#18 Ulysses S. Grant
Born: April 27, 1822 in
Point Pleasant, OH
Parents: Jesse and
Wife: Julia Boggs Dent
Ulysses, Ellen, and
Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.
He was born to a modest family in Pt. Pleasant.
When he was one year old, Grant’s family moved to
nearby Georgetown, Ohio where his father opened a
As a youth Grant worked on his father’s farm and in
Even as a young boy, Grant fell in love with horses,
becoming an expert horseman.
Grant attended local schools in Ohio and in
Birthplace and Home
Grant was born in
and grew up in
which is in Brown
Grant was nominated
for admission to West
Point in 1839.
him as Ulysses S.
Grant. He didn’t
complain, and that
became his name. Sam
was his nickname.
Grant graduated 21st in
his class of 39, and was
well liked and respected
by his classmates.
Grant began his career
as a quartermaster.
He served in the
Mexican War, and was
brevetted twice for
Grant once rode
through fire on
horseback to get
ammunition for his men
and rescued his future
Grant married Julia
Dent in 1848, the
daughter of a slave
owner from St. Louis.
The two met one
another because Grant
was a classmate of her
brother at West Point.
There marriage was
very successful and
they were said to truly
love each other.
Out of the Army
After the Mexican War Grant served in many
places, where he was usually accompanied
by his family.
Grant was eventually promoted to Captain,
and was sent to remote Fort Hombolt in
California where he could not afford to bring
his family. Here Grant turned to the bottle.
Grant resigned his commission in1854, many
say to avoid a court martial for drunkenness.
Grant struggled in civilian life, first as a
farmer for seven years, then as a bill
collector, and in real estate.
Grant eventually went to work in his
fathers store in Galena, Illinois.
Civilian life was hard for Grant and he
met little success.
Back in the Army
After Ft. Sumter, Grant worked to recruit volunteers
for the Union.
From this, Grant was made the Colonel of a company
of Illinois volunteers, and later Brigadier General of
Forces under Grant quickly won victories at Ft. Henry
and Ft. Donellson, where he told the Confederates
that no terms would be accepted except
“unconditional surrender”, which matched his initials
and became a nickname.
Grant’s superior did not like him though, and he was
even temporarily removed from command.
Grants Army of the Tennessee was attacked by the
Confederates at Pittsburgh Landing on April 6, 1862.
The Confederates almost won the Battle of Shiloh
that day, but Grants forces held.
On April 7th, Grant led his troops in driving back the
Confederates, and the Union won the battle.
The Union suffered over 13,000 casualties and the
Confederates almost 11,000.
Grant was criticized by some because his troops had
not prepared proper defenses, but his coolness under
fire won him respect.
Vicksburg and Chattanooga
Grant was given command of a new Army and was
ordered to capture the Confederate city of Vicksburg.
The Campaign for Vicksburg was one of the most
complex of the war, and proved that Grant had a
good military mind.
After a six week siege, an entire Confederate Army
surrendered to Grant.
Grant was hailed as a hero, and was then sent to
rescue the Army of the Cumberland, which he did by
winning the Battles of Chattanooga and Lookout
Impressed with his victories, Lincoln
made Grant a Lieutenant General, the
first since Washington.
Grant was given command of the entire
U.S. Army and he immediately put forth
his anaconda plan, which blockaded the
coasts, sent Sherman to the sea, and
sent three separate armies to attack
The summer of 1864 Grants forces attacked
Lee continuously at the Battles of the
Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, and
Despite the heavy losses at these battles,
Grant kept attacking, eventually forcing Lee
into a siege at Petersburg.
The following spring, after months of siege
warfare, Lee was forced to surrender to Grant
at Appomattox Courthouse Virginia.
Grant became the biggest hero of the Union.
Grant During the War
After the War
Grant is commissioned “General of the
He is chosen by Andrew Johnson to be
the Secretary of War, but he refused to
replace Edwin M. Stanton, infuriating
Johnson, but making him a hero to the
Radical Republicans, who nominated
him for president.
Grant wins the election of 1868 in a landslide,
and is expected to immediately begin
reforming problems in the government.
Grant, however, has a hands-off approach
and allows his subordinates, mostly
Republican political cronies, a great deal of
As a result of Grants hands-off approach
corruption is rampant in his administration.
In 1869 there was the Black Friday financial panic,
when the price of gold soared, threatening financial
institutions with ruin. Grant stepped in at the last
minute to sell government reserves (Grant’s brother-
in-law was involved in a scandal to corner the gold
market which caused this panic).
The Panic of 1873 began a 5 year long depression
that devastated the world economy. Grant’s policy
was to do little, and he vetoed a bill that would put
$100,000,000 in paper currency into the economy,
because he did not want to devalue American
Because Grant refused to set a party platform, the
Republicans broke into factions, with some wanting
reform from corruption, and others wanting to build
strength in the South, especially at the expense of
The split in the Republicans hurt Grant because the
reformers did not support his attempts to annex what
is now the Dominican Republic, while the party
regulars refused to accept his choice for Attorney
He learned from this, and sided with the party
regulars, which won him re-election but hurt his
legacy due to corruption.
Breaking Up the Klan
In 1871 Congress passed legislation against the Ku
Klux Klan that allowed Grant to use Marshall Law to
Despite his removal of the Klan, Grant reflected the
beliefs of many in the North, by reaching out to white
Southerners, hoping to reconcile with them. This
proved hurtful to the black cause, and paved the way
for whites to come back into dominance in the South.
Grant personally felt sympathy for freed blacks, but
could not muster enough political support to keep
troops active to protect them.
Many Republicans went South, and engaged in corrupt politics
to gain wealth and power. Reform Republicans blamed them for
this, and Southern Whites used this as an excuse to attack
blacks even further.
Credit Mobilier Scandal, in which a fraudulent company was
established to complete the construction of the Union Pacific
Railroad. They overcharged the Federal Government by an
enormous amount. Many congressmen were involved, and
Grant’s personal secretary was engaged in this scandal.
In the Whiskey Ring, Republican politicians were able to siphon
off millions of dollars in tax money from alcohol sales. Grant’s
personal secretary was involved in this scandal as well.
Grant was notorious for hiring his old army buddies and family
members for high ranking positions.
Grant made many statements against
the confiscation of Native American
lands and attempts to exterminate them.
Unfortunately many massacres of
Native Americans occurred in the West.
The Battle of Little Big Horn occurred
toward the end of Grant’s presidency.
Grant signed the Treaty of Washington to
avoid war with Great Britain based on
damage done to U.S. shipping during the
Civil War, by Confederate ships made in
Grant sought to purchase what is now the
Dominican Republic, but was stopped.
Grant’s Secretary of State avoided war with
Spain over the capture of a U.S. ship sailing
to Cuba to aid in a rebellion.
On his way out
The election of 1876 was widely
disputed and the Democrats agreed to
give the election to Rutheford B. Hayes
in exchange for the removal of Federal
Troops in the South.
Grant began this process, by first
removing troops from Florida. Hayes
would remove the rest.
Grant went on a world tour after his
presidency traveling throughout Europe,
Africa and Asia.
He met Queen Victoria, Otto Von Bismarck,
Emperor Meiji, and many other dignitaries.
The trip was very expensive, so Grant
entered into an investment banking
partnership, to make money. He was
swindled by his partner and ended up going
Post Presidency Continued
To help him and his destitute family,
congress granted him a pension.
He wrote his memoirs to get his family
out of poverty, earning them $450,000
dollars after his death.
Most experts consider his memoirs to
be among the best ever written.
throat cancer and
suffered a great deal
of pain in his last
He pushed through
the pain at the end
of his life to finish
Grant has a mixed legacy.
He is considered to be a solid general, and loyal
soldier. He was the Union’s greatest hero of the Civil
Grant was considered to be a failure as a politician,
and despite the fact that he was never personally
linked, he did little to stop the corruption that was
rampant during his administration.
In recent years historians have been more
sympathetic to Grant, and have seen him as a victim
of the tough times he was president in.