The Man on the Fifty-Dollar Bill

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“Intelligence has been commoner among American presidents than high character, but [Ulysses S.] Grant ran against the stream by having a sort of character without any visible intelligence whatever.  He was almost the perfect military man — dogged, devoted and dumb.  In the White House he displayed an almost inconceivable stupidity.  Whatever was palpably untrue convinced him instantly, and whatever was crooked seemed to him to be noble.  If the American people could have kept him out of the presidency by prolonging the Civil War until 1877, it would have been an excellent investment.  A more honest man never lived, but West Point and bad whiskey had transformed his cortex into a sort of soup.”

–H.L. Mencken, A Second Mencken Chrestomathy (Edited by Terry Teachout, 1995), p. 33.

12:15 am on January 31, 2013