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Cragin's Grit

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That New York has completed the Grant tomb is ilue to the brains and pluck of a Chicago man as General Collis tells the story of the monument association's vicissitudes froni its inceptiou, shortly after General Grant's death iu 1884 to 1892, when General Horace Porter was elected its president. A crisis had arisen in the afFairs of the aasociation, and it was at this time that General Porter received a letter from a man who gave the assurance that if he was permitted to try it he could raise the funda necessary to complete the monument. The letter was signed "Edward F. Cragin, Chicago." The coutinuation of General Collis' story follows : General Horace Porter wrote or wired to George W. Pullman for iuforaiation in regard to Mr. Cragin and on receipt of reply invited Mr. Cragin to New York. He impressed us as an intelligent, earnest gentleman, and his modest request that Ave would pay his hotel bilí and give him a few weeks' trial was promptly acceded to. Perhaps he gave us hope, though not much faith. We were charitable enough, however to let him thrash out the old straw if he wiahed. He came to us on March 14, 1892. A fortnight leter General Porter said to me: "This is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. I should not be surprise if he raised the whole arnount before Grant's birthday (April 27)." Andhow did this modest, unassuming, systematic young man go to work? He brought with him his western methods. His plan was to raise the required amount ($350,000) in six weeks, and General Porter told him "go ahead and figlit it out on that line." The general gave him letters to Bradstreet's and Dun's commercial agencies, where he spent hours iu classifying the trades and professions, and than he invited 400 of their leading representatives to assemble at the rooms at the Chainber of Commerce on a given day. Just three persous in addition to General Porter and himself, responded. Any ordinary man would have packed his grip and returned home but Cragin was not made of this material. He was extraordinary. Like Grant he emerged from the wilderness and pushed right along. He made James M. Constable chairman of the meeting and appointed thirty sub-committees, just as though the whole 400 had been present, and anuounced tliem all in the daily papers. Every day thereafter he appointed new committees, uutil he had 300 different organizations and several thousand men at work. The average number of meetings called by him and attended by him were teu a day, coimnencing as early as 9 in the morniug and continuiug until midnight. He organized committees in Brooklyn, and this excited rivaly, perhaps tinged with jealousy. Every dollar raised in Brooklyn, thereafter produced fifty in New York. He brought new men iuto public notice as representative citizens, men who, though identifled with the city's commercial welfare for a lifetime, had always been on the shelf when any public movement was afoot.nnd had to content themsel ves with reading a parade of the same old names year after year. He got the builders and the carpenters and the bricklayers and the small shopkeepers vying with each other as to the amount total to their subscription books, and made them feel that, after all, they were the bone and sinew to be depended upon in a fight. He got them together, and general Porter addressed them. When the several trades assembied Mr. Cragin's chairman was elected, Mr. Cragiu's resolutions were passed, Mr. Cragin's flnance committee vat appointed, and Mr. Cragin's subscrition circulated. Daily reports were received from these committees ; a corps of typewriters in charge of our secretary, James C. Reed, kept the newspapers interested. I used to meet Cragin nearly every evening ; he seldom spoke of the amount raised during the day, but always counted the few remaining days required to complete the fund. Ft was a marvelous revelation of what can be accomplished by a self-reliant man intent upon a single purpose. In a few weeks his system, energy, and magnetism had transformed a stagnant pool of $1 50,000 into a flood 1 tule, which at high water mark reached half a million. Cragin disappeared i'roni the scène of his labors as modest]y and unselfishly :is lie had dawned apon it. To this modest, gentleman is due the largest share of the glory which makefl the pageant of April '7 next possible. As an American, as a ineinber of the Grant Monument Association, as a soldier serving under Grant, I shall nover cease to be gratefal to Edward F. Orastin.


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Ann Arbor Courier