His retirement from the Presidency came in 1877. Wishing to retire with his family and pursue business interests, Grant believed he was financially secure. However, a botched business deal he participated in with a family member, resulted in a state of poverty. Grant also realized that he was dying of terminal throat cancer, and now feared he would leave his family penniless with no provision beyond his death.
Grant had secured a deal with Mark Twain to write his memoirs prior to this, but with no money, he set out to write his recollections on his own. Racing against the clock of his own mortality, Grant finished his memoirs in 1885, only days before passing away. The sale of his work brought the family $450,000, which along with Ms. Grant’s pension, allowed her and her children and grandchildren to live comfortably.
I can only imagine the pain and terror of a man who feared that his family would be distraught and destitute after his death. Grant’s devotion to his family allowed him to make the way for their security beyond his own life and ability to provide.
And so, first of all, will I have enough material in my life to leave behind the legacy I want to leave for my wife and children? Grant’s life and triumphs filled the memoirs that successfully provided the income his family needed; but more than this, his wife, Julia Dent Grant, stated, “The light of his glorious fame still reaches out to me, falls upon me, and warms me.”
Secondly, will I have the devotion, wisdom, and foresight to provide now for my family what they will need when I am gone? I pray to God that I do.
Information on Grant and his wife came from http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/ulyssessgrant and http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/first-ladies/juliagrant, as well as Let Us Have Peace: The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, at http://teachingamericanhistorymd.net/000001/000000/000128/html/t128.html.