Ulysses S. Grant marches south again

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SIU loses archives to Mississippi State University

The University of Virginia has Thomas Jefferson, Columbia University has Alexander Hamilton. And for more than 40 years, Southern Illinois University had Ulysses S. Grant.

But that honor came to an unceremonious end last month, when the Carbondale campus was forced to relinquish the world's largest collection of Grant papers.

Following a nearly yearlong conflict with the school, the Ulysses S. Grant Association, which owns the material, recently relocated nearly 100 file cabinets crammed with documents and memorabilia to Mississippi State University.

When the legal skirmishing was over, some 300,000 items connected to the Union hero and former Illinois resident were moved to a state with strong Confederate roots—a development drawing attention, even chuckles, from across the country.

The Grant papers now reside in the library of a university whose first president was Confederate Gen. Stephen D. Lee and is in a part of the country where old traditions die hard. Not until the late 1990s did students at nearby University of Mississippi in Oxford stop flying the Rebel flag at football games.

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