Ulysses S. Grant

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 Armies 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 Radical 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 victory in the Chattanooga Campaign, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general and commander of all the Union Armies. 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 at Appomattox. Historians have hailed Grant's military genius, and his strategies are featured in the 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. He was elected president in 1868 and reelected in 1872. Grant stabilized the nation during the turbulent Reconstruction period, enforced civil and voting rights laws, and destroyed the Ku Klux Klan. 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"), and for the first time in American history, African-Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. In his second term, the Republican coalitions in the South fell apart and conservative Democrats regained control of each Southern state. Grant's Indian peace policy sought to reduce Indian violence, but fighting continued that culminated in George Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. Throughout his presidency, Grant was faced with Congressional investigations into federal corruption, including bribery charges against two of his Cabinet members. Grant's economic policy resulted in deflation and implementation of a gold standard. In foreign policy, Grant sought to increase American trade and influence, while remaining at peace with the world. His second term saw the Panic of 1873, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills, and the Great Sioux War, while conservative white Southerners regained control of Southern state governments and Democrats took control of the federal House of Representatives.

In foreign policy, the administration resolved issues with Great Britain and ended bitter wartime tensions. Grant avoided war with Spain over the Virginius Affair, but his attempted annexation of the Dominican Republic was rejected by Congress. 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 high rates of bankruptcy. In 1880, after returning from a widely praised worldwide tour, he made an unsuccessful bid for a third presidential term. His memoirs, written as he was dying, were a critical and popular success, and his death prompted an outpouring of national mourning. Since Grant left office, few presidents' reputations have changed as dramatically as his. The late 19th century saw a high opinion of his presidency, which shifted to a low opinion among historians for much of the 20th century, before recovering beginning in the 1980s. His critics note the misadventure of his failed Dominican Republic annexation, his economic mismanagement of the nation after the Panic of 1873, and corruption issues under his administration, while admirers emphasize his commitment to civil rights, prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan, enforcement of voting rights, and personal integrity.

Full article...

American History USA Articles



U.S. Presidents

The Civil War and Reconstruction (1860-1877)

Spread the Word