1868 Ulysses S. Grant Letter
Appraised Value: $60,000 - $80,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:16)
Books & Manuscripts
Books and Manuscripts Dept., Senior Vice President
APPRAISER: This is really a terrific letter that you've brought in. Most people think of Ulysses S. Grant as a general, and obviously he's one of the most important generals in American history, but you have a letter here that really inaugurates his political career. What is it?
GUEST: It's a letter written to General Joseph Hawley who was the president of the Republican Nominating Committee. Ulysses S. Grant is accepting the nomination to run for president..
APPRAISER: And this was in 1868.
APPRAISER: That was at a period when candidates didn't attend the conventions. The convention was actually held in Chicago. Grant was in Washington, and he wrote his letter of acceptance to Hawley, who was then back in Connecticut.
APPRAISER: We see Grant observe the proprieties, and he crossed out here, "The Headquarters of the United States" at the head of the letter, and he inked through on the envelope where it indicated it was official business, since it wasn't. And it's a wonderful letter. I like two things in particular about it. First of all, he refers to the tenor of the convention as being similar to the patriotism that "sustained the country through its recent trials." A rather subtle way of referring to the Civil War. And then this terrific final paragraph, where he talks about taxes, which are still very important and then uses a phrase that's one of the most famous in his career. If I can read the closing: "Peace and universal prosperity, its successor, with economy of administration, will lighten the burden of taxation while it constantly reduces the national debt. Let us have peace." "Let us have peace," I don't know if you know, is actually carved on the top of the entrance on Grant's tomb on Riverside Drive in New York City.
GUEST: No, I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: And it's a phrase that's very closely associated with him. In fact, it was the title of a recent biography written of President Grant. I won't disguise... This is a great letter, as you must realize. Though as I say, collectors would prefer a Civil War letter, this I think would be highly desirable.
GUEST: It's, uh, from my wife's family. And General Hawley was her great grandfather.
APPRAISER: Well Hawley was a very important figure, but he's the secondary player here. I would estimate that this would sell for between $60,000 and $80,000.
GUEST: My goodness. Wow.
APPRAISER: It's a fantastic letter of one of the most important Americans of the 19th century. It was a real thrill to see it. Thank you.
GUEST: That's incredible.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.