Bankruptcy used to be taken seriously. Now, it's so frequent that there are grades of insolvency--Chapter 9, Chapter 11, and both businesses and individuals continue their day-to-day lives with little interruption. Not so in the 1880s when former President Ulysses S. Grant lost all his money in a Wall Street swindle. Even the title to his New York City home was sold--leaving his family destitute. The former Civil War general didn't wish to revisit his battle exploits, but, with no source of income, an offer to publish his memoirs promised funds where none had been available.
Enter Mark Twain. The author and lecturer idolized Grant for his courage and his brilliance as commander of the Union Army. So he offered to underwrite the former President through his newly formed publishing company. He promised to make the memoir a best seller and invested two years of his life to make that happen. Neither Grant nor Twain knew whether he could write a good book, but Twain took the gamble. He sacrificed his own work, risked his own reputation, and took on enormous debt--all to save his friend.
The details of this story--portrayed in Grant & Twain, a new play written by Elizabeth Diggs--are the jumping off point for a conversation between Diggs and historian and author Hugh Howard.
The conversation begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 14. Red Rock Historical Society is located at 407 County Route 24 in East Chatham. A $10 donation is suggested.
Grant & Twain received an Edgerton Foundation grant for new American plays. It will be performed at PS21 Chatham, September 27 through September 30.
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