Grant in Little Rock, but horseless in Capital Hotel elevator

US_Grant_fOn April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was General Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

(At the time, and through much of the 20th Century, former US presidents were not referred to as President after leaving office. He was referred to as General Grant or Mr. Grant during his time in Little Rock.)

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) morning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.

Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Incidentally, there is an urban myth that, while in Little Rock, General Grant rode his horse in the oversized elevator of the Capital Hotel.  This is a relatively recent story. The oversized elevator was not installed until the 1980s, over 100 years after Gen. Grant was a guest of the facility.

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Little Rock Look Back: Mardi Gras in the Rock–1870s edition

In the post-Civil War era, Mardi Gras was a major event in Little Rock.  By the 1870s, newspapers would have stories for several days about preparations for parties and parades which would be followed by coverage summarizing the events.

For instance, the Ash Wednesday 1877 edition of the Arkansas Gazette carried a front page story that discussed Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Memphis.  Inside the paper there were a series of stories about the downtown Little Rock Mardi Gras parade.  It started at Markham and Rock Streets.  Because of the crowd assembled for it, organizers had to reroute the parade that afternoon.  Among the entries were the Fat Men’s Club, Butchers’ Benevolent Association (which rode on horses), the Mystic Krewe, and several trade groups.  In addition there were many people who marched along in masks.  The unnamed writer bemoaned the fact that the masked revelers’ clothing had no theme.

On Thursday, February 15, 1877, there were stories about some of the Mardi Gras balls which had taken place two nights earlier.  The paper’s deadline probably was earlier than the parties ended, which is why they were not in the paper until two days later.  Among the various events were the Knights of Pythian Ball at the Grand Opera House, the aforementioned Fat Men at a special pavilion set up in the Main Street Cotton Shed, the Mystic Krewe at O’Haras Hall, and the Cosmopolitans at Concordia Hall.  There were other events that the writer was not able to attend due to lack of time.

Some of the venues also played host to balls in advance of Mardi Gras.  The February 10 Gazette previews some events set for Friday and Saturday night.

By the start of the 20th Century, Mardi Gras was no longer a major social event in Little Rock.  But while it lasted, it was quite the production.  It appealed to all classes and races of Little Rock’s citizenry. Though most of the events were segregated, the parade did allow for African Americans to participate as well as the white revelers.

Little Rock Look Back: Grant in Little Rock (but not the Capital Hotel elevator)

On April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) morning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Incidentally, there is an urban myth that, while in Little Rock, General Grant rode his horse in the oversized elevator of the Capital Hotel.  This is a relatively recent story. The oversized elevator was not installed until the 1980s, over 100 years after Gen. Grant was a guest of the facility.

Little Rock Look Back: Ulysses S. Grant

US_Grant_f

On April 27, 1822, future US President Ulysses S. Grant was born.  His birth name of Hiram Ulysses Grant. There are various stories as to the reason for the change, but was is not in dispute is that as an adult his name was Ulysses Simpson Grant.  Simpson was his mother’s maiden name.

After leadership in the Mexican-American War, Grant retired from the Army. He rejoined after the Civil War broke out.  After success in Kentucky, Tennessee and the Siege of Vicksburg, President Lincoln promoted Grant to Commanding General of the US.  After the war ended, he led the Army’s efforts during Reconstruction.

Elected president in 1868 and reelected in 1872, Grant stabilized the nation during the turbulent Reconstruction period.  As President, he continued Reconstruction efforts as well as oversaw efforts to reduce frontier violence (though the Great Sioux War did take place during his presidency).  He restored relations with Great Britain and avoided war with Spain, but was unsuccessful in annexing the Dominican Republic. While he staved off immediate problems from the Panic of 1873, the country still fell into a five year economic depression.

Out of the White House for four years, he sought a return in 1880. He was not successful in obtaining the GOP nomination.  Likely in an effort to build support for his Presidential quest, he embarked on a nationwide tour.  On April 15, 1880, he spoke in Little Rock. It was his first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.  He spoke at Concordia Hall (now part of the CALS campus) and stayed at the Capital Hotel during this visit. Though he had not visited previously, Grant did become the first Republican Presidential candidate to win Arkansas’ electoral votes in 1868; he repeated this feat in 1872. It would be 100 years later, with Nixon’s second term, that Arkansas would cast her electoral votes for the GOP nominee.

General Grant died on July 23, 1885.  Grant Street in Little Rock is named for him.

Little Rock Look Back: Gen. Grant speaks in Little Rock but does not ride horse in Capital Hotel elevator

US_Grant_fOn April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) morning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Incidentally, there is an urban myth that, while in Little Rock, General Grant rode his horse in the oversized elevator of the Capital Hotel.  This is a relatively recent story. The oversized elevator was not installed until the 1980s, over 100 years after Gen. Grant was a guest of the facility.

Little Rock Look Back: U S Grant speaks in Little Rock

US_Grant_fOn April 15, 1880, former president Ulysses S. Grant spoke in Little Rock as part of his world tour. While here he made a couple of appearances and participated in a parade. It was Grant’s first visit to Arkansas either as a soldier or a politician.

At his outdoor speech, his remarks followed brief comments by Governor William R. Miller and Mayor John Gould Fletcher (erroneously referred to as John C. Fletcher in the Memphis Appeal story the next day). Grant’s comments were brief and flowery. He thanked Arkansans for a warm welcome, praised the future prospects of Arkansas and discussed the demise of what he termed “sectionalism” which was undoubtedly a reference to the division between the Union and and former Confederate states.

Also that day, Grant addressed a banquet in Concordia Hall (now part of the Arkansas Studies Institute complex on the Central Arkansas Library downtown campus). His was one of fifteen toasts that evening. It was simply “The United States of America, forever United.” He expounded briefly on the theme of unity of citizens from all states. He also discussed immigration noting, “All foreigners find a welcome here. We make them American citizens. After we receive them, it is but one generation until they are Americans.” He noted that he could speak much more on the topic, but that since he was but one of fifteen toasts and that there was to be music after each toast, “It will be to-morrow (sic) orning when we get through if we all take as much time as the subjects admit of.”

Marker at the Capital Hotel noting Grant's visit. Note that it refers to him as General instead of President.  At the time, only sitting Presidents were referred to as President.

Marker at the Capital Hotel noting Grant’s visit. Notice that it refers to him as General instead of President. At the time, only sitting Presidents were referred to as President.

Grant arrived in Little Rock on the night of April 14 and lodged at the Capital Hotel. He undoubtedly enjoyed some whiskey and cigars while at the Capital. Grant had originally planned on departing in the afternoon of April 15, but Little Rock leaders pled with him to stay so that he could be honored at the banquet. He assented.

Not everyone was thrilled to have the former commander of the Union Army in Little Rock. The story goes that when he was parading down the street, some Little Rock women (in a display of Souther un-hospitality) sat in chairs with their backs to the parade route. But all in all, it appears to have been a successful visit for the man who was the only Republican in the 19th Century to win Arkansas’ Electoral votes.