When Samuel L. Clemens received an invitation to the White House to meet President Grant, he assumed this meant a formal reception or similar group event. The man known to the world as Mark Twain was instead ushered into the oval office, where the President was working alone. When the aide escorting Twain introduced him to the hero of Appomattox, the notoriously voluble author was for once at a loss for words. Neither man spoke for several awkward seconds. Finally, Twain managed to blurt out, " Mr. President, I am embarrassed — are you? " Twain and Grant eventually became good friends, although it was some years before they met again. At that second meeting, Grant broke the silence: " Mr. Clemens, I am not embarrassed, are you? " The friendship between these two famous men of the 19th century — an historic event in itself — is made even more notable by the interference of a con man. In keeping with the stature of the men he defrauded, this swindler was arguably the greatest con artist of that century. His name was Ferdinand Ward . Were it not for Ferdinand Ward, Grant probably would not have published his memoirs. He had consistently declined requests to do so. But being broke… Read full this story
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