The first time Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain met (nearly) was on a Missouri battlefield early in the Civil War. It could be charitably said that 2nd Lt Confederate Militiaman Twain showed good judgment by ordering a retreat in the face of overwhelming Union forces led by Colonel Grant.
The Sword and the Pen, a two man play, explores the unlikely friendship of General Ulysses S. Grant and Humorist/Author Mark Twain. Both men enjoyed alcohol and cigars. Each penned consequential books. Both had devoted wives, and were world renowned. Neither of them was particularly financially astute.
Grant was dogged all of his career by accusations that his courage came in a bottle. President Lincoln is reported to have said- “find out what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals.”
General Grant, overcame rumor and Confederate forces to free the slaves. President Grant overcame Congress and unreliable allies to grant full citizenship to ex-slaves in signing into law the Fifteenth Amendment.
Our play, The Sword and the Pen chronicles his gravest battle and greatest victory. Bankrupt and mortally ill, Grant completed his Memoirs to reclaim his family finances and tarnished reputation.
Mark Twain, published and publicized General Grant’s Memoirs, while completing his own masterwork- the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. How little or much Twain and Grant are remembered today, their impact on the United States is indisputable. Twain used his most powerful weapon, his pen, to focus his fellow Americans’ appreciation of the freedoms secured by Grant’s Sword.
The Sword and the Pen promises laughter and tears and a clear-eyed view of an epic friendship.