Was U.S. Grant A Drunk?

Kevin and Richard have a couple of posts concerning the popular Grant topic of his drinking and whether or not he was a drunk?  Kevin is currently reading a new manuscript from UNC on Grant titled U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, written by Joan Waugh. (Interestingly, I wonder if they want Kevin discussing any part of this manuscript in public at all? Apparently they must not mind.) In this manuscript, apparently, Waugh tackles the “myth” of Grant being a Drunkard. Kevin writes, “Anyone familiar with recent Grant studies already knows that the evidence against Grant is weak or inconclusive.”

Richard takes “recent” historiography and Kevin to task suggesting that all we are doing is cleaning the records of Northern heroes while continuing to dismantle Southern ones like Lee. I am simplifying the debate here so read Richard’s post linked above.

I think Richard makes a valid point. However, I have done a little reading on Grant and I have to agree with recent historiography and say that I don’t think there is a lot there. Did Grant drink on occasion? Yes. But to start getting into was he a drunk? debate requires clear evidence of constant drunkenness on Grant’s part and there simply is none that I am aware of. This kind of splitting hairs is what we complain about with those who debate whether or not the flying of the Confederate flag is offensive, a debate I don’t take sides on for the same reason; it’s all about personal points of view (ideology) and not history.

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3 Responses to Was U.S. Grant A Drunk?

  1. kathy (weygant) alter says:

    I don’t know if Grant was a drunk but I do know you must be a relative. Was Clarence your great grandpa? He was my great uncle.
    Kathy alter

  2. Kevin says:


    I am reviewing the page proofs of the book and not a manuscript. Page proofs are essentially the finished product bound and sent out in advance for any number of reasons. Publishers usually ask that you not quote from the page proofs.

  3. Naim Peress says:

    From the primary sources, it seems clear that Grant was a binge drinker. During times of boredom or stress, he took to the bottle, like during the siege of Vicksburg.

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