Lot 22: U. S. Grant, ALS
11th January 2017
ALS, four pages, 4.5 x 7, June 6, 1879. Letter to his son U. S. Grant, Jr., written from “Peking, China.” In full: “We have now been in this Capital three days and seen all that is to be seen inside the walls. It is not worth a long trip to see. Unlike all other Chinese cities however the streets are wide and abundance of beasts of burden, mules, horses, donkeys & camels are to be seen. There is no other city that I have been in that would admit a cart. The houses are all but a single story high and resemble barnyard sheds more than actual dwellings. The streets are unpaved and consequently always deep in dust or mud. The fact is that China is a very unattractive country and I am glad my visit to it is so near at end. On Tuesday next we leave for Tientsin where we take steamer for Nagasaki. Fred is getting very homesick and I fear will be tempted to take the first steamer for home after we reach Yokohama. The trip from Tientsin to this place is, for 170 miles, up a small winding river, in boats pulled by men on shore. Time to make the trip two and a half days. The country the whole way is a dead flat and presents nothing pleasant to the eye. The population is concentrated in villages all over the land and I think it safe to say that wherever China men live you will find them at the rate of 150,000—instead of 100,000 as I wrote Jesse—to the square mile. Your Ma sends her love to you and Jesse.” In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed in his own hand. After leaving the presidency, Grant went on a two-year world tour that included stops throughout Europe, North Africa, and Asia, before returning home to a warm welcome in September 1879. While in China he met with Prince Gong and Li Hongzhang to discuss the Chinese dispute with Japan over the Ryukyu Islands. Grant agreed to negotiate an agreement between the countries and met with Emperor Meiji during his time in Japan. Thanks to Grant’s influence, the nations came to an agreement the next year and were able to avoid military conflict. A fascinating letter offering a former president’s unique perspective on 19th–century China.
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