Ulysses S. Grant's chair from Appomattox

On April 9, 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee met in the home of Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, to negotiate the surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to the United States Army. Sitting in the chair on the right, Grant discussed the fate of Lee's troops. Then, leaning over the oval table, he drafted and signed the final terms of surrender. While there were still Confederate troops in the field under other commanders, Lee's surrender effectively marked the end of the Civil War.
Union officers, recognizing the significance of the event, individually took pieces of furniture as souvenirs. General E. W. Whitaker grabbed Lee's chair, General Henry Capehart claimed Grant's chair, and General Philip Sheridan took the table and presented it to the wife of Major General George Amstrong Custer. In three separate donations, by 1915, these items were reunited at the Smithsonian Institution.
Date made
before 1865
associated date
associated person
Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson)
United States: Virginia, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
associated place
United States: Virginia, Appomattox
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 37 1/2 in x 21 3/4 in x 17 1/2 in; 95.25 cm x 55.245 cm x 44.45 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Estate of General Wilmon W. Blackmar
Civil War
related event
Civil War
Surrender by General Lee
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
National Treasures exhibit
Government, Politics, and Reform
The Price of Freedom
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History


It delights me that not far from the chairs and table used by Grant and Lee on April 9th, 1865, are the equally iconic chairs and table used by the characters Edith and Archie Bunker. The end of "All in the Family" came one day before Appomattox, on April 8th--nearly 114 years after the end of the Civil War. That both historic parlor sets are preserved at the Smithsonian Museum of American History means I can stand before each display and get the shivers from both.

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