SIGNED BY GENERALS HOWARD AND LONGSTREET: LOVELY LITHOGRAPHED PROGRAM FROM U.S. GRANT MEMORIAL BANQUET
LONGSTREET, James. Grant Memorial Banquet. [Philadelphia]: no publisher, 1893. Octavo, heavy coated paper boards, ribbon-bound as issued; pp. 4. $3800.
Original lithographed souvenir program from 1893, featuring a hand-colored image of Grant’s Virginia headquarters on the front, signed by two notable Civil War generals, Oliver Howard and James Longstreet.
Banquets on the anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday were an annual tradition in many American cities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The notables who offered toasts at this particular dinner, held at an unspecified location (but most likely in Philadelphia) on what would have been Grant’s 71st birthday, included former Union General Oliver Howard and former Confederate General James Longstreet, both of whom signed this souvenir program in pencil beneath their printed names. Howard, whom President Johnson appointed to lead the Freedman’s Bureau after the war, would leave the army in 1894 to again “turn his energies to educating a neglected population, that of southern Appalachia. The funds he raised helped establish Lincoln Memorial University” (ANB). For his part, Longstreet had by this time long been “frozen out of the circle of Confederate heroes” because of his switch to the Republican Party; five years after this dinner, he would receive “the sinecure position of United States commissioner of railroads as a reward for his support of William McKinley” (ANB). Apparently, engravers from the noted silversmith firm of Bailey, Banks & Biddle in Philadelphia created the illustrations for this program. The recto of the front board bears a hand-colored print from a stone engraving of Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia; the menu is on the verso, adorned with a small image of Grant’s sword. The American flag and a memorial scroll decorate the list of speakers on the recto of the rear board, and a pale blue shield on the verso lists the dinner’s organizing committees, chaired by Mayor Edwin Stuart of Philadelphia, at that time the youngest man to hold the office.
One tiny and inoffensive spot to verso of rear board. A scarce piece of postbellum Americana, signed and very nearly fine.