Ulysses S. Grant



Ulysses S. Grant

Term
1869-1877
Party
Republican
Born
April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio
Died
July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York
Vice President
Schuyler Colfax,
Henry Wilson
First Lady
Julia Boggs Dent Grant (Wife)
Previous Occupation
Tanner, Soldier
States in Union
38
Family

Grant’s parents were Jesse Root and Hannah Simpson Grant. Grant married Julia Dent in 1848. They had four children: Frederick Dent, Ulysses Simpson, Ellen Wrenshall, and Jesse Root.

Legacy

President Johnson’s term was plagued by bitter disagreements about Reconstruction, and so Grant, as the widely celebrated Union general who helped end the Civil War, was easily elected as the people welcomed his promise of “Let us have peace.” Grant’s presidency was consumed with a series of scandals. Though he was well regarded as an honest man of stalwart personal character, he was unable to judge adequately the character of others and thus unfortunately appointed friends and relatives to government jobs, many of whom exploited their positions through bribery and theft. Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was a critic of Grant who told the Senate the country was suffering from “a dropsical nepotism swollen to elephantiasis.” Grant also was known to accept extravagant gifts from supporters.

Ultimately, Grant is best remembered for his role as Union general, rather than as an effective president. He did, however, serve two terms. Later in life, perhaps recognizing that his military experience was not adequate preparation for politics, he wrote, “I did not want the Presidency, and I have never quite forgiven myself for resigning the command of the army to accept it. . . . War and politics are so different.”

Quotes

Grant became a national war hero as the Union general who ended the Civil War, but he regretted his military service in the earlier Mexican War, having noted that it “was one of the most unjust wars ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. . . . I have never altogether forgiven myself for going into that [war]. I do not think there was ever a more wicked war than that waged by the United States on Mexico. I thought so at the time, when I was a youngster, only I had not moral courage enough to resign.”

In the midst of the Civil War, Grant declared to Confederate General Simon B. Buckner at Fort Donelson, Tennessee, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” (February 1862)

Regarding the passage of the 13th Amendment, Grant asserted, “A measure which makes at once 4,000,000 people voters who were heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land not citizens of the United States, not eligible to become so . . . is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other act of the kind from the foundation of our free Government to the present day.”

In his annual message to Congress, Grant wrote, “Mistakes have been made . . and I admit [them. But] failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent.” (1876)

At This Time

1869: The first transcontinental railroad service is established • 1870: The Dictionary of American Biography is first published • 1871: The Treaty of Washington settles existing difficulties between Britain and the U.S. Chicago experiences The Great Fire • The U.S. population totals 39 million • 1872: James Whistler paints The Artist’s Mother • The first international soccer game is held (England versus Scotland) • 1873: Color photographs are developed • 1874: The first exhibition of Impressionist paintings is held in Paris. Tennis is introduced to America by Mary E. Outerbridge • 1875: Mark Twain writes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer • Mary Baker Eddy writes Science and Health, which becomes the fundamental doctrinal textbook for the Church of Christ, Scientist in 1879 • 1876: Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone

Did You Know?

When the Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Grant at the Appomattox Courthouse to end the Civil War, Grant recognized the valor of the Confederate troops and treated them with respect, allowing them to return home with their swords, side arms, and horses. He also offered lenient terms of surrender that prevented the Confederates from being tried for treason. Indeed, Grant later commented on Lee’s surrender, “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly.”

Grant’s middle initial of ‘S’ does not represent a name. In response to a letter from someone who wondered about his middle name, he noted, “It was a mistake made . . . when application was first made . . . to West Point. . . . After I received my Diploma and Commission, with the ‘S’ inserted, [I] adopted it and have so signed my name ever since.”

Grant established the first national park––Yellowstone––on March 1, 1872.

Following his second term as president, Grant and his family traveled around the world. When they returned, Grant made an unfortunate investment in a banking firm that left him in significant debt. To reestablish financial security for his family, he worked diligently on his memoirs, which had been commissioned by Mark Twain. Despite being severely ill with terminal throat cancer, he was able to complete the last words just three days before he died. His memoirs were wildly successful, earning $450,000.

Learn More At:

www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/grant/index.html (Information about the PBS movie on Grant, plus other reference material, including teaching activities.)
www.nps.gov/ulsg/ (Information about Grant’s home White Haven in St. Louis, Missouri.)
http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/places/sw08/index.shtml (Information about Grant’s birthplace at Point Pleasant, Ohio.)
http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/grant (In-depth essays created by the University of Virginia on Grant’s life and administration.)

Field Trips for Ulysses S. Grant

U. S. Grant Home
500 Bouthillier Street
Galena, Illinois 61036
815-777-3310
www.illinoisadventuretv.org/index.asp?page=st&site=1170

This home was presented to the Grant family after the General’s impressive Civil War service and remained in the family until 1880. It has been faithfully restored with many original Grant family furnishings.

Hardscrabble Cabin at Grant’s Farm
10501 Gravois Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63123
314-843-1700
www.grantsfarm.com

Built by the President himself, this was home to the Grant family for a very short time. It is located on a 280-acre wildlife preserve owned by the Anheuser-Busch Company. Visitors to the farm can see an extensive wildlife collection as well as the carriage collection of the Busch family.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
7400 Grant Road
St. Louis, Missouri 63123
314-842-3298
www.nps.gov/ulsg

Four of the five buildings at the historic site––the main house, stone building, chicken house, and ice house––have been restored to their 1875 appearance while the barn used as the museum is of 1868 vintage. The Grants considered the main house––White Haven––their home.

Ulysses S. Grant Cottage State Historic Site
Mount McGregor Road
Wilton, New York 518-587-8277
www.grantcottage.org/
http://nysparks.state.ny.us/sites/info.asp?siteID=11

While dying from throat cancer, President Grant lived in this cottage outside of Saratoga Springs during the summer of 1885. During this time, he struggled to complete his memoirs so that he could provide for his family after his death.

Grant’s Tomb
Riverside Drive at West 122nd Street
New York, New York
www.nps.gov/gegr
www.grantstomb.org

Overlooking the Hudson River from the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan, General Grant National Memorial is the largest tomb in North America. Grant's Tomb (as it is commonly called) is not only the final resting place of the General, but a memorial to his life and accomplishments.

Grant Birthplace
US Route 52 and State Route 232
Point Pleasant, Ohio 45153
513-553-4911
www.ohiohistory.org/places/grantbir

A three-room cottage built in 1817, the birthplace of President Grant was restored and furnished with period pieces, some of which belonged to the Grant family. The structure had an interesting history traveling barges and trains on an extensive tour of the country.

Grant’s Boyhood Home
219 E. Grant Avenue
Georgetown, Ohio 45121
937-378-4222
www.usgrantboyhoodhome.org/granthome.htm

Built in 1823, this was the boyhood home of President Grant. The home is near the tannery Grant’s father built and two schoolhouses that Grant attended as a boy.