Hamlin Garland’s unusual activities

Going through the Hamlin Garland papers at USC today, I noticed some unusual activities of this Grant biographer from the turn of the century. At places, his notes had been obviously censored, with two sections being obviously cut out. Elsewhere, he contradicted or disbelieved his interviewees (most notably in James H. Wilson’s case), yet he said not a word when Grant’s family and supporters made outrageously incorrect claims. Worse, in his biography, he took Jesse Grant’s account of an annoyed and indignant U.S. Grant coming to and finding he’d been baptized by Newman, shortly before his death, and characterized it as: “In a few minutes the general was able to speak. He wanted to know what had happened. “I am surprised,” he said gently to his wife, as he comprehended the meaning of the baptismal water.” Annoyance and indignation can’t automatically be transmogrified into gentleness.

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