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A question at EL&U.SE asked whether the introduction to the video game series FalloutWar. War never changes— had an earlier source in literature or a speech. A web search on this phrase turns up a number of sites that ascribe it to Ulysses S. Grant. Google, for example, returns at the top an abandoned website with a collection of Grant quotes, including

I have never advocated war except as means of peace, so seek peace, but prepare for war. Because war… war never changes. War is like winter. Winter is coming.

It has been attributed to Grant, in this form or in part, on an endless number of blogs, video game reviews, and the usual suspects (Quora, Yahoo! Answers). But it sounds very much like a mishmash of Vegetius (si vis pacem, para bellum) and George R.R. Martin. The first part of the quotation is a paraphrase of a line from a Grant speech in London, quoted in The Times June 15, 1877, as appears in the digital collection of the Papers of Ulysses S. Grant at Mississippi State University:

… For myself, I have been very much surprised at the reception I have had at all places since the day I landed at Liverpool up to my appearance in the greatest city in the world. It was entirely unexpected, and it is particularly gratifying to me. I believe that this honour is intended, quite as much for the country which I have had the opportunity of serving in different capacities as for myself, and I am glad that this is so, because I want to see the happiest relations existing, not only between the United States and Great Britain, but also between the United States and all other nations. Although a soldier by education and profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war and I have never advocated it except as a means for peace. I hope that we shall always settle our differences in all future negotiations as amicably as we did in a recent instance. I believe that settlement has had a happy effect on both countries, and that from month to month and year to year the tie of common civilization and common blood is getting stronger between the two countries.

But war never changes does not turn up either in a search of the papers or on writings of Grant at Gutenburg and other projects. The search engine on the site is weak, however. User P. Obertelli turned up the phrase in a 1915 war manual (though I could not in the U.S. version of Google Books), and that is the best we have done so far.

My questions are these:

  1. Did Ulysses S. Grant ever use war never changes or something similar in his known speeches or writings, public or private?

  2. If not, or unlikely, is it known whether someone else deliberately ascribed this quote to Grant in later years?

For myself, I think its pseudo-profundity derives from its similar cadence to 1 Corinthians 13:9, a popular reading for Christian weddings.

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    As this is my first question on this Stack, I would appreciate any feedback that would explain the downvote. – choster Dec 7 '15 at 21:27
  • Also, in 1939 congressional testimony someone said "War never changes. It only becomes more bloody and brutal." books.google.com/… – DavePhD Aug 11 '16 at 18:49
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In the 1914 The World's Work; Second War Manual; The Conduct of the War, Arthur Wilson Page editor, there is an article starting at page 41, "The Days Work of a Solider". No author is given.

An unnamed head waiter with 3 brothers in the French army is quoted as saying:

The great Napoleon won his victories because the Grand Army could outmarch the enemy. It is the same to-day. War never changes. Only weapons are new. Yet it is not always the weapons, but the men who handle them, who win victories.

Technically, the phrase "war never changes" was used earlier, but not in the spirit of the OP. The 1908 International Law Applied to the Russo-Japanese War at page 611 quotes Funk Blentano and Sorrel as saying "war never changes national law".

There are early sources attributing to Grant:

I have never advocated war, except as a means of peace

For example the 1899 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Iowa at page 136, in a list of quotations for roll call.

However, the actual quote is, according the 1879 to Stories, Sketches and Speeches of General Grant at Home and Abroad, In Peace and In War at page 148:

Although a soldier by education and profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it except as a means of peace. I hope that we shall always settle our differences in all future negotiations as amicably as we did in a recent instance.

as a speech in London, 15 June 1877

See also The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: November 1, 1876-September 30, 1878 at page 217 for the same speech.

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