Spreading The (Real) Word About Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
History has Ulysses S. Grant playing second fiddle to Abraham Lincoln -- and many others. But it wasn't always that way.
Grant was hugely popular during the Civil War. And Kenneth Serfass has spent a lot of time researching and promoting Grant's legacy. He portrays Grants at events throughout the country, and he'll be in Springfield Friday and in Mattoon for General Grant Days over the weekend.
He says a lot of Grant's accomplishments are overlooked today, thanks mainly to attacks on his character tied mainly to drinking.
"He had a problem in that he couldn't metabolize more than two drinks before he would lose control," Serfass said. "So it wasn't that he was out partying all night and has girls all over the camp."
Serfass adds much of Grant's drinking happened on the California frontier, long before the Civil War. But it doesn't stop the questions from coming.
"Almost without fail, people will ask what's my favorite whiskey, what's my favorite cigar or where's my flask? and they sit there smugly, like they are the most clever person on the planet. My first thought is you wouldn't do that to anybody really. Why does Grant want to be an animal in a cage you poke with a stick? One of the most respected generals in our history."
Serfass said his aim is to relay facts about Grant and dispel myths.
Serfass will speak as General U.S. Grant at the Old State Capitol from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday and will interact with the public starting at 5:30 p.m. the Old Capitol grounds. Both events are open and free to attend.