Ulysses S. Grant
-Ulysses S. Grant, (1822-1885), served two terms as president of the United States, from 1869 to 1877. Grant had commanded the victorious Union armies at the close of the American Civil War in 1865. His success and fame as a general led to his election as president.
-Boyhood. Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, a village on the Ohio River southeast of Cincinnati. He was the first child of Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant. They named their son Hiram Ulysses Grant but always called him Ulysses or 'Lyss. In 1823, the family moved to nearby Georgetown, Ohio, where Ulysses's father owned a tannery and some farmland. Grant's two brothers and three sisters were born in Georgetown.
-Education. Ulysses attended school in Georgetown until he was 14. He then spent one year at an academy in Maysville, Kentucky, and in 1838, he entered an academy in nearby Ripley, Ohio.
-Early Army career. Grant graduated from West Point in 1843 and was commissioned a second lieutenant. He was assigned to the Fourth Infantry Regiment, then stationed near St. Louis. There he met Julia Dent (Jan. 26, 1826-Dec. 14, 1902), the sister of a classmate. They fell in love and soon became engaged. The threat of war with Mexico delayed their wedding.
-Grant's family. Grant returned to St. Louis as soon as he could leave Mexico. On Aug. 22, 1848, he was married to Julia Dent. She was a devoted wife and gave Grant constant encouragement. Their life together brought them great happiness. The Grants had four children: Frederick Dent (1850-1912), Ulysses S., Jr. (1852-1929), Ellen (Nellie) Wrenshall (1855-1922), and Jesse Root, Jr. (1858-1934).
-Army resignation. Grant remained in the Army after his marriage. He was stationed in Detroit and in Sackets Harbor, New York. Then in 1852, he was ordered to Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory. Grant did not take his wife and infant son on the journey because his Army pay would not support a family in the West, where living costs were high. Mrs. Grant and Frederick went to live with Grant's parents in Ohio. In 1854, Grant resigned from the Army and settled with his family in St. Louis.
-Business failures. For the next six years, Grant's life was one of failure. Mrs. Grant's father gave her a farm near St. Louis, and Grant built a cabin there that he namedHardscrabble. Grant liked farming, but he failed because crop prices were low and his health was poor.
-Return to the Army. Grant was almost 39 years old when the Civil War began in 1861. He had freed his only slave in 1859 and strongly opposed secession. As soon as the war broke out, Grant knew he had a duty to fight for the Union.
-"Unconditional Surrender" Grant. Steadily, Grant revealed the qualities of a great military commander. He took the initiative, fought aggressively, and made quick decisions. Grant established his headquarters at Cairo, Illinois, in September 1861. He soon learned that Confederate forces planned to seize Paducah, Kentucky. Grant ruined this plan by occupying the city. On Nov. 7, 1861, his troops drove the Confederates from Belmont, Missouri, but the enemy rallied and retook the position.
-Grant in command. Grant succeeded consistently in the West while Union generals in the East were failing. Early in 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general and put him in command of all Union armies. Grant went to Virginia and began a campaign against the forces of General Robert E. Lee.
-National hero. Grant's victory won him great popularity in the North. Southerners appreciated his generous terms to Lee. After the Civil War, a bitter conflict developed between President Andrew Johnson and a group of Republicans in Congress. This group, called the Radical Republicans, demanded harsh treatment of the former enemy and strict protection of the civil rights of blacks. President Johnson favored a mild Reconstruction program. He was more concerned with the constitutional rights of states than with the rights of former slaves.
-Election of 1868. The Republicans badly needed a popular hero for their presidential candidate in 1868. The Democratic Party still controlled many large Northern states that had a great percentage of the electoral votes. Delegates to the Republican National Convention nominated Grant unanimously on the first ballot. They chose speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax of Indiana for vice president. The Democrats nominated former Governor Horatio Seymour of New York for president and former Representative Francis P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri as his running mate. Grant defeated Seymour by a decisive majority of the electoral votes.
-Reconstruction policies. Grant's administration worked to bring the North and South closer together. It helped persuade Congress to pardon many former Confederate leaders and tried to limit the use of federal troops stationed in the South.
-Political corruption continued at all levels of government during Grant's terms in office. In the South, blacks and Northern adventurers known as carpetbaggers controlled some state governments. Some of these state governments were corrupt. In Northern cities, political machines such as the Tweed Ring in New York City made huge profits from graft on city contracts. Scandals came to light even in the federal government. President Grant himself was honest, but some of his appointees were men of low standards.
-Life in the White House. Grant took little part in Washington social life except for official appearances. The shy, retiring president reserved warmth and affection for his family. Grant followed a simple daily routine. He arose early and read the newspapers until breakfast. After a short walk, he went to his office, where he carried on official business until 3 p.m. He took a carriage ride or another stroll, ate dinner, and then read newspapers or visited with friends until 10 or 11 o'clock.
-Election of 1872. Grant's first administration achieved some real success. The national debt was reduced, and the dispute with the United Kingdom over war claims was settled. But Grant offended some politicians and disappointed others who wanted civil service reform. In addition, people who favored free trade opposed the high tariff then in effect.
-The Panic of 1873. In September 1873, several important Eastern banks failed, and a financial panic swept the country. Hardest hit by the panic were bankers, manufacturers, and farmers of the South and West. In an attempt to gain relief, many farmers joined the Greenback Party. This party and other groups demanded an inflation of the nation's currency to ease the depression.
-Death. Grant knew he was dying of cancer when he wrote his memoirs. But he was cheered by the good wishes of the American people. In 1885, he moved to Mount McGregor, New York, near Saratoga. Grant died on July 23, 1885, soon after completing his memoirs. His body lies in a tomb in New York City that is officially named the General Grant National Memorial. Mrs. Grant died in 1902 and was buried at his side.
Simpson, Brooks D. "Grant, Ulysses S." World Book Student. World Book, 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2012.