Democracy – Basics on Grant

Basic Grant Information –


18th President of the United States


  • Born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio but primarily grew up in Georgetown, OH.  Grant was the oldest child.  His father, Jesse Grant, was a farmer and a tanner.


  • Grant had a mysterious connection with horses, especially regarding training colts.



  • In 1838, 16 – year old Hiram Ulysses received an appointment to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He was only 5’1” and weighed 117 lbs. at the time (he grew to 5’7” by 1845), thus was surprised by his appointment.  He did not desire to attend and received low marks throughout his education at the academy.


  • Grant met Julia Dent in 1844, she was the sister of a fellow West Point roommate, he fell in love with her and proposed the same year, she accepted the proposal but said she wasn’t quite ready for marriage since she was only 18.



  • Grant’s military style mimicked that of gen. Zachary Taylor, which he learned during the U.S.- Mexican War.  That of calm and confidence during battle, communicating orders in a few well-chosen words, dressing for comfort, not display and making conversation with the soldiers.


  • Grant was promoted during the U.S. –Mexican war for bravery, first to lieutenant and then to captain.  He was involved with almost every major battle.



  • He and Julia married in August of 1848.  They had their first son, Fred in 1850.


  • Ulysses Jr. was born in 1852 while he was on assignment in the Pacific coast.



  • He resigned from the army in April of 1854 after a long time away from his family due to both distance and his realization he could not support his wife and children.  Rumors that he drank too much surrounded his tenure and resignation.


  • Grant built at home for Julia and him in 1856 but shortly moved to White Haven to help on the Dent plantation.



  • Grant did not due well at farming and finally asked his father for a job in 1860.  He gave Ulysses a job as a clerk in Galena.  He received $600/year and worked under his two younger brothers.  He also served as a poor businessman.


  • In 1861 the citizens of Galena asked him to organize a rifle company for the coming civil war.  He did so and marched them to Springfield and then looked for military work for himself but couldn’t find any.



  • Grant then inheirited an out of control infantry from a disgusted commander.  He reestablished order quickly and before his first battle he was promoted to brigadier general.


  • In an attack on Fort Donelson Grant insisted that he would accept nothing less than “unconditional and immediate surrender” from the Confederate troops.  From that day on, his troops insisted that his initials stood for “Unconditional Surrender.”



  • In March 1864, President Lincoln called Grant and appointed him supreme commander of all Union forces due to his superior performance on the Western front.


  • Lee surrendered to Grant in April 1865.  After the surrender ceremony Grant wrote “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a couse, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”



  • Grant felt that he could have prevented Lincoln’s assisination if he had been their instead of home visiting family.


  • In May 1868 the Republican party announced Grant as their candidate, “Let us have peace” was the theme of the campaign.



  • Grant’s lack of political experience often hurt him.  He started off on the wrong foot initially when he appointed new cabinet members without consulting the senate and they made him pay for his decisions.


  • 15th Ammendment passed.



  • Grant pushed through many different laws to help blacks vote and protect them from the KKK.


  • The Gold Scandal In 1869 caused by a scam run by Fisk and Gould damaged his reputation.  Many people invested in gold through rising gold prices, they tried to get Grant to stop selling government gold which was sure to drive up the price.  Grant caught wind of a scheme and announced a sale, which then caused Black Friday, the price of gold went from $162 to $133 in a few minutes.



  • The election of 1872 a faction of the Republicans had left and formed the liberal Republican party and they nominated Horace Greeley, as did the Democrats, it was a horrible choice in a candidate and Grant won.


  • Grant attempted to institute a peace policy with the Indians.  However, when gold was discovered in the black hills it was nearly impossible to keep the peace, Grant gave General Sheridan permission to do whatever necessary to keep the Indians on their reservation.  Even though Grant had attempted to purchase the territory from the Sioux they wouldn’t sell because it was sacred ground.



  • A severe depression started in 1873.


  • On top of the troubles with Indians, violence in the South and a major depression he was plagued with scandal.

–         Treasury scandal with tax dollars put into government agents pockets

–         Whiskey Ring


  • Grant also established Yellowstone as the first national park.



  • During his lifetime many thought Grant perfectly symbolized the American character and the American dream.  He was modest and unassuming and had suffered many hardships….no matter how successful he became, he remained a plain, ordinary, modest man.



  • After his death he was seen as:

–         the greatest man of the century, pure and noble

–         drunk, corrupt, incompetent who got lucky


“Grant was no nambly-pamby fool.  He was a man all over, rounded and complete.”-General William Sherman to Samuel Clemens


Above from Ulysses S. Grant Encyclopedia of Presidents by Janet Riehecky






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