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.
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 Air Force O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General of the Army

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant;[b] April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American soldier, politician, and international statesman who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. During the American Civil War, General Grant, with President Abraham Lincoln, led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. During the Reconstruction Era, President Grant led the Republicans in their efforts to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism, racism, and slavery.

From early childhood in Ohio, Grant was a skilled equestrian who had a talent for taming horses. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843 and served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. Upon his return, Grant married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. In 1854, Grant abruptly resigned from the army. He and his family struggled financially in civilian life for seven years. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Grant joined the Union Army and rapidly rose in rank to general. Grant was persistent in his pursuit of the Confederate enemy, winning major battles and gaining Union control of the Mississippi River. In March 1864, President Lincoln promoted Grant to Lieutenant General, a rank previously reserved for George Washington. For over a year Grant's Army of the Potomac fought the Army of Northern Virginia led by Robert E. Lee in the Overland Campaign and at Petersburg. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, and the war ended.

On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated. Grant continued his service under Lincoln's successor President Andrew Johnson and was promoted General of the Army in 1866. Disillusioned by Johnson's conservative approach to Reconstruction, and the pro-slavery Democrats in the South, Grant drifted toward the "Radical" Republicans. Elected the youngest 19th Century president in 1868, 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, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission. The Democrats and Liberal Republicans united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but Grant was handily re-elected. Grant's new Peace Policy for Native Americans had both successes and failures. Grant's administration successfully resolved the Alabama claims and the Virginius Affair, but Congress rejected his Dominican annexation initiative. Grant's presidency was plagued by numerous public scandals, while the Panic of 1873 plunged the nation into a severe economic depression.

After Grant left office in March 1877, he embarked on a two-and-a-half-year world tour that captured favorable global attention for him and the United States. In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. In the final year of his life, facing severe investment 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 considerably over the years. Historians have hailed Grant's military genius, and his modern strategies of warfare are featured in military history textbooks. Conservative 20th Century surveys have traditionally ranked Grant among the worst presidents. Modern historians have had a more positive assessment of his presidency, including civil rights enforcement, equal rights for blacks, citizenship to foreign blacks, civil service reform, and was legislatively pro-active. Grant has been regarded as an embattled president who performed a difficult job during Reconstruction.

Early life and education

White clapboard house and outbuildings behind a white fence
Grant's birthplace, Point Pleasant, Ohio

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822, to Jesse Root Grant, a tanner and merchant, and Hannah Grant (née Simpson).[2] His ancestors Matthew and Priscilla Grant arrived aboard the ship Mary and John at Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.[3] Grant's great-grandfather fought in the French and Indian War, and his grandfather, Noah, served in the American Revolution at Bunker Hill.[4] Afterward, Noah settled in Pennsylvania and married Rachel Kelley, the daughter of an Irish pioneer.[5] Their son Jesse (Ulysses's father) was a Whig Party supporter and a fervent abolitionist.[6]

Jesse Grant moved to Point Pleasant in 1820 and found work as a foreman in a tannery.[7] He soon met his future wife, Hannah,[[efn| Hannah descended from Presbyterian immigrants from Ballygawley in County Tyrone, Ireland.[8] and the two were married on June 24, 1821.[9] Ten months after she was married, Hannah gave birth to Ulysses, her and Jesse's first child.[10] At a family gathering several weeks later the boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. Wanting to honor his father-in-law, who had suggested Hiram, Jesse declared the boy to be Hiram Ulysses, though he would always refer to him as Ulysses.[11][c]

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] Since Grant expressed a strong dislike for the tannery 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][d] For the rest of his life, he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination.[18] To others, including late in life, his own son, Grant appeared to be an agnostic.[19] He inherited some of Hannah's Methodist piety and quiet nature.[20] 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."[21]

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