Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
Grant’s Anecdote of Lincoln.
At the dinner of the Lincoln Club, of New York, Monday night in celebration of the seventy-third anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, General Grant related the following anecdote of the great War President:
“After the surrender of Appomattox,” said the General, “I gave all necessary orders for the paroling and releasing of prisoners, and ordered General Meade to march the army to take the Burkville junction of the Richmond and Danville with the Western Road. I started back to Washington to stop the enlistments and purchasing of supplies and general expenses of the army. The confederate government and the State government of Virginia left Richmond about the same time Lee did. [Applause.] When they reached Danville, and finding they were not pursued, they stopped for a time. I was supposed to be with the army, but, as I say, I had gone on to Washington. After I left there I received a letter from General Meade, forwarded to me by telegraph. The letter had been written by Governor Smith, of Virginia, in which he said he was the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and as such he had temporarily taken the State government to Danville. He wished to know whether he would be permitted to carry on the functions of his office unmolested. If he was not permitted to do so he wished to know whether he and his friends would be permitted to leave the country without molestation. [Laughter.] I referred the matter to Mr. Lincoln a few moments afterward, and he said: ‘Well, now, I am just like my friend McGroiarty, of Springfield. He was very fond of drinking. He would drink a good deal. His friends persuaded him to join the temperance society, but he was so much in the habit of drinking that he had to go through the motion of drinking by taking soda water. For two or three he held to soda water, but one day he held the glass behind his back and said: ‘Doctor, could you not put in a drop unbeknownst to meself?” And I knew then as well what I was to do and what I was to reply to Governor Smith’s letter–as well as if Mr. Lincoln had made a speech as long as the speech of Senator McDonald.” [Laughter and applause.]1