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Henry W. Grady, the “Spokesman of the New South”
When Henry
Grady Went Home!
O ne could not travel I-75 through the heart of
Atlanta, Georgia, without noticing the Grady Memorial
Hospital or Georgia Tech. The history of these two insti-
tutions and The Atlanta Constitution newspaper winds
its way back to a young 15-year-old boy who witnessed first-
hand the Civil War and the destruction of his state by Union
armies under General Sherman. His father was killed by a
Union soldier. That young boy was Henry W. Grady.

Henry Grady was born in Athens,
Georgia, in 1850. In time he became
the first Southern spokesman to rise
from the ashes of the Civil War. The
war ended in 1865 with the surrender
of the South. Henry and his mother,
Anne, with other Southern families
faced the devastation and aftermath
of war. The South lay in ruins. Atlanta
had been burned.

This memorial bronze sculpture to Atlanta’s famous “New South” newspaper
editor was originally dedicated on October 21, 1891, to 25,000 onlookers. The funds
to erect the monument were generated through “public subscriptions” that were re-
ceived from throughout the United States, an unprecedented tribute considering that
Grady had held no office and died as an “unpretentious private citizen.”
rady graduated from the Univer-
sity of Georgia where he studied
Journalism. He was a born optimist.

When others saw only doom and de-
spair, he saw opportunity. When others
saw Atlanta and Georgia as devastated
and hopeless, Grady visualized a great
industrial state and city. He was a gift-
ed orator, an editor of newspapers, and
a part owner and editor of The Atlanta
Constitution. Henry Grady fought the public
evils of his day and supported Prohi-
bition. He wrote in favor of the anti-
liquor laws. After the war, hatred and
bitterness lingered with many South-
erners. Henry Grady promoted the
“New South”―a term created by him.

He advocated the concept of putting
the “Old South” to rest and building for
the future.

e used his newspaper, The
Atlanta Constitution, to
promote his ideas. At the same
time, he supported the care of
the Confederate veterans. His
business expertise shone when
he built The Atlanta Constitution
into Georgia’s leading newspa-
per. The reported national circu-
lation was 120,000.

He was a genius in persuad-
ing Northern businessmen to in-
vest in the “New South.” By the
age of 36, Henry Grady’s influ-
ence had extended nationwide.

More than any other man, he
had bridged North and South.

He was in great demand as a
speaker. People believed in Henry
Grady. At one time, he raised almost
eighty thousand dollars from the
people of his city to build a beau-
tiful building for the Young Men’s
Christian Association.

e often disarmed his audi-
ence with his humor. Once
at a banquet of Northern elites, he
was waxing eloquent about the
brilliant prospects for Northern
investments in a New South, de-
termined to rise from the ashes
of defeat. In the middle of his
speech, Grady spotted General William
T. Sherman in the audience, the Union
general whose notorious march to the
sea had left Georgia and particularly
Atlanta in ashes. Without missing a
beat, Grady acknowledged the general
by noting that the people of Georgia
thought Sherman an able military man,
“but a mite careless about fire.”
In the midst of all his fame, suc-
cess, schedule, and acclaim, Henry
Grady felt that he had lost something
deep inside. His thoughts drifted back
to his childhood and early years—to
the old home in Athens, to his mother’s
prayers, and to her faith that got them
through the terrible days of the destruc-
tion of the South by Sherman and his
forces. H
One day Grady walked into his of-
fice and said to his associates, “I am
going away for a week or so and I do
not want you or anyone else to know