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Over 46 years, the Ulysses S. Grant Association (library., under the leadership of executive director and managing editor John Y. Simon, published 30 volumes of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, the definitive edition of Grant’s correspondence. Before his own death in July 2008, Simon completed Volume 31, covering Grant’s last years.

In mid-December 2008, the association moved all the Grant materials from Southern Illinois University to the Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University—a considerable undertaking, since the collection consists of about 15,000 linear feet of correspondence, artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks and related material chronicling the Union general’s life.

Simon’s work in amassing the largest collection of Grant material in the world is legendary among historians. That collection is now in the more-than-capable hands of John Marszalek, who points out that its move to Mississippi has elicited plenty of commentary. But Grant’s own words near the end of his life point out just how appropriate it is that his papers have found a refuge within the heart of the Old Confederacy.

In July 1885, just 13 days before he lost his final battle with throat cancer, Grant was visited by an old friend and Civil War opponent, Simon Bolivar Buckner. The former president had just completed his memoirs, which would garner his widow, Julia Dent Grant, $450,000.

Unable to speak to his former Fort Donelson foe, Grant wrote him a note that said in part, “I have witnessed since my sickness just what I have wished to see ever since the war; harmony and good feeling between the sections. I have always contended that if there had been no body left but the soldiers we would have had peace in a year.”

The “harmony and good feeling” that this great American anticipated has been evident as the Ulysses S. Grant Association has settled into its Southern digs. Grant would doubtless be happy to know that his papers have found a home in Mississippi.

Originally published in the April 2010 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.