Presidents: Ulysses S. Grant

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President Ulysses S. Grant was one of the first presidents to write his memoirs. Before moving into politics, he lead an army life, commanding the Union during the Civil

Ulysses S. Grant at camp


Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He was the oldest son of six children born to Jesse Root and Hannah Simpson Grant.

He entered West Point, or the U.S. Military Academy, at the age of sixteen. His name was mistakenly written as Ulysses S. Grant and this became his adopted name.

Grant, while quiet by nature, developed a reputation as a horse whisperer for his calming effect on the animals.

While visiting a West Point classmate, Frederick Dent, Grant met and became engaged to his sister, Julia.

Grant’s until was ordered by President James Polk to assist Zachary Taylor in the Mexican-American War.

Ulysses S. Grant married Julia Dent on August 22, 1848. The couple would have four children together.

Grant moved to various forts in which he worked and eventually reached the rank of captain. Upon being sent to California, without his family, he became unhappy and began to drink. In mid 1854, he resigned and returned to his family in St. Louis, Missouri. He also attempted several businesses to help support his family, but failed. His father said he had no head for business.

Ulysses S. Grant in military uniform

The Grants struggled for the next seven years, as Ulysses worked in farming and the tanner trade, primarily.

Grant shared his neighbors’ concerns about the onset of war When volunteers were called for, Grant was asked to lead the effort, based on his previous military career. On June 24, 1861, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel and later that year to Brigadier General. After the assault on Fort Donelson, Grant was promoted to major-general. He became known as “Unconditional Surrender Grant”. Julia Grant soon joined him on the battle field and traveled with her husband as he moved camp.

Grant lead troops in battle at Shiloh and Vicksburg. With the fall of Vicksburg, he gained control down the west side of the Mississippi River.

President Lincoln promoted Grant to major general in the regular army on October 16, 1863. A few months later he was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of all union armies. He only answered to President Lincoln with this promotion.

The Battle of Petersburg and Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, helped the union cause.

Ulysses S. Grant

On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Grant at Appomattox Court House.

Five days later, the Grants received an invitation to join the Lincoln’s at Ford’s Theater. The Grants declined to travel to see their children in Philadelphia. That night President Lincoln was assassinated. General Grant was summoned back to Washington. Attending Lincoln’s funeral on April 19, Grant stood alone and wept openly; he later said Lincoln was “the greatest man I have ever known.”

Grant remained as commander of the army following the end of the war. President Johnson sent him on a “fact-finding mission of the South” in late 1865. On July 25, 1866, Congress promoted Grant to the newly created rank of General of the Army of the United States.

When President Johnson attempted to remove Secretary of War Stanton and give to General Grant, he held his beliefs and gave the office back to Stanton, because he refused to violate the Tenure of Office Act. This move and other issues lead to President Johnson’s impeachment.

In 1868, the Republican Party nominated Grant as a presidential candidate. His wife was excited and worked hard to campaign on his behalf.

On March 4, 1869, Grant was sworn in as President of the United States. He is said to be indifferent to the world of politics.

Ulysses S. Grant

Grant fought for the continuation of and changes during reconstruction and to enforce civil rights, regardless of color. He also had to deal with the Native Americans in the west and the Great Sioux War, under which Colonel George Custer was killed by Crazy Horse.

In 1872, he was elected to a second term. He established the gold standard practice, dealt with the Panic of 1873, saw the expansion of the railroad and growth of the industrial age. He also had to deal with corruption in the Treasury Department. Other scandals grew and in November 1876, Grant apologized to the nation and admitted mistakes in his administration, saying, “failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.”

According to biographer Jean Edward Smith, “Grant’s calm visage in the White House reassured the nation.”

President Grant refused to run for a third term and left the White House on March 4, 1877.

A few weeks later, he and Julia embarked on a two year world trip.

Ulysses S. Grant

Upon return, he was left depleted of his savings. When a business deal went wrong, the family was left destitute. Grant began to write articles about his Civil War campaigns to bring in money for the family.

He eventually wrote his memoirs and also sold or donated to the federal government many of his souvenirs.

In summer of 1884, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He made his last appearance that year on August 4, at a service for Civil War veterans. He was met with a standing ovation.

He continued to work diligently on his memoirs, which end with the Civil War. He accepted an offer for publication from his friend Mark Twain, who called them “a literary masterpiece”.

Ulysses S. Grant

Four days after completing his memoirs, he died on July 23, 1885. He was laid in a temporary tomb, until the completion of Grant’s Tomb in New York. Grant’s Tomb was dedicated on April 15, 1897.

In eulogies by the press, Grant was likened to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

His writing of memoirs set a precedence for future ex-presidents as a way to earn money. His accomplishments as President have been overlooked due to corruption charges of his Cabinet members and appointees during his administration.

Concerning his post-presidential trip around the world, historian Edwina S. Campbell said that Grant “invented key aspects of the foreign-policy role of the modern American presidency, and created an image abroad of the United States that endures to this day.”

President Grant is also pictured on the $50 bill.



18th President of the United States
(March 4, 1869 to March 3, 1877)Nickname: “Hero of Appomattox

Born: April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio
Died: July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York

Father: Jesse Root Grant
Mother: Hannah Simpson Grant
Married: Julia Boggs Dent (1826-1902), on August 22, 1848
Children:Frederick Dent Grant (1850-1912); Ulysses Simpson Grant (1852-1929); Ellen Wrenshall Grant (1855-1922); Jesse Root Grant (1858-1934)

Religion: Methodist
Education: Graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. (1843)
Occupation: Soldier
Political Party: Republican

None, but lead Union Army in Civil War

1869 His inauguration as 18th President of the United States
1869 March 10, 1869: The Transcontinental Railroad was completed joining the eastern and western halves of the United States
1869 September 24, 1869: The Black Friday Scandal that involved James Fisk and Jay Gould and the collapse of the U.S. gold market
1869 The Knights of Labor, the first major American labor union, was founded
1870 The Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution was ratified stating that a citizen’s right to vote cannot be taken away because of race, the color of their skin, or because they were previously slaves.
1870 The President vetoes the Private Relief Bill
1871 The Indian Appropriation Act is passed with an amendment ending tribal recognition and the treaty system
1871 The Ku Klux Klan Act, one of the Enforcement Acts, is passed
1871 KKK members tried and convicted by federal courts in Mississippi.
1871 The Great Chicago Fire of 1871
1871 The Treaty of Washington is signed between the United States and Britain
1872 The Credit Mobilier Scandal involved the illegal manipulation of contracts by the Union Pacific Railroad and the Credit Mobilier construction company
1872 The Modoc War (1872 – 1873) in California and Oregon led by Captain Jack
1872 Yellowstone Park was established
1873 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis, one of Strauss’s customers and inventor of the first pair of riveted denim pants, patent their new style of denim blue jeans.
1873 The Panic of 1873, a financial crisis that triggered a depression
1873 Joseph Glidden invented barbed wire.
1875 The Whiskey Ring Scandal involved whiskey distillers who conspired to defraud the government of taxes
1875 The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was passed but it was not enforced, and the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883. This led to the establishment of the Jim Crow Laws.
1875 The ‘Long Strike of 1875’ by the Molly Maguires a secret society of Irish coal miners who fought against the coal companies
1876 June 25: March 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone
1876 June 25: The Battle of Little Bighorn, part of the Great Sioux War, when General George Custer and the 7th Cavalry were defeated by Native American warriors led by Chief Sitting Bull.
1876 The Belknap Bribery Scandal in which William W. Belknap, secretary of war, was charged with receiving bribes
1877 The Cuban Rebellion, the Ten Year War (1867-1877), against Cuban Rebels and Spain came to an end. Grant applied pressure on Spain after the Virginius affair and the two sides made peace
1877 His presidency and term in office ends. The next US President was Rutherford B. Hayes

1822 Born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio

1830 Indian Removal Act
Oregon Trail opens

1831 Nat Turner’s revolt

1832 Black Hawk War
Seminole War begins
Department of Indian Affairs established

1835 Texas War for Independence begins

1837 Battle of the Alamo

1838 1838-1839: The Trail of Tears

1843 Educated at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York (he graduated in 1843)

1846 Mexican-American War begins. Ulysses S. Grant served in the Mexican War

1848 Ulysses S. Grant was married to Julia Dent Grant on August 22, 1848. They had 4 Children

1859 Oregon admission to the US
Harper’s Ferry Raid

1860 Pony Express begins

1861 The American Civil War, also called the War between the States, was waged from April 1861 until April 1865. The 4 year war was between the federal government of the United States and 11 Southern states that asserted their right to secede (withdraw) from the Union. Abraham Lincoln was the central figure of the American Civil War. Ulysses S. Grant served in the US Civil War

1863 Battle of Gettysburg

1864 Sand Creek Massacre

1865 Abraham Lincoln assassinated
United States Civil War ends

1866 Civil Rights Act of 1866
Ku Klux Klan founded

1867 Alaska Purchase from Russia

1869 1869 Ulysses S. Grant became the President of the United States of America

1869 During his presidency he was involved in Reconstruction (1865–1877), the system of bringing the Southern states back into the Unites States after the Civil War.
Transcontinental Railroad Completed (1869)

1870 Fifteenth Amendment Ratified (1870)

1873 Panic of 1873

1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876)

1877 1877 The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant ended
The Nez Perce War

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and European Restriction Act

1885 Ulysses S. Grant died of cancer of the tongue and tonsils on July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York.




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