By Spencer Pauley, Copy Editor
A UCLA professor’s lecture about Ulysses S. Grant restored his status from an American myth to an American hero.
Joan Waugh, a prize-winning Civil War author and professor of history at UCLA, was the guest speaker at this year’s Richard W. Smith lecture on Sept. 28. The lecture has been an annual event held in honor of former Ohio Wesleyan professor Richard W. Smith.
Waugh has published essays and written books specializing in the Civil War. Waugh’s prize-winning book on Ulysses S. Grant, titled U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, was discussed in more detail at the lecture.
Before Waugh talked about Grant, she pointed out that she sat in on classes and was impressed with OWU students.
“I have to say [the students] are a great bunch,” Waugh said. “You should be proud of your students and those who are students should be proud to be at this university.”
Waugh discussed Grant and talked about several lesser known facts about Grant. Grant was revered by mid-19th century Americans because of his humble background. He was considered the most popular American for most of the late 1800s. His grave site was even New York City’s most popular tourist site up until the 1920s.
The one point Waugh made about Grant was that he was ahead of his time in the support of African American rights.
“Grant proved to be a strong supporter of African-American civil rights,” Waugh said. “He had far more commitment to African-Americans than people in the north were willing to give.”
“[Ulysses S. Grant] proved to be a strong supporter of African-American civil rights. He had far more commitment to African-Americans than
people in the north were willing to give.”
Joan Waugh, professor of history at UCLA.
Dave Papoi ‘65 attended Waugh’s lecture. He has gone to the past Richard W. Smith lectures and enjoyed this year’s.
“She pretty well followed many of the ideas of her book, which is good,” Papoi said. “I think she was very effective.”
The lecture was presented by the Richard W. Smith endowed fund.