View single post by cklarson
 Posted: Mon Aug 24th, 2009 07:47 am
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Joined: Sun Sep 23rd, 2007
Posts: 111

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I have waited for others to reply, but lacking others, I will.

Here is a link to a googlebooks excerpt from Edward Bonekemper's biography of Grant which I think is quite judicious:

He says that Grant may have had problems with liquor and seems to have drunk quite a bit as a young officer (out West), but he knows of no time he was accused of being drunk during battle. He believes rumors were circulated by those with various axes to grind. It was said that Grant's drinking, mainly when times were quiet, was a major reason Julia was in camp so often. She kept a rein on him.

As for his presidency, I've not read of accusations then.

But let's all keep in mind that all these men were men of their times. Prior to the Civil War Americans drank, per capita, 3 times what we do today, due to all the distilleries of rum and whiskey (it was cheaper to haul whiskey by the barrel than its equivalent amount in corn). The same goes for the charges of corruption during Grant's presidency: the whole era was exceedingly corrupt.

I also find that people who don't drink a lot tend to confuse hard drinkers with alcoholics. My own distinction is that alcoholics are dysfunctional in their daily lives, while hard drinkers are not. For instance in her postwar life, US scout Pauline Cushman was accused of being an alcoholic, but she ran well managed hotels. Similarly, to my mind Grant could not have written the very clear, precise orders he did if his brain had been awash in alcohol. He also wrote his memoirs, considered the best of the war, while he was doped up on cocaine when dying of cancer. He had a very clear mind which could not have been the case had he been a real alcoholic. As one fan wrote, his genius was his "sincere, applied thought."

And, of course, there is Lincoln's (who was a teetotaler) best line: Find out what brand he drinks and send a case to all the other generals.


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