U.S. Senator Roger Wicker was at Mississippi State this week for a special tour of the university-based and nationally recognized Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library.
The Tupelo Republican was in the Golden Triangle Wednesday on official business but told campus officials he long had been eager to get a first-hand look at the collection in Mitchell Memorial Library.
"I've been excited about this collection since we were able to have it located at Mississippi State several years ago," Wicker said. "I can tell you, it is a world-class collection."
Wicker called the Grant Library "a treasure," adding that he viewed all Mississippi citizens as trustees of the many historic documents and artifacts.
He also said he hopes to soon bring his 90-year-old father for a tour, and promised to redouble efforts to encourage others across the nation to visit Starkville and tour the collection.
John Marszalek, executive director and managing editor for the Grant Library and Ulysses S. Grant Association, and Ryan Semmes, assistant professor with Mitchell Memorial Library, served as Wicker's tour guides.
The library includes some 15,000 linear feet of correspondence, research notes, artifacts, photographs, scrapbooks, and memorabilia and includes information on Grant's childhood from his birth in 1822, later military career, Civil War triumphs, tenure as commanding general after the war, presidency, and the post-White House years until his death in 1885.
"You can't place a value on it; it's priceless," Wicker said.
"This individual played such a central role in really three of the most significant events of the 19th century, the Mexican War, the Civil War, and Reconstruction," he continued. "And his story over the course of those decades is an essential part of the American story, and it's right there in Starkville."
In addition to praising the collection, Wicker said its value is enhanced by the professionalism of the library employees who are "at the top of their field."
As for a favorite, he said he most enjoyed seeing a hand-written letter that Gen. Grant composed while leading the 1863 siege of Vicksburg.
"For people who enjoy history and archives, it just doesn't get much better than that," the former U.S. Air Force officer said.
For more on the Grant Presidential Library, visit www.usgrantlibrary.org.
Information about MSU is available at www.msstate.edu.