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[In regard to voting for Buchanan for President, Grant says in his Memoirs that he believed that the election of a Republican President in 1856 would mean the secession of all the slave States and inevitable rebellion. Accordingly, he preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell. "With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there would be no pretext for secession for four years. I very much hoped that the passions of the people would subside in that time, and the catastrophe be averted altogether; if it were not, I believed the country would be better prepared to receive the shock and to resist it. I therefore voted for James Buchanan for President."]
St. Louis, Mo.,
Sept. 23d, 1859.
I have waited for some time to write you the result of the action of the County Commissioners upon the appointment of a County Engineer. The question has at length been settled, and I am sorry to say, adversely to me. The two Democratic Commissioners voted for me, and the Free Soilers against me. What I shall now go at I have not determined, but I hope something before a great while. Next month I get possession of my own house, when my expenses will be reduced so much that a very moderate salary will support me. If I could get the $3000 note cashed, which I got as the difference in the exchange of property, I could put up with the proceeds two houses that would pay me, at least, $40 per month rent. The note has five years to run, with interest notes given separately and payable annually.
We are looking for some of you here next week to go to the fair. I wrote to Simpson to come down and see me but as I have had no answer from him nor from Orvil to a letter written some time before, I do not know whether he will come or not. I should like very much to have some of you come and see us this fall. Julia and the children are all very well. Fred and Buck go to school every day. They never think of asking to stay at home.
You may judge from the result of the action of the County Commissioners that I am strongly identified with the Democratic party. Such is not the case. I never voted an out and out Democratic ticket in my life. I voted for Buchanan for President to defeat Fremont, but not because he was my first choice. In all other elections I have universally selected the candidates that, in my estimation, were the best fitted for the different offices, and it never happens that such men are all arrayed on one side. The strongest friend I had in the Board of Commissioners is a Free Soiler but opposition between parties is so strong that he would not vote for any one, no matter how friendly, unless at least one of his own party would go with him. The Free Soil party felt themselves bound to provide for one of their own party who was defeated for the office of County Engineer; a German who came to the West as an assistant surveyor upon the public lands, and who has held an office ever since.
There is, I believe, but one paying office in the county held by an American, unless you except the office of Sheriff which is held by a Frenchman who speaks broken English, but was born here.
Write to me soon. Julia and the children join me in sending love to all of you.
- The Project Gutenberg eBook, Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Father and His Youngest Sister, 1857-78, by Ulysses S. Grant, Edited by Jesse Grant Cramer