Ulysses S. Grant was one of the formative generals of the Northern Army during the American Civil War, helping them to defeat the Southern states. After his military career Grant made a career as a politician and held office as the 18th President of the United States of America.
Origin and teenage years:
Hiram Ulysses Grant (Grant's birth name) was born on April 27, 1822, the first of six children in Point Pleasant, Ohio. His parents Jesse and Hannah Grant operated a tanner and saddlery business and enabled the family to grow up in a degree of financial prosperity.
Even in his early childhood Grant developed a special relationship with horses which came into play in his skill in riding.
At the age of 17, Grant enrolled as a cadet in 1839 at the request of his parents at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. Due to a mistake in the name registration Grant received here for the first time his well-known name Ulysses Simpson Grant, which he should keep for the rest of his life.
In 1843, Grant completed his military training as 21st of 39 of his year. His particular strengths lay in the field of mathematics. After his education, Grant hoped to find a position as a lecturer, contrary to his request, however, he was transferred to the army.
During the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 Grant gained his first experience in the front line. During the war he was promoted to captain. In his memoirs written at the end of his life, Grant titled the war against Mexico unfair, as it was a strong state against a much weaker one.
After the war, Grant was first transferred to the Oregon Territory and then to California. During this time he was separated from his wife and children for a long time, which made him hard to deal with. As a result, rumors of alcohol problems in his unit soon spread. In 1854, the allegations of his alcohol abuse were so great that Grant left the military by himself before it came to a court martial. In the following 7 years he worked as a surveyor, farmer and real estate agent, since 1860 he supported his brothers and his farmers in the family business.
On April 12, 1861, civil war erupted in the United States when some southern states left the union and formed their own state with the Confederation.
Shortly after the outbreak Grant was called by the Governor of Illinois and appointed regimental commander of the 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment and promoted to colonel at the same time, on 7 August was promoted to Brigadier General of the militia.
During his first campaign in northern Tennessee Grant made his first military successes. He took the important place Paducah, Kentucky at the mouth of Tennessee in the Ohio and defeated the Confederate army of General Leonidas Polk on November 7, 1861 at Belmont, Missouri on the Mississippi. Shortly afterwards, Grant was promoted to Major General by President Abraham Lincoln.
In September and October 1862 Grant was able to win further victories with the battles of Yuka and Corinth. However, from the fall he had to besiege the city of Vicksburg, which was stubbornly held by the Confederate soldiers. It was not until July 4, 1863, that he succeeded here too.
In the autumn of 1863, the supreme command of the besieged in Chattanooga of the Confederates Union forces. Grant was able to break through the siege and then secure the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. By this victory Grant was promoted to lieutenant general. On March 17, 1864, he became commander-in-chief of the Army of the Northern States.
After Grant received the command, he commanded the Northern forces in the eastern battlefield of Virginia. There he let his soldiers compete against his counterpart of the Confederation General Lee and tried to blow the southern army out. His goal was the Confederate capital Richmond. In order to reach this, however, Grant first had to besiege the city of Petersburg with his soldiers. It was only in April 1865 he succeeded there the breakthrough, a few days later he conquered Richmond.
The remnants of the Confederate army dodged west of Richmond. Grant continued and after General Lee realized the futility of continuing the war, he capitulated with his army on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
As a result of his military successes during the Civil War Grant was raised on July 25, 1866 in the first created by the Congress rank of General of the Army of the United States. Until he took office as president, he also held the supreme command of the armed forces.
Appointed as President:
Due to his fame, his fame, and also because of the respect he received from the Southern States for his surrender to the Confederate army of General Lee during his surrender, Grant was proposed at the Republican Party convention in Chicago on May 20, 1868 as a presidential candidate. He won the election against Horatio Seymour of the Democratic Party and took office as the 18th President on March 4, 1869.
His term was, however, foreign policy shaped by the 10-year war in Cuba, from which he tried to keep the US out. Domestically, many corruption scandals caused a stir, so that in his cabinet, the deputies were often exchanged.
Despite the corruption scandals Grant could secure a second term and continue the office of President from 4 March 1873 to 4 March 1877. Already in 1875 Grant made it clear by a public statement that he would not run for a third term.
After completing his second term as president, Grant and his wife traveled through Europe and Japan for two years. Grant tried in 1880 to reapply as president, but lost to his opponent James A. Garfield.
After he then tried to gain a foothold in the investment industry, fraudulent partners brought him to the brink of financial ruin. At the suggestion of Mark Twain, Grant finally began to write his memoirs, which he was able to complete a week before his death, and could restore some financial security by selling his family.
Due to the fact that Grant smoked around 20 cigars a day, he contracted throat cancer. This also led to his death on July 23, 1885 in Wilton, New York.
Grant was buried with his wife at Grant's Tomb in New York City, North America's largest mausoleum.
During his time at the military academy, Grant got to know his sister Julia Boggs Dent through a college friend. After the Mexican-American War, the two married on August 22, 1848. From this marriage, 4 children emerged:
- Frederick Dent Grant (1850-1912)
- Ulysses Simpson Grant, Jr. (1852-1929)
- Ellen Wrenshall Grant (1855-1922)
- Jesse Root Grant (1858-1934)
You can find the right literature here:
Ulysses S. Grant's life has typically been misunderstood. All too often he is caricatured as a chronic loser and an inept businessman, or as the triumphant but brutal Union general of the Civil War. But these stereotypes don't come close to capturing him, as Chernow shows in his masterful biography, the first to provide a complete understanding of the general and president whose fortunes rose and fell with dizzying speed and frequency.
Before the Civil War, Grant was flailing. His business ventures had ended dismally, and despite distinguished service in the Mexican War he ended up resigning from the army in disgrace amid recurring accusations of drunkenness. But in war, Grant began to realize his remarkable potential, soaring through the ranks of the Union army, prevailing at the battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign, and ultimately defeating the legendary Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Along the way, Grant endeared himself to President Lincoln and became his most trusted general and the strategic genius of the war effort. Grant’s military fame translated into a two-term presidency, but one plagued by corruption scandals involving his closest staff members.
More important, he sought freedom and justice for black Americans, working to crush the Ku Klux Klan and earning the admiration of Frederick Douglass, who called him “the vigilant, firm, impartial, and wise protector of my race.” After his presidency, he was again brought low by a dashing young swindler on Wall Street, only to resuscitate his image by working with Mark Twain to publish his memoirs, which are recognized as a masterpiece of the genre.
With lucidity, breadth, and meticulousness, Chernow finds the threads that bind these disparate stories together, shedding new light on the man whom Walt Whitman described as “nothing heroic... and yet the greatest hero.” Chernow’s probing portrait of Grant's lifelong struggle with alcoholism transforms our understanding of the man at the deepest level. This is America's greatest biographer, bringing movingly to life one of our finest but most underappreciated presidents. The definitive biography, Grant is a grand synthesis of painstaking research and literary brilliance that makes sense of all sides of Grant's life, explaining how this simple Midwesterner could at once be so ordinary and so extraordinary.
American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
In his time, Ulysses S. Grant was routinely grouped with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the “Trinity of Great American Leaders.” But the battlefield commander–turned–commander-in-chief fell out of favor in the twentieth century. In American Ulysses, Ronald C. White argues that we need to once more revise our estimates of him in the twenty-first.
Based on seven years of research with primary documents—some of them never examined by previous Grant scholars—this is destined to become the Grant biography of our time. White, a biographer exceptionally skilled at writing momentous history from the inside out, shows Grant to be a generous, curious, introspective man and leader—a willing delegator with a natural gift for managing the rampaging egos of his fellow officers. His wife, Julia Dent Grant, long marginalized in the historic record, emerges in her own right as a spirited and influential partner.
Grant was not only a brilliant general but also a passionate defender of equal rights in post-Civil War America. After winning election to the White House in 1868, he used the power of the federal government to battle the Ku Klux Klan. He was the first president to state that the government’s policy toward American Indians was immoral, and the first ex-president to embark on a world tour, and he cemented his reputation for courage by racing against death to complete his Personal Memoirs. Published by Mark Twain, it is widely considered to be the greatest autobiography by an American leader, but its place in Grant’s life story has never been fully explored—until now.
One of those rare books that successfully recast our impression of an iconic historical figure, American Ulysses gives us a finely honed, three-dimensional portrait of Grant the man—husband, father, leader, writer—that should set the standard by which all future biographies of him will be measured.
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant: The Complete Annotated Edition
Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs, sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers, were once as ubiquitous in American households as the Bible. Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, Henry James, and Edmund Wilson hailed them as great literature, and countless presidents, including Clinton and George W. Bush, credit Grant with influencing their own writing. Yet a judiciously annotated edition of these memoirs has never been produced until now.
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is the first comprehensively annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs, clarifying the great military leader’s thoughts on his life and times through the end of the Civil War and offering his invaluable perspective on battlefield decision making. An introduction contextualizes Grant’s life and significance, and lucid editorial commentary allows his voice and narrative to shine through. With annotations compiled by the editors of the Ulysses S. Grant Association’s Presidential Library, this definitive edition enriches our understanding of the pre-war years, the war with Mexico, and the Civil War. Grant provides essential insight into how rigorously these events tested America’s democratic institutions and the cohesion of its social order.
The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant is a work of profound political, historical, and literary significance. This celebrated annotated edition will introduce a new generation of readers of all backgrounds to an American classic.