Education

Grant's Tomb, New York City, c. 1900


Historical Context
After a painful struggle with throat cancer, Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885. Before his death, Grant had expressed a preference for being buried at West Point. Knowing, however, that his wife could not be buried with him at West Point when she died, he instructed her to choose a burial site for him. When New York City offered to set aside land in one of its public parks for Grant's tomb, the Grant family accepted and chose a location in Riverside Park, overlooking the Hudson River.



Soon after Grant's death, the Grant Monument Association was formed to oversee the construction of a tomb befitting the national hero. Two competitions were held to determine the design of the tomb. The winning design, submitted by architect John H. Duncan, was partly modeled after one of the seven wonders of the world. Grant had been so popular with the American public that ninety thousand people donated money for the construction of his tomb.



Meanwhile, Grant's body was placed in a temporary tomb in Riverside Park. On April 27, 1892, seventy years after Grant's birth and nearly seven years after his death, President Benjamin Harrison laid the cornerstone of the new tomb. Over the next six years, more than 8,000 tons of granite were used in constructing Grant's Tomb, which is still the largest mausoleum in North America. Grant's Tomb was dedicated on April 27, 1897, which would have been his seventy-fifth birthday. A public holiday was declared for the dedication. Like Grant's funeral twelve years earlier, the dedication featured a parade of 60,000 marchers and was observed by one million people.
Essential Question
How do indiviudals influence national and global events?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of Grant on American society>
[click to enlarge]
New York City. General Grant's Tomb, New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_D47_NG8
Document Description
The tomb of President Ulysses S. Grant in New York City. Photograph taken c.1900.
Questions
  1. How many years did it take to obtain a permanent burial place for Ulysses S. Grant?
  2. Why did the Grant family choose Riverside Park in New York City as the burial site?
  3. By the time the tomb was completed, which president was in office?
  4. What might a visitor see when they enter the tomb?
  5. Of what material is this tomb constructed?
  6. Why do you think a mausoleum of this size was built in Grant's honor?
Historical Challenge
Create a travel guide to inform visitors of all of the presidents buried in New York State.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write an obituary for Ulysses S. Grant.
Science: Grant's family purchased a state-of-the-art, burglar-proof coffin for his burial. Design a coffin that robbers could not break into.
Resources
  1. Cobblestone: Ulysses S. Grant: Unlikely Hero of the Civil War. Peterborough, NH: Cobblestone Pub, December 2006.
  2. Hale, Sarah Elder. Ulysses S. Grant: Confident Leader and Hero. Peterborough, NH: Cobblestone Pub., 2005. ISBN: 0812679067
  3. Longacre, Edward G. Ulysses S. Grant: The Soldier and the Man. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2006. ISBN: 030681269X

     
  4. Marrin, Albert. Unconditional Surrender: U. S. Grant and the Civil War. New York: Atheneum, 1994. ISBN: 0689318375
  5. Riehecky, Janet. Ulysses S. Grant: America's 18th President. New York: Children's Press, 2004. ISBN: 0516228684
  6. Tierney, Tom. Ulysses S. Grant and His Family, Paper Dolls. Mineola, NY: Dover Pub., 1995. ISBN: 0486282848
  7. Venezia, Mike. Ulysses S. Grant. New York: Children's Press, 2005. ISBN: 0516226231
  8. http://grantstomb.org/ind-gma.html
  9. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/grant/peopleevents/e_funeral.html
  10. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9F00EFDF173AEF33A2575AC0A96E9C94649FD7CF
  11. http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ug18.html
  12. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/grant/
  13. http://faculty.css.edu/mkelsey/usgrant/index.html
  14. http://www.empirenet.com/~ulysses/
  15. http://www.lifefiles.com/libraryArticle.php?i_messageid=965260108
  16. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/apr27.html