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Ulysses S. Grant
Photograph of Ulysses S. Grant's upper body
Grant c. 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
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
President of the National Rifle Association
In office
Personal details
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.
Resting placeGrant's Tomb, New York City
Political partyRepublican
(m. 1848)
EducationUnited States Military Academy (BS)
  • Military officer
  • politician
SignatureCursive signature in ink
  • Sam
  • Unconditional Surrender
Military service
Years of service
  • 1839–1854
  • 1861–1869
See list

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant;[b] April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American military officer, politician, and the 18th president of the United States, who served two terms from 1869 to 1877. As commanding general, Grant led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865 and briefly served as U.S. secretary of war. An effective civil rights executive, Grant signed a bill to create the Justice Department and worked with Radical Republicans to protect African Americans during Reconstruction.

Grant was born and raised in Ohio and graduated from West Point in 1843. He served with distinction in the Mexican–American War, but resigned from the army in 1854 and returned to civilian life impoverished. In 1861, shortly after the onset of the Civil War, Grant joined the Union Army and rose to prominence after securing Union victories in the western theater. In 1863, he led the Vicksburg campaign that gave Union forces control of the Mississippi River and dealt a major strategic blow to the Confederacy. President Abraham Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general after his victory at Chattanooga. For thirteen months, Grant fought Robert E. Lee during the high-casualty Overland Campaign which ended with capture of Lee's army at Appomattox, where he formally surrendered to Grant. In 1866, President Andrew Johnson promoted Grant to General of the Army. Later, Grant openly broke with Johnson over Reconstruction policies. A war hero, drawn in by his sense of duty, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and then elected president in 1868.

As president, Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, supported congressional Reconstruction and the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, and prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan. Under Grant, the Union was completely restored. He appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans to prominent federal offices. In 1871, he created the first Civil Service Commission, advancing the civil service more than any prior president. The Liberal Republicans and Democrats united behind Grant's opponent in the 1872 presidential election, but Grant was handily reelected. Grant, however, was inundated by executive scandals, during his second term. His response to the Panic of 1873 was ineffective in halting the Long Depression, which contributed to the Democrats winning the House majority in 1874. Grant's Native American policy was to assimilate Indians into Anglo-American culture. In Grant's foreign policy, the Alabama Claims against Great Britain were peacefully resolved, but the Senate rejected Grant's annexation of Santo Domingo. In the heavily disputed 1876 presidential election, Grant facilitated the approval by Congress of a peaceful compromise.

Leaving office in 1877, Grant undertook a world tour, meeting prominent figures and becoming the first president to circumnavigate the world. In 1880, he was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican nomination for a third term. In 1885, the final year of his life, facing severe financial reversals and dying of throat cancer, Grant wrote his memoirs, covering his life through the Civil War, which were posthumously published and became a major critical and financial success. At the time of his death, Grant was the most popular American and was memorialized as a symbol of national unity. Due to the Lost Cause myth spread by Confederate sympathizers around the turn of the 20th century, historical assessments and rankings of Grant and his presidency suffered considerably before they began recovering in the 21st century. Grant's critics take a negative view of his economic mismanagement and the corruption within his administration, while his admirers emphasize his policy towards Native Americans, vigorous enforcement of civil and voting rights for African Americans, and securing North and South as a single nation within the Union.[5] Modern scholarship has better appreciated Grant's appointments of Cabinet reformers.

Early life and education

Further information: Early life and career of Ulysses S. Grant

Color drawing of Grant's birthplace, a simple one-story structure, with fence and trees in front, next to the Ohio River with steamboat passing by
Grant's birthplace in Point Pleasant, Ohio

Grant's ancestors Matthew and Priscilla Grant arrived aboard the ship Mary and John at Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 from England.[6] Grant's great-grandfather fought in the French and Indian War and his grandfather served in the American Revolution at Bunker Hill.[7] His father Jesse Root Grant was a Whig Party supporter and a fervent abolitionist.[8] His mother Hannah Simpson descended from Presbyterian immigrants from Ballygawley, County Tyrone, Ireland.[9]

Jesse and Hannah were married on June 24, 1821, and their first child, Hiram Ulysses Grant, was born on April 27, 1822.[10] The boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. To honor his father-in-law, Jesse named the boy "Hiram Ulysses", though he would always refer to him by his middle name, "Ulysses".[11] In 1823, the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where five more siblings were born: Simpson, Clara, Orvil, Jennie, and Mary.[12] At the age of five, Ulysses began his formal education, starting at a subscription school and later in two private schools.[13] In the winter of 1836–1837, Grant was a student at Maysville Seminary, and in the autumn of 1838, he attended John Rankin's academy. In his youth, Grant developed an unusual ability to ride and manage horses.[14] His father put his ability with horses to use by giving him work driving wagon loads of supplies and transporting people.[15] Unlike his siblings, Grant was not forced to attend church by his Methodist parents.[c][17] For the rest of his life, he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination.[18] To others, including his own son, Grant appeared to be an agnostic.[19] Grant was largely apolitical before the war but wrote, "If I had ever had any political sympathies they would have been with the Whigs. I was raised in that school."[20]

Early military career and personal life

West Point and first assignment

Engraving of a young Grant in uniform
Grant as a young officer, c. 1845–1847

Jesse Grant wrote to Representative Thomas L. Hamer requesting that he nominate Ulysses to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Hamer nominated 17-year-old Ulysses to West Point in spring 1839. Grant was accepted on July 1.[21] Unfamiliar with Grant, however, Hamer submitted an incorrect name. As a result, Grant was enlisted at West Point under the name "U. S. Grant".[d][25] As the initials "U. S." also stood for "Uncle Sam", he became known amongst army colleagues as "Sam".[26]

Initially, Grant was indifferent to military life, but within a year he reexamined his desire to leave the academy and later wrote that "on the whole I like this place very much".[27] He earned a reputation as the "most proficient" horseman.[28] Seeking relief from military routine, he studied under Romantic artist Robert Walter Weir, producing nine surviving artworks.[29] He spent more time reading books from the library than his academic texts.[30] On Sundays, cadets were required to march to and attend services at the academy's church, a requirement that Grant disliked.[31] Quiet by nature, he established a few intimate friends among fellow cadets, including Frederick Tracy Dent and James Longstreet. He was inspired both by the Commandant, Captain Charles Ferguson Smith, and by General Winfield Scott, who visited the academy to review the cadets. Grant later wrote of the military life, "there is much to dislike, but more to like."[32]

Grant graduated on June 30, 1843, ranked 21st out of 39 in his class and was promoted the next day to the rank brevet second lieutenant.[33] He planned to resign his commission after his four-year term. He would later write that among the happiest days of his life were the day he left the presidency and the day he left the academy.[34] Despite his excellent horsemanship, he was not assigned to the cavalry, but to the 4th Infantry Regiment.[e] Grant's first assignment took him to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri.[36] Commanded by Colonel Stephen W. Kearny, the barracks was the nation's largest military base in the West.[37] Grant was happy with his new commander but looked forward to the end of his military service and a possible teaching career.[38]

Marriage and family

In 1844, Grant accompanied Frederick Dent to Missouri and met his family, including Dent's sister Julia. The two soon became engaged.[38] Four years later, on August 22, 1848, they were married at Julia's home in St. Louis. Grant's abolitionist father disapproved of the Dents' owning slaves, and neither of Grant's parents attended the wedding.[39] At the wedding, Grant was flanked by three fellow West Point graduates, all dressed in their blue uniforms, including Longstreet, Julia's cousin.[f][42]

The couple had four children: Frederick, Ulysses Jr. (known as "Buck"),[g] Ellen (known as "Nellie"), and Jesse II.[44] After the wedding, Grant obtained a two-month extension to his leave and returned to St. Louis, where he decided that, with a wife to support, he would remain in the army.[45]

Mexican–American War

Main article: Mexican–American War

An American depiction of the Battle of Monterrey within the city
The Battle of Monterrey during which Grant saw military action

After rising tensions with Mexico following the United States annexation of Texas, war broke out in 1846. During the conflict, Grant distinguished himself as a daring and competent soldier.[46] Before the war President John Tyler had ordered Grant's unit to Louisiana as part of the Army of Occupation under Major General Zachary Taylor.[47] In September 1846, Tyler's successor, James K. Polk, unable to provoke Mexico into war at Corpus Christi, Texas, ordered Taylor to march 150 miles south to the Rio Grande. Marching south to Fort Texas, to prevent a Mexican siege, Grant experienced combat for the first time on May 8, 1846, at the Battle of Palo Alto.[48]

Grant served as regimental quartermaster, but yearned for a combat role; when finally allowed, he led a charge at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma.[49] He demonstrated his equestrian ability at the Battle of Monterrey by volunteering to carry a dispatch past snipers, where he hung off the side of his horse, keeping the animal between him and the enemy. Before leaving the city he assured some wounded Americans he would send for help.[50] Polk, wary of Taylor's growing popularity, divided his forces, sending some troops (including Grant's unit) to form a new army under Major General Winfield Scott.[51] Traveling by sea, Scott's army landed at Veracruz and advanced toward Mexico City.[52] The army met the Mexican forces at the battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec outside Mexico City.[53] For his bravery at Molino del Rey, Grant was brevetted first lieutenant on September 30.[54] At San Cosmé, Grant directed his men to drag a disassembled howitzer into a church steeple, then reassembled it and bombarded nearby Mexican troops.[53] His bravery and initiative earned him his brevet promotion to captain.[55] On September 14, 1847, Scott's army marched into the city; Mexico ceded the vast territory, including California, to the U.S. on February 2, 1848.[56]

During the war, Grant established a commendable record, studied the tactics and strategies of Scott and Taylor, and emerged as a seasoned officer, writing in his memoirs that this is how he learned much about military leadership.[57] In retrospect, although he respected Scott, he identified his leadership style with Taylor's. Grant later believed the Mexican war was morally unjust and that the territorial gains were designed to expand slavery, writing, "I was bitterly opposed to the measure ... and to this day, regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." He opined that the Civil War was divine punishment for U.S. aggression against Mexico.[58] During the war, Grant discovered his "moral courage" and began to consider a career in the army.[59][h] Grant came to recognize how wars could be won or lost by crucial factors that lay beyond the tactical battlefield. Serving as an assistant quartermaster made Grant a complete soldier and gave him the training to sustain large armies.[i][62]

Post-war assignments and resignation

Grant's first post-war assignments took him and Julia to Detroit on November 17, 1848, but he was soon transferred to Madison Barracks, a desolate outpost in upstate New York, in bad need of supplies and repair. After four months, Grant was sent back to his quartermaster job in Detroit.[63] When the discovery of gold in California brought droves of prospectors and settlers to the territory, Grant and the 4th infantry were ordered to reinforce the small garrison there. Grant was charged with bringing the soldiers and a few hundred civilians from New York City to Panama, overland to the Pacific and then north to California. Julia, eight months pregnant with Ulysses Jr., did not accompany him.

While Grant was in Panama, a cholera epidemic broke out and claimed the lives of many soldiers and civilians. Grant established and organized a field hospital in Panama City, and moved the worst cases to a hospital barge one mile offshore.[64] When orderlies protested having to attend to the sick, Grant did much of the nursing himself, earning high praise from observers.[65] In August, Grant arrived in San Francisco. His next assignment sent him north to Vancouver Barracks in the Oregon Territory.[66]

Grant tried several business ventures but failed, and in one instance his business partner absconded with $800 of Grant's investment, equivalent to $23,000 in 2023.[67] Concerning local Indians, Grant assured Julia, by letter, they were harmless. After he witnessed white agents cheating Indians of their supplies, and their devastation by smallpox and measles transferred to them by white settlers, he developed empathy for their plight.[68]

Promoted to captain on August 5, 1853, Grant was assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at the newly constructed Fort Humboldt in California.[69] Grant arrived at Fort Humboldt on January 5, 1854, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Buchanan, a martinet officer, with whom Grant had earlier crossed paths at Jefferson Barracks.[70] Separated from his wife and family, Grant began to drink.[71] Colonel Buchanan reprimanded Grant for one drinking episode and told Grant to "resign or reform." Grant told Buchanan he would "resign if I don't reform."[72] On Sunday, Grant was found influenced by alcohol, but not incapacitated, at his company's paytable.[73] Keeping his pledge to Buchanan, Grant resigned, effective July 31, 1854.[74] Buchanan endorsed Grant's letter of resignation but did not submit any report that verified the incident.[j][80] Grant did not face court-martial, and the War Department said: "Nothing stands against his good name."[81] Grant said years later, "the vice of intemperance (drunkenness) had not a little to do with my decision to resign."[82] With no means of support, Grant returned to St. Louis and reunited with his family, uncertain about his future.[83]

Civilian struggles, slavery, and politics

A small log cabin
"Hardscrabble", the log house built by Grant in between wars

In 1854, at age 32, Grant entered civilian life, without any money-making vocation to support his growing family. It was the beginning of seven years of financial struggles, poverty, and instability.[84] Grant's father offered him a place in the Galena, Illinois, branch of the family's leather business, but demanded Julia and the children stay in Missouri, with the Dents, or with the Grants in Kentucky. Grant and Julia declined the offer. For the next four years, Grant farmed with the help of Julia's slave Dan, on his brother-in-law's property, Wish-ton-wish, near St. Louis.[85] The farm was not successful and to earn an alternate living he sold firewood on St. Louis street corners.[86]

In 1856, the Grants moved to land on Julia's father's farm, and built a home called "Hardscrabble" on Grant's Farm. Julia described the rustic house as an "unattractive cabin", but made the dwelling as homelike as possible with the family's keepsakes and other belongings.[87] Grant's family had little money, clothes, and furniture, but always had enough food.[88] During the Panic of 1857, which devastated Grant as it did many farmers, Grant pawned his gold watch in order to buy Christmas gifts for his family.[89] In 1858, Grant rented out Hardscrabble and moved his family to Julia's father's 850-acre plantation.[90] That fall, after suffering from malaria, Grant finally gave up farming.[91]

That same year, Grant acquired a slave from his father-in-law, a thirty-five-year-old man named William Jones.[92] Although Grant was not an abolitionist at the time, he disliked slavery and could not bring himself to force an enslaved man to do work.[93] In March 1859, Grant freed William by a manumission deed, potentially worth at least $1,000 (equivalent to $34,000 in 2023), when Grant needed the money.[94]

Grant moved to St. Louis, taking on a partnership with Julia's cousin Harry Boggs working in the real estate business as a bill collector, again without success and with Julia's prompting ended the partnership.[95] In August, Grant applied for a position as county engineer, believing his education qualified him for the job. He had thirty-five notable recommendations, but the position was given on the basis of political affiliation and Grant was passed over by the Free Soil and Republican county commissioners because he was believed to share his father-in-law's Democratic sentiments.[96] In the 1856 presidential election, Grant cast his first presidential vote for Democrat James Buchanan, later saying he was really voting against Republican John C. Frémont over concern that his anti-slavery position would lead to southern secession and war and because he considered Frémont to be a shameless self-promoter.[97]

In April 1860, Grant and his family moved north to Galena, accepting a position in his father's leather goods business, "Grant & Perkins", run by his younger brothers Simpson and Orvil. In a few months, Grant paid off his debts.[98] The family attended the local Methodist church and he soon established himself as a reputable citizen of Galena.[99] For the 1860 election, he could not vote because he was not yet a legal resident of Illinois, but he favored Democrat Stephen A. Douglas over the eventual winner, Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln over the Southern Democrat, John C. Breckinridge.[100] He was torn between his increasingly anti-slavery views and the fact that his wife remained a staunch Democrat.[101]

Civil War

Main article: Ulysses S. Grant and the American Civil War

Brigadier General Grant, 1861

On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.[102] The news came as a shock in Galena, and Grant shared his neighbors' concern about the war.[103] On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers.[104] The next day, Grant attended a mass meeting to assess the crisis and encourage recruitment, and a speech by his father's attorney, John Aaron Rawlins, stirred Grant's patriotism.[105] In an April 21 letter to his father, Grant wrote out his views on the upcoming conflict: "We have a government and laws and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots."[106]

Early commands

Further information: Kentucky in the American Civil War

On April 18, Grant chaired a second recruitment meeting, but turned down a captain's position as commander of the newly formed militia company, hoping his previous experience would aid him to obtain a more senior military rank.[107] His early efforts to be recommissioned, however, were rejected by Major General George B. McClellan and Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. On April 29, supported by Congressman Elihu B. Washburne of Illinois, Grant was appointed military aide to Governor Richard Yates and mustered ten regiments into the Illinois militia. On June 14, again aided by Washburne, Grant was appointed colonel and put in charge of the 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment organized at Mattoon, Illinois, and mustered in on June 28, 1861;[108] he appointed John A. Rawlins as his aide-de-camp and brought order and discipline to the regiment. Soon after, Colonel Grant and the 21st Regiment were transferred to Missouri to dislodge Confederate forces.[109]

On August 5, with Washburne's aid, Grant was appointed brigadier general of volunteers.[110] Major General John C. Frémont, Union commander of the West, passed over senior generals and appointed Grant commander of the District of Southeastern Missouri.[111] On September 2, Grant arrived at Cairo, Illinois, assumed command by replacing Colonel Richard J. Oglesby, and set up his headquarters to plan a campaign down the Mississippi, and up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.[112]

After the Confederates moved into western Kentucky, taking Columbus, with designs on southern Illinois, Grant notified Frémont and, without waiting further for his reply, strategically advanced on Paducah, Kentucky, taking it without a fight on September 6.[113] Having understood the importance to Lincoln of Kentucky's neutrality, Grant assured its citizens, "I have come among you not as your enemy, but as your friend."[114] On November 1, Frémont ordered Grant to "make demonstrations" against the Confederates on both sides of the Mississippi, but prohibited him from attacking the enemy.[115]

Belmont (1861), Forts Henry and Donelson (1862)

Main articles: Battle of Belmont, Battle of Fort Henry, and Battle of Fort Donelson

Battle of Fort Donelson by Kurz and Allison, 1887

On November 2, 1861, Lincoln removed Frémont from command, freeing Grant to attack Confederate soldiers encamped in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.[115] On November 5, Grant, along with Brigadier General John A. McClernand, landed 2,500 men at Hunter's Point, and on November 7 engaged the Confederates at the Battle of Belmont.[116] The Union army took the camp, but the reinforced Confederates under Brigadier Generals Frank Cheatham and Gideon J. Pillow forced a chaotic Union retreat. [117] Grant had wanted to destroy Confederate strongholds at both Belmont, Missouri and Columbus, Kentucky, but was not given enough troops and was only able to disrupt their positions. Grant's troops fought their way back to their Union boats and escaped back to Cairo under fire from the fortified stronghold at Columbus. [118] Although Grant and his army retreated, the battle gave his volunteers much-needed confidence and experience.[119] It also showed Lincoln that Grant was a general willing to fight.[120]

Columbus blocked Union access to the lower Mississippi. Grant and lieutenant colonel James B. McPherson planned to bypass Columbus and with a force of 25,000 troops, move against Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. They would then march ten miles east to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River, with the aid of gunboats, opening both rivers and allowing the Union access further south. Grant presented his plan to Henry Halleck, his new commander in the newly created Department of Missouri.[121] Halleck was considering the same strategy, but rebuffed Grant, believing he needed twice the number of troops. However, after Halleck telegraphed and consulted McClellan about the plan, he finally agreed on the condition that the attack would be conducted in close cooperation with the navy Flag Officer, Andrew H. Foote. [122] Foote's gunboats bombarded Fort Henry, leading to its surrender on February 6, 1862, before Grant's infantry even arrived.[123]

Grant then ordered an immediate assault on Fort Donelson, which dominated the Cumberland River. Fort Donelson, unlike Fort Henry, had a force equal to Grant's army. Unaware of the garrison's strength, Grant, McClernand, and Smith positioned their divisions around the fort. The next day McClernand and Smith independently launched probing attacks on apparent weak spots but were forced to retreat by the Confederates. On February 14, Foote's gunboats began bombarding the fort, only to be repulsed by its heavy guns. Seizing the initiative, the next day, Pillow fiercely attacked and routed one of Grant's divisions, McClernand's. Union reinforcements arrived, giving Grant a total force of over 40,000 men. Grant was with Foote, four miles away when the Confederates attacked. Hearing the battle noise, Grant rode back and rallied his troop commanders, riding over seven miles of freezing roads and trenches, exchanging reports. When Grant blocked the Nashville Road, the Confederates retreated back into Fort Donelson.[124] On February 16, Foote resumed his bombardment, which signaled a general attack. Confederate generals John B. Floyd and Pillow fled, leaving the fort in command of Simon Bolivar Buckner, who submitted to Grant's demand for "unconditional and immediate surrender".[125]

Grant had won the first major victory for the Union, capturing Floyd's entire rebel army of more than 12,000. Halleck was angry that Grant had acted without his authorization and complained to McClellan, accusing Grant of "neglect and inefficiency". On March 3, Halleck sent a telegram to Washington complaining that he had no communication with Grant for a week. Three days later, Halleck followed up with a postscript claiming "word has just reached me that ... Grant has resumed his bad habits (of drinking)."[126] Lincoln, regardless, promoted Grant to major general of volunteers and the Northern press treated Grant as a hero. Playing off his initials, they took to calling him "Unconditional Surrender Grant".[127]

Shiloh (1862) and aftermath

Further information: Battle of Shiloh

Battle of Shiloh by Thure de Thulstrup, 1888

Reinstated by Halleck at the urging of Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Grant left Fort Henry and traveled by boat up the Tennessee River to rejoin his army with orders to advance with the Army of the Tennessee into Tennessee. His main army was located at Pittsburg Landing, while 40,000 Confederate troops converged at Corinth, Mississippi.[128] Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman assured Grant that his green troops were ready for an attack. Grant agreed and wired Halleck with their assessment.[129] Grant wanted to attack the Confederates at Corinth, but Halleck ordered him not to attack until Major General Don Carlos Buell arrived with his division of 25,000.[130] Meanwhile, Grant prepared for an attack on the Confederate army of roughly equal strength. Instead of preparing defensive fortifications between the Tennessee River and Owl Creek, and clearing fields of fire, they spent most of their time drilling the largely inexperienced troops while Sherman dismissed reports of nearby Confederates.[131]

Union inaction created the opportunity for the Confederates to attack first before Buell arrived.[132] On the morning of April 6, 1862, Grant's troops were taken by surprise when the Confederates, led by Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard, struck first "like an Alpine avalanche" near Shiloh church, attacking five divisions of Grant's army and forcing a confused retreat toward the Tennessee River.[133] Johnston was killed and command fell upon Beauregard.[134] One Union line held the Confederate attack off for several hours, giving Grant time to assemble artillery and 20,000 troops near Pittsburg Landing.[135] The Confederates finally broke and captured a Union division, but Grant's newly assembled line held the landing, while the exhausted Confederates, lacking reinforcements, halted their advance.[136][k]

Bolstered by 18,000 fresh troops from the divisions of Major Generals Buell and Lew Wallace, Grant counterattacked at dawn the next day and regained the field, forcing the disorganized and demoralized rebels to retreat back to Corinth.[138] Halleck ordered Grant not to advance more than one day's march from Pittsburg Landing, stopping the pursuit of the Confederate Army.[139] Although Grant had won the battle, the situation was little changed, with the Union still in possession of Pittsburg Landing and the Confederates once again holed up in Corinth.[140] Grant, now realizing that the South was determined to fight and that the war would not be won with one battle, would later write, "Then, indeed, I gave up all idea of saving the Union except by complete conquest."[141]

Shiloh was the costliest battle in American history to that point and the staggering 23,746 total casualties stunned the nation.[142] Briefly hailed a hero for routing the Confederates, Grant was soon mired in controversy.[143] The Northern press castigated Grant for shockingly high casualties, and accused him of drunkenness during the battle, contrary to the accounts of officers and others with him at the time.[144] Discouraged, Grant considered resigning but Sherman convinced him to stay.[145] Lincoln dismissed Grant's critics, saying "I can't spare this man; he fights."[146] Ultimately, Grant's costly victory at Shiloh ended any chance for the Confederates to prevail in the Mississippi valley or regain its strategic advantage in the West.[147]

Halleck arrived from St. Louis on April 11, took command, and assembled a combined army of about 120,000 men. On April 29, he relieved Grant of field command and replaced him with Major General George Henry Thomas. Halleck slowly marched his army to take Corinth, entrenching each night.[148] Meanwhile, Beauregard pretended to be reinforcing, sent "deserters" to the Union Army with that story, and moved his army out during the night, to Halleck's surprise when he finally arrived at Corinth on May 30.[149]

Halleck divided his combined army and reinstated Grant as field commander of the Army of the Tennessee on July 11.[150] Later that year, on September 19, Grant's army defeated Confederates at the Battle of Iuka, then successfully defended Corinth, inflicting heavy casualties.[151] On October 25, Grant assumed command of the District of the Tennessee.[152] In November, after Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Grant ordered units under his command to incorporate former slaves into the Union Army, giving them clothes, shelter, and wages for their services.[153]

Vicksburg campaign (1862–1863)

Further information: Vicksburg Campaign and General Order No. 11 (1862)

Grant's successful gamble: Porter's gunboats night ran the Confederate gauntlet at Vicksburg on the Mississippi River.

The Union capture of Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, was considered to be vital as it would split the Confederacy in two.[154] Lincoln, however, appointed McClernand for the job, rather than Grant or Sherman.[155] Halleck, who retained power over troop displacement, ordered McClernand to Memphis, and placed him and his troops under Grant's authority.[156]

On November 13, 1862, Grant captured Holly Springs and advanced to Corinth.[157] His plan was to march south to Jackson, and attack Vicksburg overland, while Sherman would attack Vicksburg from Chickasaw Bayou.[158] However, Confederate cavalry raids on December 11 and 20, 1862, broke Union communications and recaptured Holly Springs, preventing Grant and Sherman from converging on Vicksburg.[159] On December 29, a Confederate army led by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton repulsed Sherman's direct approach ascending the bluffs to Vicksburg at Chickasaw Bayou.[160] McClernand reached Sherman's army, assumed command, and independently of Grant led a campaign that captured Confederate Fort Hindman.[161]

Contraband fugitive African-American slaves poured into Grant's district, whom he sent north to Cairo to be integrated into white society as domestic servants in Chicago. However, Lincoln ended this move when Illinois political leaders complained.[162] On his own initiative, Grant set up a pragmatic program and hired a young Presbyterian Chaplain John Eaton to administer slave refuge work camps.[163] Compensated contraband freed slaves would be used to pick cotton that would be shipped north and sent to aid the Union war effort. Lincoln approved and Grant's camp program was successful.[164] Grant also worked freed black labor on a canal to bypass Vicksburg and on other points on the river, incorporating the laborers into the Union Army and Navy.[165]

Grant's war responsibilities included combating an illegal Northern cotton trade and civilian obstruction.[166] [l] He had received numerous dispatches with complaints about Jewish speculators in his district.[169] Grant feared the trading corrupted many of his officers who were also eager to make a profit on a bale of cotton. The majority, however, of those involved in illegal trading were not Jewish.[170] To help combat this, Grant required two permits, one from the Treasury and one from the Union Army, to purchase cotton.[167]

The Battle of Jackson, fought on May 14, 1863, was part of the Vicksburg Campaign.

On December 17, 1862, Grant issued a controversial General Order No. 11, expelling "Jews, as a class", from his Union Army military district.[171] The order was partially enforced at Holly Springs (December 17) and fully enforced at Paducah (December 28). Confederate General Van Dorn's raid on Holly Springs (December 20), prevented many Jewish people from potential expulsion. After complaints, Lincoln rescinded the order on January 3, 1863. Grant finally ended the order on January 17. He later described issuing the order as one of his biggest regrets.[m][175]

On January 29, 1863, Grant assumed overall command. Eventually, he attempted to advance his army through water-logged terrain to bypass Vicksburg's guns.[176] The plan of attacking Vicksburg from downriver carried great risk because upon crossing the Mississippi River, his army would be beyond the reach of most of its supply lines.[177] On April 16, Grant ordered Admiral David Dixon Porter's gunboats south under fire from the Vicksburg batteries to meet up with troops who had marched south down the west side of the river.[178] Grant ordered diversionary battles, confusing Pemberton and allowing Grant's army to move east across the Mississippi, landing troops at Bruinsburg.[179] Grant's army captured Jackson, the state capital. Advancing west, he defeated Pemberton's army at the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16, forcing their retreat into Vicksburg.[180]

After Grant's men assaulted the entrenchments twice, suffering severe losses, they settled in for a siege which lasted seven weeks. During quiet periods of the campaign, Grant would take to drinking on occasion.[181] The personal rivalry between McClernand and Grant continued until Grant removed him from command when he contravened Grant by publishing an order without permission.[182] Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Grant on July 4, 1863.[183]

Vicksburg's fall gave Union forces control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy. By that time, Grant's political sympathies fully coincided with the Radical Republicans' aggressive prosecution of the war and emancipation of the slaves.[184] The success at Vicksburg was a morale boost for the Union war effort.[182] When Stanton suggested Grant be brought east to run the Army of the Potomac, Grant demurred, writing that he knew the geography and resources of the West better and he did not want to upset the chain of command in the East.[185]

Chattanooga (1863) and promotion

Further information: Chattanooga Campaign

Union troops swarm Missionary Ridge and defeat Bragg's army.

On October 16, 1863, Lincoln promoted Grant to major general in the regular army and assigned him command of the newly formed Division of the Mississippi, which comprised the Armies of the Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland.[186] After the Battle of Chickamauga, the Army of the Cumberland retreated into Chattanooga, where they were partially besieged.[187] Grant arrived in Chattanooga on horseback, after a journey by boat from Vicksburg to Cairo, and then by train to Bridgeport, Alabama. Plans to resupply the city and break the partial siege had already been set on foot before his arrival. Forces commanded by Major General Joseph Hooker, which had been sent from the Army of the Potomac, approached from the west and linked up with other units moving east from inside the city, capturing Brown's Ferry and opening a supply line to the railroad at Bridgeport.[188]

Grant planned to have Sherman's Army of the Tennessee, assisted by the Army of the Cumberland, assault the northern end of Missionary Ridge, preparatory to rolling down it on the enemy's right flank. On November 23, Major General George Henry Thomas surprised the enemy in open daylight, advancing the Union lines and taking Orchard Knob, between Chattanooga and the ridge. The next day, Sherman failed to achieve his mission of getting atop Missionary Ridge, which was the key to Grant's plan of battle. Hooker's forces took Lookout Mountain using an ingenious maneuver to flank the enemy, in unexpected success.[189] On the 25th, Grant ordered Thomas to advance to the rifle-pits at the base of Missionary Ridge in an effort to help Sherman, after Sherman's army failed to take Missionary Ridge from the northeast.[190] Four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland, with the center two led by Major General Philip Sheridan and Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood, chased the Confederates out of the rifle-pits at the base and, against orders, continued the charge up the 45-degree slope and captured the Confederate entrenchments along the crest, forcing a hurried retreat.[191] The decisive battle gave the Union control of Tennessee and opened Georgia, the Confederate heartland, to Union invasion.[192]

On March 2, 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general, giving him command of all Union Armies.[193] Grant's new rank had previously been held only by George Washington.[194] Grant arrived in Washington on March 8 and was formally commissioned by Lincoln the next day at a Cabinet meeting.[195] Grant developed a good working relationship with Lincoln, who allowed Grant to devise his own strategy.[196]

Grant established his headquarters with General George Meade's Army of the Potomac in Culpeper, northwest of Richmond, and met weekly with Lincoln and Stanton in Washington.[197] After protest from Halleck, Grant scrapped a risky invasion plan of North Carolina and adopted a plan of five coordinated Union offensives on five fronts in order to prevent Confederate armies from shifting troops along interior lines.[198] Grant and Meade would make a direct frontal attack on Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, while Sherman — now in command of all western armies — was to destroy Joseph E. Johnston's Army of Tennessee and take Atlanta.[199] Major General Benjamin Butler would advance on Lee from the southeast, up the James River, while Major General Nathaniel Banks would capture Mobile.[200] Major General Franz Sigel was to capture granaries and rail lines in the fertile Shenandoah Valley.[201] Grant now commanded a total of 533,000 battle-ready troops spread out over an eighteen-mile front.[202]

Overland Campaign (1864)

Main article: Overland Campaign

The Overland Campaign was a series of brutal battles fought in Virginia for seven weeks during May and June 1864.[203] Sigel's and Butler's efforts failed, and Grant was left alone to fight Lee.[204] On the morning of Wednesday, May 4, Grant led the army out from his headquarters and towards Germanna Ford.[205] They crossed the Rapidan unopposed, while supplies were transported on four pontoon bridges.[206] On May 5, the Union army attacked Lee in the battle of the Wilderness, a three-day battle with estimated casualties of 17,666 Union and 11,125 Confederate.[207]

Rather than retreat, Grant flanked Lee's army to the southeast and attempted to wedge his forces between Lee and Richmond at Spotsylvania Court House.[208] Lee's army got to Spotsylvania first and a costly battle ensued, lasting thirteen days, with heavy casualties.[209] On May 12, Grant attempted to break through Lee's Muleshoe salient guarded by Confederate artillery, resulting in one of the bloodiest assaults of the Civil War, known as the Bloody Angle.[210] Unable to break Lee's lines, Grant again flanked the rebels to the southeast, meeting at North Anna, where a battle lasted three days.[211]

Cold Harbor

Main article: Battle of Cold Harbor

General Grant at his headquarters in Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1864

Grant believed breaking through Lee's lines at its weakest point, Cold Harbor, a vital road hub that linked to Richmond, would mean the destruction of Lee's army, the capture of Richmond, and a quick end to the rebellion.[212] Grant already had two corps in position at Cold Harbor with Hancock's corps on the way.[213] The recent bloody Wilderness campaign had severely diminished Confederate morale and hence Grant was now willing to advance on Lee's army once again.[214]

Lee's lines were extended north and east of Richmond and Petersburg for approximately ten miles, but there were several points where there were no fortifications built yet, and Cold Harbor was one of them. On June 1 and 2 both Grant and Lee were still waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Hancock's men had marched all night and arrived too exhausted for an immediate attack that morning. Grant agreed to let the men rest and postponed the attack until 5 p.m., and then again until 4:30 a.m. on June 3. However, Grant and Meade did not give specific orders for the attack, leaving it up to the corps commanders to decide where they would coordinate and attack the Confederate lines, as no senior commander had yet reconnoitered the latest Confederate developments. Grant had not yet learned that overnight Lee had hastily constructed entrenchments to thwart any breach attempt at Cold Harbor.[215] Grant had put off making an attack twice and was anxious to make his move before the rest of Lee's army arrived. On the morning of June 3, the third day of the thirteen-day battle, with a force of more than 100,000 men, against Lee's 59,000, Grant attacked not realizing that Lee's army was now well entrenched, much of it obscured by trees and bushes.[216] Grant's army suffered 12,000–14,000 casualties, while Lee's army suffered 3,000–5,000 casualties, but Lee was less able to replace them.[217]

The unprecedented number of casualties was shocking by all accounts and heightened anti-war sentiment in the North. After the battle Grant wanted to appeal to Lee under the white flag for each side to gather up their wounded, most of them Union soldiers, but Lee insisted that a total truce be enacted and while they were deliberating all but a few of the wounded died in the field.[218] Without giving an apology for the disastrous defeat in his official military report, Grant confided in his staff after the battle and years later wrote in his memoirs that he "regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made."[219]

Siege of Petersburg (1864–1865)

Further information: Siege of Petersburg and Battle of the Crater

Undetected by Lee, Grant moved his army south of the James River, freed Butler from the Bermuda Hundred, and advanced toward Petersburg, Virginia's central railroad hub.[220] Beauregard defended Petersburg, and Lee's veteran reinforcements arrived on June 18, resulting in a nine-month siege. Northern resentment grew. Sheridan was assigned command of the Union Army of the Shenandoah and Grant directed him to "follow the enemy to their death" in the Shenandoah Valley. When Sheridan suffered attacks by John S. Mosby's irregular Confederate cavalry, Grant recommended rounding up their families for imprisonment at Fort McHenry.[221] After Grant's abortive attempt to capture Petersburg, Lincoln supported Grant in his decision to continue and visited Grant's headquarters at City Point on June 21 to assess the state of the army and meet with Grant and Admiral Porter. By the time Lincoln departed his appreciation for Grant had grown.[222]

To strike at Lee in a timely capacity Grant was forced to use what resources were immediately available, and they were diminishing by the day. Grant had to commit troops to check Confederate General Jubal Early's raids in the Shenandoah Valley and who was getting dangerously close to Washington.[223] By late July, at Petersburg, Grant reluctantly approved a plan to blow up part of the enemy trenches from a tunnel filled with many tons of gunpowder. The massive explosion created a crater, 170 feet across and 30 feet deep, killing an entire Confederate regiment in an instant.[224] The poorly led Union troops under Major General Ambrose Burnside and Brigadier General James H. Ledlie, rather than encircling the crater, rushed forward and poured directly into it. Recovering from the surprise, Confederates, led by Major General William Mahone,[225] surrounded the crater and easily picked off Union troops within it. The Union's 3,500 casualties outnumbered the Confederates' by three-to-one. The battle marked the first time that Union black troops, who endured a large proportion of the casualties, engaged in any major battle in the east.[226] Grant admitted that the overall mining tactic had been a "stupendous failure".[227]

Grant (center left) next to Lincoln with General Sherman (far left) and Admiral Porter (right) – The Peacemakers by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1868

Grant would later meet with Lincoln and testify at a court of inquiry against Generals Burnside and Ledlie for their incompetence.[228] In his memoirs, he blamed both of them for that disastrous Union defeat.[229] Rather than fight Lee in a full-frontal attack as he had done at Cold Harbor, Grant continued to force Lee to extend his defenses south and west of Petersburg, better allowing him to capture essential railroad links.[223]

Union forces soon captured Mobile Bay and Atlanta and now controlled the Shenandoah Valley, ensuring Lincoln's reelection in November.[230] Sherman convinced Grant and Lincoln to allow his army to march on Savannah.[231] Sherman cut a 60-mile path of destruction unopposed, reached the Atlantic Ocean, and captured Savannah on December 22.[232] On December 16, after much prodding by Grant, the Union Army under Thomas smashed John Bell Hood's Confederate Army at Nashville.[233] These campaigns left Lee's forces at Petersburg as the only significant obstacle remaining to Union victory.[234]

By March 1865, Lee was trapped. Grant had severely weakened Lee's strength, having extended his lines to 35 miles.[235] He was running out of reserves to replace the high battlefield casualties and remaining Confederate troops, no longer having confidence in their commander and under the duress of trench warfare, deserted Lee by the thousands. [236] On March 25, in a desperate effort, Lee sacrificed his remaining troops (4,000 Confederate casualties) at Fort Stedman, a Union victory, and considered the last Petersburg line battle.

Surrender of Lee and Union victory (1865)

Main articles: Third Battle of Petersburg, Appomattox Campaign, and Battle of Appomattox Court House

Defeated by Grant, Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House.

On April 2, Grant ordered a general assault on Lee's entrenched depleted forces. Lee abandoned Petersburg and Richmond, while Grant's conquering Union troops easily took Petersburg and captured Richmond the next day.[237] A desperate Lee, and part of his army cut and ran, attempted to link up with the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston's defeated army. Sheridan's cavalry, however, stopped the two armies from converging, cutting them off from their supply trains.[238] Grant was in communication with Lee before he entrusted his aide Orville Babcock to carry his last dispatch to Lee that demanded his surrender with instructions to escort him to a meeting place of Lee's choosing.[239] Grant immediately rode west, bypassing Lee's army, to join Sheridan who had captured Appomattox Station, blocking Lee's escape route. On his way, Grant received a letter sent by Lee informing him Lee would surrender his army.[240]

On April 9, Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Court House.[241] Upon receiving Lee's dispatch about the proposed meeting Grant had been jubilant. Although Grant felt depressed at the fall of "a foe who had fought so long and valiantly," he believed the Southern cause was "one of the worst for which a people ever fought."[242] After briefly discussing their days of old in Mexico, Grant wrote out the terms of surrender. Men and officers were to be paroled, but in addition, there was amnesty: "Each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by U.S. authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside." Lee immediately accepted Grant's terms and signed the surrender document, without any diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy. The vanquished Lee, afterward asked Grant that his former Confederate troops keep their horses. Grant generously allowed Lee's request.[243][244] Grant ordered his troops to stop all celebration, saying the "war is over; the rebels are our countrymen again."[245] Johnston's Tennessee army surrendered on April 26, 1865, Richard Taylor's Alabama army on May 4, and Kirby Smith's Texas army on May 26, ending the war.[246]

Lincoln's assassination

Main article: Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

On April 14, 1865, five days after Grant's victory at Appomattox, he attended a cabinet meeting in Washington. Lincoln invited him and his wife Julia to Ford's Theatre but they declined, because they had plans to travel to their home in Burlington. In a conspiracy that also targeted top cabinet members in one last effort to topple the Union, Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at the theater and died the next morning.[247] Many, including Grant himself, thought that he, Grant, had been a target in the plot, and during the subsequent trial, the government tried to prove that Grant had been stalked by Booth's conspirator Michael O'Laughlen.[248]

Stanton notified Grant of the president's death and summoned him back to Washington. Vice President Andrew Johnson was sworn in as president on April 15. Attending Lincoln's funeral on April 19, Grant stood alone and wept openly; he later said Lincoln was "the greatest man I have ever known".[249] Grant was determined to work with Johnson, and he privately expressed "every reason to hope" in the new president's ability to run the government "in its old channel".[250]

Commanding generalship (1865–1869)

Main article: Commanding generalship of Ulysses S. Grant

Constant Mayer's portrait of General Grant, 1866

At the war's end, Grant remained commander of the army, with duties that included dealing with Emperor Maximilian and French troops in Mexico, enforcement of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states, and supervision of Indian wars on the western Plains.[251] After the Grand Review of the Armies, Lee and his generals were indicted for treason in Virginia. Johnson demanded they be put on trial, but Grant insisted that they should not be tried, citing his Appomatox amnesty. Johnson backed down, so charges against Lee were dropped.[252][253] Grant secured a house for his family in Georgetown Heights in 1865 but instructed Elihu Washburne that for political purposes his legal residence remained in Galena, Illinois.[254] That same year, Grant spoke at Cooper Union in New York in support of Johnson's presidency. Further travels that summer took the Grants to Albany, New York, back to Galena, and throughout Illinois and Ohio, with enthusiastic receptions.[255] On July 25, 1866, Congress promoted Grant to the newly created rank of General of the Army of the United States.[256]

Tour of the South

Further information: Reconstruction era

President Johnson's Reconstruction policy included a speedy return of the former Confederates to Congress, reinstating white people to office in the South, and relegating black people to second-class citizenship.[257] On November 27, 1865, General Grant left Washington, sent by Johnson on a fact-finding mission to the South, to counter a pending less favorable report by Senator Carl Schurz which reported that white people in the South harbored resentment of the North, and that black people suffered from violence and fraud.[258] Grant recommended continuation of the Freedmen's Bureau, which Johnson opposed, but advised against using black troops, which he believed encouraged an alternative to farm labor.[259]

Grant did not believe the people of the South were ready for self-rule, and that both white and black people in the South required protection by the federal government. Concerned that the war led to diminished respect for civil authorities, he continued using the Army to maintain order.[260] Grant's report on the South, which he later recanted, sympathized with Johnson's conservative Reconstruction policies.[261] Although Grant desired former Confederates be returned to Congress, he advocated eventual black citizenship. On December 19, the day after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment was announced in the Senate, Johnson's response used Grant's report, read aloud to the Senate, to undermine Schurz's final report and Radical opposition to Johnson's policies.[262]

Break from Johnson

Cartoon illustration from Swingin' Round the Cirkle, or Andy's trip to the West by David Ross Locke, suggesting that Grant was a bigger draw on the multi-city tour than was Johnson

Grant was initially optimistic about Johnson, saying he was satisfied the nation had "nothing to fear" from the Johnson administration.[263] Despite differing styles, the two got along cordially and Grant attended cabinet meetings concerning Reconstruction.[263] By February 1866, the relationship began to break down.[264] Johnson opposed Grant's closure of the Richmond Examiner for disloyal editorials and his enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, passed over Johnson's veto.[264] Needing Grant's popularity, Johnson took Grant on his "Swing Around the Circle" tour, a failed attempt to gain national support for lenient policies toward the South.[265] Grant privately called Johnson's speeches a "national disgrace" and he left the tour early.[266] On March 2, 1867, overriding Johnson's veto, Congress passed the first of three Reconstruction Acts, using military officers to enforce the policy.[267] Protecting Grant, Congress passed the Command of the Army Act, preventing his removal or relocation, and forcing Johnson to pass orders through Grant.[268]

In August 1867, bypassing the Tenure of Office Act, Johnson discharged Secretary of War Edwin Stanton without Senate approval and appointed Grant ad interim Secretary of War. Stanton was the only remaining cabinet member friendly to the Radicals. Although Grant initially recommended against dismissing Stanton, he accepted the position, not wanting the Army to fall under a conservative appointee who would impede Reconstruction, and managed an uneasy partnership with Johnson.[269]

In December 1867, Congress voted to keep Stanton, who was reinstated by a Senate Committee on January 10, 1868. Grant told Johnson he was going to resign the office to avoid fines and imprisonment. Johnson, who believed the law would be overturned, said he would assume Grant's legal responsibility, and reminded Grant that he had promised him to delay his resignation until a suitable replacement was found.[270] The following Monday, not willing to wait for the law to be overturned, Grant surrendered the office to Stanton, causing confusion with Johnson.[271] With the complete backing of his cabinet, Johnson personally accused Grant of lying and "duplicity" at a stormy cabinet meeting, while a shocked and disappointed Grant felt it was Johnson who was lying.[272] The publication of angry messages between Grant and Johnson led to a complete break between them.[273] The controversy led to Johnson's impeachment and trial in the Senate; he was acquitted by one vote.[274] Grant's popularity rose among the Radical Republicans and his nomination for the presidency appeared certain.[275]

Election of 1868

Main article: 1868 United States presidential election

Grant–Colfax Republican ticket

When the Republican Party met at the 1868 Republican National Convention in Chicago, the delegates unanimously nominated Grant for president and Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax for vice president.[276] Although Grant had preferred to remain in the army, he accepted the Republican nomination, believing that he was the only one who could unify the nation.[277] The Republicans advocated "equal civil and political rights to all" and African American enfranchisement.[278] The Democrats, having abandoned Johnson, nominated former governor Horatio Seymour of New York for president and Francis P. Blair of Missouri for vice president. The Democrats opposed suffrage for African Americans and advocated the immediate restoration of former Confederate states to the Union and amnesty from "all past political offenses".[279][280]

Grant played no overt role during the campaign and instead was joined by Sherman and Sheridan in a tour of the West that summer.[281] However, the Republicans adopted his words "Let us have peace" as their campaign slogan.[282] Grant's 1862 General Order No. 11 became an issue during the presidential campaign; he sought to distance himself from the order, saying "I have no prejudice against sect or race, but want each individual to be judged by his own merit."[283] The Democrats and their Klan supporters focused mainly on ending Reconstruction, intimidating black people and Republicans, and returning control of the South to the white Democrats and the planter class, alienating War Democrats in the North.[284] An example was the murder of Republican Congressman James M. Hinds in Arkansas by a Klansman in October 1868, as Hinds campaigned for Grant. Grant won the popular vote by 300,000 votes out of 5,716,082 votes cast, receiving an Electoral College landslide of 214 votes to Seymour's 80.[285] Seymour received a majority of white voters, but Grant was aided by 500,000 votes cast by black people,[286] winning him 52.7 percent of the popular vote.[287] He lost Louisiana and Georgia, primarily due to Ku Klux Klan violence against African-American voters.[288] At the age of 46, Grant was the youngest president yet elected, and the first president after the nation had outlawed slavery.[289]

Presidency (1869–1877)

Main article: Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant

Official White House portrait of President Grant by Henry Ulke, 1875

On March 4, 1869, Grant was sworn in as the eighteenth President of the United States by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase. In his inaugural address, Grant urged the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, while large numbers of African Americans attended his inauguration.[290] He also urged that bonds issued during the Civil War should be paid in gold, called for "proper treatment" of Native Americans and encouraged their "civilization and ultimate citizenship".[291]

Grant's cabinet appointments sparked both criticism and approval.[292] He appointed Elihu B. Washburne Secretary of State and John A. Rawlins Secretary of War.[293] Washburne resigned, and Grant appointed him Minister to France. Grant then appointed former New York Senator Hamilton Fish Secretary of State.[293] Rawlins died in office, and Grant appointed William W. Belknap Secretary of War.[294] Grant appointed New York businessman Alexander T. Stewart Secretary of Treasury, but Stewart was found legally ineligible to hold office by a 1789 law.[295] Grant then appointed Massachusetts Representative George S. Boutwell Secretary of Treasury.[293] Philadelphia businessman Adolph E. Borie was appointed Secretary of Navy, but found the job stressful and resigned.[296] Grant then appointed New Jersey's attorney general, George M. Robeson, Secretary of Navy.[297] Former Ohio Governor Jacob D. Cox (Interior), former Maryland Senator John Creswell (Postmaster-General), and Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar (Attorney General) rounded out the cabinet.[298]

Grant nominated Sherman to succeed him as general-in-chief and gave him control over war bureau chiefs.[299] When Rawlins took over the War Department he complained to Grant that Sherman was given too much authority. Grant reluctantly revoked his own order, upsetting Sherman and damaging their wartime friendship. James Longstreet, a former Confederate general who had endorsed Grant's nomination, was nominated for the position of Surveyor of Customs of the port of New Orleans; this was met with general amazement, and seen as a genuine effort to unite the North and South.[300] In March 1872, Grant signed legislation that established Yellowstone National Park, the first national park.[301] Grant was sympathetic to women's rights; including support of female suffrage, saying he wanted "equal rights to all citizens".[302]

To make up for his infamous General Order No. 11, Grant appointed more than fifty Jewish people to federal office, including consuls, district attorneys, and deputy postmasters.[303] He appointed Edward S. Salomon territorial governor of Washington, the first time an American Jewish man occupied a governor's seat. Grant was sympathetic to the plight of persecuted Jewish people. In November 1869, reports surfaced of the Russian Tsar Alexander II penalizing 2,000 Jewish families for smuggling by expelling them to the interior of the country. In response, Grant publicly supported the Jewish American B'nai B'rith petition against the Tsar. In December 1869, Grant appointed a Jewish journalist as Consul to Romania, to protect Jewish people there from "severe oppression".[303]

In 1875, Grant proposed a constitutional amendment that limited religious indoctrination in public schools.[304] Instruction of "religious, atheistic, or pagan tenets", would be banned, while funding "for the benefit or in aid, directly or indirectly, of any religious sect or denomination", would be prohibited. Schools would be for all children "irrespective of sex, color, birthplace, or religions".[305] Grant's views were incorporated into the Blaine Amendment, but it was defeated by the Senate.[306]

In October 1871, under the Morrill Act, using federal marshals, Grant rounded up and prosecuted hundreds of Utah Territory Mormon polygamists, including Mormon leader Brigham Young, who was indicted for "lewd and lascivious cohabitation".[307] Grant had called polygamy a "crime against decency and morality".[308] In 1874, Grant signed into law the Poland Act, which made Mormon polygamists subject to trial in U.S. District Courts and limited Mormons on juries.[308]

Beginning in March 1873, under the Comstock Act, Grant prosecuted, through the Postal Department, immoral and indecent pornographers, in addition to abortionists. To administer the prosecutions, Grant put in charge a vigorous anti-vice activist and reformer Anthony Comstock.[309] Comstock headed a federal commission and was empowered to seize and destroy obscene material and hand out arrest warrants to offenders of the law.[308]


Main article: Reconstruction era

Amos T. Akerman, appointed Attorney General by Grant, who vigorously prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan

Grant was considered an effective civil rights president, concerned about the plight of African Americans.[310] On March 18, 1869, Grant signed into law equal rights for black people, to serve on juries and hold office, in Washington D.C., and in 1870 he signed the Naturalization Act that gave foreign black people citizenship.[310] During his first term, Reconstruction took precedence. Republicans controlled most Southern states, propped up by Republican-controlled Congress, northern money, and southern military occupation.[311] Grant advocated the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment that said states could not disenfranchise African Americans.[312] Within a year, the three remaining states—Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas—adopted the new amendment—and were admitted to Congress.[313] Grant put military pressure on Georgia to reinstate its black legislators and adopt the amendment.[314] Georgia complied, and on February 24, 1871, its senators were seated in Congress, with all the former Confederate states represented, the Union was completely restored under Grant.[n][316] Under Grant, for the first time in American history, Black-American males served in the United States Congress, all from the Southern states.[317]

In 1870, to enforce Reconstruction, Congress and Grant created the Justice Department that allowed the Attorney General and the new Solicitor General to prosecute the Klan.[318] Congress and Grant passed three Enforcement Acts, designed to protect black people and Reconstruction governments.[319] Using the powers of the Enforcement Acts, Grant crushed the Ku Klux Klan.[320] By October, Grant suspended habeas corpus in part of South Carolina and sent federal troops to help marshals, who initiated prosecutions.[321] Grant's Attorney General, Amos T. Akerman, who replaced Hoar, was zealous to destroy the Klan.[322] Akerman and South Carolina's U.S. marshal arrested over 470 Klan members, while hundreds of Klansmen, including the wealthy leaders, fled the state.[323] By 1872, the Klan's power had collapsed, and African Americans voted in record numbers in elections in the South.[o][325] Attorney General George H. Williams, Akerman's replacement, suspended prosecutions of the Klan in North and South Carolina in early 1873, but prior to the election of 1874, he changed course and prosecuted the Klan.[p][329]

During Grant's second term, the North retreated from Reconstruction, while southern conservatives called "Redeemers" formed armed groups, the Red Shirts and the White League, who openly used violence, intimidation, voter fraud, and racist appeals to overturn Republican rule.[330] Northern apathy toward black people, the depressed economy and Grant's scandals made it politically difficult for the Grant administration to maintain support for Reconstruction. Power shifted when the House was taken over by the Democrats in the election of 1874.[331] Grant ended the Brooks–Baxter War, bringing Reconstruction in Arkansas to a peaceful conclusion. He sent troops to New Orleans in the wake of the Colfax massacre and disputes over the election of Governor William Pitt Kellogg.[332] Grant recalled Sheridan and most of the federal troops from Louisiana.[333]

By 1875, Redeemer Democrats had taken control of all but three Southern states. As violence against black Southerners escalated, Grant's Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont told Republican Governor Adelbert Ames of Mississippi that the people were "tired of the autumnal outbreaks in the South", and declined to intervene directly.[334] Grant later regretted not issuing a proclamation to help Ames, having been told Republicans in Ohio would bolt the party if he did.[335] Grant told Congress in January 1875 he could not "see with indifference Union men or Republicans ostracized, persecuted, and murdered."[336] Congress refused to strengthen the laws against violence but instead passed the sweeping Civil Rights Act of 1875 to guarantee black people access to public facilities.[337] However, there was little enforcement and the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional in 1883.[338] In October 1876, Grant dispatched troops to South Carolina to keep Republican Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain in office.[339]

After Grant left office in 1877, the Compromise of 1877 (which Grant took no direct part in) meant that the Republicans received the White House for Rutherford B. Hayes in return for ending enforcement of racial equality for black people and removing federal troops from the South,[340] marking the end of Reconstruction.[341]

Financial affairs

Soon after taking office, Grant took conservative steps to return the national economy to pre-war monetary standards.[342] During the Civil War, Congress had authorized the Treasury to issue banknotes that, unlike the rest of the currency, were not backed by gold or silver. These "greenbacks" were necessary to pay the unprecedented war debts, but they caused inflation and forced gold-backed money out of circulation.[343] On March 18, 1869, Grant signed the Public Credit Act of 1869, which guaranteed bondholders would be repaid in "coin or its equivalent". The act committed the government to the full return of the gold standard within ten years.[344] This followed a policy of "hard currency, economy and gradual reduction of the national debt." Grant's own ideas about the economy were simple, and he relied on the advice of businessmen.[342]

Gold corner conspiracy

Further information: Black Friday (1869)

Photograph of the blackboard in the New York City Gold Room on Black Friday, showing the collapse of the price of gold

In April 1869, railroad tycoons Jay Gould and Jim Fisk conspired to corner the gold market in New York, the nation's financial capital.[345] They controlled the Erie Railroad, and a high gold price would allow foreign agriculture buyers to purchase exported crops, shipped east over the Erie's routes.[346] Boutwell's policy of selling gold from the Treasury biweekly, however, kept gold artificially low.[347] Unable to corrupt Boutwell, the schemers built a relationship with Grant's brother-in-law, Abel Corbin, and gained access to Grant.[348] Gould bribed Assistant Treasurer Daniel Butterfield $10,000 to gain insider information into the Treasury.[349]

In July, Grant reduced the sale of Treasury gold to $2,000,000 per month.[350] Fisk told Grant his gold policy would destroy the nation.[351] By September, Grant, who was naive regarding finance, was convinced that a low gold price would help farmers, and the sale of gold for September was not increased.[352]

On September 23, when the gold price reached 143+18, Boutwell rushed to the White House and talked with Grant.[353] The following day, September 24, known as Black Friday, Grant ordered Boutwell to sell, whereupon Boutwell wired Butterfield to sell $4,000,000 in gold.[354] The bull market at Gould's Gold Room collapsed, the price of gold plummeted from 160 to 133+13, a bear market panic ensued, Gould and Fisk fled for their own safety, and severe economic damages lasted months.[355] By January 1870, the economy resumed its post-war recovery.[q][357]

Foreign affairs

Grant had limited foreign policy experience, so relied heavily on his talented Secretary of State Hamilton Fish. Grant and Fish had a reserved but cordial friendship. Besides Grant himself, the main players in foreign affairs were Secretary Fish and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Charles Sumner. Sumner, who hated Grant, led the opposition to Grant's plan to annex Santo Domingo despite the fact that he previously fully supported the annexation of Alaska. [358]

Grant had an expansionist impulse to protect American interests abroad and was a strong advocate of the Monroe Doctrine.[359] For instance, when Tomás Frías became President of Bolivia in 1872, Grant stressed the importance of maintaining good relations between Bolivia and the United States.[360] He also had an idealist side to his foreign policy. For instance, Grant appointed a Jewish lawyer, Benjamin F. Peixotto, U.S. Consul in Bucharest, in response to the Romanian persecution of Jews. Grant said that respect "for human rights is the first duty for those set as rulers" over the nations.[361]

Formal photographic portrait of bearded man
Secretary of State Hamilton Fish and Grant successfully settled the Alabama Claims by treaty and arbitration.

Treaty of Washington (1871)

Main article: Treaty of Washington (1871)

The most pressing diplomatic problem in 1869 was the settlement of the Alabama claims, depredations caused to Union merchant ships by the Confederate warship CSS Alabama, built in a British shipyard in violation of neutrality rules.[362] Secretary Hamilton Fish played the central role in formulating and implementing the Treaty of Washington and the Geneva arbitration (1872).[363] Senator Charles Sumner, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led the demand for reparations, with talk of British Columbia as payment.[364] Sumner, among other U.S. politicians, argued that British complicity in arms delivery to the Confederacy via blockade runners prolonged the war.[365] Fish and Treasurer George Boutwell convinced Grant that peaceful relations with Britain were essential, and the two nations agreed to negotiate.[366]

To avoid jeopardizing negotiations, Grant refrained from recognizing Cuban rebels who were fighting for independence from Spain, which would have been inconsistent with American objections to the British granting belligerent status to Confederates.[r][342] A commission in Washington produced a treaty whereby an international tribunal would settle the damage amounts; the British admitted regret, but not fault.[367] The Senate, including Grant critics Sumner and Carl Schurz, approved the Treaty of Washington, which settled disputes over fishing rights and maritime boundaries.[368] The Alabama claims settlement would be Grant's most successful foreign policy achievement that secured peace with Great Britain.[369] The settlement ($15,500,000) of the Alabama Claims resolved troubled Anglo-American issues and turned Britain into America's strongest ally.[370]

Korean expedition (1871)

Main article: United States expedition to Korea

In 1871, a U.S. expedition was sent to Korea to open up trade with the country which, at the time, had a policy that excluded trading with foreign powers, and to learn the fate of the U.S. merchant ship the SS General Sherman, which had disappeared after sailing up the Taedong River in 1866.[371] Grant dispatched an American land and naval force consisting of five U.S. warships and over 1,200 men, under the command of Admiral John Rodgers, to support a diplomatic delegation, led by American ambassador to China, Frederick Low, sent to negotiate trade and political relations.[371]

On June 1, the American ships entered the Ganghwa Straits on the Han River and, as foreign ships were barred from entering the river, onshore Korean garrisons fired upon them. Though no damage was done to the ships, Admiral Rogers gave the Koreans ten days to apologize for what he regarded as an unprovoked assault; they refused. On June 10, about 650 Americans landed and captured several forts culminating in the Battle of Ganghwa, at which over 200 Korean troops were killed with a loss of three American soldiers. The expedition failed to open up trade as Grant had hoped and merely strengthened Korea's isolationist policy.[372]

Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)

Main article: Annexation of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo City; watercolor by James E. Taylor, 1871

In 1869, Grant initiated his plan to annex the Dominican Republic, then called Santo Domingo.[373] Grant believed acquisition of the Caribbean island and Samaná Bay would increase the United States' natural resources, and strengthen U.S. naval protection to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, safeguard against British obstruction of U.S. shipping and protect a future oceanic canal, stop slavery in Cuba and Brazil, while black people in the United States would have a safe haven from "the crime of Klu Kluxism".[374]

Joseph W. Fabens, an American speculator who represented Buenaventura Báez, the president of the Dominican Republic, met with Secretary Fish and proposed annexation.[375] On July 17, Grant sent his military White House aide Orville E. Babcock to evaluate the islands' resources, local conditions, and Báez's terms for annexation, but gave him no diplomatic authority.[376] When Babcock returned to Washington with two unauthorized annexation treaties, Grant pressured his cabinet to accept them.[377] Grant ordered Fish to draw up formal treaties, sent to Báez by Babcock's return to the island nation. The Dominican Republic would be annexed for $1.5 million and Samaná Bay would be lease-purchased for $2 million. General D.B. Sackett and General Rufus Ingalls accompanied Babcock.[378] On November 29, President Báez signed the treaties. On December 21, the treaties were placed before Grant and his cabinet.[379]

Grant's plan, however, was obstructed by Senator Charles Sumner.[380] On December 31, Grant met with Sumner, unannounced, at Sumner's home to gain his support for annexation. Grant left confident that Sumner approved, but what Sumner actually said was disputed by various witnesses. Without appealing to the American public, Grant submitted the treaties on January 10, 1870, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sumner, for ratification, but Sumner shelved the bills.[381] Prompted by Grant to stop stalling the treaties, Sumner's committee took action but rejected the bills by a 5-to-2 vote. Sumner opposed annexation and reportedly said the Dominicans were "a turbulent, treacherous race" in a closed session of the Senate.[382] Sumner sent the treaties for a full Senate vote, while Grant personally lobbied other senators. Despite Grant's efforts, the Senate defeated the treaties.[383]

Grant was outraged, and on July 1, 1870, he sacked his appointed Minister to Great Britain, John Lothrop Motley, Sumner's close friend and ally.[384] In January 1871, Grant signed a joint resolution to send a commission to investigate annexation.[385] He chose three neutral parties, with Frederick Douglass to be secretary of the commission, that gave Grant the moral high ground from Sumner.[386] Although the commission approved its findings, the Senate remained opposed, forcing Grant to abandon further efforts.[387] Seeking retribution, in March 1871, Grant maneuvered to have Sumner deposed from his powerful Senate chairmanship.[388] The stinging controversy over Santo Domingo overshadowed Grant's foreign diplomacy.[369] Critics complained of Grant's reliance on military personnel to implement his policies.[378]

Cuba and Virginius Affair

Main article: Virginius Affair

American policy under Grant was to remain neutral during the Ten Years' War (1868–78) in Cuba against Spanish rule. On the recommendation of Fish and Sumner, Grant refused to recognize the rebels, in effect endorsing Spanish colonial rule, while calling for the abolition of slavery in Cuba.[389][390] This was done to protect American commerce and to keep peace with Spain.[390]

This fragile policy was severely broken in October 1873, when a Spanish cruiser captured a merchant ship, Virginius, flying the U.S. flag, carrying supplies and men to aid the insurrection. Treating them as pirates, Spanish authorities executed 53 prisoners without trial, including eight American citizens. American Captain Joseph Frye and his crew were executed and their bodies were mutilated. Enraged Americans called for war with Spain. Grant ordered U.S. Navy Squadron warships to converge on Cuba, supported by the USS Kansas. On November 27, Fish reached a diplomatic resolution in which Spain's president, Emilio Castelar y Ripoll, expressed his regret, surrendered the Virginius and the surviving captives. A year later, Spain paid a cash indemnity of $80,000 to the families of the executed Americans.[391][392]

Free trade with Hawaii

Main article: Reciprocity Treaty of 1875

reception line
King Kalākaua of Hawaii meets President Grant at the White House on his state visit, 1874.

In the face of strong opposition from Democrats, Grant and Fish secured a free trade treaty in 1875 with Hawaii, incorporating its sugar industry into the U.S. economic sphere.[393] To secure the agreement, King Kalākaua made a 91-day state visit, the first reigning monarch of any nation to set foot in the United States.[394] Despite opposition from Southern Democrats, who wanted to protect American rice and sugar producers, and Democrats, who believed the treaty to be an island annexation attempt and referred to the Hawaiians as an "inferior" race, a bill implementing the treaty passed Congress.[395]

The treaty gave free access to the U.S. market for sugar and other products grown in Hawaii from September 1876. The U.S. gained lands in the area known as Puʻu Loa for what would become known as the Pearl Harbor naval base. The treaty led to large investment by Americans in sugarcane plantations in Hawaii.[396]

Federal Indian policy

Main article: Native American policy of the Ulysses S. Grant administration

Further information: Black Hills Land Claim, Black Hills Gold Rush, and Great Sioux War

Formal photographic portrait of a sitting mustached man
Ely Samuel Parker, appointed by President Grant as the first Native American (Seneca) Commissioner of Indian Affairs

When Grant took office in 1869, the nation's more than 250,000 Native Americans were governed by 370 treaties.[397] Grant's faith influenced his "peace" policy toward Native Americans, believing that the "Creator" did not place races of men on earth for the "stronger" to destroy the "weaker".[398] Grant was mostly an assimilationist, wanting Native Americans to adopt European customs, practices, and language, and to accept democratic government, leading to eventual citizenship.[399][400] At Grant's 1869 Inauguration, Grant said "I will favor any course towards them which tends to their civilization, Christianization and ultimate citizenship."[400] Grant appointed Ely S. Parker, an assimilated Seneca and member of his wartime staff, as the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to serve in this position, surprising many.[401][400]

In April 1869, Grant signed legislation establishing an unpaid Board of Indian Commissioners to reduce corruption and oversee the implementation of his "Peace" policy,[402] aimed to replace entrepreneurs serving as Native American agents with missionaries and aimed to protect Native Americans on reservations and educate them in farming.[403]

In 1870, a setback in Grant's policy occurred over the Marias Massacre, causing public outrage.[404] In 1871, Grant ended the sovereign tribal treaty system; by law individual Native Americans were deemed wards of the federal government.[405] Grant's policy was undermined by Parker's resignation in 1871, denominational infighting among religious agents, and entrenched economic interests.[406] Nonetheless, Indian wars declined overall during Grant's first term, and on October 1, 1872, Major General Oliver Otis Howard negotiated peace with the Apache leader Cochise.[407] On December 28, 1872, another setback took place to Grant's policy when General George Crook and the 5th Cavalry massacred about 75 Yavapai Apache Indians at Skeleton Cave, Arizona.[408]

On April 11, 1873, Major General Edward Canby was killed in Northern California by Modoc leader Kintpuash, in a failed peace conference to end the Modoc War.[409] Grant ordered restraint. The army captured Kintpuash and his followers, who were convicted of Canby's murder and hanged on October 3 at Fort Klamath, while the remaining Modoc were relocated to the Indian Territory.[409] The beginning of the Indian Wars has been dated to this event.[410]

In 1874, the army defeated the Comanche at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, forcing them to settle at the Fort Sill reservation in 1875.[411] Grant pocket-vetoed a bill in 1874 protecting bison and instead supported Interior Secretary Columbus Delano, who correctly believed the killing of bison would force Plains Native Americans to abandon their nomadic lifestyle.[s][413] In April 1875, another setback occurred to Grant's policy. The U.S. Army led by Lt. Austin Henly massacred 27 Cheyenne Indians in Kansas.[414][415]

With the lure of gold discovered in the Black Hills and the westward force of Manifest Destiny, white settlers trespassed on Sioux protected lands used for ceremonies. Red Cloud reluctantly entered negotiations on May 26, 1875, but other Sioux chiefs readied for war.[416] Grant told the Sioux leaders to make "arrangements to allow white persons to go into the Black Hills" and that their children would attend schools, speak English, and prepare "for the life of white men."[399]

The Battle of the Little Big Horn, 1876

On November 3, 1875, under advice from Sheridan, Grant agreed not to enforce excluding miners from the Black Hills, forcing Native Americans onto the Sioux reservation.[417] Sheridan told Grant that the U.S. Army was undermanned and the territory involved was vast, requiring great numbers of soldiers.[418]

During the Great Sioux War that started after Sitting Bull refused to relocate to agency land, warriors led by Crazy Horse massacred George Armstrong Custer and 268 of his men at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Angry white settlers demanded retribution. Grant castigated Custer in the press, saying "I regard Custer's massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary."[419] In September and October 1876, Grant persuaded the tribes to relinquish the Black Hills. Congress ratified the agreement three days before Grant left office in 1877.[420]

In spite of Grant's peace efforts, over 200 battles were fought with Native Americans during his presidency. Grant's peace policy survived Custer's death, even after Grant left office in 1877; Indian policy remained under the Interior Department rather than moving to the War Department.[421] The policy was considered humanitarian for its time but was later criticized for disregarding tribal cultures.[422]

Election of 1872 and second term

Main article: 1872 United States presidential election

A Thomas Nast cartoon depicting Grant steering a ship and being challenged by opponents during the presidential election of 1872.
Cartoon by Thomas Nast on Grant's opponents in the reelection campaign

The Liberal Republicans—reformers, men who supported low tariffs, and those who opposed Grant's prosecution of the Klan—broke from Grant and the Republican Party.[423] The Liberals disliked Grant's alliance with Senators Simon Cameron and Roscoe Conkling, considered to be spoilsmen politicians.[424]

In 1872, the Liberals nominated Horace Greeley, a New York Tribune editor and fierce enemy of Grant, for president, and Missouri governor B. Gratz Brown, for vice president.[425] The Liberals denounced Grantism, corruption, and inefficiency, and demanded withdrawal of federal troops from the South, literacy tests for black voters, and amnesty for Confederates.[426] The Democrats adopted the Greeley-Brown ticket and the Liberals party platform.[427] Greeley, whose Tribune gave him name recognition and a louder campaign voice, pushed the themes that the Grant administration was failed and corrupt.[428]

The Republicans nominated Grant for reelection, with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as the vice presidential nominee.[t][430] The Republicans shrewdly borrowed from the Liberal platform, including "extended amnesty, lowered tariffs, and embraced civil service reform."[431] Grant lowered customs duties, gave amnesty to Confederates, and implemented a civil service merit system, neutralizing the opposition.[432] To placate the burgeoning suffragist movement, the Republican platform said women's rights would be treated with "respectful consideration."[433] Concerning Southern policy, Greeley advocated that local government control be given to white people, while Grant advocated federal protection of black people.[434] Grant was supported by Frederick Douglass, prominent abolitionists, and Indian reformers.[435]

Grant won reelection easily thanks to federal prosecution of the Klan, a strong economy, debt reduction, and lowered tariffs and taxes.[436] He received 56% of the vote and an Electoral College landslide of 286 to 66.[u][438][439] A majority of African Americans in the South voted for Grant, while Democratic opposition remained mostly peaceful.[440] Grant lost in six former slave states that wanted an end to Reconstruction.[441] He proclaimed the victory as a personal vindication, but inwardly he felt betrayed by the Liberals.[442]

Grant was sworn in by Salmon P. Chase on March 4, 1873. In his second inaugural address, he focused on what he considered the chief issues of the day: freedom and fairness for all Americans and the benefits of citizenship for freed slaves. Grant concluded his address: "My efforts in the future will be directed towards the restoration of good feelings between the different sections of our common community".[v][444] In 1873, Wilson suffered a stroke; never fully recovering, he died in office on November 22, 1875.[445] With Wilson's loss, Grant relied on Fish's guidance more than ever.[446][w]

Panic of 1873 and loss of House

Grant signed the Coinage Act of 1873, effectively ending the legal basis for bimetallism (the use of both silver and gold as money).[447] The Coinage Act discontinued the standard silver dollar and established the gold dollar as the monetary standard; because the gold supply did not increase as quickly as the population, the result was deflation. Silverites, who wanted more money in circulation to raise the prices that farmers received, denounced the move as the "Crime of 1873", claiming the deflation made debts more burdensome for farmers.[448]

A cartoon depicting Grant after vetoing the Inflation bill.
Grant is congratulated for vetoing the "inflation bill" in 1874.

Economic turmoil renewed during Grant's second term. In September 1873, Jay Cooke & Company, a New York brokerage house, collapsed after it failed to sell all of the bonds issued by Cooke's Northern Pacific Railway. Other banks and brokerages that owned railroad stocks and bonds were ruined.[449] On September 20, the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading for ten days.[450] Grant, who knew little about finance, traveled to New York to consult leading businessmen and bankers on how to resolve the crisis, which became known as the Panic of 1873.[451] Grant believed that, as with the collapse of the Gold Ring in 1869, the panic was merely an economic fluctuation.[452] He instructed the Treasury to buy $10 million in government bonds, which curbed the panic on Wall Street, but an industrial depression, later called the Long Depression, swept the nation.[451] Eighty-nine of the nation's 364 railroads went bankrupt.[453]

In 1874, hoping that inflation would stimulate the economy, Congress passed the Ferry Bill.[454] Many farmers and workingmen favored the bill, which would have added $64 million in greenbacks to circulation, but some Eastern bankers opposed it because it would have weakened the dollar.[455] Belknap, Williams, and Delano told Grant a veto would hurt Republicans in the November elections. Grant believed the bill would destroy the credit of the nation and vetoed it despite their objections. Grant's veto placed him in the Republican conservative faction and began the party's commitment to a gold-backed dollar.[456] Grant later pressured Congress for a bill to strengthen the dollar by gradually reducing the greenbacks in circulation. When the Democrats gained a majority in the House after the 1874 elections, the lame-duck Republican Congress did so before the Democrats took office.[457] On January 14, 1875, Grant signed the Specie Payment Resumption Act, which required gradual reduction of the number of greenbacks allowed to circulate and declared that they would be redeemed for gold beginning on January 1, 1879.[458]

Reforms and scandals

Further information: Reforms of the Ulysses S. Grant administration and Scandals of the Ulysses S. Grant administration

The post-Civil War economy brought on massive industrial wealth and government expansion. Speculation, lifestyle extravagance, and corruption in federal offices were rampant.[459] All of Grant's executive departments were investigated by Congress.[460] Grant by nature was honest, trusting, gullible, and extremely loyal to his friends. His responses to malfeasance were mixed: at times appointing cabinet reformers, others defending culprits.[461]

Cartoonist Thomas Nast praises Grant for rejecting demands by Pennsylvania politicians to suspend civil service rules.

Grant in his first term appointed Secretary of Interior Jacob D. Cox, who implemented civil service reform, including firing unqualified clerks.[462] On October 3, 1870, Cox resigned after a dispute with Grant over handling of a mining claim.[463]

Authorized by Congress on March 3, 1871, Grant created and appointed the first Civil Service Commission, chaired by reformer George William Curtis.[464] Grant's Commission created rules for competitive exams for appointments, ending mandatory political assessments and classifying positions into grades.[465][x] Grant, more than any previous president, elevated the federal civil service, but his critics refused to acknowledge this.[467]

In November 1871, Grant's appointed New York Collector, Thomas Murphy, resigned. Grant replaced Murphy with Chester A. Arthur, who implemented Boutwell's reforms.[468] A Senate committee investigated the New York Customs House from January 3, 1872, to June 4, 1872. Previous Grant appointed collectors Murphy and Moses H. Grinnell charged lucrative fees for warehouse space, without the legal requirement of listing the goods.[469] This led to Grant firing warehouse owner George K. Leet, for pocketing the exorbitant freight fees.[470] Boutwell's reforms included stricter record-keeping and that goods be stored on company docks.[469] Grant ordered prosecutions in New York by Attorney General George H. Williams and Secretary of Treasury Boutwell of persons accepting and paying bribes.[471]

On March 3, 1873, Grant signed into law an appropriation act that increased pay for federal employees, Congress (retroactive), the judiciary, and the president.[472][469] Grant's annual salary doubled from $25,000 to $50,000. Critics derided Congress' two-year retroactive $4,000 payment for each Congressman, and the law was partially repealed. Grant, however, kept his much needed pay raise, while his personal reputation remained intact.[473][469]

In 1872, Grant signed into law an act that ended private moiety (tax collection) contracts, but an attached rider allowed three more contracts.[474] Boutwell's assistant secretary William A. Richardson hired John B. Sanborn to go after "individuals and cooperations" who allegedly evaded taxes. Sanborn aggressively collected $213,000, while splitting $156,000 to others, including Richardson, and the Republican Party campaign committee.[475][469] During an 1874 Congressional investigation, Richardson denied involvement, but Sanborn said he met with Richardson six times over the contracts.[476] Congress severely condemned Richardson's permissive manner. Grant appointed Richardson judge of the Court of Claims, and replaced him with reformer Benjamin Bristow.[477] In June, Grant and Congress abolished the moiety system.[478]

Bristow tightened up the Treasury's investigation force, implemented civil service, and fired hundreds of corrupt appointees.[479] Bristow discovered Treasury receipts were low, and launched an investigation that uncovered the notorious Whiskey Ring, that involved collusion between distillers and Treasury officials to evade millions in taxes.[480] Much of this money was being pocketed while some of it went into Republican coffers.[481] In mid-April, Bristow informed Grant of the ring. On May 10, Bristow struck hard and broke the ring.[482] Federal marshals raided 32 installations nationwide and arrested 350 men, leading to 110 convictions and $3,150,000 in fines returned to the Treasury.[483]

"Uncle Sam" cartoon tapping a Louisville whiskey barrel, captioned "probe away"
Harper's Weekly
cartoon on Bristow's Whiskey Ring investigation

Grant appointed David Dyer, under Bristow's recommendation, federal attorney to prosecute the Ring in St. Louis, who indicted Grant's old friend General John McDonald, supervisor of Internal Revenue.[484] Grant endorsed Bristow's investigation, writing on a letter "Let no guilty man escape..."[485] Bristow's investigation discovered Babcock received kickback payments, and that Babcock had secretly forewarned McDonald, the ring's mastermind, of the investigation.[486] On November 22, the jury convicted McDonald.[487] On December 9, Babcock was indicted; Grant refused to believe in Babcock's guilt and was ready to testify in Babcock's favor, but Fish warned that doing so would put Grant in the embarrassing position of testifying against a case prosecuted by his own administration.[488] Instead, on February 12, 1876, Grant gave a deposition in Babcock's defense, expressing that his confidence in his secretary was "unshaken".[489] Grant's testimony silenced all but his strongest critics.[490]

The St. Louis jury acquitted Babcock, and Grant allowed him to remain at the White House. However, after Babcock was indicted in a frame-up of a Washington reformer, called the Safe Burglary Conspiracy, Grant dismissed him. Babcock kept his position of Superintendent of Public Buildings in Washington.[491][469]

The Interior Department under Secretary Columbus Delano, whom Grant appointed to replace Cox, was rife with fraud and corruption. The exception was Delano's effective oversight of Yellowstone. Grant reluctantly forced Delano's resignation. Surveyor General Silas Reed had set up corrupt contracts that benefited Delano's son, John Delano.[492] Grant's Secretary of Interior Zachariah Chandler, who succeeded Delano in 1875, implemented reforms, fired corrupt agents and ended profiteering.[493] When Grant was informed by Postmaster Marshall Jewell of a potential Congressional investigation into an extortion scandal involving Attorney General George H. Williams' wife, Grant fired Williams and appointed reformer Edwards Pierrepont. Grant's new cabinet appointments temporarily appeased reformers.[494]

After the Democrats took control of the House in 1875, more corruption in federal departments was exposed.[495] Among the most damaging scandal involved Secretary of War William W. Belknap, who took quarterly kickbacks from the Fort Sill tradership; he resigned in February 1876.[496] Belknap was impeached by the House but was acquitted by the Senate.[497] Grant's brother Orvil set up "silent partnerships" and received kickbacks from four trading posts.[498] Congress discovered that Secretary of Navy Robeson had been bribed by a naval contractor, but no articles of impeachment were drawn up.[499] In his December 5, 1876, Annual Message, Grant apologized to the nation: "Failures have been errors of judgement, not of intent."[500]

Election of 1876

Main article: 1876 United States presidential election

The abandonment of Reconstruction played a central role during the 1876 election.[501] Mounting investigations into corruption by the House, controlled by the Democrats, discredited Grant's presidency.[502] Grant did not run for a third term, while the Republicans chose Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, a reformer, at their convention.[503] The Democrats nominated Governor Samuel J. Tilden of New York. Voting irregularities in three Southern states caused the election to remain undecided for several months.[504][505]

Grant told Congress to settle the matter through legislation and assured both sides that he would not use the army to force a result, except to curb violence. On January 29, 1877, he signed legislation forming an Electoral Commission,[506] which ruled Hayes elected president; to forestall Democratic protests, Republicans agreed to the Compromise of 1877, in which the last troops were withdrawn from Southern capitals. With Reconstruction dead, 80 years of Jim Crow segregation was launched.[507] Grant's "calm visage" throughout the election crisis appeased the nation.[508]

Post-presidency (1877–1885)

Main article: Post-presidency of Ulysses S. Grant

After leaving the White House, Grant said he "was never so happy in my life". The Grants left Washington for New York, to attend the birth of their daughter Nellie's child. Calling themselves "waifs", the Grants toured Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, and Galena, without a clear idea of where they would live afterward.[509]

World tour and diplomacy

Main article: World tour of Ulysses S. Grant

Map of Grant's world tour by J. S. Kemp, 1879

Using $25,000 (equivalent to $715,000 in 2023) from liquidating an investment in a Nevada-based mining company, the Grants set out on a world tour for approximately two and a half years.[510][511] Preparing for the tour, they arrived in Philadelphia on May 10, 1877, and were honored with celebrations during the week before their departure. On May 16, Grant and his wife left for England aboard the SS Indiana.[512] During the tour, the Grants made stops in Europe, Africa, India, the Middle East and the Far East, meeting with notable dignitaries such as Queen Victoria, Tsar Alexander II, Pope Leo XIII, Otto von Bismarck, Li Hongzhang, and Emperor Meiji.[513]

As a courtesy to Grant by the Hayes administration, his touring party received federal transportation on three U.S. Navy ships: a five-month tour of the Mediterranean on the USS Vandalia, travel from Hong Kong to China on the USS Ashuelot, and from China to Japan on the USS Richmond.[514] The Hayes administration encouraged Grant to assume a public unofficial diplomatic role and strengthen American interests abroad during the tour.[515] Homesick, the Grants left Japan sailing on the SS City of Tokio and landed in San Francisco on September 20, 1879, greeted by cheering crowds.[516] Before returning to Philadelphia, Grant stopped at Chicago for a reunion with General Sherman and the Army of the Tennessee.[517] Grant's tour demonstrated to Europe and Asia that the United States was an emerging world power.[518]

Third term attempt

Main article: 1880 Republican National Convention

Grant, shown in a cartoon as an acrobat hanging from rings, holding up multiple politician/acrobats
Cartoonist Joseph Keppler lampooned Grant and his associates. Puck, 1880

Stalwarts, led by Grant's old political ally, Roscoe Conkling, saw Grant's renewed popularity as an opportunity, and sought to nominate him for the presidency in 1880. Opponents called it a violation of the unofficial two-term rule in use since George Washington. Grant said nothing publicly but wanted the job and encouraged his men.[519] Washburne urged him to run; Grant demurred. Even so, Conkling and John A. Logan began to organize delegates in Grant's favor. When the convention convened in Chicago in June, there were more delegates pledged to Grant than to any other candidate, but he was still short of a majority vote.[520]

At the convention, Conkling nominated Grant with an eloquent speech, the most famous line being: "When asked which state he hails from, our sole reply shall be, he hails from Appomattox and its famous apple tree."[520] With 370 votes needed for the nomination, the first ballot had Grant at 304, Blaine at 284, Sherman at 93, and the rest to minor candidates.[521] Subsequent ballots had roughly the same result. After thirty-six ballots, Blaine's delegates combined with those of other candidates to nominate a compromise candidate: James A. Garfield.[522] A procedural motion made the vote unanimous for Garfield, who accepted the nomination.[523] Grant gave speeches for Garfield but declined to criticize the Democratic nominee, Winfield Scott Hancock, a general who had served under him.[524] Garfield won the election. Grant gave Garfield his public support and pushed him to include Stalwarts in his administration.[525] On July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot by an assassin and died on September 19. On learning of Garfield's death from a reporter, Grant wept.[526]

Business failures

In the 19th century, there were no federal presidential pensions, and the Grants' personal income was $6,000 a year.[527] Grant's world tour had been costly, and he had depleted most of his savings.[528] Wealthy friends bought him a house on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and to make an income, Grant, Jay Gould, and former Mexican Finance Secretary Matías Romero chartered the Mexican Southern Railroad, with plans to build a railroad from Oaxaca to Mexico City. Grant urged President Chester A. Arthur to negotiate a free trade treaty with Mexico. Arthur and the Mexican government agreed, but the United States Senate rejected the treaty in 1883. The railroad was similarly unsuccessful, falling into bankruptcy the following year.[529]

At the same time, Grant's son Buck had opened a Wall Street brokerage house with Ferdinand Ward. Although a conniving man who swindled numerous wealthy men, Ward was at the time regarded as a rising star on Wall Street. The firm, Grant & Ward, was initially successful.[530] In 1883, Grant joined the firm and invested $100,000 (~$2.78 million in 2023) of his own money.[531] Ward paid investors abnormally high interest by pledging the company's securities on multiple loans in a process called rehypothecation, which would now be understood as a Ponzi scheme.[532] Ward, in collusion with banker James D. Fish and kept secret from bank examiners, retrieved the firm's securities from the company's bank vault.[533] When the trades went bad, multiple loans came due, all backed by the same collateral.[534]

Historians agree that the elder Grant was likely unaware of Ward's intentions, but it is unclear how much Buck Grant knew. In May 1884, enough investments went bad to convince Ward that the firm would soon be bankrupt. Ward, who assumed Grant was "a child in business matters",[535] told him of the impending failure, but assured Grant that this was a temporary shortfall.[536] Grant approached businessman William Henry Vanderbilt, who gave him a personal loan of $150,000.[537] Grant invested the money in the firm, but it was not enough to save it from failure. The fall of Grant & Ward set off the Panic of 1884.[534]

Vanderbilt offered to forgive Grant's debt entirely, an offer Grant refused.[538] Essentially penniless but compelled by personal honor, he repaid what he could with his Civil War mementos and the sale or transfer of all other assets.[539] Vanderbilt took title to Grant's home, although he allowed the Grants to continue to reside there, and pledged to donate the souvenirs to the federal government and insisted the debt had been paid in full.[540] Grant was distraught over Ward's deception and asked privately how he could ever "trust any human being again."[541]

In March 1885, as his health was failing, he testified against both Ward and Fish.[542] Ward was convicted of fraud in October 1885, months after Grant's death, and served six and a half years in prison.[543] After the collapse of Grant & Ward, there was an outpouring of sympathy for Grant.[544]

Memoirs, military pension, illness and death

Main article: Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant

Grant sitting in a porch chair wrapped in blankets
Grant working on his memoirs, less than a month before his death

Grant attended a Methodist service for Civil War veterans in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, on August 4, 1884, receiving a standing ovation from the ten thousand attendees; it would be his last public appearance.[545] In the summer of 1884, Grant complained of a sore throat but put off seeing a doctor until late October, when he learned it was cancer, possibly caused by his frequent cigar smoking.[546] Grant chose not to reveal the seriousness of his condition to his wife, who soon found out from Grant's doctor.[547] In March of the following year, The New York Times announced that Grant was dying of cancer, causing nationwide public concern.[548] Knowing of Grant and Julia's financial difficulties, Congress restored him to the rank of General of the Army with full retirement pay—Grant's assumption of the presidency had required that he resign his commission and forfeit his (and his widow's) pension.[549]

Grant was nearly penniless and worried about leaving his wife money to live on. He approached The Century Magazine and wrote a number of articles on his Civil War campaigns for $500 (equivalent to $17,000 in 2023) each. The articles were well received by critics, and the editor, Robert Underwood Johnson, suggested that Grant write a memoir, as Sherman and others had done.[550] The magazine offered him a book contract with a 10% royalty. However, Grant's friend Mark Twain, one of the few who understood Grant's precarious financial condition, offered him an unheard-of 70% royalty.[534] To provide for his family, Grant worked intensely on his memoirs at his home in New York City. His former staff member Adam Badeau assisted him with much of the research, while his son Frederick located documents and did much of the fact-checking.[551] Because of the summer heat and humidity, his doctors recommended that he move upstate to a cottage at the top of Mount McGregor, offered by a family friend.[552]

On July 18, 1885, Grant finished his memoir.[553] Grant's memoirs treat his early life and time in the Mexican–American War briefly and include the events of his life up to the end of the Civil War.[554] The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant was a critical and commercial success. Julia Grant eventually received about $450,000 in royalties (equivalent to $15,300,000 in 2023). The memoir has been highly regarded by the public, military historians, and literary critics.[534] Grant portrayed himself as an honorable Western hero, whose strength lies in his honesty and straightforwardness. He candidly depicted his battles against both the Confederates and internal army foes.[555]

Drawing of a steam engine and train approaching station with an honor guard at attention
Grant's funeral train at West Point

Five days after finishing his memoir, Grant died at 8:08 a.m. in the Mount McGregor cottage on July 23, 1885.[556]

Sheridan, then Commanding General of the Army, ordered a day-long tribute to Grant on all military posts, and President Grover Cleveland ordered a thirty-day nationwide period of mourning. After private services, the honor guard placed Grant's body on a special funeral train, which traveled to West Point and New York City. A quarter of a million people viewed it in the two days before the funeral.[534] Tens of thousands of men, many of them veterans from the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), marched with Grant's casket drawn by two dozen black stallions to Riverside Park in Morningside Heights, Manhattan.[557] His pallbearers included Union generals Sherman and Sheridan, Confederate generals Simon Bolivar Buckner and Joseph E. Johnston, Admiral David Dixon Porter, and Senator John A. Logan, the head of the GAR.[558] Following the casket in the seven-mile-long (11 km) procession were President Cleveland, two former living presidents Hayes and Arthur, all of the president's cabinet, and justices of the Supreme Court.[559]

Attendance at the New York funeral topped 1.5 million.[558] Ceremonies were held in other major cities around the country, while Grant was eulogized in the press and likened to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.[560] Grant's body was laid to rest in Riverside Park, first in a temporary tomb, and then on April 17, 1897, in the General Grant National Memorial, also known as "Grant's Tomb", the largest mausoleum in North America.[558]

Historical reputation

Further information: Historical reputation of Ulysses S. Grant and Historical rankings of presidents of the United States

Maj. General Grant, c. 1863

Grant was hailed across the North as the General who "saved the Union" and overall his military reputation has held up well. Achieving great national fame for his victories at Vicksburg and the surrender at Appomattox, Grant was the most successful general, Union or Confederate, in the American Civil War.[561] He was criticized by the South for using excessive force,[562] and his drinking was often exaggerated by the press and stereotyped by rivals and critics.[563]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Grant's reputation was damaged by the "Lost Cause" movement and the Dunning School.[564] Views of Grant reached new lows as he was seen as an unsuccessful president and an unskilled, if lucky, general.[565] In the 1950s, some historians reassessed Grant's military career, shifting the analysis of Grant as the victor by brute force to that of skillful modern strategist and commander.[566] Historian William S. McFeely's biography, Grant (1981), won the Pulitzer Prize, and brought renewed scholarly interest in Grant. McFeely believed Grant was an "ordinary American" trying to "make his mark" during the 19th century.[567] In the 21st century, Grant's reputation improved markedly among historians after the publication of Grant (2001), by historian Jean Edward Smith.[568][569] Opinions of Grant's presidency demonstrate a better appreciation of Grant's personal integrity, Reconstruction efforts, and peace policy towards Indians, even when they fell short.[570][571] H. W. Brands' The Man Who Saved the Union (2012), Ronald C. White's American Ulysses (2016), and Ron Chernow's Grant (2017) continued the elevation of Grant's historical reputation.[572] White said that Grant "demonstrated a distinctive sense of humility, moral courage, and determination", and as president he "stood up for African Americans, especially fighting against voter suppression perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan".[573] White believed that Grant was "an exceptional person and leader".[574] Historian Robert Farley writes that the "Cult of Lee" and the Dunning School's resentment of Grant for his defeat of Lee at Appomattox and his strong enforcement of Reconstruction resulted in Grant's shoddy treatment by historians. Farley said the cult of Lee had "little room for Grant, in no small part because Grant was the only president to vigorously pursue Reconstruction and the first to treat blacks as both human and American".[575]

Historians debate how effective Grant was at halting corruption.[576] Before the current rehabilitation of Grant's reputation, the scandals during his administration stigmatized his political reputation.[577] In a 2021 C-SPAN survey ranking presidents from worst to best, Grant was ranked 20 out of 44 presidents. He was given "more credit for Reconstruction and his diplomacy than condemnation for his alleged corruption" during his presidency.[578]

Memorials and presidential library

See also: Cultural depictions of Ulysses S. Grant

Neoclassical structure with dome
Grant's Tomb at dusk, 2016

Several memorials honor Grant. In addition to Grant's Tomb, there is the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at the foot of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.[579] Created by sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady and architect Edward Pearce Casey, and dedicated in 1922, it overlooks the Capitol Reflecting Pool.[580]

The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site near St. Louis, and several other sites in Ohio and Illinois memorialize Grant's life.[581] The U.S. Grant Cottage State Historic Site, located at the top of Mount McGregor in Wilton, New York, preserves the house in which he completed his memoirs and died.[582][583] There are smaller memorials in Chicago's Lincoln Park and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. Named in his honor are Chicago's Grant Park, as well as several counties in western and midwestern states. On June 3, 1891, a bronze statue of Grant by Danish sculptor Johannes Gelert was dedicated at Grant Park in Galena, Illinois.[584][585] From 1890 to 1940, part of what is now Kings Canyon National Park was called General Grant National Park, named for the General Grant sequoia.[586]

In May 2012, the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation selected Mississippi State University as the location for Grant's presidential library.[587] Historian John Y. Simon edited Grant's letters into a 32-volume scholarly edition published by Southern Illinois University Press.[588]

Grant's image has appeared on the United States fifty-dollar bill since 1913. In 1921, the Ulysses S. Grant Centenary Association was founded with the goal of coordinating special observances and erecting monuments in recognition of Grant. The venture was financed by the Grant Memorial coinage minted and issued in 1922, commemorating the centenary of Grant's birth.[589][590] Grant has also appeared on several U.S. postage stamps, the first one issued in 1890, five years after his death.[591]

In 2020, during George Floyd protests protesters toppled a bronze bust of Grant at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park in response to his brief ownership of a slave. Historian Gregory Downs, noting Grant's enforcement of civil rights and prosecution of the Klan, remarked, "When the mob members tore down Grant's bust, they unknowingly built upon a 150-year effort to erase and defame him."[592]

Ulysses S. Grant honored on currency and postage
Paper currency, double image of obverse (with Grants image) and reverse (with Capitol building image)
Grant on the 2004 fifty-dollar bill
Image of Grant on the One dollar gold piece, depicting date of mintage, 1922
1922 Grant Memorial dollar
Image of first Grant U.S. postage stamp, issued in 1890, brown, five cents.
The first U.S. postage stamp honoring Grant, issued 1890

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Date Component
No insignia Cadet, USMA July 1, 1839 Regular Army
Brevet Second Lieutenant July 1, 1843 Regular Army
Second Lieutenant September 30, 1845 Regular Army
Brevet First Lieutenant September 8, 1847 Regular Army
First Lieutenant September 16, 1847 Regular Army
Captain August 5, 1853 Regular Army
(resigned July 31, 1854)
Colonel June 17, 1861 Volunteers
Brigadier General August 7, 1861 Volunteers
(to rank from May 17, 1861)
Major General February 16, 1862 Volunteers
Major General July 4, 1863 Regular Army
Lieutenant General March 4, 1864 Regular Army
General of the Army July 25, 1866 Regular Army

See also


  1. ^ In 2022, the bicentenary of Grant's birth, a posthumous promotion to the rank of General of the Armies was authorized for him as part of the 2023 Defense Authorization Bill.[2] Grant will hold this rank if the authorization is acted on by the president of the United States.[3][4]
  2. ^ Pronounced /ˈhrəm juːˈlɪsz/ HY-rəm yoo-LISS-eez
  3. ^ Biographer Edward G. Longacre offers the theory held by some biographers that Grant's parents' decision was based on their recognition of his aversion to music. Longacre, however, also suggests that not pushing religion may have been a form of simple parental neglect.[16]
  4. ^ One source states Hamer thought the "S" stood for Simpson, Grant's mother's maiden name.[22] According to Grant, the "S." did not stand for anything. Upon graduation from the academy he adopted the name "Ulysses S. Grant".[23] Another version of the story states that Grant inverted his first and middle names to register at West Point as "Ulysses Hiram Grant" as he thought reporting to the academy with a trunk that carried the initials H.U.G. would subject him to teasing and ridicule. Upon finding that Hamer had nominated him as "Ulysses S. Grant." Grant decided to keep the name as he could avoid the "hug" monogram and it was easier to keep the wrong name than to try changing school records.[24]
  5. ^ At the time, class ranking largely determined branch assignments. Those at the top of the class were usually assigned to the Engineers, followed by Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry.[35]
  6. ^ Several scholars, including Jean Edward Smith and Ron Chernow, state that Longstreet was Grant's best man and the two other officers were Grant's groomsmen.[40] All three went on to serve in the Confederate Army and surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.[41]
  7. ^ The Dents' slaves nicknamed him "Buckeye" because he had been born in Ohio, and soon people called him "Buck".[43]
  8. ^ Historians increasingly have pointed to the importance of Grant's experience as an assistant quartermaster during the war. Although he was initially averse to the position, it prepared Grant in understanding military supply routes, transportation systems, and logistics, particularly with regard to "provisioning a large, mobile army operating in hostile territory", according to biographer Ronald White.[49]
  9. ^ During the Civil War, when Grant's Union supply depot at Holly Springs was sacked in December 1862, he incorporated the strategy of the Union Army foraging the land,[60] rather than expose long Union supply lines to enemy attack.[61]
  10. ^ William McFeely said that Grant left the army simply because he was "profoundly depressed" and that the evidence as to how much and how often Grant drank remains elusive.[75] Jean Edward Smith maintains Grant's resignation was too sudden to be a calculated decision.[76] Buchanan never mentioned it again until asked about it during the Civil War.[77] The effects and extent of Grant's drinking on his military and public career are debated by historians.[78] Lyle Dorsett said Grant was an "alcoholic" but functioned amazingly well. William Farina maintains Grant's devotion to family kept him from drinking to excess and sinking into debt.[79]
  11. ^ The April 6th fighting had been costly, with thousands of casualties. That evening, heavy rain set in. Sherman found Grant standing alone under a tree in the rain. "Well, Grant, we've had the devil's own day of it, haven't we?" Sherman said. "Yes," replied Grant. "Lick 'em tomorrow, though."[137]
  12. ^ Smuggling of cotton was rampant, while the price of cotton skyrocketed.[167] Grant believed the smuggling funded the Confederacy and provided them with military intelligence.[168]
  13. ^ In 2012, historian Jonathan D. Sarna said: "Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued the most notorious anti-Jewish official order in American history."[172] Grant made amends with the Jewish community during his presidency, appointing them to various federal positions.[173] In 2017, biographer Ron Chernow said of Grant: "As we shall see, Grant as president atoned for his action in a multitude of meaningful ways. He was never a bigoted, hate-filled man and was haunted by his terrible action for the rest of his days."[174]
  14. ^ Southern Reconstructed states were controlled locally by Republican carpetbaggers, scalawags and former slaves. By 1877, the conservative Democrats had full control of the region and Reconstruction was dead.[315]
  15. ^ To placate the South in 1870, Grant signed the Amnesty Act, which restored political rights to former Confederates.[324]
  16. ^ Additionally, Grant's Postmaster General, John Creswell used his patronage powers to integrate the postal system and appointed a record number of African-American men and women as postal workers across the nation, while also expanding many of the mail routes.[326][327] Grant appointed Republican abolitionist and champion of black education Hugh Lennox Bond as U.S. Circuit Court judge.[328]
  17. ^ An 1870 Congressional investigation chaired by James A. Garfield cleared Grant of profiteering, but excoriated Gould and Fisk for their manipulation of the gold market and Corbin for exploiting his personal connection to Grant.[356]
  18. ^ Urged by his Secretary of War Rawlins, Grant initially supported recognition of Cuban belligerency, but Rawlins's death on September 6, 1869, removed any cabinet support for military intervention.[342]
  19. ^ Bison were hunted almost to the point of extinction during the latter 1800s; Yellowstone National Park was the only remaining place in the country where free-roaming herds persisted.[412]
  20. ^ Details revealed of the 1867 Crédit Mobilier bribery scandal, implicating both Colfax and Wilson, stung the Grant administration, but Grant was not connected to the corruption.[429]
  21. ^ Greeley died on November 28, 1872, as a result, his electoral votes were split between four candidates. Thomas A. Hendricks, the governor-elect of Indiana, received the majority: 42 electoral votes.[437]
  22. ^ The day after his inauguration, Grant wrote a letter to Colfax expressing his faith and trust in Colfax's integrity and allowed him to publish the letter, but the effort only served to compromise Grant's reputation.[443]
  23. ^ As Wilson's death occurred prior to the adoption of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, the vacancy in the office of vice president was not filled until the next ensuing election and inauguration.
  24. ^ When Congress failed to make the Commission's reform rules permanent, Grant dissolved the Commission in 1874.[466]


  1. ^ Utter 2015, p. 141.
  2. ^ "James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (H. R. 7776)".
  3. ^ Barron, James (April 27, 2022). "Is Ulysses S. Grant Due for a Promotion?". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Glynn, Erin (December 22, 2022). "Southwest Ohio native Ulysses S. Grant to get posthumous promotion". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
  5. ^ Brands 2012, p. 636.
  6. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 3.
  7. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 21–22.
  8. ^ Hesseltine 1957, p. 4.
  9. ^ "Ulster-Scots and the United States Presidents" (PDF). Ulster-Scots Agency. p. 3.
  10. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 5–6; White 2016, pp. 8–9.
  11. ^ Simpson 2014, pp. 2–3; White 2016, pp. 9–10.
  12. ^ Longacre 2006, pp. 6–7.
  13. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 497; White 2016, pp. 16, 18.
  14. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 8, 10, 140–41; White 2016, p. 21.
  15. ^ Brands 2012, p. 8; White 2016, p. 19.
  16. ^ Longacre 2006, p. 7.
  17. ^ Longacre 2006, pp. 6–7; Waugh 2009, p. 14.
  18. ^ Simpson 2014, pp. 2–3; Longacre 2006, pp. 6–7.
  19. ^ Waugh 2009, p. 14.
  20. ^ Chernow 2017, pp. 99–100.
  21. ^ White 2016, pp. 24–25.
  22. ^ Simon 1967, pp. 3–4.
  23. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 12; Smith 2001, pp. 24, 83; Simon 1967, pp. 3–4.
  24. ^ Garland 1898, pp. 30–31.
  25. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 12; Smith 2001, pp. 24, 83; Simon 1967, pp. 3–4; Kahan 2018, p. 2.
  26. ^ White 2016, p. 30.
  27. ^ Simpson 2014, p. 13–14; Smith 2001, pp. 26–28.
  28. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 10.
  29. ^ Smith 2001, p. 27; McFeely 1981, pp. 16–17.
  30. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 16–17; Smith 2001, pp. 26–27.
  31. ^ White 2016, p. 41.
  32. ^ Brands 2012, pp. 12–13.
  33. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 27; Longacre 2006, p. 21; Cullum 1850, pp. 256–57.
  34. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 28; McFeely 1981, pp. 16, 19.
  35. ^ Jones 2011, p. 1580.
  36. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 28–29; Brands 2012, p. 15; Chernow 2017, p. 81.
  37. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 28–29.
  38. ^ a b Smith 2001, pp. 30–33.
  39. ^ Chernow 2017, pp. 61–62; White 2016, p. 102; Waugh 2009, p. 33.
  40. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 62; Smith 2001, p. 73; Flood 2005, p. 2007.
  41. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 62.
  42. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 73–74; Waugh 2009, p. 33; Chernow 2017, p. 62; White 2016, p. 102.
  43. ^ Reeves 2023, p. 9.
  44. ^ Smith 2001, p. 73.
  45. ^ Simpson 2014, p. 49.
  46. ^ Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War 2013, p. 271.
  47. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 35–37; Brands 2012, pp. 15–17.
  48. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 30–31; Brands 2012, p. 23.
  49. ^ a b White 2016, p. 80.
  50. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 33–34; Brands 2012, p. 37.
  51. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 34–35.
  52. ^ Brands 2012, pp. 41–42.
  53. ^ a b McFeely 1981, p. 36.
  54. ^ White 2016, p. 66; Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War 2013, p. 271.
  55. ^ Simpson 2014, p. 44; Encyclopedia of the Mexican-American War 2013, p. 271.
  56. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 67–68, 70, 73; Brands 2012, pp. 49–52.
  57. ^ Simpson 2014, p. 458; Chernow 2017, p. 58.
  58. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 30, 31, 37–38.
  59. ^ White 2016, p. 75.
  60. ^ Miller 2019, p. 248.
  61. ^ Smith 2001, p. 244.
  62. ^ White 2016, pp. 85, 96; Chernow 2017, p. 46.
  63. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 65.
  64. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 74.
  65. ^ Smith 2001, p. 76–78; Chernow 2017, pp. 73–74.
  66. ^ Smith 2001, p. 78; Chernow 2017, p. 75.
  67. ^ McFeely 1981; Chernow 2017.
  68. ^ White 2016, p. 487; Chernow 2017, p. 78.
  69. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 52; Cullum 1891, p. 171; Chernow 2017, p. 81.
  70. ^ Chernow 2017, pp. 81–83.
  71. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 55; Chernow 2017, pp. 84–85.
  72. ^ Chernow 2017, p. 85.
  73. ^ Cullum 1891, p. 171; Chernow 2017, pp. 84–85.
  74. ^ Cullum 1891, p. 171; Chernow 2017, pp. 85–86.
  75. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 55.
  76. ^ Smith 2001, p. 87.
  77. ^ Smith 2001, p. 88.
  78. ^ Farina 2007, p. 202.
  79. ^ Farina 2007, pp. 13, 202; Dorsett 1983.
  80. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 86–87; White 2016, pp. 118–20; McFeely 1981, p. 55.
  81. ^ Longacre 2006, pp. 55–58.
  82. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 87–88; Lewis 1950, pp. 328–32.
  83. ^ Brands 2012, pp. 77–78.
  84. ^ Chernow 2017, pp. 95, 106; Simon 2002, p. 242; McFeely 1981, p. 60–61; Brands 2012, pp. 94–96.
  85. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 58–60; White 2016, p. 125.
  86. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 61.
  87. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 58–60; Chernow 2017, p. 94.
  88. ^ Brands 2012, p. 96.
  89. ^ White 2016, p. 128.
  90. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 62; Brands 2012, p. 86; White 2016, p. 128.
  91. ^ Brands 2012; White 2016.
  92. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 94–95; White 2016, p. 130.
  93. ^ Brands 2012, pp. 86–87.
  94. ^ Smith 2001, pp. 94–95; McFeely 1981, p. 69; White 2016, p. 130.
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  96. ^ White 2016, p. 131; Simon 1969, pp. 4–5.
  97. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 69–70.
  98. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 65–66; White 2016, pp. 133, 136.
  99. ^ White 2016, pp. 135–37.
  100. ^ McFeely 1981, pp. 69–70; Simon 1969, pp. 4–5.
  101. ^ Chernow 2017, pp. 119–20.
  102. ^ White 2016, p. 140.
  103. ^ Brands 2012, p. 121.
  104. ^ Smith 2001, p. 99.
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  107. ^ Brands 2012, pp. 122–23; McFeely 1981, p. 80; Bonekemper 2012.
  108. ^ "Battle Unit Details - the Civil War (U.S. National Park Service)".
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  112. ^ White 2016, p. 159; Bonekemper 2012, p. 21.
  113. ^ Flood 2005, p. 63; White 2016, p. 159; Bonekemper 2012, p. 21.
  114. ^ McFeely 1981, p. 91; Chernow 2017, pp. 153–55.
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  116. ^ White 2016, pp. 169–71.
  117. ^ White 2016, p. 172.
  118. ^ White 2016, pp. 172–73; Groom 2012, pp. 94, 101–03.
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  120. ^ Bonekemper 2012, pp. 33, 35.
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  124. ^ Axelrod 2011, p. 210.
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  144. ^ Kaplan 2015, pp. 1109–19; White 2016, pp. 223–25.
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  152. ^ Badeau 1887, p. 126.
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Further reading