Ulysses S. Grant Says Mark Twain Has Offered Him "More Favorable Terms" To Publish His Memoirs

November 23, 1884

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Ulysses S. Grant Says Mark Twain Has Offered Him "More Favorable Terms" To Publish His Memoirs
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 121

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      Background

      Mark Twain distrusted publishers - with cause.  So hearing that Grant was about to sign a book contract with the publishers of Century Magazine for considerably less than his Memoirs were worth, he rushed to convince his friend that he could do better. In two days, Twain collapsed months of negotiating. Here Grant reports to his friend and advisor, George Childs, that he’s soured on the Century deal, and is being wooed by Twain’s own publishing firm, Charles L. Webster & Co.:
       
      On reexamining the Contract proposed by the Century people I see that it is all in favor of the publisher, with nothing left for the Author. I am offered very much more favorable terms by the Chas. L. Webster & Co. Mark Twain is the company...
       
      Grant ultimately signed instead with Charles L. Webster - for a very handsome 70 percent of the profits. His Memoirs, published posthumously, made his impoverished family rich.


      Autograph Letter Signed (“U.S. Grant”), 2 pages, octavo, no place [New York], November 23, 1884. To Mr. Childs.

      With printed calling card of one “F. McOwen, 305 Betz Building, Philadelphia, PA," bearing the holograph note “Autograph Letter of Genl & Prest. U.S. Grant.”
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      Nov. 23, 1884

      My Dear Mr. Childs:

      On reexamining the Contract proposed by the Century people I see that it is all in favor of the publisher, with nothing left for the Author. I am offered very much more favorable terms by Chas. L. Webster & Co. Mark Twain is the company. The house is located at 658 Broadway. I inclose you their card. If you are coming to the city any time soon I will be very glad to see you and talk this

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      matter over.

      With kind regards of my family to you and Mrs. Childs,

      Very Truly Yours, 

      U.S. Grant

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      Page 3 transcript
      F. Mc.Owen,
      305 Betz Building,
      Philadelphia, PA.

      [handwritten]
      Autograph Letter of
      Genl. & Prest.
      U.S. Grant.