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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Let's Not Take Ulysses S. for Granted

June 18, 2004

I take issue with Lynne Foringer's June 14 letter, in which she states that Ulysses S. Grant is perhaps the least important person represented today on U.S. currency. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant general in 1864, a post not held since George Washington, Grant commanded the Union army in order to preserve the Union. "The rebels are our countrymen again," he told his staff during the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Without his military success, his generous and nonvindictive terms of surrender given to the Confederacy and his zeal as U.S. president to protect "citizens of every race and color" in the "peaceful enjoyment of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution," we would not be the present-day United States. When he passed away in 1885, the New York Times reported that 1.5 million spectators lined the route of his funeral procession, a testament to national reconciliation, considering that the entire U.S. population at that time was 55.9 million.

Grant deserves to stay on our $50 bill.

Mark Sharzer

Los Alamitos

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