From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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January 27, 1879

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Ulysses S. Grant rose from obscurity during the Civil War to eventually command all Union armies. Although as a commander he suffered tremendous casualties, his iron determination prosecuted the war to a successful conclusion. And because of this outstanding achievement he became a national hero and was elected as the eighteenth President of the United States, 1869-1877. Lacking political experience and temperament he provided little leadership during his two terms in the nation's highest office. Although Grant was personally honest, many of his most intimate associates were not and their greed plagued his administrations with scandal. Despite his lackluster tenure as president, General Grant remained adored by the public as one of the chief savior's of the Union. Upon the end of his second term he embarked on a grand tour of Britain and the Continent where he was hosted by royalty and other dignitaries. Then in 1879 by way of Ireland and France, he toured Asia where he again received fine receptions, dinners and audiences. Although according to this document Grant was scheduled to be in Chicago on February 3, 1879, in actuality on this day he was en route to India from Marseilles, France. However after his return to Galena from world travels on November 5, the general and his wife rested a few days and then took the train down to Chicago on the twelfth. There they were honored and entertained with parades and receptions for several days.

The Turnverein Vorwaerts were incorporated by the state's general assembly on March 25, 1869 with the purpose of "strengthening and developing, by means of gynmastical and literary exercises, the powers and capacities of body and mind, and the assisting and relieving the members of the said association when in need and distress." Those of German birth in Chicago constituted over fifteen percent of the overall population in 1880. As such they were the city's largest ethnic group. Being very much conscious of remembering their origins, these Germans sought to preserve their language and customs, especially through their churches and societies.

Points to Consider

Who were the Turnverein Vorwaerts and what were they planning?

Who was U.S. Grant and why was this reception being held in his honor?

Why was Grant referred to as General rather than as President?

Has American popular opinion always been in touch with reality? Give specific examples.

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