January 25, 1878

Ulysses S. Grant on Egypt: Fascinated by its Antiquity, He Finds it More Interesting Than Any Other Place He Has Visited

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After eight years in the White House the Grants, having no place to go and nothing to do, set out around the world.  Eight months into the adventure, they arrived in Egypt which, Grant says here, has interested him more than any other portion of his travels:
 
We have just left Ancient Thebes, where we have spent two days in viewing ruins that have been standing-- as ruins-- some of them, for many ages before the beginning of the Christian era. We must stay one day here yet -- on our return-- to visit the tombs of the Kings... Egypt has interested me more than any other portion of my travels, though I have enjoyed it all. One sees well preserved ruins here which took thousands of years to build filled with inscriptions which can be read now by the Egyptologist--- We have a great one with us, and it adds a thousand fold to the interest of the occasion.

Grant adds, teasingly, that his wife, Nellie, has become “quite an expert” at riding sidesaddle on a donkey:

It is true she keeps an Arab on each side of her to hold her on, and one to lead the donkey. But with that assistance, she comes up at all points on time.


Other family news concerns the Grant’s youngest son, nineteen year-old Jesse, referred to here by his father as “The Infant.” Said lad, he reports, “is beginning to appreciate his travels. It is about time to stop them and have him begin to learn how to make a living. He must commence next fall whether we get home or not.” In closing, Grant sends  Buck this fatherly benediction: “I am glad to hear that you are getting something to do on your own account,” he says. “Stick to it and you will do well in the end. Perseverance is the only thing that succeeds in this world, added to thorough integrity.”

The Grants spent two years abroad.

Autograph Letter Signed (“U.S. Grant”), 4 pages, recto and verso, octavo, On the Niles Above Thebes [Egypt], January 25, 1878. To His son, U.S. “Buck” Grant, Jr.

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Transcript

On the Nile,
Above Thebes
Jan.y 25th / 78

Dear Buck,

We have just left Ancient Thebes, where we have spent two days in viewing ruins that have been standing-- as ruins-- some of them, for many ages before the beginning of the Christian era. We must stay one day here yet -- on our return-- to visit the tombs of the Kings. But we have had two days hard work and thought it better to divide a little and take one day cruising down the river. Egypt has interested me more than any other portion of my travels, though I have enjoyed it all. One sees well preserved ruins here which took thousands of years to build filled with inscriptions which can be read now by the Egyptologist--- We have a great one with us, and it adds a thousand fold to the interest of the occasion.Your Ma has become quite an expert in donkey riding. It is true she keeps an Arab on each side of her to hold her on, and one to lead the donkey. But with that assistance, she comes up at all points on time. The Infant is beginning to appreciate his travels. It is about time to stop them and have him begin to learn how to make a living. He must commence next fall whether we get home or not. I am glad to hear that you are getting something to do on your own account. Stick to it and you will do well in the end. Perseverance is the only thing that succeeds in this world, added to thorough integrity.All send love to you and wish that you would keep up weekly letters. We received one from you while at Cairo.Tell Mr. Porter that I am disappointed at not receiving a letter from him before this.

Yours affectionately,
U.S. GRANT


U.S. Grant Jr.

[envelope]

Office of the
United States Attorney
New York

Gen. E. Allen Esq
Bourne
Kindall Co_________
USA

Gen. U.S. Grant's letter
to his son