Everyone is welcome at our monthly meetings

Nov. 9, 2018
Paul Kahan:
The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War's Legacy

In his most recent book, The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, Kahan tackles a presidency vilified as one of the all-time worst, and shows its circumstances, accomplishments, and failures equally and fairly. Unlike most (all?) political leaders, Grant was less than obsessed with becoming president, announcing to his wife the day after the election, he was afraid he’d won. He did it because of all the suffering of the Civil War. He did not want to let the wartime accomplishments slide away.

The Grant Administration was buffeted by three storms: Reconstruction, Economic Depression, and internal corruption. Grant seemed not to be up to dealing with all three at once.

For the time, President Grant was considered quite active in enforcing civil rights laws. Until recently, the thought was Reconstruction of the south was a mistake altogether, that America should have left things alone to evolve for themselves. Nowadays, the thinking is Grant didn’t go far enough with strong laws and harsh enforcement that would have dealt racial discrimination a harder blow. Either way, Grant “failed.”

President Grant seemed to have had no vision beyond saving his accomplishments in the Civil War. He personally was honest, straightforward, plain spoken and untainted. But the events of his era swept him into the dustbin of history, unjustifiably according to historian Paul Kahan. He says the critics were unfair, and the many accomplishments minimized. (h/t review at medium.com)

Paul Kahan is a lecturer at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. Dr. Kahan earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Temple University, an M.A. in Modern American History & Literature from Drew University and B.A.s in history and English (with minors in medieval/ Renaissance studies and music) from Alfred University. His 2016 book, Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War, was praised as “Essential for any Civil War historian’s library. Kahan talked to our Round Table in March 2017 on Cameron. His most recent book, on U.S. Grant’s presidency, is the subject of this presentation.

For our 2018-19 program year, we proudly welcome these outstanding speakers:

Sept. 14th: Tim Smith on U. S. Grant and the Vicksburg Campaign
Oct. 12th: Ted Karamanski on The Civil War as an Indian War
Nov. 9th: Paul Kahan on The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: Preserving the Civil War's Legacy
Dec. 14th: David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften on Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason
Jan. 11th: Bjorn Skaptasan on Henry Morton Stanley at Shiloh
Feb. 8th: Rob Girardi on Gouverneur K. Warren's Last Battle
Mar. 8th: John DAvid Smith and Mark Larson on Dear Delia
Apr. 12th: Brad Gottfried on Maps of the Fredericksburg Campaign
May 10th: John Horn on The Petersburg Regiment: the 12th Virginia
June 14th: Greg Biggs, The Nevins-Freeman Address: Logistics of the Atlanta Campaign

Copies of recorded meetings are available for a small charge. Click here for a printable list of recorded meetings. More current meetings can be viewed on Youtube.

Our meetings are held at:

Holiday Inn O'Hare
5615 N. Cumberland, Chicago, IL 60631
Parking at the Holiday Inn is FREE
Map and Directions

Dinner $40.00 Members and Non- Members
Cocktails at 5:30, Dinner at 6:30

Presentation only is $10 per person.
Payable at the door, cash or check. Be there by 7:15. For those attending the presentation only, your reservation is appreciated but not required.
Dinner reservations should be received by Sunday evening prior to the meeting.
Please make your reservation in advance by emailing DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org with the names of your party or by calling (630) 460-1865
Cancellations: email us at DinnerReservations@ChicagoCWRT.org  or call (630) 460-1865

Dinner choices. The CWRT has gone to a buffet style dinner. The buffet will include caeser salad, pasta, garlic bread, two meats (grilled chicken, meat balls, or Italian sausage) and dessert.