Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; /ˈhrəm juːˈlɪsz/ HY-rəm yoo-LIS-eez; April 27, 1822  July 23, 1885) was an American politician and military leader who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As president, Grant was an effective civil rights executive who created the Justice Department and worked with the Radical Republicans to protect African Americans during Reconstruction. As Commanding General, he led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865 and thereafter briefly served as Secretary of War.

Ulysses S. Grant
Portrait by Mathew Brady, 1870–1880
18th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1869  March 4, 1877
Vice President
Preceded byAndrew Johnson
Succeeded byRutherford B. Hayes
Commanding General of the U.S. Army
In office
March 9, 1864  March 4, 1869
President
Preceded byHenry W. Halleck
Succeeded byWilliam Tecumseh Sherman
Acting United States Secretary of War
In office
August 12, 1867  January 14, 1868
PresidentAndrew Johnson
Preceded byEdwin Stanton
Succeeded byEdwin Stanton
Personal details
Born
Hiram Ulysses Grant

(1822-04-27)April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJuly 23, 1885(1885-07-23) (aged 63)
Wilton, New York, U.S.
Cause of deathThroat cancer
Resting placeGrant's Tomb, New York City
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
(m. 1848)
Children
Parents
EducationUnited States Military Academy (BS)
Occupation
  • Politician
  • military officer
Signature
Military service
Nickname(s)Sam
Branch/serviceU.S. Army (Union Army)
Years of service
  • 1839–1854
  • 1861–1869
Rank General of the Army
Commands
Battles/wars

Raised in Ohio, Grant possessed an exceptional ability with horses, which served him well through his military career. He was admitted to West Point, graduated 21st in the class of 1843 and served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. In 1848, he married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. Grant abruptly resigned his army commission in 1854 and returned to his family, but lived in poverty for seven years. He joined the Union Army after the Civil War broke out in 1861 and rose to prominence after winning several early Union victories on the Western Theater. In 1863 he led the Vicksburg campaign, which gained control of the Mississippi River. President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general after his victory at Chattanooga. For thirteen months, Grant fought Robert E. Lee during the high-casualty Overland Campaign and at Petersburg. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. A week later, Lincoln was assassinated and was succeeded by President Andrew Johnson, who promoted Grant to General of the Army in 1866. Later Grant openly broke with Johnson over Reconstruction policies; Grant used the Reconstruction Acts, which had been passed over Johnson's veto, to enforce civil rights for recently freed African Americans.

A war hero, drawn in by his sense of duty, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and was elected president in 1868. As president, Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, supported ratification of the 15th Amendment, and crushed the Ku Klux Klan. He appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans to prominent federal offices. In 1871, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission, advancing civil service more than any prior president. The Liberal Republicans and Democrats united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but Grant was handily re-elected. Grant's Native American policy was to assimilate Indians into the White culture; the Great Sioux War was fought during his term. Grant's foreign policy was mostly peaceful, without war, the Alabama claims against Great Britain skillfully resolved, but his prized Caribbean Dominican Republic annexation was rejected by the Senate.

The Grant administration is traditionally known for prevalent scandals, but modern scholarship has better appreciated Grant's appointed reformers and prosecutions. Grant appointed John Brooks Henderson and David Dyer, who prosecuted the Whiskey Ring. Grant appointed Benjamin Bristow and Edwards Pierrepont, who served as Grant's anti-corruption team. Grant appointed Zachariah Chandler, who cleaned up corruption in the Interior. Grant prosecuted Mormon polygamists (1871), pornographers and abortionists (1873–1877). The Panic of 1873 plunged the nation into a severe economic depression that allowed the Democrats to win the House majority. In the intensely disputed presidential election of 1876, Grant facilitated the approval by Congress of a peaceful compromise.

In his retirement, Grant was the first president to circumnavigate the world on his tour, dining with Queen Victoria and meeting many prominent foreign leaders. In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. In the final year of his life, facing severe financial reversals and dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memoirs, which proved to be a major critical and financial success. At the time of his death, he was memorialized as a symbol of national unity. Grant was a modern general and "a skillful leader who had a natural grasp of tactics and strategy". Historical assessments of Grant's presidency have ranked him low, 38th in 1994 and 1996, but Grant moved up to 21st in 2018 and 24th in 2021. Although critical of scandals and Grant's loyal defense of culprits, modern historians have emphasized his two-term presidential accomplishments. These included the prosecution of the Klan, an innovative Native American policy, and the peaceful settlements of the Alabama claims and controversial 1876 presidential election.