Ulysses S. Grant
— 18th President of the United States —
POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
TERM: March 4, 1869 to March 3, 1877
BORN: April 27, 1822
BIRTHPLACE: Point Pleasant, Ohio
DIED: July 23, 1885, Mt. McGregor, N.Y.
Buried in New York City
MARRIED: Julia B. Dent, 1848
CHILDREN: Fred, Buck, Jesse, Nellie
Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885), having led the Northern
armies to victory in the Civil War, was elected eighteenth
president of the United States.
As a general in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant possessed the
right qualities for prosecuting offensive warfare against the
brilliant tactics of his Southern adversary Robert E. Lee. Bold
and indefatigable, Grant believed in destroying enemy armies
rather than merely occupying enemy territory. His strategic
genius and tenacity overcame the Confederates' advantage of
fighting a defensive war on their own territory. However, Grant
lacked the political experience and subtlety to cope with the
nation's postwar problems, and his presidency was marred by
scandals and an economic depression.
Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in a cabin at Point
Pleasant, Ohio. He attended district schools and worked at his
father's tannery and farm. In 1839 Grant's father secured an
appointment to West Point for his unenthusiastic son. Grant
excelled as a horseman but was an indifferent student. When he
graduated in 1843, he accepted an infantry commission. Although
not in sympathy with American objectives in the war with Mexico
in 1846, he fought courageously under Zachary Taylor and
Winfield Scott, emerging from the conflict as a captain.
In subsequent years Capt. "Sam" Grant served at a variety of
bleak army posts. Lonely for his wife and son (he had married
Julia Dent in 1848), the taciturn, unhappy captain began
drinking. Warned by his commanding officer, Grant resigned from
the Army in July 1854. He borrowed money for transportation to
St. Louis, Mo., where he joined his family and tried a series of
occupations without much success: farmer, realtor, candidate for
county engineer, and customshouse clerk. He was working as a
store clerk at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.
Rise to Fame
This was a war Grant did believe in, and he offered his
services. The governor of Illinois appointed him colonel of the
21st Illinois Volunteers in June 1861. Grant took his regiment
to Missouri, where, to his surprise, he was promoted to
Grant persuaded his superiors to authorize an attack on Ft.
Henry on the Tennessee River and Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland
in order to gain Union control of these two important rivers.
Preceded by gunboats, Grant's 17,000 troops marched out of
Cairo, Ill., on Feb. 2, 1862. After Ft. Henry surrendered, the
soldiers took Ft. Donelson. Here Confederate general Simon B.
Buckner, one of Grant's West Point classmates (and the man who,
much earlier, had loaned the impecunious captain the money to
rejoin his family), requested an armistice. Grant's reply became
famous: "No terms except an unconditional and immediate
surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon
your works." Buckner surrendered. One of the first important
Northern victories of the war, the capture of Ft. Donelson won
Grant promotion to major general.
Grant next concentrated 38,000 men at Pittsburgh Landing
(Shiloh) on the Tennessee River, preparing for an offensive. He
unwisely neglected to prepare for a possible Confederate
counteroffensive. At dawn on April 6, 1862, the Confederate
attack surprised the sleeping Union soldiers. Grant did his best
to prevent a rout, and at the end of the day Union lines still
held, but the Confederates were in command of most of the field.
The next day the Union Army counterattacked with 25,000 fresh
troops, who had arrived during the night, and drove the
Southerners into full retreat. The North had triumphed in one of
the bloodiest battles of the war, but Grant was criticized for
his carelessness. Urged to replace Grant, President Abraham
Lincoln refused, saying, "I can't spare this man - he fights."
Grant set out to recoup his reputation and secure Union control
of the Mississippi River by taking the rebel stronghold at
Vicksburg, Miss. Several attempts were frustrated; in the North
criticism of Grant was growing and there were reports that he
had begun drinking heavily. But in April 1863 Grant embarked on
a bold scheme to take Vicksburg. While he marched his 20,000 men
past the fortress on the opposite (west) bank, an ironclad fleet
sailed by the batteries. The flotilla rendezvoused with Grant
below the fort and transported the troops across the river. In
one of the most brilliant gambles of the war, Grant cut himself
off from his base in the midst of enemy territory with
numerically inferior forces. The gamble paid off. Grant drove
one Confederate Army from the city of Jackson, then turned and
defeated a second force at Champion's Hill, forcing the rebels
to withdraw to Vicksburg on May 20. Union troops laid siege to
Vicksburg, and on July 4 the garrison surrendered. Ten days
later the last Confederate outpost on the Mississippi fell.
Thus, the Confederacy was cut in two. Coming at the same time as
the Northern victory at Gettysburg, this was the turning point
of the war.
Grant was given command of the Western Department, and in the
fall of 1863 he took command of the Union Army pinned down at
Chattanooga after its defeat in the Battle of Chickamauga. In a
series of battles on November 23, 24, and 25, the rejuvenated
Northern troops dislodged the besieging Confederates, the most
spirited infantry charge of the war climaxing the encounter. It
was a great victory; Congress created the rank of lieutenant
general for Grant, who was placed in command of all the armies
of the Union.
Architect of Victory
Grant was at the summit of his career. A reticent man,
unimpressive in physical appearance, he gave few clues to the
reasons for his success. He rarely communicated his thinking; he
was the epitome of the strong, silent type. But Grant had deep
resources of character, a quietly forceful personality that won
the respect and confidence of subordinates, and a decisiveness
and bulldog tenacity that served him well in planning and
carrying out military operations.
In the spring of 1864 the Union armies launched a coordinated
offensive designed to bring the war to an end. However, Lee
brilliantly staved off Grant's stronger Army of the Potomac in a
series of battles in Virginia. Union forces suffered fearful
losses, especially at Cold Harbor, while war weariness and
criticism of Grant as a "butcher" mounted in the North.
Lee moved into entrenchments at Petersburg, Va., and Grant
settled down there for a long siege. Meanwhile, Gen. William T.
Sherman captured Atlanta and began his march through Georgia,
South Carolina, and North Carolina, cutting what remained of the
Confederacy into pieces. In the spring of 1865 Lee fell back to
Appomattox, where on April 9 he met Grant in the courthouse to
receive the generous terms of surrender.
Postwar Political Career
After Lincoln's death Grant was the North's foremost war hero.
Both sides in the Reconstruction controversy, between President
Andrew Johnson and congressional Republicans, jockeyed for his
support. A tour of the South in 1865 convinced Grant that the
"mass of thinking men" there accepted defeat and were willing to
return to the Union without rancor. But the increasing defiance
of former Confederates in 1866, their persecution of those who
were freed (200,000 African Americans had fought for the Union,
and Grant believed they had contributed heavily to Northern
victory), and harassment of Unionist officials and occupation
troops gradually pushed Grant toward support of the punitive
Reconstruction policy of the Republicans. He accepted the
Republican presidential nomination in 1868, won the election,
and took office on March 4, 1869.
Grant was, to put it mildly, an undistinguished president. His
personal loyalty to subordinates, especially old army comrades,
prevented him from taking action against associates implicated
in dishonest dealings. Government departments were riddled with
corruption, and Grant did little to correct this. Turmoil and
violence in the South created the necessity for constant Federal
intervention, which inevitably alienated large segments of
opinion, North and South. In 1872 a sizable number of
Republicans bolted the party, formed the Liberal Republican
party, and combined with the Democrats to nominate Horace
Greeley for the presidency on a platform of civil service reform
and home rule in the South. Grant won reelection, but as more
scandals came to light during his second term and his Southern
policy proved increasingly unpopular, his reputation plunged.
The economic panic of 1873 ushered in a major depression; in
1874 the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives
for the first time in 16 years.
Yet Grant's two terms were not devoid of positive achievements.
In foreign policy the steady hand of Secretary of State Hamilton
Fish kept the United States out of a potential war with Spain.
The greenback dollar moved toward stabilization, and the war
debt was funded on a sound basis. Still, on balance, Grant's
presidency was an unhappy aftermath to his military success.
Nevertheless, in 1877 he was still a hero, and on a trip abroad
after his presidency he was feted in European capitals.
In 1880 Grant again allowed himself to be a candidate for the
Republican presidential nomination but fell barely short of
success in the convention. Retiring to private life, he made
ill-advised investments that led to bankruptcy in 1884. While
slowly dying of cancer of the throat, he set to work on his
military memoirs to provide an income for his wife and relatives
after his death. Through months of terrible pain his courage and
determination sustained him as he wrote in longhand the story of
his army career. The reticent, uncommunicative general revealed
a genius for this kind of writing, and his two-volume Personal
Memoirs is one of the great classics of military literature. The
memoirs earned $450,000 for his heirs, but the hero of
Appomattox died on July 23, 1885, at Mount McGregor before he
knew of his literary triumph.
Commander in chief of the Union army in the Civil War and 18th
President (1869–77) of the United States, b. Point Pleasant,
Ohio. He was originally named Hiram Ulysses Grant.
Grant spent his youth in Georgetown, Ohio, was graduated from
West Point in 1843, and served creditably in the Mexican War. He
was forced to resign from the army in 1854 because of excessive
drinking. Grant failed in attempts at farming and business, and
was working as a clerk in the family leather store in Galena,
Ill., when the Civil War broke out. He was commissioned colonel
of the 21st Illinois Volunteers, and in Aug., 1861, became a
brigadier general of volunteers.
Grant assumed command of the district of Cairo, Ill., in Sept.
and fought his first battle, an indecisive affair at Belmont,
Mo., on Nov. 9. In Feb., 1862, aided by Union gunboats, he
captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on
the Cumberland. This was the first major Union victory, and
Lincoln at once made Grant a major general of volunteers. In
April at Shiloh (see Shiloh, battle of), however, only the
arrival of the army of Gen. Don Carlos Buell may have saved him
The Vicksburg campaign (1862–63) was one of Grant's greatest
successes. After repeated failures to get at the town, he
advanced in cooperation with a fleet and finally took Vicksburg
by siege. The victory of Braxton Bragg, the Confederate general,
at Chickamauga (see Chattanooga campaign), led to Grant's
accession to the supreme command in the West, Oct., 1863. At
Chattanooga in November his forces thoroughly defeated Bragg.
The President, in Mar., 1864, made Grant commander in chief with
the rank of lieutenant general, a grade especially revived by
Congress for him.
Grant himself directed George G. Meade's Army of the Potomac
against Gen. Robert E. Lee in the Wilderness campaign. His
policy of attrition against Lee's forces was effective, though
it resulted in slaughter at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.
Failing to carry Petersburg by assault in June, 1864, Grant had
that city under partial siege until Apr., 1865. Philip H.
Sheridan's victory at Five Forks made Petersburg and Richmond no
longer tenable. Lee retreated, but was cut off at Appomattox
Courthouse (see under Appomattox, where he surrendered,
receiving generous terms from Grant, on Apr. 9, 1865.
Grant went about the distasteful business of war realistically
and grimly. He was a skilled tactician and at times a brilliant
strategist (as at Vicksburg, regarded by many as one of the
great battles of history). His courage as a commander of forces
and his powers of organization and administration made him the
outstanding Northern general. Grant also was notably wise in
supporting good commanders, especially Sheridan, William T.
Sherman, and George H. Thomas. Made a full general in 1866, he
was the first U.S. citizen to hold that rank.
Grant at first seemed to favour the Reconstruction policy of
President Andrew Johnson. In Apr., 1867, Johnson appointed him
interim Secretary of War, replacing Edwin Stanton. Johnson
expected him to hold the office against Stanton and thus bring
about a test of the constitutionality of the Tenure of Office
Act, but Grant turned the office back to Stanton when the Senate
refused to sanction Stanton's removal. It was apparent then that
the general had thrown his lot in with the radical Republicans.
The inevitable choice of the Republicans for President, Grant
was victorious over the Democratic candidate, Horatio Seymour,
Characterized chiefly by bitter partisan politics and shameless
corruption, his administrations remain notorious. The punitive
Reconstruction program was pushed with new vigour, and
legislation favourable to commercial and industrial interests
was passed (see greenback). The President associated with
disreputable politicians and financiers; James Fisk and Jay
Gould deceived him when they tried to corner the gold market in
1869 (see Black Friday). In foreign affairs, however, much was
accomplished by the able Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish.
The party unanimously renominated Grant in 1872, and he was
reelected easily over Horace Greeley, the candidate of the
Liberal Republican party and the Democrats. Toward the end of
his second term his Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, and
his private secretary, Orville E. Babcock, were implicated in
graft scandals. Through the loyalty of the deceived Grant, both
The two years following his retirement from the White House were
spent in making a triumphal tour of the world. In 1880 the
Republican “Old Guard,” led by Roscoe Conkling, tried to secure
another nomination for Grant but failed. He took up residence in
New York City, where he invested money in a fraudulent private
banking business. It collapsed in 1884, leaving him bankrupt.
Dying of cancer of the throat, he set about writing his Personal
Memoirs (2 vol., 1885–86) in order to provide for his family. He
died a few days after the manuscript was completed. These
memoirs are ranked among the great narratives of military
history. The remains of the general and his wife lie in New York
City in Grant's Tomb.
Civil War general and eighteenth president of the United States.
Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, Grant was a plain, unassuming
product of the Midwest. His life was one of pathetically
ordinary failure in everything save the waging or writing of
war. The son of a tanner, he had no taste for his father's
trade. He graduated from West Point in 1843 and compiled a solid
record of service in the Mexican War, but his army career
collapsed in the peacetime boredom of a long isolated tour of
duty in northern California and Oregon. A drinking problem
hastened his resignation from the army in 1854. Next he tried
farming and real estate ventures without success. When the Civil
War broke out in the spring of 1861, he was working as a clerk
for his father in Galena, Illinois.
Grant found his calling in the Civil War. The conflict energized
him and restored his confidence. First commissioned as a colonel
of the Twenty-first Illinois Volunteer Infantry, he was promoted
in August 1861 to brigadier general of volunteers. He commanded
the land forces that captured Fort Henry on the Tennessee River
and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in February 1862. This
was his first important battle and the first major Union victory
of the war. Confederate armies counterattacked at the Battle of
Shiloh in April 1862. Aided by timely reinforcements, a
surprised and initially outgeneraled Grant was able to hold his
position and force a Confederate retreat into Mississippi.
Grant's most stunning victory in the West came out of the
Vicksburg campaign in the spring of 1863. In a brilliant display
of strategic audacity, he outflanked the Confederate defenders
of Vicksburg by using the Union navy to run his army downriver
from the city. He then defeated surprised and scattered
Confederate armies and successfully besieged Vicksburg from the
east. The city, the last major Confederate position on the
Mississippi River, surrendered on July 4, 1863. Having been
given the top Union command in the West in October, Grant lifted
the Confederate siege of Chattanooga the next month and routed
Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee. The way was now
open for the Union campaign against Atlanta.
Congress revived the rank of lieutenant general specifically for
Grant, and President Abraham Lincoln appointed him supreme
commander of the Union armies in March 1864. In a series of
bloody, grinding encounters Grant finally wore down Robert E.
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia between May 1864 and April 1865.
Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9,
Grant's postwar career was decidedly anticlimactic. To be sure,
he was elected as a Republican to two terms as president
(1869-1877), but his administrations were marred by indecisive
leadership, an inconsistent policy on southern Reconstruction,
and massive corruption. Coupled with a severe economic
depression that began in 1873, administration scandals cost
Grant much of his popularity. Nonetheless, his presidency did
have some solid accomplishments. The Treaty of Washington in
1872 resolved a major dispute with Great Britain over damages
inflicted on American shipping by Confederate raiders built in
British shipyards during the Civil War. The Enforcement Acts of
1870-1871 broke the power of the Ku Klux Klan in the
Reconstruction South, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 marked an
unprecedented attempt to extend federal protection of black
civil rights to areas of public accommodations.
After returning to the United States from a world tour in the
late 1870s, Grant went bankrupt as a result of foolish
investments in the fraudulent banking firm of Grant & Ward.
Though once again a failure in civilian life, Grant did much to
redeem his place in history by writing his Personal Memoirs.
Finished just before his death from throat cancer in 1885, his
memoirs stand as one of the clearest and most powerful military
narratives ever written.
From the time he was two, Ulysses Grant loved horses. As a young
boy, he loved to play among the horses in father's stable. By
age five, he could stand up on a trotting horse's back and
balance himself with the reins. By age 11, he was strong enough
to hold a plow. From then until he was 17, he did all kinds of
work with horses such as breaking up the soil, furrowing,
plowing, and bringing in the crops at harvest time.
He began school when he was five. He was a quiet, shy child who
was well-behaved and very good at math. When he was 17, he went
off to the military academy at West Point. In 1843, he graduated
and was assigned to a U.S. Army post in St. Louis.
Grant served under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott in
the Mexican War. He resigned from the Army in 1854, and he
worked in St. Louis until 1860. When the Civil War began, he was
commissioned a Brigadier General with the 21st Illinois
Volunteers. Grant fought at Shiloh, and his army took Vicksburg,
Mississippi. It was under Grant's leadership that a floundering
Yankee army became aggressive and swept to victory. He accepted
Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Confederate forces at
Appomattox in April 1865 that ended the Civil War.
Grant was nominated for president by the Republicans at their
convention in 1868. Riding his popularity as a war hero and a
proponent of peace, Grant buried Horatio Seymour in the
electoral vote, 214 to 80. In 1872, Grant again won the popular
vote, but his opponent, Horace Greeley, died before the
electoral votes could be cast, thereby giving Grant a 286-0 win.
Notable achievements during his administration were extensive
civil service reform, the Amnesty Act, and the 15th Amendment to
When he left office, Grant went into business. Eventually, the
business failed, and he was left penniless. He wrote his memoirs
to raise money, and they were published just four days before he
died of cancer on July 23, 1885 in Mt. McGregor, New York.
JACANA HOME PAGE
CLASSIC VIDEO CLIPS
JACANA ASTRONOMY SITE
JACANA PHOTO LIBRARY |
OLD MAUN PHOTO GALLERY |
MAUN PHONE DIRECTORY
FREE FONTS |
PIC OF THE DAY
GENERAL LIBRARY |
MAP LIBRARY |
HOUSE PLANS LIBRARY
MAUN E-MAIL, WEBSITE & SKYPE LIST
BOTSWANA GPS CO-ORDINATES
MAUN SAFARI WEB LINKS |
FREE SOFTWARE |
JACANA WEATHER PAGE
JACANA CROSSWORD LIBRARY |
JACANA CARTOON PAGE |
This web page was last updated on:
10 December, 2008