General Grant was the most famous person in the country after the Civil War.
All the rich and powerful and famous were anxious to court his favor, and the General usually obliged.
A Tale of Gifts and Laws
Simply put, there were always laws on the books against gifts of out and out bribery. But it would not be until well into the twentieth century that saw laws covering “soft” gifts, such as dinners, trips and transportation.
When James Buchanan was in the White House (1857-61), he specifically instructed his niece Harriet Lane, who served as his official hostess, not to accept any gifts, other than the traditional flowers or candy or a book. He believed it would reflect poorly on him.
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