Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Reason to Venture North

Gossips recommendations rarely encourage people to travel very far beyond Hudson for any reason, but there are exceptions, and this is one. On Saturday, July 14, an intriguing event is taking place in East Chatham at the Red Rock Historical Society. It's a conversation between a historian and a playwright, called "The Way They Lived," about Ulysses S. Grant and Mark Twain and a little known story of the two men and their friendship. The following is quoted from the press release:
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.


  1. Dan, cousin Miranda and myself saw this play together a couple of years ago at the same venue I believe (or maybe it was Spencertown), and we all agreed it was outstanding. So I concur with Carole's recommendation. I particularly recommend it for history buffs (that is one passion Dan and I share in common).

  2. or you can further north