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 Posted: Sat Mar 16th, 2013 07:39 pm
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Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


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Just found this article from January 2005 http://www.historynet.com/truth-behind-us-grants-yazoo-river-bender.htm

As it seems we have been discussing the drunkeness of Grant, and Lincoln's temperance, it seems it's a fitting article for the thread. The author, Brian J. Murphy, suggests early on that Grant may not have been the drunkard folks tend to believe him to be:

Lonely Captain Grant began to drink, and reportedly to excess. On April 11, 1854, the day he was promoted to the permanent rank of captain in the Regular Army, Grant resigned his commission, allegedly hounded to do so by his commander, Colonel Robert C. Buchanan, and headed back to his family in Missouri.

The legend of Grant the drunkard lived on in the Army, which numbered less than 5,000 men at the start of the Civil War. In such a small and close-knit military family, gossip spread quickly and widely. The stories of Grant's irresponsible West Coast binges were repeated over and over, and no doubt embellished as they were told and retold.

By all accounts Grant was a lousy drinker with what we would call today a 'low boiling point.' One drink — even so much as a beer — was sufficient to slur his speech noticeably. Two or three drinks were entirely too many, and three would thoroughly incapacitate him. Consider, also, that Grant was short in stature — 5 feet 7 7/8 inches — and his weight fluctuated between 135 and 145 pounds. That is not a lot of body in which to distribute a glass of whiskey.

That low boiling point did not make Grant a drunkard nor an alcoholic with a physical dependence on alcohol. Grant was likely just an inept drinker when compared to other Army men such as the two-fisted imbiber Joe Hooker.


Now I have no clue how Mr. Murphy came across this info about Grant's supposed inability to consume much alcohol. I know Ole mentioned it was Grant's enemies who used his drinking against him and if what Mr. Murphy said is true then it was also his enemies who may have overstated how much he may have actually drnk. I do know I once saw an article discussing the idea that Grant wasn't a heavy drinker when one considers the consumption of the time versus what we measure heavy drinking by today. Wanna see if I can't find that article because I believe the author there said Grant would be more what we might consider a moderate drinker Here Murphy seems to be saying Grant had a low threshold and it took less to get him drunk than it did men like Hooker.

Edit: Ok, I just found the article I was thinking of http://www.historynet.com/ulysses-s-grants-lifelong-struggle-with-alcohol.htm. Contrary to what I said before it doesn't indicate Grant was what we might call a moderate drinker today. But at the same time it doesn't support what Murphy said about his having a low threshold for drink that caused him to become so incapacitated after just three drinks.

Last edited on Sat Mar 16th, 2013 07:55 pm by Hellcat

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