CIVIL WAR AND CIVIL RIGHTS: AT THE END OF THE U. S. CIVIL WAR ULYSSES S. GRANT REMAINED COMMANDER OF THE ARMY AND HIS DUTIES INCLUDED ENFORCEMENT OF RECONSTUCTION IN THE FORMER CONFEDERATE STATES. NEW PRESIDENT ANDREW JOHNSON OPPOSED GRANT’S ENFORCEMENT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1866 AND ON MARCH 2, 1867 CONGRESS, OVERRIDING JOHNSON’S VETO, PASSED THE FIRST OF THREE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS, USING MILITARY OFFICERS TO ENFORCE THE POLICY. PROTECTING GRANT, CONGRESS PASSED THE COMMAND OF THE ARMY ACT, PREVENTING HIS REMOVAL OR RELOCATION AND FORCING JOHNSON TO PASS ORDERS THROUGH GRANT. PRESIDENT JOHNSON THEN FIRED EDWIN STANTON, A RADICAL REPUBLICAN, AS SECRETARY OF WAR AND NOMINATED GRANT TO REPLACE HIM BUT THAT REQUIRED SENATE APPROVAL SO WHILE WAITING FOR CONGRESS TO DECIDE, GRANT, NOT WANTING THE ARMY TO FALL UNDER A CONSERVATIVE APPOINTEE WHO WOULD IMPEDE RECONSTRUCTION, ACCEPTED THE AD INTERIM POSITION AS SECRETARY OF WAR. CONGRESS VOTED TO KEEP STANTON AND GRANT INFORMED JOHNSON THAT HE WAS GOING TO RESIGN HIS SHORT-LIVED POSITION. THIS LED TO AN ACRIMONIOUS BREAK BETWEEN THE TWO AND THE CONTROVERSY LED TO JOHNSON’S IMPEACHMENT. GRANTS POPULARITY ROSE AND HIS NOMINATION FOR THE PRESIDENCY SOON FOLLOWED. DOCUMENTS SIGNED BY ULYSSES S. GRANT, DURING THE FEW MONTHS HE SERVED AS SECRETARY OF WAR ARE EXTREMELY RARE.
ULYSSES S. GRANT (1822-85) MILITARY APPOINTMENT SIGNED AS SECRETARY OF WAR, “U. S. Grant”, 8 x 10, War Department, Washington, October 10th, 1867, appoints Watson B. Smith, a Colonel of Volunteers by Brevet, in the services of the United States.” The document is also signed at the bottom “Brevet Colonel Watson B. Smith, U. S. volunteers. And, a notation of referral from Zachariah Chandler, U.S. Senator from Michigan who was one of the founders of the Republican Party (1854) who was a strong advocate for abolition of slavery and later advocated for civil rights for newly freed slaves. In fine condition, with mailing fold lines, partial separation that’s reinforced with archival tape on reverse and on left edge.
Watson B. Smith (1837-81) enlisted in the Union Army as a Commissary Sergeant in Company C of the 8th Michigan Cavalry Regiment on August 27, 1862. He was promoted multiple times: to Lieutenant on November 6, 1862; to Acting Adjutant General on October 29, 1863; to Captain on April 15, 1864; to Major on November 14, 1864; to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on March 13, 1865; and finally to Brevet Colonel on September 22, 1865. The 8th Michigan saw action at battles of Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, etc.