General Grant National Memorial
The General Grant National Memorial (as designated by the U.S. National Park Service), better known as Grant's Tomb, is a mausoleum containing the bodies of Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), an American Civil War General and the 18th President of the United States, and his wife, Julia Dent Grant (1826–1902).
- Location: West 122nd Street & Riverside Drive, New York City, NY, USA
- Map Coordinates: +40° 48' 47", -73° 57' 47"
- Artist: John Duncan, Architect
- Dedicated: April 27, 1897, Rededicated on April 27, 1939 and April 27, 1997
- Dimensions: H. 150 ft
- Cost: More than $600,000
- Visitors Info: No admission fee, open daily between 9am and 5pm, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
Grant's Final Days
Ulysses Simpson Grant, a Civil War hero who was thought to be chiefly responsible for the defeat of the Confederacy, was perhaps the most popular American in his day. Although his eight-year presidency was marred by government corruption, Grant was nevertheless held in great esteem by millions of Americans when he died (of throat cancer) on July 23, 1885.
Grant's funeral was one of the greatest outpourings of public grief in history. On August 8, 1885, a funeral procession stretched for seven miles through the streets of New York City to Riverside Park located on the Hudson River. President Grover Cleveland led some 60,000 marchers while a million people lined the route. Both union and Confederate generals acted as his pall bearers. Grants wife, Julia so devastated by his death was unable to attend the funeral. Grant's remains were placed in a temporary vault in Riverside Park.
The Grant Memorial Association
The Grant Monument Association was formed to raise funds for constructing a monument. Ultimately, 90,000 people donated $600,000 to the project. At the time, this was the most money that had ever been raised for a public monument. Given Grant's popularity, it was a major coup for New York City when William Grace, the city's mayor, secured the site where the monument now stands as Grant's final resting place. There is no doubt, however, that this political victory was aided by Grant's request that he be buried in St. Louis, Galena, Illinois, or New York City, rather than Washington D.C.
The original design for the monument by John Duncan, the New York architect chosen by the Grant Monument Association, was far too ambitious given the amount of money budgeted for construction. Duncan took as his general model the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the world; or rather one of the various modern reconstructions of it, since it is not known what it looked like. Duncan's elaborate vision, which included stairs leading down to a dock on the river, under which a train would have passed, was abandoned and the monument itself was scaled back to half the size of the original plan.
Ground was broken for the Tomb on April 27, 1891. On April 27, 1892, the 70th Anniversary of Grant's birth, President Benjamin Harrison laid the cornerstone of Grant's Tomb. Over 8,000 tons of granite would be used for construction.
Monument Dedication and History
On April 27, 1897, the 75th Anniversary of Grant's birth, Grant's Tomb was dedicated. The occasion was a full public holiday, Grant Day, and attracted a throng of spectators to rival Grant's funeral nearly twelve years earlier. The dedication day parade featured 60,000 marchers, led by the West Point corps of cadets, and was observed by about one million onlookers. President William McKinley and Horace Porter addressed an enormous crowd as Mrs. Grant and her family observed the ceremony from a reviewing stand.
Julia Grant died on December 14, 1902, in Washington, D.C., and her remains were interred beside her husband's in a twin sarcophagus.
The tomb structure includes a main lobby overlooking a sanctuary in which Grant and his wife are entombed, guarded by busts of Civil War generals William T. Sherman, George H. Thomas, James B. McPherson, Philip H. Sheridan, and Edward Ord. The domed space, with commemorative mosaic murals and sculpture, including "Victory" and "Peace" by J. Massey Rhind, and a large central oculus revealing on the lower level the twin granite sarcophagi of the President and Mrs. Grant, are quite spectacular examples of purely symbolic Beaux-Arts civic triumphalism. The conception has similarities to the design for the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides in Paris. Over the entrance are carved words from Grant's 1885 memoirs: "Let us have peace"—the ironic but knowing aspiration of a man of war. Grant had originally included that phrase in an 1868 letter to the Republican National Convention in which he accepted the nomination by that party for the presidency.
Although the finished monument pales in comparison to the original plans, it's still an impressive site and is the second largest tomb in North America (The James A. Garfield Memorial is the largest).
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- National Park Service Site: http://www.nps.gov/gegr/
- Grant Memorial Association Site: http://www.grantstomb.org/