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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ulysses S. Grant

General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–77).

President Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant - the 'S' was a typo when he secured a nomination to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and retired after serving in the Mexican–American War.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Grant rejoined the U.S. Army and won major victories at Shiloh and Vicksburg, and in the Chattanooga Campaign.

The Battle of Fort Donelson was fought from February 12–16, 1862, in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. The Union's success in capturing the Confederate fort near the Tennessee–Kentucky border opened the Cumberland River, an important avenue for the invasion of the South. The Union's victory also elevated Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant from an obscure and largely unproven leader to the rank of major general, and earned him the nickname of "Unconditional Surrender" Grant.

Battle of Fort Donelson

During the Civil War Grant's heavy consumption of whiskey caused consternation among Abraham Lincoln's advisers and many urged his dismissal. The president stuck by his man because of the incompetence of the other Union generals,

After promotion to Lieutenant General, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of bloody battles in Virginia in 1864, trapping Lee's army in the siege of Petersburg.

Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, ended the Civil War. When the Confederate army surrendered, a Union cannonade was fired in celebration but General Grant ordered it to stop saying "The war is over. The rebels are our countrymen again."

General Ulysses Grant suffered from migraines every three or four weeks. The best cure he found was to dip his feet in a hot mustard footbath in a darkened room, and to take one of his wife Julia's special pills. He would fall asleep for a couple of hours then awaken feeling refreshed.

For the two days before the Civil War reached its climax, Grant suffered from a malicious migraine, which no amount of mustard footbaths and special pills would relieve.  However, after reading General Lee's note of surrender, his headache immediately disappeared.

Ulysses S. Grant was also planned to be assassinated along with Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, but did not attend the play at Ford Theater because their wives were not on good terms.

The United States Congress passed legislation on July 25, 1866 authorizing the rank of General of the Army. Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant was the first to be promoted to this rank. His pay was "four hundred dollars per month, and his allowance for fuel and quarters" except "when his headquarters are in Washington, shall be at the rate of three hundred dollars per month." When appointed General of the Army, Grant wore the rank insignia of four stars and coat buttons arranged in three groups of four.


Elected president in 1868, Grant was the first President of the United States to have both living parents attend his inauguration.

His inauguration was so cold that the canaries that were supposed to sing at the ball froze to death.

Grant during the mid-1870s

President Ulysses S. Grant was arrested while in office. He was charged, booked, and released for speeding (on a horse) and had to pay a fine.

Ulysses S. Grant not only created the Department of Justice, he also supported the Fifteenth Amendment and asked Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1871, allowing him to combat and prosecute the Ku Klux Klan.

His presidency has often come under criticism for tolerating corruption because he appointed his friends into high political positions and tolerated their corruption (even though Grant himself was innocent).


As a child on a farm Grant loved horses and developed at an early age an unusual ability to work with and control them. When he was seven or eight years old he could drive a team and began hauling all the wood used in the house and shops.

As a general, Grant rode the strongest and most challenging horse available, and was sometimes injured in riding He  had three favorite horses: Egypt, Cincinnati, and Jeff Davis.

President Ulysses Grant was once arrested by the DC police for driving his buggy too fast in Georgetown, taken into custody, and given a $20 speeding ticket. His horse and carriage were also seized and he had to walk back to the White House.

Grant was once given a $20 speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast down a Washington street.

Four years after becoming engaged, Ulysses Grant married Julia Dent on August 22, 1848 at White Haven Plantation, the bride's family home. Neither of their fathers approved of the match – hers because Grant's career-soldier prospects seemed bleak and his because the Dents were slaveholders. They had four children: Frederick, Ulysses Jr. ("Buck"), Ellen ("Nellie"), and Jesse.

Julia Grant. Library of Congress

Grant was extremely fond of cucumbers and he frequently dined on just a sliced cucumber and a cup of coffee.

After a report that President Ulysses S. Grant had puffed on a cigar while in a conflict, gifts of 10,000 fine cigars poured in for him. It was said he could smoke 20 cigars a day, trying to put away all those expensive ones given to him by admirers.

Grant was not forced to attend church by his Methodist parents; After leaving home he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination.

General Ulysses S. Grant owned slaves who were not freed until after the Civil War had ended.


After leaving the White House, Grant and his family set out on a world tour. The trip, which would last two years, began in Liverpool in May 1877.

Prior to Ulysses S. Grant, no president had seen the Pacific Ocean. Grant set many presidential travel firsts, as he was the first to see the Great Wall of China and visit Egypt, among other foreign destinations.

In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining a Republican nomination for a third term.

Facing severe investment reversals and dying of throat cancer, Grant completed his memoirs at a cottage on the slopes of Mount McGregor, finishing only days before he died.

Grant wrote the book of memoirs so his wife could live off of the royalties. Mark Twain heard the best royalty offer was 10% and immediately offered Grant 75%. Grant's memoirs proved a major critical and financial success giving his wife about $450,000 in royalties.

Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography was sold by 10,000 agents, many of whom were former Union soldiers who canvassed the northern states while wearing their old uniforms. It was a method devised by Mark Twain, the publisher.

Grant gargled red wine laced with cocaine to relieve the pain from his throat cancer.

Grant died at 8 o'clock in the morning in the Mount McGregor cottage on July 23, 1885, at the age of 63. His death prompted an outpouring of national unity. More than 1.5 million people attended his funeral in New York City.

Grant's funeral train at West Point

The remains of Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant, lie interred in Grant's Tomb. The granite and marble structure, designed by architect John Duncan, was completed in 1897 and remains the largest mausoleum in North America. The tomb complex is located in New York City's Riverside Park.


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