Part of a series of articles titled The Odyssey of Ulysses.
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On July 23, 1885, President Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer. Due to the summer heat, the body was embalmed immediately and placed in a temporary glass coffin. Though he wanted to be buried at his alma mater, West Point, he rejected the idea because women could not be buried there. Instead, Grant had his wife, Julia Dent Grant, choose a burial site. She chose New York City, where the family had enjoyed living.
“From the final sheath of his sword until the tragedy on Mount McGregor he was the chief citizen of the Republic and the great central figure of the world.” - Horace Porter, General Grant’s aide-de-camp and President Grant’s personal secretary, 1891
His family and close friends held a small, private funeral. Over 1.5 million people attended Grant’s lavish public funeral on August 8, 1885. The crowds included presidents, Supreme Court justices, Civil War generals, and citizens from across the country. Union, former Confederate, and African American regiments marched in his honor. The procession stretched for miles and took five hours to reach the burial site.
“His tomb will stand on the banks of the Hudson, but his memory and achievements will live in the hearts of all men who love liberty and admire nobility of character for all time to come.” — Simon Wolf
Grant was interred in a temporary tomb. Hours later, New York City Mayor William Grace offered Julia land for their final resting place. Grace formed the Grant Monument Association to raise funds and oversee construction. Members included Richard T. Greener, the first black Harvard graduate.
Twelve years later, Grant’s remains were quietly transferred into the monument’s mausoleum. Over one million attended the official dedication, held on the 75th anniversary of Grant’s birth. His campaign slogan “Let Us Have Peace” inscribed on the front testifies to a people’s gratitude for the man who worked for rights for all citizens.
Just five years later, Julia Dent Grant passed away, and was placed in a matching sarcophagus inside the mausoleum, beside her husband.
General Grant National Memorial preserves the Mausoleum and commemorates Grant’s contributions to society. The Mausoleum offers a space to experience impressive architecture and reflect on Grant’s life. The Visitor Center contains artifacts, exhibits and a video. Concerts are held regularly at the site.
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Last updated: March 20, 2022