Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant 1870-1880.jpg
18th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
Vice President
Preceded byAndrew Johnson
Succeeded byRutherford B. Hayes
Acting United States Secretary of War
In office
August 12, 1867 – January 14, 1868
PresidentAndrew Johnson
Preceded byEdwin Stanton
Succeeded byEdwin Stanton
6th Commanding General of the United States Army
In office
March 9, 1864 – March 4, 1869
Preceded byHenry W. Halleck
Succeeded byWilliam Tecumseh Sherman
Personal details
Hiram Ulysses Grant

(1822-04-27)April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJuly 23, 1885(1885-07-23) (aged 63)
Wilton, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathThroat cancer
Resting placeGrant's Tomb, New York City
Political partyRepublican
Julia Dent (m. 1848)
EducationUnited States Military Academy (BS)
SignatureCursive signature in ink
Military service
Branch/service United States Army (Union Army)
Years of service
  • 1839–1854
  • 1861–1869
RankUS Army General insignia (1866).svg General of the Army

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American soldier and politician who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. Before his presidency, Grant led the Union Army in winning the American Civil War. As president, Grant worked with the Radical Republicans in the Reconstruction of the Union while having to deal with corruption in his administration.

Raised in Ohio, young Grant possessed an exceptional ability with horses, which served him well through his military career. He was admitted to West Point and graduated from the U.S. military academy in 1843. Grant served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. In 1848, he married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. Grant abruptly resigned his army commission in 1854 and returned to his family, but lived in poverty for seven years. During the Civil War, he joined the Union Army in 1861, and led the Vicksburg campaign, which gained control of the Mississippi River in 1863. After Grant's victory at Chattanooga, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to Lieutenant General. For thirteen months, Grant fought Robert E. Lee during the high casualty Overland Campaign and at Petersburg. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. A week later, Lincoln was assassinated, and was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson, who promoted Grant to General of the Army in 1866. Later Grant openly broke with Johnson over Reconstruction policies; Grant used the reconstruction acts, which had been passed over Johnson's veto, to enforce civil rights for African freedmen.

A war hero but a reluctant politician, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and was elected president in 1868. As president, Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, created the Department of Justice, and prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan. He appointed African-Americans and Jewish-Americans to prominent federal offices. In 1871, he created the first Civil Service Commission. The Liberal Republicans and Democrats united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but Grant was handily re-elected. Grant's Native American policy had both successes and failures. In foreign affairs, the Grant administration peacefully resolved the Alabama claims against Great Britain, but the Senate rejected Grant's prized Caribbean Dominican Republic annexation. Corruption in the executive branch became notorious: several of Grant's cabinet members and other appointees were fired or had to resign. The Panic of 1873 plunged the nation into a severe economic depression, that allowed the Democrats win the House majority. In the intensely disputed Presidential election of 1876, Grant facilitated the approval by Congress of a peaceful compromise.

In his retirement, Grant was the first president to circumnavigate the world on his tour meeting with many foreign leaders. In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. In the final year of his life, facing severe financial reversals and dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memoirs, which proved to be a major critical and financial success. At the time of his death, he was memorialized as a symbol of national unity.

Historical assessments of Grant's legacy have varied. Historians have recognized Grant's military genius, and his modern strategies of warfare are featured in military history textbooks. 20th century historical rankings of presidents of the United States have ranked Grant among the worst presidents because of corruption charges against some of his top appointees or White House military aides. 21st century historians have emphasized Grant's presidential accomplishments including the Alabama Claims settlement, protection of Blacks and Indians, and the first Civil Service Commission. Grant was an embattled president who failed in the difficult challenge of getting the entire nation to accept Reconstruction efforts. At his funeral both Union and ex-Confederate generals served as pallbearers.

Early life and education

Image of Grant's birthplace, a simple one story structure, with fence and trees in front, next to the Ohio River with steamboat passing by
Grant's birthplace, Point Pleasant, Ohio
Published 1885

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822, to Jesse Root Grant, a tanner and merchant, and Hannah Simpson Grant.[1] His ancestors Matthew and Priscilla Grant arrived aboard the ship Mary and John at Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.[2] Grant's great-grandfather fought in the French and Indian War, and his grandfather, Noah, served in the American Revolution at Bunker Hill.[3] Afterward, Noah settled in Pennsylvania and married Rachel Kelley, the daughter of an Irish pioneer.[4] Their son Jesse (Ulysses's father) was a Whig Party supporter and a fervent abolitionist.[5] Jesse Grant moved to Point Pleasant in 1820 and found work as a foreman in a tannery.[6] He soon met his future wife, Hannah, and the two were married on June 24, 1821.[7] Hannah descended from Presbyterian immigrants from Ballygawley in County Tyrone, Ireland.[8][9] Ten months after she was married, Hannah gave birth to Ulysses, her and Jesse's first child.[10] The boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. To honor his father-in-law, Jesse declared the boy named Hiram Ulysses, though he would always refer to him as Ulysses.[11][b]

In 1823, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where five more siblings were born: Simpson, Clara, Orvil, Jennie, and Mary.[13] At the age of five, Ulysses began his formal education, starting at a subscription school and later in two private schools.[14] In the winter of 1836–1837, Grant was a student at Maysville Seminary, and in the autumn of 1838, he attended John Rankin's academy. In his youth, Grant developed an unusual ability to ride and manage horses.[15] Grant disliked the tannery, so his father put his ability with horses to use by giving him work driving wagon loads of supplies and transporting people.[16] Unlike his siblings, Grant was not forced to attend church by his Methodist parents.[17][c] For the rest of his life, he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination.[19] To others, including his own son, Grant appeared to be an agnostic.[20] He inherited some of Hannah's Methodist piety and quiet nature.[21] Grant was largely apolitical before the war but wrote, "If I had ever had any political sympathies they would have been with the Whigs. I was raised in that school."[22]

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