Grant, Ulysses S., to Jesse Root Grant, St. Louis, MO, 7 February 1857. As printed in The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: 1837-1861, Vol. 1, ed. John Y. Simon. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967, p. 336-337.
Grant, Jesse Root
The following text is presented here in complete form, as true to the original written document as possible.
St. Louis Co. Mo,
Feb.y 7th 1857.
St. Louis Co. Mo,
Feb.y 7th 1857.
Spring is now approaching when farmers require not only to till the soil, but to have the wherewith to till it, and to seed it. For two years I have been compelled to farm without either of these facilities, confining my attention therefore principally to oats and corn: two crops which can never pay; for if they bear a high price it is because the farmer has raised sacrsely enough for his own use. If they are abundent they will scarsely bear transportation. I want to vary the crop a little and also to have implements to cultivate with. To this end I am going to make the last appeal to you. I do this because, when I was in Ky. you voluntarily offered to give me a Thousand dollars, to commence with, and because there is no one els to whom I could, with the same propriety, apply. It is always usual for parents to give their children assistince in beginning life (and I am only beginning, though thirty five years of age, nearly) and what I ask is not much. I do not ask you to give me anything. But what I do ask is that you lend, or borrow for, me Five hundred dollars, for two years, with interest at 10 pr. cent payable anually, or semmi anually if you choose, and with this if I do not go on prosperously I shall ask no more from you. With this sum I can go on and cultivate my ground for marketing and raise no more grain than is necessary for my own use. I have now in the ground twenty five acres of wheat with the view of geting in that much meadow; but this ground now I shall not probably have for another year as it is not on my part of the place, and is for sale. I am geting some ten or twelve acres more cleared this winter which will turn off about 300 cords or wood that will be valuable next summer and winter; but the coping has to be paid for now.
The fact is, without means, it is useless for me to go on farming, and I will have to do what Mr. Dent has given me permission to do; sell the farm and invest elsewhere. For two years now I have been compelled to neglect my farm to go off and make a few dollars to buy any little necessaries, sugar, coffee, &c. or to pay hired men. As a proof of this I will state that since the 2d day of April last I have kept a strict account of evry load of wood taken to the City, or Coal Banks, by my team and it has amounted, up to Jan.y 1st, to a fraction over 48 dollars per month. Now do not understand from this that if I had what I ask for my exertions wood sease; but that they would directed to a more profitable end. I regard evry load of wood taken, when the services of both myself and team are required on the farm, is a direct loss of more than the value of the load.
My expenses for my family have been nothing scarsely for the last two years. Fifty dollars, I believe, would pay all that I have laid out for their clothing. I have worked hard and got but little and expect to go on in the same way until I am perfectly independent; and then too most likely.
All of Mr. Dent’s family, now here, and Julia are suffering from unusual colds. Dr. Sharp has purchased a house in Lincoln Co. this State and will move there soon; was to have gone several days ago, in fact, but receiving a Telegraphic Dispatch a few days ago that his father was about very low he started immediately home, taking his wife and child with him.—Mrs. Dent died on the 14th of Jan.y after an illness of about a month. This leaves Mr. Dent, and one daughter, alone.
Julia wishes to be remembered. Please answer soon.