|A Special Consideration: Hannah Simpson Grant|
|Mother of U. S. Grant|
|by Diane Meives, Contributor to the Ulysses S. Grant Information Center|
Neighbors of the Grant family testified that she was a warm and pious woman, devoted to her husband and family. Her family members speak of her in terms of strength, determination and calmness. Julia Grant describes Hannah as "...the most self-sacrificing, the sweetest, kindest woman I ever met, except my own dear mother." High praise certainly, for her mother-in-law. Ulysses' boyhood friend, Daniel Ammen, remembering his childhood, described Hannah as a "cheerful woman, always kind and gracious to children." To be in such high standing with little boys is a compliment on a plane of its own.
The ultimate compliment of course came from her famous son. A conversation with his brother-in-law, the Reverend Michael Cramer, revealed Grant's feelings about his mother. Of her he said that "she was the best woman he had ever known; unselfish, devoted to her family, thorougly good, conscientious, intelligent, never meddling with other person's affairs, genuinely pious without any cant, with a strong sense of right and justice; unobtrusive, kindhearted, and attached to her church and country." Rev. Cramer said, "General, you have most of your mother's characteristics," to which Grant simply replied, "yes, I think so."
How then, did Hannah get such an undeserved reputation of being cold and unfeeling? If not from her family or community, then where? Perhaps from a reporter sent to interview her after her son's rise to fame? Perhaps he misunderstood her modesty as aloofness. Certainly he shouldn't have been surprised. After all, the modesty and reticence of General Grant was nothing new to the press. Although Hannah enjoyed reading about her famous son, whenever he was praised in her presence, she would blush and leave the room. The compliments were too close to self-praise, which her upbringing had taught her to recoil from. On many occasions when Ulysses invited his mother to the White House, she declined, but not from lack of feeling. The throngs which would have surrounded her would have been too much for her sensitive constitution. Indeed, all the adulation seemed at times to overwhelm Ulysses himself.
Like her son, Hannah was a victim of gossip and the press. But time has shed a new light on Hannah Grant. The works and deeds of Ulysses S. Grant are a shining tribute to the mother whose examples he followed.
|Quotes About U.S. Grant and His Mother|
|Letter from the Executive Mansion,
My Dear Mr. Corbin [Grant's brother in law]:
I wish you and Jennie [Grant's sister] would come down and make us a visit. We now have room, and will have until Fred returns with his family, which will probably be in a few days before Christmas. Sometime before my term of office expires [March 1877] I want Mother to make me a visit. If she would like to come down during the holidays we could make room by sending one of the boys out o'nights. The children will all be at home during that week; possibly the last time we will have them all at home together. At all events it may be the last opportunity mother may have of seeing them together.
|From Life of U.S. Grant by
Ben Perley Poore.|
On the 11th of May, 1883, General Grant's mother died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Corbin, at Jersey City Heights. She had reached the age of eighty-four years, and had been permitted to live long enough to see honors showered on her son such as no mother had ever witnessed before. In the arrangement for the funeral services, a beautiful trait of General Grant's character was made apparent. He said to the Rev. Dr. Howard Henderson, his mother's pastor: "Make such disposition of the services as in your judgment seems appropriate, but in the remarks which you make, speak of her only as a pure-minded, simple-hearted, earnest Methodist Christian; make no allusions to me; she gains nothing by any position I have filled or honors that may have been paid me. I owe all these and all that I am to her earnest, modest, and sincere piety."