Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant 1885-86, Two Volumes

Grant, Ulysses S., Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, New York: Charles L. Webster and Co., 1885-1886. Special edition, two volume set. Octavo, period leather bindings with matching slipcase.

This complete two-volume set of Ulysses S. Grant’s personal memoirs is a first edition published 1885-86. It was published by Charles L. Webster and Company, New York. Volume I features a facsimile signature and inscription from Grant on the page adjacent to the copyright page. The inscription reads, “These volumes are dedicated to the American soldier and sailor...,New York City, May 23rd 1885.” This special edition copy features engraved black and white illustrations, fold-out facsimile letters written by Grant, and 43 maps.

Grant’s memoirs recount his own childhood and personal history, his military career during the Mexican-American War, and historical perspective to his role in the American Civil War. Mark Twain is partially accredited with encouraging Grant’s memoirs, as he predicted the work to be a source of future financial success that would support Grant’s family after his death. The work was published posthumously in 1885, after Grant died in July of the same year.

The general public became aware of Grant’s worsening illness in the early part of 1885. His attempt to finish the written work before his death drew even more attention to the book. It received universal praise upon its release. Twain wrote in his personal autobiography of 1924: “I had been comparing the memoirs with Caesar's Commentaries… I placed the two books side by side on the same level.” Similarly, the book was applauded by individuals such as Gertrude Stein and Matthew Arnold during its time. “No Union list of personal narratives could possibly begin without the story of the victorious general. A truly remarkable work” (New York Times). “Grant’s memoirs comprise one of the most valuable writings by a military commander in history” (Eicher 492).

Grant’s memoirs never went out of print, and were originally sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers. The books became a common household staple in support of Grant and his family, who received 75% of the net royalties from the work and managed to re-establish their fortune.


This special edition two-volume set features its period full leather bindings. Boards feature gilt stamps celebratory of both U.S. Grant and the Mississippi River. The endpapers show some age appropriate wear. The internal papers are clean, with marble endpapers and deckled edges. The two-volume set is offered in a beautiful matching custom slipcase, which features a photograph of General Grant on the front cover.

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