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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Grant, Ulysses Simpson (1822-1885)
"The United States, knowing no distinction of her own citizens on account of religion or nationality, naturally believes in a civilization the world over which will secure the same universal laws."

"I would like to call your attention to ... an evil that, if allowed to continue, will probably lead to great trouble.... It is the accumulation of vast amounts of untaxed church property."

-- Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). He achieved national fame as a hero of the American Civil War, in which he commanded Union forces as a general, and as general-in-chief (1864–1869).

Military historians usually place Grant in the top ranks of great generals. Thus he has been described by military historian J. F. C. Fuller as "the greatest general of his age and one of the greatest strategists of any age." His Vicksburg Campaign in particular comes in for intense scrutiny from military specialists around the world, and indeed he was the one who forced the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. By contrast, presidential historians rank his administration near the bottom, primarily because of corruption, even though Grant's own reputation for personal integrity has remained largely intact. In recent years, his overall reputation as president has had a resurgence among some presidential scholars.

Birth and early years
Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant in Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio, 25 miles (40 km) east of Cincinnati on the Ohio River, to Jesse Root Grant (1794–1873) and Hannah Simpson (1798–1883). His father, a tanner, and his mother were born in Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1823 they moved to the village of Georgetown in Brown County, Ohio, where Grant spent most of his time until he was 17.

At the age of 17, and having barely passed the United States Military Academy's height requirement for entrance, Grant received a nomination to the Academy at West Point, New York, through his U.S. Congressman, Thomas L. Hamer. Hamer erroneously nominated him as Ulysses Simpson Grant, knowing Grant's mother's maiden name and forgetting that Grant was referred to in his youth as "H. Ulysses Grant" or "Lyss". Grant wrote his name in the entrance register as "Ulysses Hiram Grant" (concerned that he would otherwise become known by his initials, H.U.G.), but the school administration refused to accept any name other than the nominated form. Upon graduation, Grant adopted the form of his new name with middle initial only, never acknowledging that the "S" stood for Simpson. He graduated from West Point in 1843, ranking 21st in a class of 39. At the academy, he established a reputation as a fearless and expert horseman. Grant drank whiskey and, during the American Civil War, began smoking huge numbers of cigars (one story had it that he smoked over 10,000 in five years) which may well have contributed to his developing of throat cancer later in his life.

Grant married Julia Boggs Dent (1826–1902) on August 22, 1848. They had four children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. (Buck) Grant, Jr., Ellen (Nellie) Wrenshall Grant, and Jesse Root Grant.

Military career

Mexican War

Grant served in the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Veracruz. He was twice brevetted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec.

Between the Wars
After the Mexican war ended in 1848, Grant remained in the army and was moved to several different posts. He was sent to Fort Vancouver in the Washington Territory in 1853, where he served as regimental quartermaster of the 4th U.S. Infantry regiment. His wife could not accompany him because his salary could not support a family (she was eight months pregnant with their second child) on the frontier. In 1854, he was promoted to captain and assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at Fort Humboldt, California. Despite the increase in pay, he still could not afford to bring his family out West. He tried some business ventures while in California to supplement his income, but they failed. He started drinking heavily because of money woes and missing his wife. Because his drinking was having an effect on his military duties, he was given a choice by his superiors: resign his commission or face trial. He resigned on July 31, 1854. Seven years of civilian life followed, in which he was a farmer and a real estate agent in St. Louis, where he owned one slave, and finally an assistant in the leather shop owned by his father and brother in Galena, Illinois.

Grant was nonpolitical but in 1856 he voted for Democrat James Buchanan for president to avert secession and because "I knew Frémont" (the Republican candidate). In 1860, he favored Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, but did not vote. In 1864 he allowed his political sponsor, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, to use his private letters as campaign literature for the Union Party, which combined both Republicans and War Democrats. He refused to announce his politics until 1868, when he finally declared himself a Republican.

Civil War

Western Theater of the Civil War: 1861–63
Shortly after Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln put out a call for 75,000 volunteers. Grant helped recruit a company of volunteers, and despite declining the unit's captaincy, he accompanied it to Springfield, the state capital. Grant accepted a position offered by the governor, Richard Yates, to recruit volunteers, but pressed on multiple occasions for a field command. The governor, recognizing that Grant was a West Point graduate, eventually appointed him Colonel of the undisciplined and rebellious 21st Illinois Infantry, effective June 17, 1861.

With Union sentiments in Missouri divided, opposing forces began gathering in the state. Grant's regiment was ordered there, and upon arriving, he concentrated on drilling his men and establishing discipline. On August 7, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers, a decision by President Lincoln that was strongly influenced by Elihu Washburne's political clout. After first serving in a couple of lesser commands, at the end of the month, Grant was selected by Western Theater commander Maj. Gen. John C. Frémont to command the critical District of Southeast Missouri.

Belmont, Henry, and Donelson
Grant's first important strategic act of the war was to take the initiative to seize the Ohio River town of Paducah, Kentucky, immediately after the Confederates violated the state's neutrality by occupying Columbus. He fought his first battle, an indecisive action against Confederate General Gideon J. Pillow at Belmont, Missouri, in November 1861. Three months later, aided by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote's gunboats, he captured Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River, and Fort Donelson, on the Cumberland River. At Donelson his army was hit by a surprise Confederate attack (once again by Pillow) while he was temporarily absent. Displaying the cool determination that would characterize his leadership in future battles, he organized counterattacks that carried the day. The captures of the two forts were the first major Union victories of the war. The Confederate commander, Brig. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, an old friend of Grant's, yielded to Grant's hard conditions of "no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender." Buckner's surrender of 14,000 men made Grant a national figure almost overnight, and he was nicknamed "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. This victory also won him promotion to major general of volunteers.

Despite his significant victories, or perhaps because of them, Grant fell out of favor with his superior, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck. Halleck objected to Grant's visit to Nashville, where he met with Halleck's rival, Don Carlos Buell, and used that as an excuse to relieve Grant of field command on March 2. Personal intervention from President Lincoln caused Halleck to restore Grant, who rejoined his army on March 17.


In early April 1862, Grant was surprised by Gens. Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard at the Battle of Shiloh. The sheer violence of the Confederate attack sent the Union forces reeling. Nevertheless, Grant refused to retreat. With grim determination, he stabilized his line. Then, on the second day, with the help of timely reinforcements, Grant counterattacked, turning a serious reverse into a victory.

Despite Shiloh being a Union victory, it came at a high price; it was the bloodiest battle in United States history up until then, with over 23,000 casualties. Halleck was unhappy by Grant being surprised and the disorganized nature of the fighting. In response, Halleck took command of the army in the field himself on April 30, relegating Grant to the powerless position of second-in-command for the campaign against Corinth, Mississippi. Despondent over this reversal, Grant decided to resign. Only by the intervention of his subordinate and good friend, William T. Sherman, did he remain. When Halleck was promoted to general-in-chief of the Union Army, Grant resumed his position as commander of the Army of West Tennessee (later more famously named the Army of the Tennessee) on June 10. He commanded the army for the battles of Corinth and Iuka that fall, but had little direct effect at the tactical level.

In the campaign to capture the Mississippi River fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Grant spent the winter of 1862–1863 conducting a series of operations, attempting to gain access to the city, through the region's bayous. These attempts failed. His strategy in the campaign to capture the river fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863 is considered one of the most masterful in military history.

Grant marched his troops down the west bank of the Mississippi and crossed the river by using the U.S. Navy ships that had run the guns at Vicksburg. There, he moved inland and, in a daring move, defying conventional military principles, cut loose from most of his supply lines. Operating in enemy territory, Grant moved swiftly, never giving the Confederates, under the command of John C. Pemberton, an opportunity to concentrate their forces against him. Grant's army went eastward, captured the city of Jackson, Mississippi, and severed the rail line to Vicksburg.

Knowing that the Confederates could no longer send reinforcements to the Vicksburg garrison, Grant turned west and won at Champion Hill. The defeated Confederates retreated inside their fortifications at Vicksburg, and Grant promptly surrounded the city. Finding that assaults against the impregnable breastworks were futile, he settled in for a six-week siege. Cut off and with no possibility of relief, Pemberton surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863. It was a devastating defeat for the Southern cause, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two, and, in conjunction with the Union victory at Gettysburg the previous day, is widely considered the turning point of the war. For this victory, President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to the rank of major general in the regular army to rank from July 4.

In September 1863, the Confederates won the Battle of Chickamauga. Afterwards, the defeated Union forces under William S. Rosecrans retreated to the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The victorious Confederate forces, led by Braxton Bragg, followed closely behind. They took up positions on the hillsides, overlooking the city and surrounding the Federals.

On October 17, Grant was placed in overall charge of the besieged forces. He immediately relieved Rosecrans and replaced him with George H. Thomas. Devising a plan known as the "Cracker Line", Grant's chief engineer, William F. "Baldy" Smith, launched the Battle of Wauhatchie (October 28–29, 1863) to open the Tennessee River, allowing supplies and reinforcements to flow into Chattanooga, greatly increasing the chances for Grant's forces.

Upon reprovisioning and reinforcing, the morale of Union troops lifted. In late November, they went on the offensive. The Battle of Chattanooga started out with Sherman's failed attack on the Confederate right. He not only attacked the wrong mountain, but committed his troops piecemeal, allowing them to be defeated by one Confederate division. In response, Grant ordered Thomas to launch a demonstration on the center, which could draw defenders away from Sherman. Thomas waited until he was certain that Hooker, with reinforcements from the Army of the Potomac, was engaged on the Confederate left before he launched the Army of the Cumberland at the center of the Confederate line. Hooker's men broke the Confederate left, while Thomas's men made an unexpected, but spectacular, charge straight up Missionary Ridge and broke the fortified center of the Confederate line. Grant was initially angry at Thomas that his orders for a demonstration were exceeded, but the assaulting wave sent the Confederates into a head-long retreat, opening the way for the Union to invade Atlanta, Georgia, and the heart of the Confederacy.

Grant's willingness to fight and ability to win impressed President Abraham Lincoln, who appointed him lieutenant general in the regular army—a new rank recently authorized by the U.S. Congress with Grant in mind—on March 2, 1864. On March 12, Grant became general-in-chief of all the armies of the United States.

General-in-Chief and strategy for victory
In March 1864, Grant put Major General William Tecumseh Sherman in immediate command of all forces in the West and moved his headquarters to Virginia where he turned his attention to the long-frustrated Union effort to destroy the army of Lee; his secondary objective was to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, but Grant knew that the latter would happen automatically once the former was accomplished. He devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions: Grant, George G. Meade, and Benjamin Franklin Butler against Lee near Richmond; Franz Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley; Sherman to invade Georgia, defeat Joseph E. Johnston, and capture Atlanta; George Crook and William W. Averell to operate against railroad supply lines in West Virginia; Nathaniel Banks to capture Mobile, Alabama. Grant was the first general to attempt such a coordinated strategy in the war and the first to understand the concepts of total war, in which the destruction of an enemy's economic infrastructure that supplied its armies was as important as tactical victories on the battlefield.

Overland Campaign, Petersburg, and Appomattox
The Overland Campaign was the military thrust needed by the Union to defeat the Confederacy. It pitted Grant against the great commander Robert E. Lee in an epic contest. It began on May 4, 1864, when the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River, marching into an area of scrubby undergrowth and second growth trees known as the Wilderness. It was a terrible place to fight, but Lee sent in his Army of Northern Virginia anyway because he recognized the close confines would prevent Grant from fully exploiting his numerical advantage.

The Battle of the Wilderness was a stubborn, bloody two-day fight. It was an inauspicious start for the Union. Grant was leading a campaign that, in order to win the war, had to destroy the Confederacy's main battle armies. On May 7, with a pause in the fighting, there came one of those rare moments when the course of history fell upon the decision of a single man. Lee backed off, permitting Grant to do what all of his predecessors, as commanders of the Army of the Potomac, had done in this situation, and that was retreat. Grant, ignoring the setback, ordered an advance around Lee's flank to the southeast, lifting the morale of his army.

Siegel's Shenandoah campaign and Butler's James River campaign both failed. Lee was able to reinforce with troops used to defend against these assaults.

The campaign continued, but Lee, anticipating Grant's move, beat him to Spotsylvania, Virginia, where, on May 8, the fighting resumed. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House lasted 14 days. On May 11, Grant wrote a famous dispatch containing the line "I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer". These words summed up his attitude about the fighting, and the very next day, May 12, he ordered a massive assault that nearly broke Lee's lines.

In spite of mounting Union casualties, the contest's dynamics changed in Grant's favor. Most of Lee's great victories in earlier years had been won on the offensive, employing surprise movements and fierce assaults. Now, he was forced to continually fight on the defensive. The next major battle, however, demonstrated the power of a well-prepared defense. Cold Harbor was one of Grant's most controversial battles, in which he launched on June 3 a massive three-corps assault without adequate reconnaissance on a well-fortified defensive line, resulting in horrific casualties (3–7,000 killed, wounded, and missing in the first 40 minutes, although modern estimates have determined that the total was likely less than half of the famous figure of 7,000 that has been used in books for decades; as many as 12,000 for the day, far outnumbering the Confederate losses).

The normally imperturbable general was observed crying as the magnitude of the slaughter became known. Grant said of the battle in his memoirs "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault of the 22nd of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." But yet Grant moved on and kept up the pressure. He stole a march on Lee, slipping his troops across the James River.

Arriving at Petersburg, Virginia, first, Grant should have captured the rail junction city, but he failed because of the overly cautious actions of his subordinate, William F. "Baldy" Smith. Over the next three days, a number of Union assaults were launched, attempting to take the city. But all failed, and finally on June 18, Lee's veterans arrived. Faced with fully manned trenches in his front, Grant was left with no alternative but to settle down to a siege.

Grant approved an innovative plan by Ambrose Burnside's corps to break the stalemate. Before dawn on July 30, they exploded a mine under the Confederate works. But due to last-minute changes in the plan, involving the reluctance of Meade and Grant to allow a division of African-American troops to lead the attack, the ensuing assault was poorly coordinated and lacked vigor. Given an opportunity to regroup, the Confederates took advantage of the situation and counterattacked, winning the Battle of the Crater, and the Federals lost another opportunity to hasten the end of the war.

As the summer drew on and with Grant's and Sherman's armies stalled, respectively in Virginia and Georgia, politics took center stage. There was a presidential election in the fall, and the citizens of the North had difficulty seeing any progress in the war effort. To make matters worse for Abraham Lincoln, Lee detached a small army under the command of Major General Jubal A. Early, hoping it would force Grant to disengage forces to pursue him. Early invaded north through the Shenandoah Valley and reached the outskirts of Washington, D.C.. Although unable to take the city, but by simply threatening its inhabitants, Early embarrassed the Administration, making Abraham Lincoln's reelection prospects even bleaker.

In early September the efforts of Grant's coordinated strategy finally bore fruit. First, Sherman took Atlanta. Then, Grant dispatched Philip Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with Early. It became clear to the people of the North that the war was being won, and Lincoln was reelected by a wide margin. Later in November, Sherman began his March to the Sea. Sheridan and Sherman both followed Grant's strategy of total war by destroying the economic infrastructures of the Valley and a large swath of Georgia and the Carolinas.

At the beginning of April 1865, Grant's relentless pressure finally forced Lee to evacuate Richmond and after a nine-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. There, Grant offered generous terms that did much to ease the tensions between the armies and preserve some semblance of Southern pride, which would be needed to reconcile the warring sides. Within a few weeks, the American Civil War was effectively over; minor actions would continue until Kirby Smith surrendered his forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865.

Immediately after Lee's surrender, Grant had the sad honor of serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of his greatest champion, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had been quoted after the massive losses at Shiloh, "I can't spare this general. He fights." It was a two-sentence description that completely caught the essence of Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant's fighting style was what one fellow general called "that of a bulldog". Although such a description evokes the popular image of Grant and accurately captures his tenacity, it oversimplifies his considerable strategic and tactical capabilities. Although a master of combat by out-maneuvering his opponent (such as at Vicksburg and in the Overland Campaign against Robert E. Lee), Grant was not afraid to order direct assaults or tight sieges against Confederate forces, often when the Confederates were themselves launching offensives against him. Once an offensive or a siege began, Grant refused to stop the attack until the enemy surrendered or was driven from the field.

Such tactics often resulted in heavy casualties for Grant's men, but they wore down the Confederate forces proportionately even more and inflicted irreplaceable losses. Grant has been described as a "butcher" by his critics for his strategy, particularly in 1864, but he was able to achieve objectives that his predecessor generals had not, even though they suffered similar casualties over time. Although Grant lost battles in 1864, he was the only major commander to win all his campaigns during the Civil War.

After the war, Congress authorized Grant the newly created rank of General of the Army of the United States, the equivalent of a full general in the modern army. He was appointed as such by President Andrew Johnson on July 25, 1866.

Grant and Johnson
As commander in chief of the army, Grant had a difficult relationship with President Johnson. He accompanied Johnson on a national stumping tour during the 1866 elections, but did not appear to be a supporter of Johnson's moderate policies toward the South. Johnson tried to use Grant to defeat the Radical Republicans, by making Grant the Secretary of War in place of Stanton, who refused to resign. Grant refused--but kept his military command. That made him a hero to the Radicals, who gave him the Republican nomination for president in 1868.

He was chosen as the Republican presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in Chicago in May 1868, with no real opposition. In his letter of acceptance to the party, Grant concluded with "Let us have peace," which became the Republican campaign slogan. In the general election that year, he won against former New York governor Horatio Seymour with a lead of 300,000 out of a total of 5,716,082 votes cast, but by a commanding 214 Electoral College votes to 80. He ran about 100,000 votes ahead of the GOP ticket, suggesting an unusually powerful appeal to veterans. When he entered the White House he was politically inexperienced and, at age 46, the youngest man yet elected president.

Presidency 1869–1877
Grant was the 18th President of the United States and served two terms from March 4, 1869, to March 3, 1877. He easily won reelection by a wide margin in 1872 against Horace Greeley.

Despite the scandals that sometimes dominate his presidential legacy, Grant's administration had positive aspects. His Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish, was very highly regarded at the time and ever since. Grant presided over the last half of Reconstruction, watching as the Democrats, or Redeemers, took control of every state away from his Republican coalition. When urgent telegrams from state leaders begged for help, Grant and his Attorney General replied that "the whole public is tired of these annual autumnal outbreaks in the South," saying that state militias should handle the problems, not the Army.

He supported amnesty for Confederate leaders and protection for the civil rights of African-Americans. He favored a limited number of troops to be stationed in the South—sufficient numbers to protect rights of southern blacks and suppress the violent tactics of the Ku Klux Klan, but not so many as to create resentment in the general population. In 1869 and 1871, Grant signed bills promoting voting rights and prosecuting Klan leaders. The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, establishing voting rights, was ratified in 1870. Grant signed a bill into law that created Yellowstone National Park (America's first National Park) on March 1, 1872.

The Panic of 1873 hit the country hard during his presidency, and he never attempted decisive action, one way or the other, to alleviate distress. The first law that he signed, in March 1869 established the value of the greenback currency issued during the Civil War, pledging to redeem the bills in gold. In 1874 he vetoed a bill to increase the amount of a legal tender currency, which defused the currency crisis on Wall Street, but did little to help the economy as a whole. The depression led to smashing Democratic victories in the 1874 off-year elections, as that party took control of the House for the first time since 1856.

In foreign affairs the greatest achievement of the Grant administration was the Treaty of Washington negotiated by Grant's best appointment, Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, in 1871. It settled American claims against England concerning the wartime activities of the British-built Confederate raider Alabama. The worst foreign policy blunder was an attempt to annex the independent nation of Santo Domingo in 1870 to provide for a state for the freedmen. African American leaders did not want to be shipped off, but Grant was misled by Orville Babcock, who negotiated a treaty. The Senate refused to ratify it due to ( Foreign Relations Committee Chairman) Senator Charles Sumner's strong opposition. Grant helped depose Sumner from the chairmanship, and Sumner supported Horace Greeley and the Liberal Republicans in 1872.

In 1876, Grant helped to calm the nation over the Hayes-Tilden election controversy by appointing a federal commission that helped to settle the election.

The first scandal to taint the Grant administration was Black Friday, a gold-speculation financial crisis in September 1869, set up by Wall Street manipulators Jay Gould and James Fisk. They tried to corner the gold market, and tricked Grant into preventing his Treasury Secretary from stopping the fraud. Several of Grant's aides were suspected of inside dealings, but the president himself had been totally fooled.

The most famous scandal was the Whiskey Ring of 1875, exposed by Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow, in which over $3 million in taxes were defrauded from the federal government with the aid of high government officials. Orville E. Babcock, the private secretary to the President, was indicted as a member of the ring and escaped conviction only because of a presidential pardon. When it became clear that Babcock was involved in the scandal, Grant regretted his earlier statement, "Let no guilty man escape." After the Whiskey Ring, Grant's Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, was involved in an investigation that revealed that he had taken bribes in exchange for the sale of Native American trading posts. Grant foolishly accepted the resignation of Belknap; when Belknap was impeached by Congress for his actions, he escaped conviction since he was no longer a government official.

Other scandals included the Sanborn Incident at the Treasury, and problems with U.S. Attorney Cyrus I. Scofield.

Although there is no evidence that Grant himself profited from corruption among his subordinates, he did not take a firm stance against malefactors and failed to react strongly even after their guilt was established. When critics complained he vigorously attacked them. He was weak in his selection of subordinates, favoring colleagues from the war over those with more practical political experience. He alienated party leaders by giving many posts to his friends and political contributors, rather than listen to their recommendations. His failure to establish adequate political allies was a factor in the scandals getting out of control. At the conclusion of his second term, Grant wrote to Congress that "Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent."

Later life
After the end of his second term, Grant spent two years traveling around the world. He visited Sunderland, where he opened the first free municipal public library in England. Grant also visited Japan. In the Shibakoen section of Tokyo, a tree still stands that Grant planted during his stay.

In 1879, the Meiji government of Japan announced the annexation of the Ryukyu Islands. China objected, and Grant was asked to arbitrate the matter. He decided that Japan's claim to the islands was stronger and ruled in Japan's favor.

In 1879, the "Stalwart" faction of the Republican Party led by Senator Roscoe Conkling sought to nominate Grant for a third term as president. He counted on strong support from the business men, the old soldiers, and the Methodist church. Publicly Grant said nothing but privately he wanted the job and encouraged his men. His popularity was fading however, and while he received more than 300 votes in each of the 36 ballots of the 1880 convention, the nomination went to James A. Garfield. Grant campaigned for Garfield for a month, but he supported Conkling in the terrific battle over patronage in spring 1881 that culminated in Garfield's assassination.

In 1883, Grant was elected the eighth president of the National Rifle Association.

In 1881, Grant purchased a house in New York City and placed almost all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses, Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. Ward was known as the "Young Napoleon of Finance." Perhaps Grant should have taken that name seriously; as with the other Young Napoleon, George B. McClellan, failure was in the wings. In this case, Ward swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant) in 1884, bankrupted the company, Grant and Ward, and fled. And to make matters worse, Grant learned at the same time that he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given pensions and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the office of President.

In one of the most ironic twists in all history, Ward's treachery led directly to a great gift to posterity. Grant's Memoirs are considered a masterpiece, both for their writing style and their historical content, and until Grant bankrupted, he steadfastly refused to write them. Only upon his family's future financial independence becoming in doubt, did he agree to write anything at all.

He first wrote a couple of articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century magazine, which were warmly received. Afterwards, the publishers made Grant an offer to write his memoirs. It was a standard contract, one which they issued to most any new writer. Independently of the magazine publishers, the famous author, Mark Twain, approached Grant. Twain, who was suspicious of publishers, was appalled by the magazine's offer. He rightly realized that Grant was, at that time, the most significant American alive, and he offered Grant a generous contract, including 75% of the book's sales as royalties. Grant accepted Twain's offer.

Terminally ill, Grant fought to finish his memoirs. Although wracked with pain and unable to speak at the end, he triumphed, finishing them just a few days before his death. The memoirs succeeded, selling over 300,000 copies and earning the Grant family over $450,000 ($9,500,000 in 2005 dollars). Twain called the memoirs "the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar," and they are widely regarded as among the finest memoirs ever written.

Ulysses S. Grant died at 8:06 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at Mount McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. He and his family had moved to a cottage there in the Adirondacks only a month earlier. His body lies in New York City's Riverside Park, beside that of his wife, in Grant's Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America.

1822 Birth of Ulysses S. Grant as "Hiram Ulysses Grant" on April 27th
1823 Family moves to Georgetown, Ohio
1864 Begins term as General-in-chief
1869 Ends term as General-in-chief
1869 Begins term as 18th President of the United States
1877 Ends term as 18th President of the United States
1880 US Census in Galena, Illinois
1885 Death of Ulysses S. Grant in Wilton, New York on July 23rd


Grant's legacy has been marred by the possibility of anti-Semitism. The most frequently cited example is the infamous General Order No. 11, issued by Grant's headquarters in Oxford, Mississippi, on December 17, 1862, during the early Vicksburg Campaign. The order stated in part:

The Jews, as a class, violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department, and also Department orders, are hereby expelled from the Department [comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky].
The order was almost immediately rescinded by President Lincoln. Grant and his supporters (originally those who endorsed his bid for the White House) maintain that he was unaware that a staff officer issued it in his name. It also was portrayed as being outside the normal inclinations and character of the man, an aberration that was at most a temporary failure of judgment. And it was meant to apply to certain businessmen ("peddlers") with whom Grant had personal and professional difficulties over the years, not an entire religious class. There is evidence in other personal correspondence that this was Grant's focus.

The issue of anti-Semitism was raised during the 1868 presidential campaign and Grant consulted with a number of Jewish community leaders, all of whom he was able to convince (at least according to their public reactions) that Order 11 was an anomaly and he was not an anti-Semite. He won the majority of the Jewish vote in his two election campaigns and maintained good relations with the community throughout his administration, on both political and social levels.

In memoriam
In World War II, the British Army produced an armored vehicle known as the Grant tank (a version of the American M3 model, which was ironically nicknamed the "Lee").

Grant's portrait appears on the U.S. fifty-dollar bill.

The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, located on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., honors Grant.

There is a U.S. Grant Bridge over the Ohio River at Portsmouth, Ohio.

He has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Counties in ten U.S. states are named after Grant: Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin and Grant Parish, Louisiana.

Grant was known to visit the Willard Hotel to escape the stress of the White House. He referred to the people who approached him in the lobby as "those damn lobbyists," possibly giving rise to the modern term lobbyist.

Grant's nicknames included: The Hero of Appomattox, "Unconditional Surrender" Grant ("U.S. Grant"), Sam Grant (originating at West Point, from "U. S." Grant suggesting "Uncle Sam"), The Great Captain and, in his youth, Ulys, Lyss and Useless.

Grant is the only president on record to receive a speeding ticket for running his horse and buggy through the streets of Washington, D.C.

Grant was petrified of the sight of blood; he thus ordered all his meat to be cooked until it was burnt.

Grant was part of the American Temperance Society while stationed in Detroit.

While in California, Grant tried selling ice to South America, but failed when it melted in the warm weather aboard the ship.

Future Confederate General James Longstreet has been reputed to have been best man at Grant's wedding, although this is regarded by most Grant experts to be untrue. The two did know each other and were friends from their time together at West Point and during the Mexican War.

The question "Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?" was used by Groucho Marx in his radio and TV quiz show, the correct answer to which resulted in a consolation prize to contestants who had won no money. Some contestants thought it was a trick question.

The information on which this page is based has been drawn from research on the Internet. For example, much use has been made of, to whom we are greatly indebted. Since the information recording process at Wikipedia is prone to changes in the data, please check at Wikipedia for current information. If you find something on this page to be in error, please contact us.
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