Bismarck, Dakota Territory: Bismarck, Dakota, 1885. Presumed one of multiple original issued. Ribbon. Format is approximately 2.5 inches by 6 inches. This is a period black memorial ribbon commemorating the death of civil war icon and 18th President of the United States, General Ulysses S. Grant. It is a black satin ribbon which originally had a cartes de visite style photograph applied to the surface. This image has worn away. Written in silver is the inscription: Bismarck, Dakota. IN MEMORIAM GENERAL U. S. GRANT Born, April 27, 1822. Died July 23, 1885. It has a tear between the In Memoriam and the space where Grant's image had been. The top is frayed and it appears that a portion of the bottom has been lost. The funeral of Ulysses S. Grant was held on August 8, 1885 in New York City, Grant’s funeral procession surpassed any public demonstration in the country up until that time, with an attendance of 1.5 million people, and additional ceremonies held in other major cities and communities. The day was described as a final, triumphant end to the national drama begun by the Civil War, as well as a day to praise Grant’s role in preserving the Union. A newspaper editorial proclaimed that Grant’s life did not need to be remembered in sculpture, pictures, prose, or poetry because “the union is his monument.” The theme of unity was advanced by President Cleveland when he appointed former Confederate Generals Joseph Johnston and Simon B. Buckner to join Union Generals William T. Sherman and Philip H. Sheridan as pallbearers. On August 8, 1885, Americans awoke to the solemn sound of tolling bells. Most needed no reminder that this was the day of the funeral of Union general and twice-elected president Ulysses S. Grant. Befitting his already larger-than-life legacy, 1.5 million people gathered in New York City to view Grant's funeral procession and the burial ceremonies. The spectacle, replete with religious, patriotic, and nationalistic imagery and rhetoric, was but the biggest of the thousands of memorial ceremonies held in the United States on that sad day.
In large and small cities, in bustling towns and dusty hamlets, citizens had prepared and planned commemorations that complemented New York's. Whether lavish or simple, these commemorations were much the same and usually included a procession lasting several hours that ended in a church or other public building. Against a backdrop that included a large picture of Grant, a floral decoration, a black-draped pulpit, a minister, a veteran, and an elected official would offer eulogies. Prayers, music, and poems completed the memorial services. The thousands of eulogies and obituaries for Grant across the country stressed his Christian moral character, his role in preserving the Union, and his magnanimity at Appomattox. The praise for the last was especially loud as eulogists likened the sentiment for sectional reconciliation engendered by Grant's death to a final, happy ending to the tragic national drama begun by the Civil War. "There is perhaps no parallel in the history of state funerals," an observer stated, "where so many orations were delivered as at yesterday's obsequies." One minister captured a powerful and popular theme of Grant's life: "By a single act General Grant put himself above the wisest of American statesmen. That act was the terms he offered to Lee for the surrender of his Army. In a few, clear, simple lines [he] solved at once the problem of peace, and the possible unity and fraternity of the American people." A newspaper editorial reflected the prevailing sentiment across the country when it proclaimed that Grant's life did not need to be remembered in sculpture, pictures, prose or poetry, because "the Union [is] His Monument." The death and funeral of Ulysses S. Grant became a vehicle for a religiously tinged emotional and political reconciliation of North and South and as such is a critical event in the history of the political culture of the United States. "I am sorry General Grant is dead," proclaimed ex-Confederate general and pallbearer Simon Bolivar Buckner, "but his death has yet been the greatest blessing the country has ever received, now, reunion is perfect." The reaction to Ulysses S. Grant's death also reveals a generation's connection between the memory of an event, in this case the Civil War; a commemoration, in this case Grant's funeral (beginning with the deathwatch); and the articulation of a new, or renewed, basis for American nationalism. Implicit in the statements issued north and south by former Civil War generals and prominent politicians, spoken by ministers of every denomination, and splashed across the headlines of major newspapers was the important assumption that Grant's deathwatch and funeral forged reconciliation between the sections that in turn ensured the emergence of a powerful and united American nation. Ulysses S. Grant occupied a special place in the hearts and minds of American citizens living in 1885. Beginning in 1862, and continuing until his death, Grant was the focus of constant attention and scrutiny. After his controversial terms as president, Ulysses and his wife, Julia, embarked on a lengthy, much-publicized tour around the world, which ended with his triumphal return to America in 1879.
The city of Bismarck had a special affinity for President Grant. On September 5, 1883, a parade of national figures came together to lay the cornerstone for the new Dakota Territory Capitol in Bismarck. They included Henry Villard, president of the Northern Pacific Railway; financier Jay Cooke; former President Ulysses Grant; Hunkpapa Lakota holy man Sitting Bull; and a German minister appearing for Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. More than 3,000 people attended the ceremony. Former president Grant was on his way with Henry Villard to the completion ceremony of the Northern Pacific Railroad. It was less than two years later that the citizens of Bismarck mourned by death of Ulysses S. Grant. Condition: Fair/fragile.
Keywords: Ulysses Grant, President, General, Funeral, Mourning Souvenir, Civil War, Reconciliation, Mourning Ribbon, Commemoration