On September 30 2019, pundit Malcolm Nance shared the following quote meme to Facebook, purportedly involving remarks made by former United States President Ulysses S. Grant on the prospect of a second Civil War:
One day prior, U.S. President Donald Trump published a series of tweets — one of which mentioned a “Civil War” resulting from impeachment efforts:
….If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2019
Quoting pastor Robert Jeffress’ September 29 2019 comments on Fox News across four tweets, Trump posted:
“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats can’t put down the Impeachment match. They know they couldn’t beat him in 2016 against Hillary Clinton, and they’re increasingly aware of the fact that they won’t win against him in 2020, and Impeachment is the only tool they have to get….
….rid of Donald J. Trump — And the Democrats don’t care if they burn down and destroy this nation in the process. I have never seen the Evangelical Christians more angry over any issue than this attempt to illegitimately remove this President from office, overturn the 2016….
….Election, and negate the votes of millions of Evangelicals in the process. They know the only Impeachable offense that President Trump has committed was beating Hillary Clinton in 2016. That’s the unpardonable sin for which the Democrats will never forgive him…..
…If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.” Pastor Robert Jeffress, @FoxNews
In an October 1 2019 article, Jeffress expounded on the meaning of his remarks, walking them back and maintaining that he had not meant to literally propose another Civil War:
I was very precise in the language I used. I was not advocating or predicting an actual civil war if Trump is removed. What I said was such removal would cause a fracture in our country like our country experienced after the Civil War. The Civil War ended 160 years ago, and yet the wounds did not completely heal, and I think if you remove a president for the first time in history — a president who received 63 million votes — it will have the same kind of long-lasting impact.
In the Facebook post above, Nance commented “Civil War?,” linking to an image of Grant and a quote across an American flag. The quote read:
If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason’s and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on one side, and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.
— President Ulysses S. Grant 1876
Grant purportedly made the comments in 1876, a decade and a half after the Civil War drew to a close. No additional context for the quote was provided.
In the book Words of Our Hero, Ulysses S. Grant, published circa 1885, the remarks appear in a transcribed speech attributed to Grant. According to the book, the speech was given to the Annual Reunion of the Army of Tennessee on September 29 1875, not 1876.
In a broader context, Grant addressed the lingering effects of the Civil War and expressed his desire that “like trials will never again befall our country”:
We will not deny to any of those who fought against us any privileges under the government which we claim for ourselves. On the contrary, we honor all such who come forward in good faith to help build up the waste places and to perpetuate our institutions against all enemies, as brothers in full interest with us in a common heritage.
But we are not prepared to apologize for the part we took in the war.
It is to be hoped that like trials will never again befall our country. In this sentiment, no class of people can more heartily join than the soldier, who submitted to the dangers, trials, and hardships of the camp and the battlefield. On whichever side they may have fought, no class of people are more interested in guarding against a recurrence of those days.
Let us then begin by guarding against every enemy threatening the perpetuity of free republican institutions. I do not bring into this assemblage politics, certainly not partisan politics ; but it is a fair subject for soldiers in their deliberations to consider what may be necessary to secure the prize for which they battled in a republic like ours. Where the citizen is sovereign and the official the servant, where no power is exercised except by the will of the people, it is important that the sovereign — the people — should possess intelligence.
The free school is the promoter of that intelligence which is to preserve us as a free nation. If we are to have another contest in the near future of our national existence, I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side — and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other.
Now in this centennial year of our national existence, I believe it a good time to begin the work of strengthening the foundation of the house commenced by our patriotic forefathers one hundred years ago at Concord and Lexington. Let us all labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press; pure morals; unfettered religious sentiments; and of equal rights and privileges to all men irrespective of nationality, color, or religion.
As presented on Facebook, Ulysses S. Grant’s “the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon’s, but between patriotism and intelligence on the one side — and superstition, ambition, and ignorance on the other” remarks were accurately attributed in terms of the speaker, but the year appeared to be slightly off. Grant made the larger speech to assembled Civil War veterans in late 1875, not 1876.