S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) was the 18th President of the
United States (1869–1877). He achieved national fame as a
hero of the American Civil War, in which he commanded Union forces
as a general, and as general-in-chief (1864–1869).
historians usually place Grant in the top ranks of great generals.
Thus he has been described by military historian J. F. C. Fuller
as "the greatest general of his age and one of the greatest
strategists of any age." His Vicksburg Campaign in particular
comes in for intense scrutiny from military specialists around
the world, and indeed he was the one who forced the surrender
of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. By contrast, presidential historians
rank his administration near the bottom, primarily because of
corruption, even though Grant's own reputation for personal integrity
has remained largely intact. In recent years, his overall reputation
as president has had a resurgence among some presidential scholars.
and early years
Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Point Pleasant, Clermont
County, Ohio, 25 miles (40 km) east of Cincinnati on the Ohio
River, to Jesse Root Grant (1794–1873) and Hannah Simpson
(1798–1883). His father, a tanner, and his mother were born
in Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1823 they moved to the village
of Georgetown in Brown County, Ohio, where Grant spent most of
his time until he was 17.
the age of 17, and having barely passed the United States Military
Academy's height requirement for entrance, Grant received a nomination
to the Academy at West Point, New York, through his U.S. Congressman,
Thomas L. Hamer. Hamer erroneously nominated him as Ulysses Simpson
Grant, knowing Grant's mother's maiden name and forgetting that
Grant was referred to in his youth as "H. Ulysses Grant"
or "Lyss". Grant wrote his name in the entrance register
as "Ulysses Hiram Grant" (concerned that he would otherwise
become known by his initials, H.U.G.), but the school administration
refused to accept any name other than the nominated form. Upon
graduation, Grant adopted the form of his new name with middle
initial only, never acknowledging that the "S" stood
for Simpson. He graduated from West Point in 1843, ranking 21st
in a class of 39. At the academy, he established a reputation
as a fearless and expert horseman. Grant drank whiskey and, during
the American Civil War, began smoking huge numbers of cigars (one
story had it that he smoked over 10,000 in five years) which may
well have contributed to his developing of throat cancer later
in his life.
married Julia Boggs Dent (1826–1902) on August 22, 1848.
They had four children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. (Buck)
Grant, Jr., Ellen (Nellie) Wrenshall Grant, and Jesse Root Grant.
Grant served in the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) under
Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, taking part in the
battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Veracruz.
He was twice brevetted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec.
After the Mexican war ended in 1848, Grant remained in the army
and was moved to several different posts. He was sent to Fort
Vancouver in the Washington Territory in 1853, where he served
as regimental quartermaster of the 4th U.S. Infantry regiment.
His wife could not accompany him because his salary could not
support a family (she was eight months pregnant with their second
child) on the frontier. In 1854, he was promoted to captain and
assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at Fort Humboldt,
California. Despite the increase in pay, he still could not afford
to bring his family out West. He tried some business ventures
while in California to supplement his income, but they failed.
He started drinking heavily because of money woes and missing
his wife. Because his drinking was having an effect on his military
duties, he was given a choice by his superiors: resign his commission
or face trial. He resigned on July 31, 1854. Seven years of civilian
life followed, in which he was a farmer and a real estate agent
in St. Louis, where he owned one slave, and finally an assistant
in the leather shop owned by his father and brother in Galena,
was nonpolitical but in 1856 he voted for Democrat James Buchanan
for president to avert secession and because "I knew Frémont"
(the Republican candidate). In 1860, he favored Democrat Stephen
A. Douglas, but did not vote. In 1864 he allowed his political
sponsor, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, to use his private letters
as campaign literature for the Union Party, which combined both
Republicans and War Democrats. He refused to announce his politics
until 1868, when he finally declared himself a Republican.
Theater of the Civil War: 1861–63
Shortly after Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, President
Abraham Lincoln put out a call for 75,000 volunteers. Grant helped
recruit a company of volunteers, and despite declining the unit's
captaincy, he accompanied it to Springfield, the state capital.
Grant accepted a position offered by the governor, Richard Yates,
to recruit volunteers, but pressed on multiple occasions for a
field command. The governor, recognizing that Grant was a West
Point graduate, eventually appointed him Colonel of the undisciplined
and rebellious 21st Illinois Infantry, effective June 17, 1861.
Union sentiments in Missouri divided, opposing forces began gathering
in the state. Grant's regiment was ordered there, and upon arriving,
he concentrated on drilling his men and establishing discipline.
On August 7, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers,
a decision by President Lincoln that was strongly influenced by
Elihu Washburne's political clout. After first serving in a couple
of lesser commands, at the end of the month, Grant was selected
by Western Theater commander Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont
to command the critical District of Southeast Missouri.
Henry, and Donelson
Grant's first important strategic act of the war was to take the
initiative to seize the Ohio River town of Paducah, Kentucky,
immediately after the Confederates violated the state's neutrality
by occupying Columbus. He fought his first battle, an indecisive
action against Confederate General Gideon J. Pillow at Belmont,
Missouri, in November 1861. Three months later, aided by Flag
Officer Andrew H. Foote's gunboats, he captured Fort Henry, on
the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River.
At Donelson his army was hit by a surprise Confederate attack
(once again by Pillow) while he was temporarily absent. Displaying
the cool determination that would characterize his leadership
in future battles, he organized counterattacks that carried the
day. The captures of the two forts were the first major Union
victories of the war. The Confederate commander, Brig. Gen. Simon
B. Buckner, an old friend of Grant's, yielded to Grant's hard
conditions of "no terms except unconditional and immediate
surrender." Buckner's surrender of 14,000 men made Grant
a national figure almost overnight, and he was nicknamed "Unconditional
Surrender" Grant. This victory also won him promotion to
major general of volunteers.
his significant victories, or perhaps because of them, Grant fell
out of favor with his superior, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck. Halleck
objected to Grant's visit to Nashville, where he met with Halleck's
rival, Don Carlos Buell, and used that as an excuse to relieve
Grant of field command on March 2. Personal intervention from
President Lincoln caused Halleck to restore Grant, who rejoined
his army on March 17.
In early April 1862, Grant was surprised by Gens. Albert Sidney
Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at the Battle of Shiloh. The sheer
violence of the Confederate attack sent the Union forces reeling.
Nevertheless, Grant refused to retreat. With grim determination,
he stabilized his line. Then, on the second day, with the help
of timely reinforcements, Grant counterattacked, turning a serious
reverse into a victory.
Shiloh being a Union victory, it came at a high price; it was
the bloodiest battle in United States history up until then, with
over 23,000 casualties. Halleck was unhappy by Grant being surprised
and the disorganized nature of the fighting. In response, Halleck
took command of the army in the field himself on April 30, relegating
Grant to the powerless position of second-in-command for the campaign
against Corinth, Mississippi. Despondent over this reversal, Grant
decided to resign. Only by the intervention of his subordinate
and good friend, William T. Sherman, did he remain. When Halleck
was promoted to general-in-chief of the Union Army, Grant resumed
his position as commander of the Army of West Tennessee (later
more famously named the Army of the Tennessee) on June 10. He
commanded the army for the battles of Corinth and Iuka that fall,
but had little direct effect at the tactical level.
In the campaign to capture the Mississippi River fortress of Vicksburg,
Mississippi, Grant spent the winter of 1862–1863 conducting
a series of operations, attempting to gain access to the city,
through the region's bayous. These attempts failed. His strategy
in the campaign to capture the river fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi,
in 1863 is considered one of the most masterful in military history.
marched his troops down the west bank of the Mississippi and crossed
the river by using the U.S. Navy ships that had run the guns at
Vicksburg. There, he moved inland and, in a daring move, defying
conventional military principles, cut loose from most of his supply
lines. Operating in enemy territory, Grant moved swiftly, never
giving the Confederates, under the command of John C. Pemberton,
an opportunity to concentrate their forces against him. Grant's
army went eastward, captured the city of Jackson, Mississippi,
and severed the rail line to Vicksburg.
that the Confederates could no longer send reinforcements to the
Vicksburg garrison, Grant turned west and won at Champion Hill.
The defeated Confederates retreated inside their fortifications
at Vicksburg, and Grant promptly surrounded the city. Finding
that assaults against the impregnable breastworks were futile,
he settled in for a six-week siege. Cut off and with no possibility
of relief, Pemberton surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863. It
was a devastating defeat for the Southern cause, effectively splitting
the Confederacy in two, and, in conjunction with the Union victory
at Gettysburg the previous day, is widely considered the turning
point of the war. For this victory, President Abraham Lincoln
promoted Grant to the rank of major general in the regular army
to rank from July 4.
In September 1863, the Confederates won the Battle of Chickamauga.
Afterwards, the defeated Union forces under William S. Rosecrans
retreated to the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The victorious
Confederate forces, led by Braxton Bragg, followed closely behind.
They took up positions on the hillsides, overlooking the city
and surrounding the Federals.
October 17, Grant was placed in overall charge of the besieged
forces. He immediately relieved Rosecrans and replaced him with
George H. Thomas. Devising a plan known as the "Cracker Line",
Grant's chief engineer, William F. "Baldy" Smith, launched
the Battle of Wauhatchie (October 28–29, 1863) to open the
Tennessee River, allowing supplies and reinforcements to flow
into Chattanooga, greatly increasing the chances for Grant's forces.
reprovisioning and reinforcing, the morale of Union troops lifted.
In late November, they went on the offensive. The Battle of Chattanooga
started out with Sherman's failed attack on the Confederate right.
He not only attacked the wrong mountain, but committed his troops
piecemeal, allowing them to be defeated by one Confederate division.
In response, Grant ordered Thomas to launch a demonstration on
the center, which could draw defenders away from Sherman. Thomas
waited until he was certain that Hooker, with reinforcements from
the Army of the Potomac, was engaged on the Confederate left before
he launched the Army of the Cumberland at the center of the Confederate
line. Hooker's men broke the Confederate left, while Thomas's
men made an unexpected, but spectacular, charge straight up Missionary
Ridge and broke the fortified center of the Confederate line.
Grant was initially angry at Thomas that his orders for a demonstration
were exceeded, but the assaulting wave sent the Confederates into
a head-long retreat, opening the way for the Union to invade Atlanta,
Georgia, and the heart of the Confederacy.
willingness to fight and ability to win impressed President Abraham
Lincoln, who appointed him lieutenant general in the regular army—a
new rank recently authorized by the U.S. Congress with Grant in
mind—on March 2, 1864. On March 12, Grant became general-in-chief
of all the armies of the United States.
and strategy for victory
In March 1864, Grant put Major General William Tecumseh Sherman
in immediate command of all forces in the West and moved his headquarters
to Virginia where he turned his attention to the long-frustrated
Union effort to destroy the army of Lee; his secondary objective
was to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia,
but Grant knew that the latter would happen automatically once
the former was accomplished. He devised a coordinated strategy
that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple
directions: Grant, George G. Meade, and Benjamin Franklin Butler
against Lee near Richmond; Franz Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley;
Sherman to invade Georgia, defeat Joseph E. Johnston, and capture
Atlanta; George Crook and William W. Averell to operate against
railroad supply lines in West Virginia; Nathaniel Banks to capture
Mobile, Alabama. Grant was the first general to attempt such a
coordinated strategy in the war and the first to understand the
concepts of total war, in which the destruction of an enemy's
economic infrastructure that supplied its armies was as important
as tactical victories on the battlefield.
Campaign, Petersburg, and Appomattox
The Overland Campaign was the military thrust needed by the Union
to defeat the Confederacy. It pitted Grant against the great commander
Robert E. Lee in an epic contest. It began on May 4, 1864, when
the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River, marching into
an area of scrubby undergrowth and second growth trees known as
the Wilderness. It was a terrible place to fight, but Lee sent
in his Army of Northern Virginia anyway because he recognized
the close confines would prevent Grant from fully exploiting his
Battle of the Wilderness was a stubborn, bloody two-day fight.
It was an inauspicious start for the Union. Grant was leading
a campaign that, in order to win the war, had to destroy the Confederacy's
main battle armies. On May 7, with a pause in the fighting, there
came one of those rare moments when the course of history fell
upon the decision of a single man. Lee backed off, permitting
Grant to do what all of his predecessors, as commanders of the
Army of the Potomac, had done in this situation, and that was
retreat. Grant, ignoring the setback, ordered an advance around
Lee's flank to the southeast, lifting the morale of his army.
Shenandoah campaign and Butler's James River campaign both failed.
Lee was able to reinforce with troops used to defend against these
campaign continued, but Lee, anticipating Grant's move, beat him
to Spotsylvania, Virginia, where, on May 8, the fighting resumed.
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House lasted 14 days. On May
11, Grant wrote a famous dispatch containing the line "I
propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer".
These words summed up his attitude about the fighting, and the
very next day, May 12, he ordered a massive assault that nearly
broke Lee's lines.
spite of mounting Union casualties, the contest's dynamics changed
in Grant's favor. Most of Lee's great victories in earlier years
had been won on the offensive, employing surprise movements and
fierce assaults. Now, he was forced to continually fight on the
defensive. The next major battle, however, demonstrated the power
of a well-prepared defense. Cold Harbor was one of Grant's most
controversial battles, in which he launched on June 3 a massive
three-corps assault without adequate reconnaissance on a well-fortified
defensive line, resulting in horrific casualties (3–7,000
killed, wounded, and missing in the first 40 minutes, although
modern estimates have determined that the total was likely less
than half of the famous figure of 7,000 that has been used in
books for decades; as many as 12,000 for the day, far outnumbering
the Confederate losses).
normally imperturbable general was observed crying as the magnitude
of the slaughter became known. Grant said of the battle in his
memoirs "I have always regretted that the last assault at
Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault
of the 22nd of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage
whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained."
But yet Grant moved on and kept up the pressure. He stole a march
on Lee, slipping his troops across the James River.
at Petersburg, Virginia, first, Grant should have captured the
rail junction city, but he failed because of the overly cautious
actions of his subordinate, William F. "Baldy" Smith.
Over the next three days, a number of Union assaults were launched,
attempting to take the city. But all failed, and finally on June
18, Lee's veterans arrived. Faced with fully manned trenches in
his front, Grant was left with no alternative but to settle down
to a siege.
approved an innovative plan by Ambrose Burnside's corps to break
the stalemate. Before dawn on July 30, they exploded a mine under
the Confederate works. But due to last-minute changes in the plan,
involving the reluctance of Meade and Grant to allow a division
of African-American troops to lead the attack, the ensuing assault
was poorly coordinated and lacked vigor. Given an opportunity
to regroup, the Confederates took advantage of the situation and
counterattacked, winning the Battle of the Crater, and the Federals
lost another opportunity to hasten the end of the war.
the summer drew on and with Grant's and Sherman's armies stalled,
respectively in Virginia and Georgia, politics took center stage.
There was a presidential election in the fall, and the citizens
of the North had difficulty seeing any progress in the war effort.
To make matters worse for Abraham Lincoln, Lee detached a small
army under the command of Major General Jubal A. Early, hoping
it would force Grant to disengage forces to pursue him. Early
invaded north through the Shenandoah Valley and reached the outskirts
of Washington, D.C.. Although unable to take the city, but by
simply threatening its inhabitants, Early embarrassed the Administration,
making Abraham Lincoln's reelection prospects even bleaker.
early September the efforts of Grant's coordinated strategy finally
bore fruit. First, Sherman took Atlanta. Then, Grant dispatched
Philip Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with Early. It
became clear to the people of the North that the war was being
won, and Lincoln was reelected by a wide margin. Later in November,
Sherman began his March to the Sea. Sheridan and Sherman both
followed Grant's strategy of total war by destroying the economic
infrastructures of the Valley and a large swath of Georgia and
the beginning of April 1865, Grant's relentless pressure finally
forced Lee to evacuate Richmond and after a nine-day retreat,
Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9,
1865. There, Grant offered generous terms that did much to ease
the tensions between the armies and preserve some semblance of
Southern pride, which would be needed to reconcile the warring
sides. Within a few weeks, the American Civil War was effectively
over; minor actions would continue until Kirby Smith surrendered
his forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865.
after Lee's surrender, Grant had the sad honor of serving as a
pallbearer at the funeral of his greatest champion, Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln had been quoted after the massive losses at Shiloh, "I
can't spare this general. He fights." It was a two-sentence
description that completely caught the essence of Ulysses S. Grant.
fighting style was what one fellow general called "that of
a bulldog". Although such a description evokes the popular
image of Grant and accurately captures his tenacity, it oversimplifies
his considerable strategic and tactical capabilities. Although
a master of combat by out-maneuvering his opponent (such as at
Vicksburg and in the Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee),
Grant was not afraid to order direct assaults or tight sieges
against Confederate forces, often when the Confederates were themselves
launching offensives against him. Once an offensive or a siege
began, Grant refused to stop the attack until the enemy surrendered
or was driven from the field.
tactics often resulted in heavy casualties for Grant's men, but
they wore down the Confederate forces proportionately even more
and inflicted irreplaceable losses. Grant has been described as
a "butcher" by his critics for his strategy, particularly
in 1864, but he was able to achieve objectives that his predecessor
generals had not, even though they suffered similar casualties
over time. Although Grant lost battles in 1864, he was the only
major commander to win all his campaigns during the Civil War.
the war, Congress authorized Grant the newly created rank of General
of the Army of the United States, the equivalent of a full general
in the modern army. He was appointed as such by President Andrew
Johnson on July 25, 1866.
As commander in chief of the army, Grant had a difficult relationship
with President Johnson. He accompanied Johnson on a national stumping
tour during the 1866 elections, but did not appear to be a supporter
of Johnson's moderate policies toward the South. Johnson tried
to use Grant to defeat the Radical Republicans, by making Grant
the Secretary of War in place of Stanton, who refused to resign.
Grant refused--but kept his military command. That made him a
hero to the Radicals, who gave him the Republican nomination for
president in 1868.
was chosen as the Republican presidential candidate at the Republican
National Convention in Chicago in May 1868, with no real opposition.
In his letter of acceptance to the party, Grant concluded with
"Let us have peace," which became the Republican campaign
slogan. In the general election that year, he won against former
New York governor Horatio Seymour with a lead of 300,000 out of
a total of 5,716,082 votes cast, but by a commanding 214 Electoral
College votes to 80. He ran about 100,000 votes ahead of the GOP
ticket, suggesting an unusually powerful appeal to veterans. When
he entered the White House he was politically inexperienced and,
at age 46, the youngest man yet elected president.
Grant was the 18th President of the United States and served two
terms from March 4, 1869, to March 3, 1877. He easily won reelection
by a wide margin in 1872 against Horace Greeley.
Despite the scandals that sometimes dominate his presidential
legacy, Grant's administration had positive aspects. His Secretary
of State, Hamilton Fish, was very highly regarded at the time
and ever since. Grant presided over the last half of Reconstruction,
watching as the Democrats, or Redeemers, took control of every
state away from his Republican coalition. When urgent telegrams
from state leaders begged for help, Grant and his Attorney General
replied that "the whole public is tired of these annual autumnal
outbreaks in the South," saying that state militias should
handle the problems, not the Army.
supported amnesty for Confederate leaders and protection for the
civil rights of African-Americans. He favored a limited number
of troops to be stationed in the South—sufficient numbers
to protect rights of southern blacks and suppress the violent
tactics of the Ku Klux Klan, but not so many as to create resentment
in the general population. In 1869 and 1871, Grant signed bills
promoting voting rights and prosecuting Klan leaders. The Fifteenth
Amendment to the United States Constitution, establishing voting
rights, was ratified in 1870. Grant signed a bill into law that
created Yellowstone National Park (America's first National Park)
on March 1, 1872.
Panic of 1873 hit the country hard during his presidency, and
he never attempted decisive action, one way or the other, to alleviate
distress. The first law that he signed, in March 1869 established
the value of the greenback currency issued during the Civil War,
pledging to redeem the bills in gold. In 1874 he vetoed a bill
to increase the amount of a legal tender currency, which defused
the currency crisis on Wall Street, but did little to help the
economy as a whole. The depression led to smashing Democratic
victories in the 1874 off-year elections, as that party took control
of the House for the first time since 1856.
foreign affairs the greatest achievement of the Grant administration
was the Treaty of Washington negotiated by Grant's best appointment,
Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, in 1871. It settled American
claims against England concerning the wartime activities of the
British-built Confederate raider Alabama. The worst foreign policy
blunder was an attempt to annex the independent nation of Santo
Domingo in 1870 to provide for a state for the freedmen. African
American leaders did not want to be shipped off, but Grant was
misled by Orville Babcock, who negotiated a treaty. The Senate
refused to ratify it due to ( Foreign Relations Committee Chairman)
Senator Charles Sumner's strong opposition. Grant helped depose
Sumner from the chairmanship, and Sumner supported Horace Greeley
and the Liberal Republicans in 1872.
1876, Grant helped to calm the nation over the Hayes-Tilden election
controversy by appointing a federal commission that helped to
settle the election.
The first scandal to taint the Grant administration was Black
Friday, a gold-speculation financial crisis in September 1869,
set up by Wall Street manipulators Jay Gould and James Fisk. They
tried to corner the gold market, and tricked Grant into preventing
his Treasury Secretary from stopping the fraud. Several of Grant's
aides were suspected of inside dealings, but the president himself
had been totally fooled.
most famous scandal was the Whiskey Ring of 1875, exposed by Secretary
of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow, in which over $3 million
in taxes were defrauded from the federal government with the aid
of high government officials. Orville E. Babcock, the private
secretary to the President, was indicted as a member of the ring
and escaped conviction only because of a presidential pardon.
When it became clear that Babcock was involved in the scandal,
Grant regretted his earlier statement, "Let no guilty man
escape." After the Whiskey Ring, Grant's Secretary of War,
William W. Belknap, was involved in an investigation that revealed
that he had taken bribes in exchange for the sale of Native American
trading posts. Grant foolishly accepted the resignation of Belknap;
when Belknap was impeached by Congress for his actions, he escaped
conviction since he was no longer a government official.
scandals included the Sanborn Incident at the Treasury, and problems
with U.S. Attorney Cyrus I. Scofield.
there is no evidence that Grant himself profited from corruption
among his subordinates, he did not take a firm stance against
malefactors and failed to react strongly even after their guilt
was established. When critics complained he vigorously attacked
them. He was weak in his selection of subordinates, favoring colleagues
from the war over those with more practical political experience.
He alienated party leaders by giving many posts to his friends
and political contributors, rather than listen to their recommendations.
His failure to establish adequate political allies was a factor
in the scandals getting out of control. At the conclusion of his
second term, Grant wrote to Congress that "Failures have
been errors of judgment, not of intent."
After the end of his second term, Grant spent two years traveling
around the world. He visited Sunderland, where he opened the first
free municipal public library in England. Grant also visited Japan.
In the Shibakoen section of Tokyo, a tree still stands that Grant
planted during his stay.
1879, the Meiji government of Japan announced the annexation of
the Ryukyu Islands. China objected, and Grant was asked to arbitrate
the matter. He decided that Japan's claim to the islands was stronger
and ruled in Japan's favor.
1879, the "Stalwart" faction of the Republican Party
led by Senator Roscoe Conkling sought to nominate Grant for a
third term as president. He counted on strong support from the
business men, the old soldiers, and the Methodist church. Publicly
Grant said nothing but privately he wanted the job and encouraged
his men. His popularity was fading however, and while he received
more than 300 votes in each of the 36 ballots of the 1880 convention,
the nomination went to James A. Garfield. Grant campaigned for
Garfield for a month, but he supported Conkling in the terrific
battle over patronage in spring 1881 that culminated in Garfield's
1883, Grant was elected the eighth president of the National Rifle
1881, Grant purchased a house in New York City and placed almost
all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership
with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses,
Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. Ward was known as
the "Young Napoleon of Finance." Perhaps Grant should
have taken that name seriously; as with the other Young Napoleon,
George B. McClellan, failure was in the wings. In this case, Ward
swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by
Grant) in 1884, bankrupted the company, Grant and Ward, and fled.
And to make matters worse, Grant learned at the same time that
he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were
left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given
pensions and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he
assumed the office of President.
one of the most ironic twists in all history, Ward's treachery
led directly to a great gift to posterity. Grant's Memoirs are
considered a masterpiece, both for their writing style and their
historical content, and until Grant bankrupted, he steadfastly
refused to write them. Only upon his family's future financial
independence becoming in doubt, did he agree to write anything
first wrote a couple of articles on his Civil War campaigns for
The Century magazine, which were warmly received. Afterwards,
the publishers made Grant an offer to write his memoirs. It was
a standard contract, one which they issued to most any new writer.
Independently of the magazine publishers, the famous author, Mark
Twain, approached Grant. Twain, who was suspicious of publishers,
was appalled by the magazine's offer. He rightly realized that
Grant was, at that time, the most significant American alive,
and he offered Grant a generous contract, including 75% of the
book's sales as royalties. Grant accepted Twain's offer.
ill, Grant fought to finish his memoirs. Although wracked with
pain and unable to speak at the end, he triumphed, finishing them
just a few days before his death. The memoirs succeeded, selling
over 300,000 copies and earning the Grant family over $450,000
($9,500,000 in 2005 dollars). Twain called the memoirs "the
most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius
Caesar," and they are widely regarded as among the finest
memoirs ever written.
S. Grant died at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at Mount
McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. He and his family had moved
to a cottage there in the Adirondacks only a month earlier. His
body lies in New York City's Riverside Park, beside that of his
wife, in Grant's Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America.
1822 Birth of Ulysses S. Grant as "Hiram Ulysses Grant"
on April 27th
1823 Family moves to Georgetown, Ohio
1864 Begins term as General-in-chief
1869 Ends term as General-in-chief
1869 Begins term as 18th President of the United States
1877 Ends term as 18th President of the United States
1880 US Census in Galena, Illinois
1885 Death of Ulysses S. Grant in Wilton, New York on July 23rd
Grant's legacy has been marred by the possibility of anti-Semitism.
The most frequently cited example is the infamous General Order
No. 11, issued by Grant's headquarters in Oxford, Mississippi,
on December 17, 1862, during the early Vicksburg Campaign. The
order stated in part:
Jews, as a class, violating every regulation of trade established
by the Treasury Department, and also Department orders, are hereby
expelled from the Department [comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi,
The order was almost immediately rescinded by President Lincoln.
Grant and his supporters (originally those who endorsed his bid
for the White House) maintain that he was unaware that a staff
officer issued it in his name. It also was portrayed as being
outside the normal inclinations and character of the man, an aberration
that was at most a temporary failure of judgment. And it was meant
to apply to certain businessmen ("peddlers") with whom
Grant had personal and professional difficulties over the years,
not an entire religious class. There is evidence in other personal
correspondence that this was Grant's focus.
issue of anti-Semitism was raised during the 1868 presidential
campaign and Grant consulted with a number of Jewish community
leaders, all of whom he was able to convince (at least according
to their public reactions) that Order 11 was an anomaly and he
was not an anti-Semite. He won the majority of the Jewish vote
in his two election campaigns and maintained good relations with
the community throughout his administration, on both political
and social levels.
In World War II, the British Army produced an armored vehicle
known as the Grant tank (a version of the American M3 model, which
was ironically nicknamed the "Lee").
portrait appears on the U.S. fifty-dollar bill.
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, located on Capitol Hill in Washington,
D.C., honors Grant.
is a U.S. Grant Bridge over the Ohio River at Portsmouth, Ohio.
has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
in ten U.S. states are named after Grant: Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota,
Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, West
Virginia, and Wisconsin and Grant Parish, Louisiana.
Grant was known to visit the Willard Hotel to escape the stress
of the White House. He referred to the people who approached him
in the lobby as "those damn lobbyists," possibly giving
rise to the modern term lobbyist.
Grant's nicknames included: The Hero of Appomattox, "Unconditional
Surrender" Grant ("U.S. Grant"), Sam Grant (originating
at West Point, from "U. S." Grant suggesting "Uncle
Sam"), The Great Captain and, in his youth, Ulys, Lyss and
Grant is the only president on record to receive a speeding ticket
for running his horse and buggy through the streets of Washington,
Grant was petrified of the sight of blood; he thus ordered all
his meat to be cooked until it was burnt.
Grant was part of the American Temperance Society while stationed
While in California, Grant tried selling ice to South America,
but failed when it melted in the warm weather aboard the ship.
Future Confederate General James Longstreet has been reputed to
have been best man at Grant's wedding, although this is regarded
by most Grant experts to be untrue. The two did know each other
and were friends from their time together at West Point and during
the Mexican War.
The question "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" was used
by Groucho Marx in his radio and TV quiz show, the correct answer
to which resulted in a consolation prize to contestants who had
won no money. Some contestants thought it was a trick question.