m. 29 June 1821
Facts and Events
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877). In 1865, as Commanding General, Grant led the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War. He then implemented Congressional Reconstruction, often at odds with President Andrew Johnson. Twice elected president, Grant led the Republicans in their effort to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, protect African American citizenship, and defeat the Ku Klux Klan.
Grant graduated in 1843 from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served in the Mexican–American War. When the Civil War began in 1861, he rejoined the U.S. Army. In 1862, Grant took control of Kentucky and most of Tennessee, and led Union forces to victory in the Battle of Shiloh, earning a reputation as an aggressive commander. He incorporated displaced African American slaves into the Union war effort. In July 1863, after a series of coordinated battles, Grant defeated Confederate armies and seized Vicksburg, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River and dividing the Confederacy in two. After his victories in the Chattanooga Campaign, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general and Commanding General of the United States. Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of bloody battles in 1864, trapping Lee's army at Petersburg, Virginia. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns in other theaters. The war ended shortly after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Historians have hailed Grant's military genius, and his strategies are featured in military history textbooks, but a minority contend that he won by brute force rather than superior strategy.
After the Civil War, Grant led the army's supervision of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. Elected president in 1868 and reelected in 1872, Grant stabilized the nation during the turbulent Reconstruction period, enforced civil and voting rights laws, and ordered prosecutions of Ku Klux Klan members. He used the army to build the Republican Party in the South, based on black voters, Northern newcomers ("Carpetbaggers"), and native Southern white supporters ("Scalawags"). After the disenfranchisement of some former Confederates, Republicans gained majorities and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. In his second term, the Republican coalitions in the South fell apart as conservative white Democrats regained control of Southern states through terror and disenfranchisement of black Southerners. Grant's Indian peace policy initially reduced frontier violence, but after the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, the Great Sioux War culminated in George Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Throughout his presidency, Grant faced congressional investigations into federal corruption, including bribery charges against two of his Cabinet members. Grant's administration implemented a gold standard and sought to strengthen the dollar.
In foreign policy, Grant sought to increase American trade and influence, while remaining at peace with the world; his administration successfully resolved the Alabama Claims with Great Britain ending wartime tensions. Grant avoided war with Spain over the Virginius Affair, but Congress rejected his attempted annexation of the Dominican Republic. His response to the Panic of 1873 gave some financial relief to New York banking houses, but was ineffective in halting the five-year economic depression that produced high unemployment, low prices, low profits, and bankruptcies. Leaving office in 1877, he embarked on a widely praised world tour lasting over two years. In 1880 Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining a third-term Republican nomination. Facing severe investment reversals and dying of throat cancer, he completed his memoirs, which proved a major critical and financial success. His death in 1885 prompted an outpouring of national unity. Few presidential reputations have fluctuated as dramatically as Grant's. Historians' evaluations were negative about his presidency before recovering somewhat beginning in the 1980s. The consensus among them rates his presidency below average. Grant's critics take a negative view of his economic mismanagement, his protection of corrupt associates, and his failed Dominican Republic annexation, while admirers emphasize his concern for Native Americans and enforcement of civil and voting rights.
Married Julia Boggs Dent and had four children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr. (Buck), Ellen Wrenshall Grant (Nellie), and Jesse Root Grant.