Ulysses S. Grant on Religion & Taxation

On this date in 1822, Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president of the United States, was born in Ohio. The Union victory at the end of the Civil War was credited to Grant, who became General of the Army. Grant was U.S. president from 1869 to 1877. He was a favorite of irreverent author Mark Twain, who gave the keynote at a toast for Grant at the Palmer House in Chicago in 1879, as part of an illustrious line-up of speakers that included agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll. Twain was entrusted to publish Grant’s Memoirs. Grant was not a member of any church, and was never baptized. After receiving eight demerits as a cadet at West Point for failure to attend chapel, he protested in a letter that it was “not republican” to be forced to go to church (Brown’s Life of Grant, p. 329, cited by Franklin Steiner, The Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents). Grant was on record in favor of taxation of church property. In an annual address to Congress in 1875, he warned of “the importance of correcting an evil that if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land . . . It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed Church property . . . I would suggest the taxation of all property equally.” D. 1885.

“Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the Church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.”
~ Ulysses S, Grant, address delivered in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1875

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