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Orville E. Babcock, President Ulysses S. Grant's secretary, signed this letter on White House stationery in 1871. In it, he says that Grant couldn't attend a ball in honor of Russia's Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich, who was in the United States as a goodwill ambassador.
Manuscript letter signed "OE. Babcock" as President Ulysses S. Grant's secretary in purple ink. 2 pages, 5¾x9¼, 1 sheet folded, front and verso, on ruled stationery from the Executive Mansion in Washington, D. C. Dec. 2, 1871. Addressed to Mr. A. J. Drexel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In full: "Dear Sir: The President desires me to acknowledge the receipt of your very kind letter of the 29th ult. inviting him to be present at the ball to be given the Grand Duke Alexis on the 4th inst, and convey to you his thanks for your kindness and express his regrets that the meeting of Congress upon that day, and his other official duties will not -inside recto page- not permit him to visit Philadelphia. I am Sir, Your obt. svt." "Grand Duke Alexis" is probably GRAND DUKE ALEXEI ALEXANDROVICH (1850-1908), sixth child and fourth son of Russia's Alexander II. He was sent on as goodwill ambassador to the United States and Japan in 1871. OLIVER E. BABCOCK (1835-1884) was a Union brigadier general and Aide-de-Camp to General Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War. He delivered Grant's surrender summons to Lee and escorted the Confederate General to his meeting with Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, an event that he witnessed. After the war, Babcock served Grant as private secretary before becoming Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the City of Washington. During Grant's presidency, Babcock was indicted as a conspirator in the Whiskey Ring, in which whiskey distillers bribed Internal Revenue officials to keep millions in tax dollars for themselves. He was acquitted partly by Grant, who testified for him as a character witness. Lightly soiled. Folds and creased (not at signature). Separating along spine at bottom edge. Otherwise in fine condition.

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Born: December 25, 1835
Died: June 2, 1884

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