Ulysses Grant by Brady-Handy Photograph Collection
Ulysses S. Grant
was the 18th President of the United States.
Served as President: 1869-1877 Vice President: Schuyler Colfax, Henry Wilson Party: Republican Age at inauguration: 46
Born: April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio Died: July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York
Married: Julia Dent Grant Children: Frederick, Ulysses, Ellen, Jesse Nickname: Unconditional Surrender Grant
What is Ulysses S. Grant most known for?
Ulysses S. Grant is most known for being the lead general of the Union troops during the American Civil War. His fame as a war hero propelled him into the White House where his presidency was marred by scandals.
Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant standing by a tree in front of a tent, Cold Harbor, Va. By the National Archives
Grant grew up in Ohio the son of a tanner. He didn't want to be a tanner like his father and spent his time on the farm where he became an excellent horseman. His father suggested that he attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At first Grant didn't like the idea as he had no interest in becoming a soldier, however, he realized this was his chance at a college education and eventually decided to go.
After graduating from West Point, Grant became an officer in the army. During the Mexican War (1846-1848) he served under General Zachary Taylor. Later he had various posts on the west coast. Grant was lonely for his wife and family, however, and took to drinking. He eventually left the army to return home and open a general store.
The Civil War
With the start of the Civil War, Grant reentered the military. He started out with the Illinois militia and soon moved up the ranks in the army to general. In 1862 Grant had his first major victory when he captured Fort Donelson in Tennessee. He became known as Unconditional Surrender (U.S.) Grant when he told the Confederate commanders "No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender".
Grant's victory at Fort Donelson was the first major victory for the Union during the Civil War. He then led his army to victory at the city of Vicksburg, a Confederate stronghold. This victory helped to split the South's forces in two and gave the Union considerable momentum. He became a famous war hero and in 1864 President Abraham Lincoln made him General-in-Chief of the entire Union Army.
Grant then led the Union Army against Robert E. Lee in Virginia. They battled for over a year, with Grant eventually defeating Lee and the Confederate Army. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. In an effort to restore the Union, Grant offered very generous terms of surrender allowing confederate troops to return home after surrendering their weapons.
Ulysses S. Grant's Presidency
Grant's popularity soared after the Civil War, and he easily won the presidential election in 1868. He served two terms as president and even ran for a third, which he didn't win. Unfortunately, his presidency was marked by a series of scandals. Many of the people in his administration were crooks who stole from the government. In 1873, financial speculation led to a panic and the stock market crashed. Many people lost their jobs during this time.
Despite all the scandals, Grant's presidency did have some positive accomplishments including:
He helped to establish the National Park System including the first National Park, Yellowstone.
Grant fought for the civil rights of both African Americans and Native Americans. He pushed for the passage of the 15th Amendment, giving the right of all men to vote regardless of race, color, or whether they were former slaves. He also signed a bill that allowed persons of African descent to become U.S. citizens.
He signed a bill to create the Department of Justice.
His administration negotiated the Treaty of Washington with Great Britain, settling disputes over the Civil War as well as the northern borders.
Grant ran for a third term in office, but did not win. He decided to go on a tour of the world. He spent over two years traveling the world and meeting with important world leaders. He met with Queen Victoria in England, Prince Bismarck in Germany, the emperor of Japan, and the Pope at the Vatican. He also visited Russia, China, Egypt, and the Holy Land.
Upon returning from his trip, he decided to run for president again in 1880, however, he was unsuccessful. He spent the end of his days writing his own autobiography.
How did he die?
Ulysses Simpson Grant by Henry Ulke
Grant died of throat cancer in 1885, probably as a result of smoking several cigars a day for much of his life.
Fun Facts about Ulysses S. Grant
Grant's real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but it was entered incorrectly as Ulysses S. Grant when he went to West Point. Since he was embarrassed by his real initials (H.U.G), he didn't tell anyone and ended up going by Ulysses S. Grant for the rest of his life.
According to Grant, the "S" was just an initial and didn't stand for anything. Some said it stood for Simpson, his mother's maiden name.
When he was at West Point, his fellow Cadets called him Sam because U.S. could have stood for Uncle Sam.
When word got out that he was smoking a cigar during his famous attack on Fort Donelson, people sent him thousands of cigars to celebrate his victory.
Grant was invited to attend the play at the Ford's Theatre the night President Lincoln was assassinated. He turned down the invite and later regretted that he wasn't there to help protect Lincoln.
It was the famous author Mark Twain who suggested that Grant write an autobiography.