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A statue of Ulysses S. Grant, 18th president of the United States and victorious commanding general of the Civil War, was torn down by vandals in San Francisco on Friday. In attacking Grant, those desecrating our cities in the supposed name of racial justice besmirched the memory of one of the figures who was most important for pushing the nation forward on civil rights.

There was no mystery for Grant why it was vital to defeat the Confederacy. “[I]t bec[a]me patent to my mind early in the rebellion that the North and South could never live at peace with each other except as one nation, and that without Slavery,” he wrote amid the fighting in 1863, making clear that any earlier ambivalence about the institution was gone. “I would not therefore be willing to see any settlement until the question is forever settled.”

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