- NAME: Ulysses S. Grant
- OCCUPATION: U.S. President
- BIRTH DATE: April 27, 1822
- DEATH DATE: July 23, 1885
- EDUCATION: United States Military Academy at West Point, Public schools in Georgetown, Ohio
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Point Pleasant, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Mount McGregor, New York
- Originally: Hiram Ulysses Grant
- Full Name: Ulysses Simpson Grant
- AKA: U.S. Grant
- Nickname: Unconditional Surrender Grant
- Full Name: Ulysses S. Grant
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Ulysses S. Grant was U.S. general and commander of the Union armies during the late years of the American Civil War, and 18th president of the United States.
As a young, quiet man, Grant loved horses and excelled in equestrian events at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately, a clerical error changed his name from Hiram Ulysses Grant to U.S. Grant.
In early April, 1862, Grant was surprised by Generals 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.
At the beginning of April 1865, Grant's relentless pressure finally forced Gen. Robert E. Lee to evacuate Richmond, and after a nine-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Lt. Grant served in the Mexican War under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, Monterrey, and Veracruz.
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In his second attempt Grant cut some, but not all, of his supply lines, moved his army down the western bank of the Mississippi River and crossed south of Vicksburg. Failing to take the city after several assaults, he settled into a long siege, and Vicksburg eventually surrendered on July 4, 1863.
Although Vicksburg was Ulysses S. Grant’s greatest achievement up to then and a moral boost for the Union,
rumors of Grant’s drinking and being drunk followed him through the rest of the Western Campaign. Grant suffered from intense migraine headaches due to stress, which nearly disabled him and did much to spread the rumors he had been drinking and was suffering from a hangover. However, his closest associates said he was sober, polite and displayed deep concentration, even in the midst of a battle.
After Grant’s victory at Vicksburg and Chattanooga, Ulysses S. Grant was given command of all the Union armies. Grant saw the military objectives of the Civil War differently than most of his predecessors, who believed that capturing territory was most important to winning the war. Grant, however, believed that the Confederate armies were most important. To that end he set out to track down General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and destroy it. From March 1864 until April 1865, Grant doggedly tracked Lee in the forests of Virginia, inflicting unsustainable casualties on Lee’s army. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his army and the war was over. The two generals met at a farm near the village of Appomattox Court House and agreed to peace terms. In a magnanimous gesture, Grant allowed Lee’s men to keep their horses and return to their homes; none would be prisoners of war.
During the post-war reorganization, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to full general and oversaw the military portion of Reconstruction. Grant was put in an awkward position during President Andrew Johnson’s fight with the Radical Republicans and his impeachment, and was eventually elected as the 18th president of the United States in 1868. When he entered the White House the following year, he was politically inexperienced and at age 46 was the youngest man theretofore elected president. Although scrupulously honest, Grant appointed people who were not of good character. Though he had some success pushing through ratification of the 15th Amendment and establishing the National Parks Service, his administration’s scandals rocked both his presidential terms and he lost his opportunity for a third term.
After he left the White House, Ulysses S. Grant’s poor luck at civilian life continued. He became a partner in the financial firm of Grant and Ward only to have his partner, Ferdinand Ward, embezzle investors’ money. The firm went bankrupt in 1884, as did Grant. That same year, he learned he was suffering from throat cancer, and although his military pension was reinstated, he was strapped for cash. He started selling short magazine articles about his life and then negotiated a contract with a friend, the novelist Mark Twain, to publish his memoirs. The two-volume set sold some 300,000 copies and became a classic work of American literature. Ultimately, this earned his family nearly $450,000. Grant died on July 23, 1885, just as his memoirs were being published, and is buried in New York City.
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The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
U.S. Presidents 43 people in this group