Ulysses Grant: Temporary

tobacco use
How much tobacco did Grant use? We see him chewing tobacco as early as 1845 1a. During the first Battle of the Wilderness, he was seen to smoke 20 cigars from sunup to sundown 1b. In a May 1866 newspaper interview, Grant said "When I was in the field I smoked 18 to 20 cigars per day, but now I smoke only nine or ten per day" 1c. SEE BELOW

Like so many tobacco users, Grant gave up smoking when it was too late. Suffering chronic pain and diagnosed with an incurable oral cancer that was caused by tobacco, Grant was racing against his disease to finish writing his memoirs, so that his wife would not be destitute. Grant told friends on November 20, 1884:

Gentlemen, this is the last cigar I shall ever smoke. The doctors tell me that I will never live to finish the work on which my whole energy is centered these days... if I do not cease indulging in these fragrant weeds. It is hard to give up an old and cherished friend, that has been your comforter and solace through many weary nights and days. But my unfinished work must be completed, for the sake of those that are near and dear to me. 2a

He would die in nine months.


First half 1854: Chernow: "puffing on a pipe or cigar" 2b

June 1854, in New York City: Walter Camp: "Under the influence of his Enemy ... I was pained to see him overcome by what he had told me, years before [when living in Sacketts Harbor], that he had such a desire for stimulants that his only safety was in letting them entirely alone." 2c

Circa 1855: William Taussig: "smoking a clay pipe" 2d

Circa 1855: Mary Robinson: "In those days I often heard doctors tell him his incessant smoking would kill him. ... At that time he chewed tobacco excessively also." 2e

circa 1855: Mary Robinson: "Chewed tobacco excessively" 2e

Chernow: "his always powerful oral cravings" 2e

Cited Sources
  1. Bumgarner, John R. The Health of the Presidents: The 41 United States Presidents Through 1993 from a Physician's Point of View. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, 1994.
    a  p.103  b  p.109  c  p.110

    Comment: Devotes one chapter to each President, through Clinton. Written for the layperson, well-referenced, with areas of speculation clearly identified, Dr. Zebra depends heavily on this book. Dr. Bumgarner survived the Bataan Death March and has written an unforgettable book casting a physician's eye on that experience.

  2. Chernow, Ron. Grant. New York: Penguin Press, 2017.
    a  p.931  b  p.83  c  p.91  d  p.94  e  p.98

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