It’s here! IT’S HERE! We’ve gone through six weeks and forty-one Presidents to get to this moment, but IT’S FINALLY HERE. The FINAL ROUND of Oval Hotness 2014 is upon us! We have TWO PRESIDENTS LEFT in the running and you beautiful love nuggets have an entire week to peruse the carefully crafted capslock sentences below and choose YOUR PICK to don the illustrious Glittery Tiara of Winners and Glory and Sparkliness. That name might be a little unwieldy, but that’s neither here nor there. Are you ready to meet your finalists? GIDDY UP.
“God gave us Lincoln and Liberty. Let us fight for both.” — Ulysses S. Grant
“Grant is my man. And I stand by him to the end of the War!” — Abraham Lincoln
With the way the seeding and bracketing system works in Oval Hotness (and I can talk your ear off about it, trust me), we’ve had a lot of interesting matches throughout our tournaments. This year alone, we saw the Adams family go head to head in the very first round. We saw the Kennedy Sandwich with Dwight Eisenhower taking on Lyndon Johnson. We saw two legendary war heroes (G-Wash and Jacko) face off in a race so tight it needed an extra tiebreaker round (an Oval Hotness first). The 2014 tournament has been all about taking what we came to expect from our 2012 dance with the POTii and completely changing everything. For the first time ever in the championship round, we have two contenders from the same time period. Two contenders that knew each other. Two contenders that were very, very fond of one another. Hell, I’m half a shot of whiskey from crying onto my keyboard about their linked souls and forbidden love story. We’ve got two gentlemen with truly lovely facial hair in the running to be your next Oval Hotness champion: HIRAM ULYSSES “S.” GRANT aka ULY aka HUG, the runaway favorite versus ABRAHAM LINCOLN aka ABE aka ABEY-BABY aka BABE-RAHAM LINCOLN.
So what brought these boys together is, unfortunately, the giant event that also tore the U.S. apart — the Civil War. As we’ve learned about dear Uly, he attended West Point (where “Hiram Ulysses” became “Ulysses S.”), fought in the Mexican-American War, married the lovely Julia, developed a bit of a drinking problem, moved home to Illinois and opened a FINE LEATHER GOODS shop. He re-joined the army in 1861 after the Battle of Fort Sumter kicked off the war.
Abey-Baby, meanwhile, was elected President in 1860 with zero electoral votes from the South — it was solely the north and the west that got him in the White House. Unsurprisingly, War broke out about a month after his inauguration. What I didn’t know, however, is that Mister Sixteen over here was the first POTUS to really add Commander-in-Chief to the list of Presidential responsibilities. His immediate executive control of the war plans were unprecedented at the time. Among countless other wartime duties, Lincoln ran through Generals like it was nobody’s business — every time a head General fucked up and lost, they were fired. From 1861 to 1864 Abe shuffled through McLellan to Halleck back to McLellan to Burnside to Hooker to (finally) GRANT.
In the years since he rejoined the Army, Uly flew up the ranks. He’d left as a captain; by June of 1861 he was a Colonel, then Brigadier General. He made a name for himself at the battles of Fort Henry and Donelson (including “Unconditional Surrender Grant,” which is BAD ASS), met and became total bros with General William Tecumseh Sherman (Ol’ Scorched Earth Sherlypoo) at the Battle of Shiloh (the BLOODIEST BATTLE OF THE ENTIRE WAR), and REALLY got everyone’s attention with his campaign and SEVEN-WEEK siege of the Confederate stronghold in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This win earned the Union the use of the entire Mississippi River AND earned Grant a promotion to Lieutenant General, a position NO OTHER person had held since GEORGE WASHINGTON.
Even better? WE HAVE ABE’S NOMINATING LETTER. LOOK. LOOK AT IT.
LOOK AT THAT PENMANSHIP. LOOK AT THAT STATIONARY. LOOK AT HOW MOST OF THE YEAR IS FILLED IN AND HE JUST HAS TO FILL OUT THE MONTH AND THE LAST DIGIT OF THE YEAR. If any of this same stationary was still around by the time Uly was in the White House, do you think he felt pressure use up all the ones with “186_” before the end of the decade? Would it have been some poor 1860s intern’s job to cross out the 6 from Uly’s stationary? THESE ARE QUESTIONS I NEED ANSWERS TO.
Even better than this nominating letter, we have another letter from Abe to Uly regarding the (positive) outcome of the Battle of Vicksburg. I can’t find a high quality picture, so here’s a fuzzy image:
And HERE is the text (bold is mine):
My dear General,
I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did — march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.
Yours very truly, A. Lincoln
OKAY LOOK, THAT’S A STAND-UP MOVE RIGHT THERE. He didn’t HAVE to do that! He didn’t have to send a handwritten letter that said, “AY BRO, SORRY I DOUBTED YOU. WE COOL?” But he DID and it’s ADORABLE and I LOVE THESE TWO DUMMIES A LOT.
Now, this has run terribly long, but I’m going to leave you with two things. I’LL EVEN PUT THEM IN A LIST:
- When Lincoln visited General Grant’s headquarters in City Point, Virginia, Ulysses let him ride his beloved horse Cincinnati around camp.
- At Abe’s funeral, Ulysses stood alone and WEPT OPENLY.
I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING. NOW PICK A PRESIDENT ALREADY!!!!!!
Polls for the Championship Round are open until TUESDAY, APRIL 22nd at 11:59 CST. A whole week! Hide your wife, hide your kids! Wait, don’t! DO SOMETHING! VOTE!