, his only fault in any of them was that he trusted the people he considered friends, because, as an honorable man himself, he couldn't conceive of dishonor in the people he called friends. His record regarding the protection of the former slaves is above reproach. To be honest, it was Grant who truly deserves the title "Great Emancipator." I'd much rather see the face of Grant looking at me from the front of a $50 bill than that of Reagan.

    "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi -9.38/-6.26

    by LynneK on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:42:23 AM PDT

  •  Mark Twain was an admirer of Grant (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, Dirtandiron

    Some analysts and historians even believe that Twain was the ghost writer of Gran't memoirs.

    •  So let's put Mark Twain on our currency (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Tom Paine, Mark Twain, Mike Shayne, Claire Dane, those are my heroes.
      -Michael Swaine

      You don't have to live in a fantasy world to write science fiction, although it seems to work for Orson Scott Card.

      by mswaine on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:11:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  and no sufferer of fools (4+ / 0-)

      Samuel Clemons was never hesitant to speak his mind, and had a particular impatience with incompetence or hypocrisy.

      The thing that appealed to people about Grant in his own day was that he was a genuine hero, not just someone acting a part.

      The contrast between Grant and many of the empty suits we've had in the White House (and the Congress) since is difficult not to notice.

      The story of how Grant worked tirelessly in his dying days to complete his manuscript so as to leave his family an income is a testament to his character. While Clemons encouraged their writing, and almost certainly helped edit them as their publisher, I don't think there's anything to rumors that anyone other than Grant was the author.

      •  And that Grant had to do so says a lot about his (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        journeyman, catchaz, Dirtandiron

        character. The "Man who Saved the Union" could have cashed in in a million unscrupulous ways by joining in the corrupt activities of some of his appointees or by betraying the hopes of the freed slaves one way or another. He didn't do that, being reluctant to even write his memoirs to the end.

        He could have been the American equivalent to Ceasar.  He could have demanded a grateful nation give him ultimate power in the glow of victory. Instead he became President in the usual way and upheld the Constitution, becoming President many years after his military exploits.

        Howard Dean Forever and a Day

        by CarolDuhart on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:37:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That thesis is most closely associated with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grada3784, journeyman

      Mark Perry, as laid out in this book.

      In the spring of 1884 Ulysses S. Grant heeded the advice of Mark Twain and finally agreed to write his memoirs. Little did Grant or Twain realize that this seemingly straightforward decision would profoundly alter not only both their lives but the course of American literature. Over the next fifteen months, as the two men became close friends and intimate collaborators, Grant raced against the spread of cancer to compose a triumphant account of his life and times—while Twain struggled to complete and publish his greatest novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.In this deeply moving and meticulously researched book, veteran writer Mark Perry reconstructs the heady months when Grant and Twain inspired and cajoled each other to create two quintessentially American masterpieces.

      In a bold and colorful narrative, Perry recounts the early careers of these two giants, traces their quest for fame and elusive fortunes, and then follows the series of events that brought them together as friends. The reason Grant let Twain talk him into writing his memoirs was simple: He was bankrupt and needed the money. Twain promised Grant princely returns in exchange for the right to edit and publish the book—and though the writer’s own finances were tottering, he kept his word to the general and his family.

      Mortally ill and battling debts, magazine editors, and a constant crush of reporters, Grant fought bravely to get the story of his life and his Civil War victories down on paper. Twain, meanwhile, staked all his hopes, both financial and literary, on the tale of a ragged boy and a runaway slave that he had been unable to finish for decades. As Perry delves into the story of the men’s deepening friendship and mutual influence, he arrives at the startling discovery of the true model for the character of Huckleberry Finn.

      With a cast of fascinating characters, including General William T. Sherman, William Dean Howells, William Henry Vanderbilt, and Abraham Lincoln, Perry’s narrative takes in the whole sweep of a glittering, unscrupulous age. A story of friendship and history, inspiration and desperation, genius and ruin, Grant and Twain captures a pivotal moment in the lives of two towering Americans and the age they epitomized.

      text "YELE" to 501501 to give five bucks to Haitian relief, or "HAITI" to 90999 to give ten to the Red Cross.

      by litho on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:17:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suggest instead ... (6+ / 0-)

    ... that we put Reagan's mug on a new $100 billion Treasury Bill. Since a T-bill is an instrument of government debt, it's a much more fitting tribute to the borrow-and-spend Gipper than anything else I can imagine.

    If you don't stand for something, you'll stand for anything.

    by Keith Pickering on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:59:59 AM PDT

  •  The Bush-era GOP (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, journeyman, Dirtandiron

    is made up of neoconfederates and racist teabaggers. Grant's prowess makes him the enemy of the GOP base, which is still trying to fight the civil war and overturn the emancipation proclamation.

  •  When is war justified? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I liked your diary but have to ask, when is war justified?

    What percent of our foreign wars have been morally justified?

    Results count for more than intentions do.

    by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:16:24 PM PDT

    •  War is always wrong. (2+ / 0-)

      Its just that sometimes its less wrong than not going to war.

      I believe that people and nations are as culpable for sins of omission as they are of those of commission.  Certainly we have acted violently in at times in which not only our means but our ends were immoral.  However, I believe that on balance American military might has been a source of stability in world affairs and has been a net good.  I also believe that many of the things for which our nation deserves the most censure have to do with the failure to act, and do so decisively and even violently at the right time.  

      "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

      by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:48:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm more and less cynical. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I won't say that "War is always wrong."  There are some, very limited circumstances, in which war is justified.

        But I don't think most of our wars meet the criteria for justification.

        Our imperialistic wars in the Pacific and Latin America don't were not justified, no matter how afraid of Russia we were.  Nor did our interventions in the Mid-East, from Iran in 1953 to I/P today.

        Results count for more than intentions do.

        by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:09:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree and agree. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VA Classical Liberal

          Iran and Guatemala were disasters morally and geopolitically.  I think JFDulles may very well have been the weirdest man ever to serve as SecState.  He came to public prominence as a bipartisan and peace activist and then he became a partisan attack dog and promoter of useless, counterproductive wars.

          If you count Korea as an "imperialistic war" I can't quite go along.  Yes, Rhee was hardly the liberal champion he was made out to be, but Kim Il-Sung was, I would argue, even worse.  SK was oppressive and anti-liberal for many of the decades following the war, but it did emerge as a relatively decent place to live.

          But as to the reason I say war is always wrong, I say so because I believe that we have to understand that when it comes to the use of force (or the decision to forego it) we must understand that we cannot be pure.  We can only try our best to do what is least wrong.  I think that this attitude serves as a necessary corrective to the self-righteousness that often dominates debates about this sort of thing.

          "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

          by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:19:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It it too much to say Grant saved America? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grada3784, journeyman, JeffW
    Grant's victory assured that America would remain united and whole. Looking at the rest of the century and beyond, more than the growing military might of the United States, the fact that trying to conquer us would have meant having to take on a Continent-sized war with no local allies kept would-be conquerors off our shores. There was no friendly place to land an armada, no place to retreat if things got hairy with local resistance.

    So neither Stalin/Hitler/the Kaiser even tried a land invasion. We were able to help Europe twice without worrying too much about our domestic flank. Even in the fantasies of such, we would have come last to conquer once everywhere else was already conquered, we were too hard a nut to crack otherwise.

    His victory solidified America as a place where anyone would be a citizen and free.His support of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments not only enabled the freedom of former slaves, but also meant that the children of immigrants would start off on an equal footing as long-resident Americans. We never had a system like Germany or other nations where the distinction between immigrant and citizen was more than a generation. So we got millions from Europe and elsewhere whose talents and even wealth have enriched us.

    Once the slaves were practically freed, and the people who would have fought a guerilla war to preserve the Confederacy was put down, there was no longer any real force that would make America like Northern Ireland or the West Bank. The freed slaves at least were citizens who could in theory get redress of grievances peacefully, and there was no practical way to restore the Confederacy by force of arms, so they didn't even try.

    Howard Dean Forever and a Day

    by CarolDuhart on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:24:47 PM PDT

  •  Thom. Nast an admirer of Grant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The great cartoonist Thomas Nast was another admirer of Grant.

    Most famous as creator of Santa Claus and the Tammany Tiger, Nast venerated Lincoln and Grant,  and despised the unreconstructed Confederates and their allies in the Democratic Party.

    In his later years Nast became very disillusioned with the Republican Party.

  •  We should make a huge change... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...and redesign paper currency every year. This would do wonders to foil counterfeiters, and allow us to honor great Americans throughout our history. How about George Gershwin on the $50? Or Ray Charles? Or Leadbelly Leadbetter? Or Alexander Calder? Or Gilda Radner? Or Bessie Smith? In a time where the arts are being squeezed out of public schools, we need to honor our artists. And our scientists. We shouldn't just honor dead presidents on our currency. This is something that used to be done all the time in Europe before the coming of the Euro.

    The next OneCare Happy Hour will be March 26, 2010.
    Full care, for all, for less: YES WE CAN. CA OneCare: SB 810.

    by Pris from LA on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:33:38 PM PDT

    •  While I like the idea in theory (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The question would remain: just who is and who isn't deserving? The advantage that Presidents have is that we the people have voted for them by a majority, their records both personal and public fully explored, and their accomplishments clear. Other areas are more vulnerable to the vagaries of taste, fashion, the opinion of peers, and the problem of unexplored scandals.

      Howard Dean Forever and a Day

      by CarolDuhart on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:42:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Grant's treatment mirrors Texas textbook debate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    journeyman, Dirtandiron

    perfect analysis, thanks!

    much like what is happening in 2010 in Texas, Grant was slandered by racist historians in the 1910's, and has thus never been given the credit he is due.

    HISTORY BOOKS MATTER. thanks so much for revising the bullshit.

    secession = treason. Haters are Traitors!

    by catchaz on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:43:47 PM PDT

    •  Good Point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      journeyman, JeffW, catchaz

      Since Gone with the Wind, the North and its efforts have never gotten the cultural and literary support it deserves. There's a Gone With the Wind, what about its Northern counterpoint? Where is the romantic Union soldier or the dramatic Northern heroine? Where are the homefront stories of the North during the Civil War, the romances of Union Generals, the defense of those elements of the carpetbaggers who tried to educate the newly freed slaves and the long-deprived mountain whites? The South gets all of the good movies: GWTW makes millions, Glory and Gettysburg barely make a ripple.

      Howard Dean Forever and a Day

      by CarolDuhart on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:54:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I meant to reply to you, but instead made a separate comment.  I wanted to thank you for reading and to say that it is Wilentz that deserves the real credit.

      "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

      by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:55:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for reading. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But its Wilentz deserves the real credit.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 12:53:43 PM PDT

  •  Grant Was a Republican (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And like Reagan, Grant ushered-in an era of plutocrats, robber barons and a skewed income distribution.

    But at least Grand won the Civil War.  All Reagan did was invade Grenada and fund and train death squads in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

    Why not remove Grant from the Fifty and instead put a picture of Martin Luther King or Fredrick Douglas?  Or maybe Lucretia Mott.  It's time.

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:06:48 PM PDT

    •  Um, You Do Realize that Frederick Douglass (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      was also a Republican, right?

      I've got to disagree about removing Grant.  Grant deserves his place.

      I wouldn't mind seeing Douglass or King on some currency though.  However, although I know that Wilentz would be incensed to hear the suggestion, I think the twenty may be a better place to start.

      It's not that I begrudge Jackson his place.  (In truth I have mixed feelings about him).  It's just that the man spent much of his presidency doing his best to destroy the national bank.  It seems ridiculous that he should be commemorated on its successor's currency.  

      "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

      by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:24:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As Far as I'm Concerned (0+ / 0-)

        We could start with the Ten.

        This aggression will not stand, man.

        by kaleidescope on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:56:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, Mate. Can't Go There. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Alexander Hamilton was a true genius and an American original.  Though he was born in the West Indies he was vehemently opposed to slavery and, unlike many who opposed slavery, even conceded that black people were his equal and that what many perceived as their lack of intelligence and aptitude was probably the result of a lack of opportunity rather than of innate ability.

          He wrote most of the Federalist Papers, still one of the greatest work of American political philosophy.  He also wrote the Report on Manufactures, the definitive work supporting an activist government working to promote the economy.  While he was unfair to Adams in his later days and had other faults besides, Alexander Hamilton was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.

          "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

          by journeyman on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 02:12:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe it is fitting, Reagan's policies added (0+ / 0-)

    around 94,000,000 50 dollar bills to our national debt.

  •  The only (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, JeffW, Dirtandiron

    type of paper that should bear Reagan's image comes in a roll-and is usually sold by  the 4-pack in the paper goods aisle.

    On political conservatives: "I was so shocked I nearly dropped the Bible I was using to help me masturbate into my gun." Bill Maher

    by lyvwyr101 on Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 01:39:56 PM PDT

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