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Actually, no one.

Grant's Tomb

The General Grant National Memorial is a national park in the Morningside Heights area of New York City.

The former President, Union General and Hero spent his last days in New York, and when he died from cancer in 1885, his family agreed to allow the city to be the resting place of its adopted son.

Grant was a Midwesterner.

The Mayor, William Grace, wrote a letter to prominent and moneyed New Yorkers asking that a memorial to the General and President be built.

Using flowery words like “great soldier” and admonishing the crowd to cough UP the cash, he called a meeting, and everyone was “invited” to attend.

He was pretty powerful.

Western Union donated the first five grand!

The fundraising goal was set at a million dollars by then New York Governor, Alonzo Cornell, a staggering sum in those days.

Of course, Congress got involved. Seems other states wanted the remains too.

The response from the former Confederate States was, “Bite me!” “no comment”.

One congressman wanted him buried in DC, that didn’t pass, and a groundbreaking date was set.

The design was by John Hemenway Duncan who also designed the Wolcott Hotel, The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch in Grand Army Plaza and a row or two of historic town houses.

Finally, on what would have been Grant’s 75th birthday, a dedication ceremony was held.  Walt Whitman wrote a poem, every one showed UP, it was a big do.

Solemn and tasteful, but no less a do.

Of course, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away” kicked in, and the tomb fell into decay – tiwce.  During the Depression Era, the WPA came in and restored the monument. And later after graffiti became popular, the tomb was again in disrepair and almost relocated to Illinois, Grant’s home state.  After much wrangling and fussing, the National Park Service and Congress got its act together and re-restored the tomb.

Some interesting trivia about the tomb:

In post Civil War years, Varina Davis, first lady of the Confederacy and widow of Jefferson Davis, became friends with Julia Grant after meeting the widow of former general, who had been among the most hated men in the South, while visiting the tomb.

Why is the answer to the question, “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?”, “No one.”, well, both President Grant and his wife, Julia are “entombed” above ground inside the mausoleum.

Tombs of Grant and Mrs Grant

Grouch Marx used to ask the question to kids on his show, they rarely, if ever got it right, but he gave them a prize anyway…well, as long as they said Grant!


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