Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grant’s World Tour

When Grant left office, he and his family went on a world tour. Grant was hoping that a good world reception might help bring his popularity back up at home. The Grants were received with wild accolades throughout the entire world:
The Grants' ship arrived in Liverpool, England on May 28, 1877. Huge crowds turned out to welcome Grant, who was honored not as a former president, but as the military hero who saved America from falling apart. British leaders, from the Prince of Wales to Queen Victoria herself, lined up to host the Grants at lavish dinners and receptions. The Queen was irritated because the Grants brought their son Jesse along to meet her. Still, she treated them cordially, although she later referred to 19-year-old Jesse as a "very ill-mannered young Yankee."

All across Western Europe, from Belgium to Switzerland, Germany to Denmark, the Grants were treated like royalty. Perhaps the most incredible display of affection came in Newcastle, England, which the Grants visited on September 22, 1877. An estimated 80- to 100,000 people, many of them workers, turned out to honor Grant with a parade and hear him speak.

… the Grants kept moving. In Egypt, they visited Alexandria and Cairo, and steamed up the Nile. They toured Jerusalem and saw the Western world's holiest sites. Then they moved on, to Greece and Rome, Russia, Austria, and Germany. After briefly returning to Britain, the Grants set out for Asia. They toured Burma, Singapore, and Vietnam. In Siam, the Grants met King Chulalongkorn, who at 25 had already been king for 10 years.

Americans must have read of the Grants' adventures with fascination. At the time, Asia was largely unfamiliar territory to most Americans -- the Grants included. America did not yet enjoy close political relations with many Asian nations. In Peking, China's emperor refused to meet the Grants. But in Japan, they were received by Emperor Mutsuhito and Empress Haruko. In fact, Ulysses Grant was said to be the first person in the world to shake the Emperor's hand.

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