Site celebrates its Presidential past

What was supposed to be a brief trip turned into a passion.

"The story just knocked my socks off," Trimm said. "I thought, 'I want to be part of this.'"

So, ever since, Trimm has been part of the Friends of Grant Cottage, acting as a tour guide at the cottage and helping to raise money to keep the building open.

It wasn't Grant's presidency or his prominent role in the Civil War that so impressed Trimm. It was the fact that on the brink of financial ruin, Grant came to Mount McGregor and used his final days to complete his memoirs, which enabled his family to stave off poverty.

Grant wasn't sure the book would sell, but a good friend, none other than Mark Twain, had high hopes. Twain, who had recently started a publishing company, offered to print the book and give the family a very generous 70 percent of the profit, eclipsing an offer from a magazine company that had wanted to publish the memoirs.

"Twain was convinced it would be a best-seller," Trimm said.

So, Grant set to work in the cottage's sick room, "where he suffered greatly," Trimm said.

The sick room is one of the buildings in the cottage that has been largely preserved since Grant's passing. Trimm said Drexel had the foresight to envision the cottage as a place where people would come to pay their respects to Grant, particularly Union soldiers and their families.

Looking back in history books, it might seem odd that people would make pilgrimages in Grant's honor since his presidency is largely written off as a failure, Trimm said. But those books were written by Grant's political enemies, he said. In his own research, Trimm discovered that Grant was "100 years ahead of his time in terms of civil rights."

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