The Power of Clarity: Ulysses S. Grant as a Model of Writing “So That There Could Be No Mistaking It”1
Julie A. Oseid*
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This article is the fourth in a planned series of articles about the writing qualities and habits of our most eloquent American Presidents.2 The focus of all the articles is on the lessons modern legal writers can learn from the Presidents. Ulysses S. Grant’s writing was notorious for its clarity. His war dispatches left no reader—either then or now—wondering what he meant. This clarity was also the defining feature of Grant’s Personal Memoirs, written while he was destitute and dying. Grant’s habits of considering audience, using a simple and direct style, and writing with precision and scrupulous accuracy combined to make his writing a model of clarity.
It may come as a surprise that Ulysses S. Grant makes anyone’s list of eloquent writers. Most will recall that Grant led the Union army to victory in the Civil War. But then, many will likely remember a couple of unflattering things. Didn’t he have a serious drinking problem?3Wasn’t he called the “butcher” for his willingness to sacrifice Union soldiers?4 Wasn’t his Presidency noted for its corruption?5 Didn’t he die penniless?6 These vague memories are likely a result of our generation’s lack of knowledge about Grant’s accomplishments.7 Frankly, many of us don’t know much about Grant at all.
Part of the problem is that Grant is perplexing. For much of his life he was considered a failure,8 yet he is recognized as one of the most accomplished military leaders in world history.9 Thousands of Union soldiers were killed under his command,10 but he could not stand the sight of blood.11 He was determined and deliberate in achieving his goal of victory over the Confederacy, but he was magnanimous in his treatment of Southerners both during and after the War.12 He was probably an alcoholic (today we would label him a binge drinker),13 but his drinking was the only “element of the spectacular” in Grant’s otherwise calm, self-contained, and modest personality.14 He was the most popular man in America when he died in 1885, but he is remembered only vaguely today.15 He was flat broke at age 62, but his Personal Memoirs were a huge financial and literary success. He was in pain and dying from throat cancer in his final year of life, but he rallied to start and complete his Personal Memoirs.16 So historians debate whether Grant was gifted or ordinary,17 a butcher or a savior,18 a success or a failure.19
Notwithstanding these apparent inconsistencies, not everything about Grant is seriously debated; everyone seems to agree about some things. Grant did not make an impressive first impression.20 At 5’8” tall and 135 pounds,21 he was smaller than expected.22 He wore only a rumpled part of his military uniform, so many did not recognize him as General Grant.23 President Lincoln described Grant as “the quietest little fellow you ever saw.”24 He was a devoted family man.25 He was a spectacular horseman and seemed more comfortable riding than walking.26 He smoked cigars, almost continuously.27 He did not use profanity.28 He remained calm in all circumstances.29 Grant had the moral courage to lead.30 His troops admired and respected him.31 Lincoln recognized that, in Grant, he had finally found his military leader: “Grant is the first general I’ve had. He’s a general.”32 In his time, Grant was the most popular living American.33
One other Grant trait is not seriously debated—his writing was a model of clarity. Josiah Bunting suggested that Grant was “one of the most talented writers to occupy the White House.”34 His military strategy, including his orders, is still studied in military schools.35 Thousands of Americans proudly displayed his two-volume Personal Memoirs in their homes.36 Even the critics lauded Personal Memoirs. Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein were vocal admirers of Grant’s writing.37 Twain admired Grant’s “clarity of statement, directness, simplicity, manifest truthfulness, fairness and justice toward friend and foe alike and avoidance of flowery speech.”38 All agreed that Grant’s clarity is what made him such an astonishingly effective writer.
This article has two goals. The first goal is to examine Grant’s writing qualities and habits to see how he achieved the clarity that remains a critical writing skill. In many ways clarity is the most important quality of all legal writing. The law is complex, changing, and organic. A persuasive writer must work hard to clarify the law for the reader. In fact, the more complicated the law is, the more important it is for the writer to be clear.39 This article reviews the meaning of clarity and considers why it is such an important quality for modern legal writers hoping to persuade others. The article then examines the habits Grant used to achieve clarity in his writing which included his consideration of audience, his simple and direct style, and his scrupulous accuracy. The article then analyzes several of his writings as examples of his clarity. Like the other subjects in this series, Grant was an American President.40 The Grant writings selected for analysis however, do not come from his presidential years, in large part because his presidential writings are not known for their clarity.41 Instead, Grant’s military dispatches and Personal Memoirs provide the best examples of Grant’s clarity.42
The second goal is to share Grant’s story, particularly the story of his life as a writer. Readers who are not familiar with Grant’s dramatic race against a deadline—his own imminent death—to complete his Personal Memoirs will be impressed with Grant’s fortitude and courage. Clarity is the defining feature of Grant’s Personal Memoirs. Many passages “read so simply that we can hardly realize how every paragraph was drenched in pain.”43 For all Americans, Grant provided a book classifiable as great American literature.44 For lawyers, Grant provided writing classifiable as a great example of clarity. Grant was resolute, straightforward, disciplined, calm, and determined. These characteristics influenced his writing style, so that when he was at his very best as an author he wrote with clarity.
I. The Importance of Clarity in Legal Writing
“Clarity” means easily understood.45 The word derives from the Latin noun “claritas,” which means “clearness” or “vividness”46 and the Latin verb “claro” meaning “clear” or “explain.”47 Clarity, as a quality of writing, means that the written words accurately reflect the ideas or arguments of the author.48 Clarity in the written product leaves no trace of doubt in the reader about exactly what the writer means. “Ambiguity is the penalty for lack of clarity.”49 Clarity has long been recognized as important. Confucius said, “If language is lucid, that is enough.”50
Grant best described his own writing in terms similar to the terms I use when defining “clarity.” Recalling the events of April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia when General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, Grant wrote,
When I put my pen to the paper I did not know the first word that I should make use of in writing the terms. I only knew what was in my mind, and I wished to express it clearly, so that there could be no mistaking it.51
Grant revealed the two essential aspects of clarity in writing: clear thought and clear expression. Clear thinking can precede clear writing.52 At least at Appomattox, Grant had no difficulty with clear thought, so his clear thinking came before his clear expression there. Most of us are not as fortunate as Grant at Appomattox in knowing exactly what is in our minds.53 Before we begin writing we often have a vague sense of the important issues, potential arguments, and best organization. But it is often the process of writing itself that helps us writers formulate, hone, and simplify those thoughts and ideas. This is particularly true of legal writing. The physical and mental act of writing forces the legal writer to develop the legal arguments, face the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and organize those arguments into a comprehensible product.54 So clear thinking is typically a process, as is the process of clear written expression, which often requires multiple edits. Sometimes clear thinking comes first. Sometimes thinking is not clear until after writing. In any case, both the thinking and the writing must be clear in the final product.
Once thinking is clear, whether that happens before or during the writing process, the writer faces the second challenge of conveying those ideas in a direct and simple way. The ultimate goal is for the reader to read the words and come to only one—the intended—understanding of the words.55 Clarity eliminates ambiguity and confusion.
The primary goal for any legal writer should be to make things easier for the reader. Clarity “makes reading effortless.”56 Some readers may be willing to work to understand what an author is writing, but most are not. Even a willing reader will tire of the effort required to understand an unintelligible written document. And who should we be visualizing when we think about that reader? We should follow the lead of Bayless Manning who said his target audience was “a reasonably intelligent, Englishspeaking, fourteen-year-old” because “if he could explain something to her, anyone would understand it.”57
It is not easy work to write with clarity. Multiple drafts help the writer through the tortuous work of analyzing the problem and laboriously trying to clarify and explain the pertinent facts, issues, and law.58 But this is exactly the value that lawyers add when writing. It is this hard work of thinking, analyzing, and clarifying that makes a legal brief so much more effective than simply providing a stack of cases for the judge to read.59 Not surprisingly, clarity in judicial opinions is equally important.60
One thing is certain: “[I]t’s impossible to separate good writing from clear thinking.”61 Perhaps that is why judges routinely ask for more clarity in legal briefs.62 For legal writers, “Clarity is mistress of all.”63
II. Grant’s Biography—Learning the Power of Clarity
[C]ircumstances always did shape my course different from my plans. —Ulysses S. Grant64
The most significant influence on Grant’s writing occurred during his service in the United States Army, but several other experiences in Grant’s life helped shape his devotion to clarity. This section briefly reviews Grant’s story, with a particular emphasis on those parts of his life experience that influenced his writing style.
Before telling Grant’s story, one of his defining features should be mentioned. Ulysses S. Grant simply was Ulysses S. Grant, and he made no apologies for that fact. He did not gaze at himself and wonder if he made the most of his talents. A reader of Grant’s writings will not learn the answers to any of these questions: Did he ever doubt himself? What did he consider as his weaknesses? Did he have regrets?65 How does he explain the huge number of Union casualties? How could he have had so little business sense?66 Grant was a doer, not an explainer.67 “He addressed his problems, discharged his mission, and moved on.”68 Further, Grant believed that his destiny was not in his own hands.69
Despite Grant’s preference for forward movement instead of backward introspection, Grant does give readers glimpses into his feelings, his values, and his heroes. He was sad when Lee finally surrendered.70 He intensely disliked being humiliated; he could not stand to see anyone else humiliated either.71 He knew fear. Grant loved and adored his family.72 He supported the preservation of the Union.73 He believed that slavery had caused the Civil War.74 He admired and respected many men—particularly Zachary Taylor75 and Abraham Lincoln.76 This brief biography highlights those experiences that influenced Grant’s writing.
Grant’s famous traits of tenacity, honesty, fairness, discipline, and practicality contributed to his great success in writing with clarity. Grant was not one to give up, and this persistence and tenacity when writing translated to a product that was clear and precise. He knew what his goal was, and he wanted his readers to understand and accomplish those goals. Grant was also honest, fair and straightforward, so his writing never masked reality. Instead, Grant got right to the point.77 Grant was disciplined both physically and mentally,78 and he wrote with such concentration that he was not aware of his surroundings.79 Finally, Grant was practical. He had a tendency to treat dramatic matters in a very matter-of-fact way.80 As a result, his writing did not exaggerate, obfuscate, or confuse his readers.
* ©Associate Professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I owe thanks to several people for helping me with this article. Prof. Michael Paulsen heard about my project and suggested that I add Grant to my list. I also benefited from comments received during my presentation at the Third Biennial International Applied Storytelling Conference in July 2011 at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. My research assistant Marc Spooner provided valuable insight, and we both became quite attached to Grant. Peter D. Gray was a wonderful source of Civil War information. Subia Beg ably reviewed the article. Mary Wells helped me locate several sources. I also thank Jessica Clark, Joan Magat, Sue Painter-Thorne, Ruth Anne Robbins, and Melissa Weresh, my editors at Legal Communication & Rhetoric: J. ALWD, for their helpful suggestions and tireless work on this article.
1 Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant 631 (Konecky & Konecky 1992) [hereinafter Personal Memoirs].
2 The prior three articles in the series explore Thomas Jefferson’s use of the “wall of separation between Church & State” metaphor, James Madison’s rigor, and Abraham Lincoln’s brevity. Julie A. Oseid, The Power of Metaphor: Thomas Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation between Church & State,” 7 J. ALWD 123 (2010); Thomas C. Berg, Julie A. Oseid & Joseph A. Orrino, The Power of Rigor: James Madison as a Persuasive Writer, 8 Legal Communication & Rhetoric: J. ALWD 37 (2011); Julie A. Oseid, The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln’s Habits, 6 J. ALWD 28 (2009).
3 Joan Waugh noted that “as almost every Civil War history professor can testify, one of the most commonly asked questions from students and public alike is, ‘Was Ulysses S. Grant a drunk?’” Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth 40 (U.N.C. Press 2009).
4 James M. McPherson, Introduction in Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant xiii, xxiv (Penguin Bks. 1999); see also Josiah Bunting III, Ulysses S. Grant 3, 5–6 (Times Bks. 2004).
5 Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and the Worst in the White House 98 (James Taranto & Leonard Leo eds., Free Press 2004).
6 Grant was financially ruined at the end of his life, but the posthumous publication of his Personal Memoirs netted $450,000 for his family. McPherson, supra n. 4, at xv.
7 Joan Waugh was inspired by this ignorance to write her book about Grant: My project began with a question about Grant’s life, and his death. Why did Grant’s star shine so brightly for Americans of his own day, and why has it been eclipsed so completely for Americans since at least the mid-twentieth century? Most Americans indisputably are ignorant of the extent of the once-powerful national legacy of Ulysses S. Grant. Waugh, supra n. 3, at 2.
8 The first chapter of William B. Hesseltine’s Grant biography is labeled simply, “Forty Years of Failure.” William B. Hesseltine, Ulysses S. Grant: Politician 1 (Dodd, Mead & Co. 1935) (Hesseltine says that Grant’s first forty years of “dismal failure” were “neatly severed” from the second half of his career, which began in the Civil War). Josiah Bunting noted that Hesseltine’s biography of Grant is often condescending toward Grant. Bunting, supra n. 4, at 2–3 (Bunting’s book is part of The American Presidents series, edited by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.).
9 William S. McFeely notes, [Grant] had been through a lifetime of great contrasts between anonymous failure and vast public acclaim, and only a relentless plunge into the obscene exhilaration of war enabled him to achieve what others perceived to be a steady grasp on the world. William S. McFeely, Grant 3 (W.W. Norton & Co. 1981).
10 Bunting, supra n. 4, at 34 (“The Civil War was the most terrible in our history . . . . Deaths attributable to combat, both sides together, were 698,000; adding in the wounded, the casualty total is 1,168,000 . . . .”); see also Michael Korda, Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero 56–57 (HarperCollins Publishers 2004) (Grant recognized that the Civil War “would be incalculably more bloody than anyone supposed, and would be won only by brute force and killing on a scale that would eclipse all previous wars.”); Waugh, supra n. 3, at 8 (Grant believed the Civil War was worth its cost.).
11 Korda, supra n. 10, at 20 (Grant avoided eating meat whenever possible, and ate only meat that was burned because he could not stand the sight of blood on his plate.).
12 Waugh, supra n. 3, at 5, 252–53; Bunting, supra n. 4, at 70 (“[The Appomattox surrender] was Ulysses Grant’s finest hour, as it was Lee’s.”).
13 Grant was “a sporadic and then spectacular drunk.” John Keegan, The Mask of Command 204 (Penguin Bks. 1987).
14 Id. McPherson points out that excessive drinking in Grant’s day was “considered a moral defect and a matter of deep shame,” but that “[Grant] should have felt pride rather than shame” because he overcame his alcoholism “to achieve success and fame.” McPherson, supra n. 4, at xxv. Grant drank when he was lonely; he did not drink when surrounded by his family. Keegan, supra n. 13, at 204.
15 See supra n. 7.
16 See infra nn. 259–76.
17 See McFeely, supra n. 9, at xii (“There are historians who, when asked to contemplate Grant, insist that he must have had some secret greatness . . . . I leave to others the problem of accounting for a Mozart or a Marx, but I am convinced that Ulysses Grant had no organic, artistic, or intellectual specialness.”). Michael Korda believes Grant had, at least to some degree a “quick glance of genius . . . the ability to see at once on the battlefield where the enemy’s weakness lay and how to exploit it with one unexpected blow.”). Korda, supra n. 10, at 152.
18 See Jean Edward Smith, Grant 15 (Simon & Schuster 2001) (noting that academic historians have attributed Grant’s victories to a “willingness to sacrifice [Union soldiers] in battle . . . despite the fact that Grant’s casualty ratio was considerably lower than Lee’s.”).
19 It is difficult to fit Grant into a box labeled either “success” or “failure.” Korda noted, “[Grant], who had failed at almost everything he tried, succeeded quite suddenly as a general, infused with unmistakable self-confidence and unshaken by the noise, carnage, and confusion of battle.” Korda, supra n. 10, at 11.
20 Lieutenant Horace Porter described his first sighting of Grant: In an arm-chair facing the fireplace was seated a general officer, slight in figure and of medium stature, whose face bore an expression of weariness. He was carelessly dressed, and his uniform coat was unbuttoned and thrown back from his chest. He held a lighted cigar in his mouth, and sat in a stooping posture, with his head bent slightly forward. His clothes were wet, and his trousers and top-boots were spattered with mud. General Horace Porter, Campaigning with Grant 1–2 (Cent. Co. 1897).
21 Id. at 14.
22 Id. (Popular press at the time depicted Grant as a “swash-buckler,” but he was instead a slight, gentle man.).
23 See e.g. Jean Edward Smith, supra n. 18, at 233 (Even new recruits would not recognize him as the general because he dressed so plainly.); Id. at 289 (Grant’s arrival in Washington, D.C. was so inconspicuous that a hotel clerk gave him a small room on the top floor of the hotel because he did not recognize Grant.).
24 Id. at 307 (referencing a conversation between Lincoln and his third secretary William O. Stoddard, who was ill when Grant arrived in Washington, so he did not have a chance to meet Grant personally).
25 Ulysses and Julia Dent Grant had a very successful marriage. See Korda, supra n. 10, at 32 (“[C]ertainly the Grants would have one of the great marriages of the nineteenth century). Grant was also a devoted parent. McFeely, supra n. 9 at 63 (Grant had a “deep love for and confidence in his children.”).
26 See Charles Bracelen Flood, Grant’s Final Victory: Ulysses S. Grant’s Heroic Last Year 108 (Da Capo Press 2011).
27 Jean Edward Smith, supra n. 18, at 302. Grant’s nearly constant cigar smoking began only after the Fort Donelson capture. Newspapers reported that Grant continued to hold the stump of a cigar throughout the battle, and Northern well-wishers sent as many as 10,000 cigars to Grant, “thinking, no doubt, that tobacco was [Grant’s] chief solace.” Porter, supra n. 20, at 381.
28 Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 66 (“I am not aware of ever having used a profane expletive in my life; but I would have the charity to excuse those who may have done so, if they were in charge of a train of Mexican pack mules at the time.”).
29 See e.g. Jean Edward Smith, supra n. 18, at 295, 329; Bunting, supra n. 4, at 61 (Grant had a “calm, clear mind”); Edmund Wilson, Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War 134 (Oxford U. Press 1962).
30 Grant took charge; he did not expect or want Lincoln to be involved in his military strategy. Jean Edward Smith, supra n. 18, at 307.
31 The enlisted men in the Union Army instantly liked Grant. “They liked Grant’s reticence, his disregard for pomp and ceremony, his eye for the essential.” Id. at 306.
32 Id. at 307 (Lincoln’s response when Stoddard asked about Grant’s military ability).
33 Bunting comments, “From the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln five days later, and until his own death in 1885, Ulysses S. Grant was first in the hearts of his countrymen. They saluted him as a savior of the Union. He was the most famous and most carefully scrutinized American.” Bunting, supra n. 4, at 1.
34 Id. at 117.
35 See Korda, supra n. 10, at 153.
36 McFeely, supra n. 9, at 501 (“The result was an astonishing number of two-volume sets sitting proudly on parlor tables in America in the 1880’s.”). Over 300,000 copies of the two-volume set were sold. Waugh, supra n. 3, at 209.
37 Wilson, supra n. 29, at 139–40.
38 Flood, supra n. 26, at 130–31.
39 Michael R. Smith noted, The substance of legal analysis is complicated enough without adding to the confusion by using unnecessarily complex sentence structures and complicated wording. Thus, a clear, understandable writing style—commonly referred to as “plain English”—is essential to a legal writer’s credibility as an intelligent, articulate advocate. Michael R. Smith, Advanced Legal Writing 182 (2d ed., Aspen Publishers 2008).
40 Grant is rated as 32 out of 39 Presidents reviewed, which puts him in the “below average” category. Taranto & Leo, supra n. 5, at 12, 94. Even an official White House website about all the Presidents reports that Grant, as President, “provided neither vigor nor reform. Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered.” U.S. Govt., About the White House, Presidents, 18. Ulysses S. Grant, http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/ulyssessgrant (last accessed Mar. 2, 2012). Several scholars believe that Grant’s presidency was not quite as bad as historians suggest. See Bunting, supra n. 4, at 2 (“Grant was the only American president to serve two complete and consecutive terms between Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson.”).
41 See infra n. 180 and accompanying text.
42 Grant wrote all his own military orders and the Personal Memoirs, but he did not write all his presidential communications. McPherson, supra n. 4, at xiii.
43 Louis A. Coolidge, Ulysses S. Grant 564 (Riverside Press 1922).
44 Korda calls Personal Memoirs “the most successful book in American literature.” Korda, supra n. 10, at 151.
45 Webster’s American Dictionary 146 (2d college ed., Random House, Inc. 2000).
46 Oxford Latin Dictionary 332 (P.G.W. Glare ed., Oxford U. Press 1983).
48 Kristen Robbins (Tiscione) argued that clarity is an elusive and opaque concept. Kristen K. Robbins, The Inside Scoop: What Federal Judges Really Think About the Way Lawyers Write, 8 Leg. Writing 257, 283 (2002). She described the traditional concept that ideas exist separate from the writing about those ideas, but further noted that more-recent theories emphasize the importance of the process of writing and social construct to formulate ideas. Id.
49 A. Sidney Holderness Jr. & Brooke Wunnicke, Basics of Writing, Leg. Op. Ltrs. Formbook § 2.01 (3d ed., Aspen Publishers 2010).
50 Confucius, XV Analects, ch. 40 (Ltd. Ed. Club 1933).
51 Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 631 (describing the events of April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia).
52 Elaine A. Grafton Carlson noted, Of all the attributes of a good brief, the greatest is clarity. To have clarity of writing there must first be clarity of thought. It is only when the brief writer understands the issues clearly that he or she can write about them in clear terms. Elaine A. Grafton Carlson, Elements of Well Written Briefs, Clarity of Meaning, 6 McDonald & Carlson Tex. Civ. Prac. App. Prac. § 20:5 (2d ed. 2010).
53 McFeely suggested that Grant’s clear thinking did not always precede his clear writing. McFeely, supra n. 9, at 498. Instead, “Grant himself did not know what he thought until he wrote it.” Id. Still, McFeely believed that writing was easy for Grant. Id. at 504. McFeely wryly suggested that Grant may have been more successful as a President if he had governed by writing notes of instruction instead of holding cabinet meetings. Id. at 498.
54 See Linda H. Edwards, Legal Writing and Analysis 70 (3d ed., Aspen Publishers 2011) (“Your working draft is where you ‘grasp the case.’ It guides, deepens, and tests your analysis, and it forms your ideas into the kind of structured, linear reasoning that lawyers must master.”). Dean and former judge Donald Burnett explained, “Through the discipline of putting an argument into words, we find out whether the argument is worth making. . . . Each issue is defined by a cluster of facts and governing legal principle. If you cannot articulate this nexus of law and fact, you do not yet have a grasp of the case.” Donald L. Burnett Jr., The Discipline of Clear Expression, 32 Advoc. 8 (June 1989) (quoted in Linda H. Edwards, Legal Writing: Process, Analysis, and Organization xxv (5th ed., Aspen Publishers 2010)).
55 Paul H. Anderson, Lecture, A Judicial Perspective on Legal Writing and Oral Argument (U. of St. Thomas Sch. of L., Minneapolis, Minn. Mar. 31, 2011).
56 Mayanne Downs, . . . And I am Here to Help!, 85 Fla. B.J. 4, 4 (Feb. 2011) (Downs compliments an appellate lawyer, Kris Davenport, for her “gift for crafting the most complex concepts into easily digested small bites, writing with a clarity that makes reading effortless and the point she’s making the only possible conclusion.”); see also Philip J. Padovano, Writing Style, 2 Fla. Prac., App. Prac. § 16:19 (2011) (“Clarity in legal writing is best achieved by placing oneself in the position of the reader.”).
57 James J. Hanks Jr., Legal Capital and the Model Business Corporation Act: An Essay for Bayless Manning, L. & Contemp. Probs. 211, 212 (2011) (quoting Bayless Manning). Bayless Manning, who is now living in Boise, Idaho, had a successful legal career as a lawyer, professor at Yale Law School, dean at Stanford Law School, and president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Id. at 211–12. Hanks reports that Manning, “avoids grand words when simpler ones will do” and “does not need or want to show off in his writing.” Id. at 212. Hanks concludes, “[a]lthough [Manning] writes with greater elegance than any lawyer I have known, it is the elegance of uncluttered clarity, focus, and brevity—like the writing of another great lawyer, Lincoln.” Id.
58 See Hon. Bruce S. Jenkins, The Legal Mind in the Digital Age, 58 Fed. Law. 28, 30–31 (Feb. 2011).
59 Id. at 30. Some suggest that lawyers have a professional ethical obligation to improve the legal system by writing with clarity. See Robert Rich, Student Author, The Most Grotesque Structure of All: Reforming Jury Instructions, One Misshapen Stone at a Time, 24 Geo. J. Leg. Ethics 819, 829 (2011) (noting that jury instructions should be written so that they are understandable); see also Charles C. Tucker, The Evolution of Legal Language, 40 Colo. Law. 91, 91 (Jan. 2011) (“Thus, it seems courts are especially inclined to promote clarity in legal documents [like jury instructions] that are intended to communicate substantive legal principles to nonlawyers.”).
60 See John D. Feerick, Judge Denny Chin: A Student of the Law, 79 Fordham L. Rev. 1491, 1493 (2011) Feerick compliments Judge Denny Chin, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: “A review of his decisions reveals a person who pays close attention to the facts and applicable law and expresses in his judicial writings a clarity and directness . . . , leaving little room for guessing at his reasons for deciding a particular matter.”
61 Bryan A. Garner, Legal Writing in Plain English xiii (U. Chi. Press 2001).
62 Robbins, supra n. 48, at 284. In 2000, Robbins conducted a thorough study asking federal judges to rate lawyer writing and indicate the qualities of good brief writing. Robbins noted, “Of all the advice offered by judges to improve legal writing . . . , the need to be concise and clear appeared most often.” Id. at 264.
63 Joseph R. Nolan & Kerry A. Durning, Writing the Brief—Writer’s Discipline, 41 Mass. Prac., App. Proc. § 3:4 (3d ed. 2011). Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner advise that clarity trumps all other elements of style. Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges 107 (Thomson/West 2008).
64 Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 28.
65 The exception to this is that Grant does write briefly about his regrets at Vicksburg and Cold Harbor. Waugh, supra n. 3, at 205–06; see also McFeely, supra n. 9, at 511 (“He apologized only for one hideously bloody day outside Vicksburg and for Cold Harbor . . . .”).
66 Waugh argues that an audience in the late 19th century would not have expected an autobiography to contain personal revelations or apologies. Waugh, supra n. 3, at 205. But Bunting argues that Grant’s reluctance to explain or justify made him “a profound puzzle to his own generation.” Bunting, supra n. 4, at 2.
69 Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 65. Of course Grant did not believe that there was anything unique about him. He often noted “how little men control their own destiny.” Id.
70 Id. at 629–30.
71 See infra nn. 93–100 and n. 262 and accompanying text.
72 Grant was always faithful to his wife Julia. He also wept openly and nearly constantly through his daughter’s wedding at the White House. See McFeely, supra n. 9, at 402; see alsoWaugh, supra n. 3, at 147. Korda believes Grant “found in his family life a happiness that eluded him in his public life.” Korda, supra n. 10, at 134.
73 Waugh, supra n. 3, at 1 (Grant had a “resolute determination to defeat those who would split the Union.”).
74 Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 659.
75 See supra nn. 116–22.
76 Grant stood for hours at the head of Lincoln’s casket and stated, “He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.” Waugh, supra n. 3, at 112 (quoting Bruce Catton, Grant Takes Command 479 (Little, Brown & Co. 1968)). Grant recalled, “It would be impossible for me to describe the feeling that overcame me at the news of . . . the assassination of the President. I knew his goodness of heart, his generosity, his yielding disposition, his desire to have everybody happy, and above all his desire to see all the people of the United States enter again upon the full privileges of citizenship with equality among all.” Personal Memoirs, supra n. 1, at 641.
77 Flood, supra n. 26, at 102.
78 Id. at 112.
79 See infra n. 167 and accompanying text.
80 Flood, supra n. 26, at 194.