Among the Most Revered of Men
This large, classically proportioned mausoleum honors the Civil War general who saved the nation from dissolution and the president who worked to usher in a new era of peace and equality for all Americans. Ulysses S. Grant, a plain-spoken unassuming man who studiously avoided pomp and ceremony, had volunteered his services for the Union effort when the Civil War erupted in 1861. In doing what he considered simply his duty, he emerged after four years of fighting as one of the great military leaders in history. Aggressiveness, speed, tenacity, and the ability to adjust his plans in the face of unexpected impediments all helped to bring him victory.
As great as he was in war, Grant showed magnanimity and compassion in peace. He granted humane and generous terms when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to him on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House. As president he pardoned many former Confederate leaders, at the same time insisting on protecting the full political equality of former slaves. He was also concerned that American Indian tribes be treated with dignity and respect. His fundamental desire for peace was reflected in his efforts to solve international disputes by arbitration rather than by threat of war. At the time of his death in 1885, Grant was universally respected by northerners and southerners alike.
Because of Grant's status as a national hero, most Americans assumed he would be buried in Washington, D.C., but his family preferred New York City. Grant himself had no strong preference; his only desire was for his wife Julia to be buried next to him. The funeral on August 8, 1885, was one of the most spectacular events New York had ever seen. Buildings all over the city were draped in black. An estimated one million people crowded sidewalks, filled windows, stood on rooftops, and climbed trees and telephone poles for a view of the procession, which stretched seven miles and took five hours to pass.
Grant's remains were placed in a temporary vault until an appropriate memorial could be funded and built. On April 27, 1897, the 75th anniversary of Grant's birth, thousands of people, including diplomats from 26 countries, attended the dedication ceremony for the completed memorial. The dedication parade, led by President William McKinley, was almost as large as Grant's funeral parade. Julia Grant reviewed the ceremony sitting next to President McKinley. She was laid by her husband's side after her death in 1902.
Milestones of Grant's Presidency
Civil and Human Rights Grant supported efforts to ensure justice and equality under the law for African Americans so that someone like Hiram Revels of Mississippi could become the first black elected to the U.S. Senate (1869). Passage of the 15th Amendment (1870) guaranteed voting rights to African American males and enforced legislation to curb violence by white supremacists like the Ku Klux Klan. To curb abuses by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Grant replaced corrupt agents and chose a Seneca Indian, Ely Parker, as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. And to end patronage, he introduced reforms later used by President Chester A. Arthur as a model for the Civil Service Commission instituted in 1883.
Conservation On March 1, 1872,vPresident Grant signed a law declaring that Yellowstone would forever be "dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." This, America's first national park, has been called the best idea the nation ever had and it laid the foundation for creating the national park system. Passage of the Timber Culture Act in 1873, a sequel to the 1862 Homestead Act, granted settlers 160-acre plots if they would cultivate trees on one-fourth of the land for 10 years. The act revealed the growing public concern with conserving forest resources and provided a boost to a growing conservation movement.
Foreign Affairs The May 8, 1871, treaty with Great Britain, known as the Treaty of Washington, was the most important event in foreign policy during Grant's presidency. It helped resolve several boundary and other disputes between the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, especially over the damages inflicted upon the United States by the CSS Alabama and other Confederate cruisers built and equipped in England during the Civil War. The Treaty of Washington, which demonstrated the value of resolving problems through negotiation instead of war, has been called "the greatest treaty of actual and immediate arbitration the world has ever seen."
A Grateful Nation The Grant memorial was designed by architect John Duncan. Rising to an imposing 150 feet from a bluff overlooking the Hudson River, it took 12 years to build and remains the largest mausoleum in North America. Its great size was meant to express the profound admiration Americans felt for the Civil War commander and president who, credited with saving the nation from dissolution, was propelled to the forefront of America's pantheon of heroes and declared the equal of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Spearheaded by the Grant Monument Association, some 90,000 people from around the United States and the world donated over $600,000 to construct the memorial, the largest public fundraising effort up to that time. Initial fundraising was led by Richard T. Greener, first black graduate of Harvard and a Grant supporter who credited the general with his advancement. Many African Americans contributed to the building fund.
Planning your visit
Subway Take the #1 train to the 116th Street/Columbia University stop at Broadway. Walk six blocks north to 122nd Street and two blocks west to Riverside Drive.
Riverside Drive is also accessible from the Henry Hudson Parkway at several points. Parking is permitted near the memorial. Service animals are welcome.
The memorial is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily.
Source: NPS Brochure (2012)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
Address of President McKinley, at the dedication of the Grant Monument, New York, April 27, 1897 (William McKinley, 1897)
General Grant National Memorial Evaluation of Twentieth-Century Significance Review Draft (Larry Lowenthal, August 1996)
Historical Resource Study: General Grant National Memorial (David M. Kahn, January 1980)
National Register of Historic Places Nomination Forms
General Grant National Memorial (Grant's Tomb) (Ricardo Torres-Reyes, April 1975)
Richard T. Greener: His Life and Work (Ruth Ann Stewart and David M. Kahn, 1980)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 02-Dec-2021