Reflections on the Civil War by Ulysses S. Grant



[TAKEN FROM THE MEMOIRS OF ULYSSES S. GRANT]

"It is probably well that we had the war when we did. We are better off now than we would have been without it, and have made more rapid progress than we otherwise should have made. The civilized nations of Europe have been stimulated into unusual activity, so that commerce, trade, travel, and thorough acquaintance among people of different nationalities, have become common; whereas, before, it was but the few who had ever had the privilege of going beyond the limits of their own country or who knew anything about other people. Then, too, our republican institutions were regarded as experiments up to the breaking out of the rebellion, and monarchical Europe generally believed that our republic was a rope of sand that would part the moment the slightest strain was brought upon it. Now it has shown itself capable of dealing with one of the greatest wars that was ever made, and our people have proven themselves to be the most formidable in war of any nationality.

"But this war was a fearful lesson, and should teach us the necessity of avoiding wars in the future.

"To maintain peace in the future it is necessary to be prepared for war. There can scarcely be a possible chance of a conflict, such as the last one, occurring among our own people again; but, growing as we are, in population, wealth and military power, we may become the envy of nations which led us in all these particulars only a few years ago; and unless we are prepared for it we may be in danger of a combined movement being some day made to crush us out. Now, scarcely twenty years after the war, we seem to have forgotten the lessons it taught, and are going on as if in the greatest security, without the power to resist an invasion by the fleets of fourth-rate European powers for a time until we could prepare for them.

"We should have a good navy, and our sea-coast defences should be put in the finest possible condition. Neither of these costs much when it is considered where the money goes, and what we get in return. Money expended in a fine navy not only adds to our security and tends to prevent war in the future, but is very material aid to our commerce with foreign nations in the mean time. Money spent upon sea-coast defences is spent among our own people. The work accomplished, too, like that of the navy, gives us a feeling of security."





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