His love of justice was equaled only by his delight in compassion, and neither was sacrificed to the other. His self-advancement was subordinated to the public good. His integrity was never questioned; his honesty was above suspicion; his private life and public career were at once reputable to himself and honorable to his country.
His soul was the home of hope, sustained and cheered by the certainties of his mind and the power of his faith. He was the mathematical genius of a great general, rather than of a great soldier. By this endowment he proved himself equal to the unexpected, and that with the precision of a seer.
The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a free nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixons, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.
His tour around the world exhibited another phase of his charactera simplicity and modesty as extraordinary as it is unparalleled. Received by kings and emperors with all the honors of a king, fêted and banqueted by princes and lords, and eulogized by the most distinguished men of the world, he exhibited no pride, no elation, receiving ovations that might well have turned the head of the strongest man with manners and bearing as simple and unostentatious as when a farmer in the west.
The preparations of this wonderful man rarely excited applause of the people, because the workings of his masterful mind were hidden beneath the silence of his lips; but when the supreme moment came, there came also an intellectual elevation, an uplifting of the whole being, a transformation of the silent, thoughtful general, which surprised his foes and astonished his friends. He culminated at the crisis; he was at his best when most needed; he responded in an emergency.
Out of his great character came the purest motives, as effect follows cause. He abandoned himself to his life mission with the hope of no other reward than the consciousness of duty done. Duty to his conscience, his country, and his God was his standard of successful manhood. With him, true greatness was that in great actions our only care should be to perform well our part and let glory follow virtue. He placed his fame in the service of the state. He was never tempted by false glory. He never acted for effect. He acted because he could not help it. His action was spontaneous. Ambition could not corrupt his patriotism; calumnies could not lessen it.
As a great soldier leading our armies to victory, he first attracts the eyes of the world. His courage, though lofty and steadfast, was not of that fiery, chivalric kind which dazzles the public. He was not borne up in action by the enthusiasm and pride of the warrior; but apparently unconscious of danger, made battle a business which was to be performed with a clear head and steady nerves. His coolness in deadly peril was wonderful. What was once said of Marshal Ney applies forcibly to him: In battle he could literally shut up his mind to the one object he had in view. The overthrow of the enemy absorbed every thought within him, and he had none to give to danger or death.
But the supreme will, despotic authority, and the relentless pursuit of an enemy indispensable in a great commander, disappeared when he laid down the sword and became chief magistrate of the union. Not a trace of the military man remained, and his whole thoughts were on peace and the supremacy of law. To the foeman of former days he held out both hands in token of peace, and amid the clamors of excited men and the demands of vindictive passion, he remained unmoved, and breathed the very spirit of kindness and generosity, and exhibited a patriotism that put to shame the partisan zeal of those who constituted themselves his advisers.
Our unconquerable hero has gone forward, until at last he has been called to mingle in the Court of the Most High, and when the roll has been called for the last time, when the last reveille has been sounded, when the last battle has been fought, the honored name of Ulysses S. Grant will be found on the unchanging pages of history as one whom God raised up for a special work; and history will show how nobly was that work done, how fearlessly were our armies led to victory by the greatest military leader of modern times. A leader who battled not for the advancement of his own interestsnot that he might be at the head of an empire, but prompted by his love of right, he fought that the millions in bondage should be slaves no more, and for the triumph of right and the preservation of the union.
A brilliant soldier, a calm and just ruler, a true patriot, an humble Christian, he yielded up his spirit without a sigh into the hands of his Maker. That character will shine brighter with time, and his memory grow dearer with each successive generation.