Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th United States President. He came to the Presidency a great military hero, the leading Union general in the Civil War. Paradoxically, many historians contend that the decisive Civil War General proved a weak and vascilating president. This is in part the continuing imprint of the Lost Cause historians. Other historians dispute this view and see him an upholder of Civil Rights for blacks and a supporter of efforts to move native Americans toward citzenship. Grant proved the only president from LAbraham incoln to Lyndon Johnson to put the full vrce of the Federal Government behind the fight for black rights. One historian writes, "Southern sabotage and Northern apathydefeated his efforts, but he set down a moral that the nation finlly had to redeam." Scrupuously honest himself, the trust he placed in friends and chronies was misplaced and he presided over one of the country's most corrupt asministrations. He was loved at the time and increasingly admired today because he was in so many ways American to the core.
Grant's grandfather served in the Continental Army. His parents were Jesse Grant a tanner and Hannah Simpson. His father was
an ardent abolistionist and a successful and tight-fisted tanner. He was described by some as 'bombastic'. Grant was related to two future presidents, both democrats, Grover Cleveland and Franklin Roosevelt. His mother Hannah was very softly spoken and stern. Some report she showed little affection for her son. Others say she was a good mother. Ulysses seems to have taken more fter his mother and grew up as a reflctive boy and quiet adult.
I only know of one brother Orville. He seems to have been a bad seed involved in some unscrupulos deals after Grant became president. The lowest point of Grant's life was when he had to work for his brother as a clerk in their father's store.
Ulysses was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio during 1822. Growing up in the Ohio Valley, he was on the great divide between free states and slave states. We have collected little information on his childhood yet. The most notable observation from his childhood was that he loved horses and was wonderful at handling them. He got on better with horses than people. It is said hat he was firm, had patience, and was quiet. I do not know how he was dressed as a boy. It is sometimes said that he had ahard scrabe boyhood. That might be an apt description based on modern standards. But it was not for the times inhich Grant grew up. His father was a sucessful if tight businessmen. Thus Ulysses never knew want as or hunger as a boy. His basic needs were met and he got a good education. We also know that he grew up with a distinct dislike of the stench of his father's tannery business--the stench and gore. He could never bring himself to ear rare meat as an adult.
He went to village schools. He was not a diligent student, perhaps best described as indifferet. He however never missed a quarter. Grant went to West Point against his will. He wanted to go to college, but apparently his father could not afford it, or more likely did not want to spend the money, so he insisted his son go to West Point. A mistake in the appointment papers
resulted in Grant losing the Hirim in his name. Grant didn't like it, considering it one of the most unpleasant 4 years of his life. He had trouble with the discipline and academics, but his head for mathematics and drawing skills helped him make it through. He opiled up numerous demerits. He graduated in the middle of his class, 21st out of 39 cadets.
In the Mexican War he fought under General Zachary Taylor. He was asigned to supplyduties, but destinguished homself in several combat encounters. He was assigned to isolated western posts where he missed his wife and took to drink. He was not a good drinker and was obviously affected by drink. He missed his wife so much that he resigned his commision so they could be together. There were rumors that drink was the problem.
Grant was a notable failure as a civilian. It was not for want of effort. He tried many ways to make a living, He farmed, peddled wood, and sold realestate. He failed at each. Even so he freed a slave he had acquired theough his wife rather than selling him. Finally he was reduced to ask his farther for help. He was reduced to working under his brother Orville in his father's leather goods stores. The one thing he excelled at was judging horses.
The central question that any historian faces in studying Grant is how could a man who demonstrated such limited succes before the War could have emerged as the preminent militry figure ofthe War. He was aediocre cadet. He finished in the bottom half of his at West Point class. This appears to have reflected aack of discipline. He demonstrated bravery in the Mexican War, but eventually resigned from the Army which was no impressed with him. His commanders thought he drank too much. As aiviian he was even less successful than in the Army, failing at everything he tried and had to go back to his father ad wiork as akerk in his shop. How could aman with such a background emerge as a decisive military commander with unparaleled 'analytical determination'. [Laver] And Grant was not good at politics, something ahigh ranking commander needs to master. His career succeded in part because the Illinois miitia was desperate for experienced officers. And een after notble victories, Army commanders after Shiloh (April 1862) were prepaing to sideline him. Only Lincoln's support saved his career. And along with the question about Grant, one has to ask how the U.S. Army could have elected so many inept commaders to lead its forces.
Grant's performance both before and after he was appointed Commander-in-chief has been the subject of considerable discussion. The generally accepted assessment is admiring, although this is not a universal assessmet. The Grant legacy never aproached the almost relogious reverce afforded Lee. It is Grant's campaigns that even today are studied in military colleges all over the world. [Korda] One element of Grant's performance besides his competence is his humanity--a trait too often overlooked. He cared greatly for the dead and wounded on both sides. He was especially admired by his men for his down to earth ways, his lack of artifaceand posturing. There was ordinaartness about Grant that his men insrabntly recognized and admired. He was in so many ways the complete opposite of McClellan.
Grant had that capacity so critical in a military commander to get men to do what he wanted them to do. [Shermam] One biographer writes, "Grant understood topography, the importance of supply lines, the instant judgement of the balance between his own strengths and the enemey's weaknesses, and above all the need to keep his armies moving forward, despite casualties, even when things have gone wrong--that and the simple importance of inflicting greater losses on the enemy than he can sustain, day after day, until he breaks. Grant the boy never retraced his steps. Grant the man did not retreat--he advanced. Generals who do that win wars." [Korda]
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Grant was still working for
his father in Galena, Illinois. Grant had showed little interest in politics. When the War broke out he felt strongly about preservatiin of the Union. Like many northereners, however, he felt strongly about the Union. For Grant saving the Union, not slavery was the major issue. He at first had trouble getting a command. When the War broke out he He was appointed by the
Governor to command an unruly regiment of Illinois volunteers. Grant whipped it into shape and by September 1861 he had risen to the
rank of brigadier general of volunteers. Grant was a mild mannered
commander. He was rarely known to curse. Contrary to popular
thought, he was not a heavy drinker. Througout his military and ater political career, Grant was underestimated by upper-class, better educated colleagues who considered him a provincial. [Bunting]
The only major battle fought in 1861 was Bull Run in the east. Most of the actiion as in the west. Grant sought to win control of the Mississippi Valley, a key Union objective. Grant took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander asked for terms, Grant replied, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I plan to moveimmediately move upon your works." The Confederates under West Point classmate Simon Bolivar Buckner surrendered (February 16). His initials gave him the nickname "Unconditional Surender" Grant. This was the first major Union victory. As a result, Grant was the first northern hero which apparently grated upon McClellan. President Lincoln frustrated with slow-moving commanders in the East immediately promoted Grant to major general of volunteers. Grant from an early point in the War was both competent and confident. One historain attributes this to the fact that Grant found early in his military career that they enemy was every bit as fearful as he was. [Bunting] While relatively small in civil ar termns, Gran'ts victory at Fort Dionodson helped hold the wetern border states in the Federal Union. The Union victory at Fort Donelson was jubilently received in the North and stunned the South. It kled in quick secession to the fall of Clarksville and Nashville. Grant and his troops had created a pathway intyo the heart of the South. Niot only were the border states secured, but the Condederacy was faced with defending its territory on another front.
Grant;'s victory at Fort Donelson led directly tob Shiloh. The Ciondederatecpreapred to stop the Yniion advance up the Tennesse River. Grant was surprised at Shiloh (April 1862). He was forced to fight one of the bloodiest battles in the West. His army was badly mauled the firs day. Grant managed to steady his army until reenforcements arrived. Even Sherman was discouraged. Reinforced by riverboats on the second ay, Grant and Sherman turn the Confederates back. The public was horrified at the caualty count. This was not the short, clorious war the public had expected. Casulties at Shiloh incredibly exceeded those of all the battles on American soil. Grant realized that the War was just begiining and was going to prove to be a vey costly effort. The public blamed Grant. His superior, General Haleck, consulted ith McClellan and removed him from command.
President Lincoln manhed to fend off demands for firing Grant by saying, "I can't spare this man--he fights." Grant was given another command which he led into Southern cotton country. Blacks flocked to the Grant's Army. He did not know how to deal with this. He set up camps under the supervision of Union authorities on abandoned plantations. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation allowed the induction of blacks. Skeptical at first he wa impressed with their performance.
After taking New Orleans, Vicksburg, Mississippi was the major objective of the Union's Western Campaign. Vicksburg was the key fortress city on the Mississippi. Taking Vivksburg would cut the Confederacy in two. "Vicksburg was the key," Lincoln said. Many believed that Vicksburg was impregnable. It was set on a bluff and surounded by swapms. It was a difficult campaign. Union soldiers ufferd from malaria. Critics complain that Grant's make little progress. The very succes of the War is at stake at Vicksburg. Grant rejects demands for direct assault. Vivksburg was an objective of great difficulty. He crossess the Mississippi River and maneuvers and fights skillfully to take Vicksburg. The fall of Vickesburg came within days of the Union victory at Gettyburgh. Next then broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga.
Lincoln, still searching for a commanfer to vigorously
pursue the War, appointed Grant General-in-Chief in March 1864. The two had not met before. There was, however, an immrdiate bond between the two men. Lincoln unconditionaslly supported Grant's military assessment and gave him all the supplies and men he needed. There was no political interference in Grants cnduct of the war and Lincoln defended Grant from critics.
directed Sherman to drive through the South while he himself,
with the Army of the Potomac, pinned down Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army
of Northern Virginia. Previously Union campaigns had involved long
periods of inaction after major engagements. Grant in 1864 launched a dogged campaign enganging Lee in battle after battle. Within a few miles of Richmond, Grat commited his most serious military mistake, throwing infantry and entrebched Confederate positions. Even after the disaster at Cold Harbor in the Wilderness, Grant drove south toward Richmond. Finally, on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lee surrendered. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials.
Despite his achievenets, Grant thrpighout the War ad after has had his critics. The common litany put forward by his critics is that he drank too much and only won his battles because of the superior manpower and material resources of the North. Some claim that assistance from other Unin Armies aded Grant. And a criticusm most often Leveled oatvgrant was that he wasefully sacrificed his men. This is irionic because here wa no Civil War commnder more willing to sacrifice hhis men (except Hood) than Lee, but only the most sophisticated historians tend to make this point. Lee for all his tactical brilliance might well have succeeded if he had fought a more defensive war which conserved the Condederacy's limited resources. Grant demostrated considrable tactical acumen which was deonstrated in the Vicksburg campign. It is absolutely true that the North's advantages made the Union victory possible. And tere is little doubt that had Lee and otherSouthern commndrs had those advanages that they would hve won the War. This brings up the question of why the North hd hese dvantages and aey factor was the benefits of free labor. Concernng Grant, he historians who atribute Grant's victories to superior resources often fail to ask if resources wee so important why te Confedracy did so well and why a long lost of Federal commanders failed bdiore Grant wsgiven ciommnd of the U.S. Army. nd aase good be made that othr Federal commanders beneditted from rant's victories in the West rather than those commanders making Grant's victories possible. One historian inssts that Grant's victories ws his leadership skills, battlefield sense,professionl competence, and unshakeable resolve. [Laver]
America with its European origins was noy exempt from anti-Semitism. This was moderated at first because most American Jews until after the Civil War were German Jews and for many it was the German aspect of their appearance that was the most apparent. But still European attitudes persisted, Most Jews went into business opening shops and various commercil undertakings. Unlike Europe, the anti-Semitism practiced in Ametica was almost entirely personal or private organizations (like universities abd clubs) and not reinorced or scantioned by government or legal action. There was, however, one glaring exception and came from an unexpected source. General Ulysses S. Grant was a staunchly anti-slavery individual. But like mostAmericans he harbored anti-Semeriv views, normally unexpressed. He was dealing with aerious black market problem. An issued an order expelling all Jews 'as a class' (December 17, 1862). General Orders No. 11, issued during the war on Dec. 17, 1862, which expelled all Jews from areas then under Grant’s jurisdiction. [Sarna]The order caused a firestorm of newspapr headlines. America's 150,000 Jews were stunned, fearing the beginning of European-style government restrictions. The order with no precedent in law was immediated rescined by President Lincoln, Grant's greatest supporter in Washington. Grant appolgized for his action. The issue would surface in Grahts presidential campaign (1868). He went on to redeem himself by ground-breaking appointments of Jews. He also became the first president to receive a Palistinian ebvoy-- Rabbi Hayim Tzvi Sneersohn, a great-grandson of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the "Alter Rebbe" of Chabad Hasidim (1969). The Washington National Intelligencer described the reception of Rabbi Sneersohn, wearing traditional Palestinian Yerushalmi costume. President Grant spoke out against anti-Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe, primarily directed at the Tsarist Pogroms. He was the first president to attend a synagogue dedication (1876). After after his term of office, he became the the first president to visit the Holy Land (1878).
America with its European origins was noy exempt from anti-Semitism. This was moderated at first because most American Jews until after the Civil War were German Jews and for many it was the German aspect of their appearance that was the most apparent. But still European attitudes persisted, Most Jews went into business opening shops and various commercial undertakings. Unlike Europe, the anti-Semitism practiced in Ametica was almost entirely personal or private organizations (like universities abd clubs) and not reinorced or scantioned by government or legal action. There was, however, one glaring exception and came from an unexpected source. General Ulysses S. Grant was a staunchly anti-slavery individual. But like mostAmericans he harbored anti-Semeriv views, normally unexpressed. He was dealing with aerious black market problem. An issued an order expelling all Jews 'as a class' (December 17, 1862). General Orders No. 11, issued during the war on Dec. 17, 1862, which expelled all Jews from areas then under Grant’s jurisdiction. [Sarna] The order caused a firestorm of newspaper headlines. America's 150,000 Jews were stunned, fearing the beginning of European-style government restrictions. The order with no precedent in law was immediated rescined by President Lincoln, Grant's greatest supporter in Washington. Grant appolgized for his action. The issue would surface in Grant's presidential campaign (1868). He went on to redeem himself by ground-breaking appointments of Jews. He also became the first president to receive a Palistinian envoy--Rabbi Hayim Tzvi Sneersohn, a great-grandson of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the 'Alter Rebbe' of Chabad Hasidim (1969). The Washington National Intelligencer described the reception of Rabbi Sneersohn, wearing traditional Palestinian Yerushalmi costume. President Grant spoke out against anti-Jewish persecution in Eastern Europe, primarily directed at the Tsarist Pogroms. He was the first president to attend a synagogue dedication (1876). After after his term of office, he became the the first president to visit the Holy Land (1878).
Grant did not want to be president. Late in the administration
of Andrew Johnson, however, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant quarreled with the President and aligned himself with the Radical Republicans. He was, as the symbol of Union victory during the Civil War, their logical candidate for President in 1868 and he was nonminated unanimously.
The Democrats nominated Horatio Seymour of New York. Grant following tradition did not campaign and ofered no election promises. Seymour campaigned extenively in the North. The Republicans Party campaigned on continued radical reconstruction in the South. Seymour advocated an end to radical reconstruction (meaning black civil rights) and the more rapid reintegration of the South into the Union. The Democrats accused Grant as being a drunk and charged that his generalship resulted in excessive casualties. The issues in the campaign were of only minor importance. Ultimately it was Grant's emense personal popularity and reputation in saving the Union that won him the election. Grant won 53 percent of the popular vote and gained an Electoral College landslide. The American people after the assasination of Lincoln and Johnson's failed presidency, understanndably turned to the conquering hero of the War. The American people hoped for an end to turmoil in the South.
Grant's presidency is even more controversial that his military career. The general assessment has been that Grant provided neither vigor nor reform. Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered. One visitor to the White House noted "a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms." Some modern historians provide a more positive assessment of the Grant presidency. One historian writes that Grant "exerted a calming influenceon a country that had only just emerged from a bloody civil war." [Korda]
The Grant presidency is often remembered for scandals. As President, Grant presided over the Government much as he had run the Army. Indeed he brought part of his Army staff to the White House. He trusyed the men around him, but proved a poor judge of character. Although a man of scrupulous honesty, Grant as President accepted handsome presents from admirers. Worse, he allowed himself to be seen with two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk. When Grant realized their scheme to corner the market in gold, he authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sell enough
gold to wreck their plans, but the speculation had alreadywrought havoc with business.
The Republicans renominated Grant without opposition in 1872. The Republicans continued to champion black civil rights as well as greater rights for women. Grant was attacked by Liberal Republican reformers. He called them "narrow-headed men," their eyes so close together that "they can look out of the same gimlet hole without winking." The General's friends in the Republican Party came to be known proudly as "the Old Guard." The Democrats nominated Horace Greeley of New York. Greely is one of those fascinating individuals that populate history. Actually he was first nominated by a group of "Liberal Republicans" who objected the scandals of the Grant administration. The Democrats were deadlocked at their convention and in the end decided in desperation on Greely.
Greeley was best known for as an editor of the New York Tribune and the slogan, "Go west young man, go west.". He wasan ecentric figure, not advisable for a presidebntial candidate. His interests included spiritualism, prohibition, vegetaranism and socialism provided fodder for the Republicans. , he was thus an easy target of Republican attacks. Greeley ran on "more honest government" and the end of Radical Reconstruction. Grant's popularity in the North again proved to be the deciding factor. Grant carried 55 percent of the popular vote. The Electoral College vote was complicated by the fact that Greely died after the election before the vote was taken.
Some historians rank Grant as one of the worst presidents. This seems inappropriate given the fact that thete were some notable achievements of the Grant presidency. Historians debate his commitment to civil rights. We know that Grant opposed slavery. Historians disagree, however, on his commitnment to black rights. Here his commitment before the Civil war was not notable, but the performance of black soldiers during the War appears to have changed his command. Although not all historians agree, the most reasonable assessment is that as president he embraced civil rights. [Bunting] The 14th and 15th
Amendments were ratified. The Justice Department was created. Grant took efforts to continue protecting black rights, including the use of Federal troops. He promoted an important Civil Rights Act, the last important action by the Federal Government on Civil Rights until the 1960s. It was only after his Administration that the newly won civil rights of Blacks were esentially lost. Some modern historians now suggest that Grant championed priciples that we now see as self evident at a time that they were under threat. His efforts to reoncile Southners to the Union he helped preserve were impaired by post-War greed and corruption. [Langguth]
Grant also initiated a program to educate and aid native Americans
and begin moving them toward citzenship. This was of great importance as the
United States was at the end of the Civil Wwar teetering toward a
policy of genocide. Elements in the Army supported such a policy.
His attitudes toward native Americans was apparently formed in his
early years in the Army. This is a good example of Grant's
He was loved at the time and still admired today because he was in so many ways American to the core. Americans saw the humanity in Grant and the same respect for the ordinary man that his soldiers had seen. One historian writes that as president, Grant was "the symbol ... of America's military power, the integrity of its institutions, its basic decency and good intentions, and above all its rock-solid common sense." [Korda] When Grant toured Europe after his presidency, he was hailed as the very essence of America. He was seen and with considerable accuracy as having saved the Union and ended slavery. He was seen as an "American everyman". [Bunting]
After retiring from the Presidency and taking his triumphant foreign trip, Grant became a partner in a
financial firm. Thanks to the shady practices of his partner, the firm went bankrupt, leaving Grant with many bills (1884). It was a disater and Grant lost virtually all his money. The family was left pennyless. About the same time the financial firm failed, Grant was told that he had cancer of the throat. Grant was known for smoking cigars. He used some seven to ten cigars a day. Many rather than smoking he chewed. A reporter during the War wrote that Grant liked cigars. People all over the country began sending him cigars as gifts. He reportedly received over 20,000 cigars. The relationship between tobacco and cancer was unknown at the time. All those cigars probably contributed to his throat cancer. At the time, presidents did not receive pensions. Grant had forfeited his military pension when he became president. It looked like Julia would be left penyless. Mark Twain steped in to save the family. He offered Grant a generous deal to write his memoirs. He started writing his memoirs to pay off his debts and provide for Julia and his family. In perhaps his greatest act of courage, he labored in pain, racing against cancer and death to complete his memoirs. Racing against death, he produced a memoir that ultimately earned nearly $450,000. Congress passed a bill creating him a general on the retired list, making Julia eligible for aension. He retired to a cottage at Mount McGregor, near Saratoga, New York. Here he spent the final five weeks of his life Soon after completing the last page of his memoirs he passed away. He died at Mount MacGregor, New York (July 23, 1885). He was only 63 years old. While historians disagree on many aspects of Grant's life, there is universal acclim that he produced a masterpiece, the greatest of all presidential memoirs. The memoirs proved to be a sensation. They sold over 300,000 copies and earned the Grant family over $450,000, a tremendous sum at the time. Congress passed legislation establishing a pension for presidents until 1958. Grant's body was placed in a temporary tomb at Riverside Drive in New York City, a site overlooking the Hudson river.
Julia Dent is not one of the better known first ladies, but deserves a very high ranking. She was daughter of Frederick and Ellen Wrenshall Dent, She was raised on a plantation near St. Louis, Missouri. This was thenorthern-most slave state as a result of the 1820 Missouri Compromise. It was a standard Southern upbringing with slaves waiting on the family members hand and foot. In memoirs written as an elderly woman (unpublished until
1975), Julia recalls ger girlhood as an idylic period, 'one long summerof sunshine, flowers, and smiles'.
The Dent family was fervently-pro slave, much as Grant's family in neighbioring Illinois was abolitionist--a position that was just beginning to become socially acceptable in the North. Julia's father has been described as a 'blowhard'. In this way he was similar to Grant's father. Frederick Dent could afford to send his daughter to a finishing school. She went to the Misses Mauros' boarding school in St. Louis. Atypical experience for girls from affluent families. She spent 7 years among the
daughters of other affluent mostly Missouri parents. Because of her bubbly personality she was very popular.
Grant met Julia while still a West Point cadet. Her brother Frederick was Grant's cadet roommate. She met 'Ulys' as he was called when Frederick invited him home for a visit. Julia was reportedly not the pertiest of the sisters, but she was sociable and shared a love of horses, very important to the youthful Grant. From boy hood a love of horses and the ability to work with him was one of Grant's most notable characteristics. Grant did not have much experience with the ladies and was very shy in his dealing with them. Grant was immediately smitten with Julia. He later wrote that he pursued her 'in the most awkward manner imaginable'. Julia for her part was also smitten and later wrote about it as well. Her father did not like Grant's prospects and opposed the match. He told Julia that 'the boy is too poor'. Julia, no wallflower, had made her mind up about Grant and shot back that 'she was poor herself'. The Dent fmily was not exactly poor, but they did not have aot of sash to flash about. They did have slaves.
Perhaps because she was not the pertiest of the daughters, she had not yet been wooded by a young man and apprciated the attention Grat showed her. Soon she began to feel lonely without his attentions and began dreaming of him. She soon agreed to wear his West Point ring. Grant and Julia were deeply in love all their lives, including the difficult early years. Julia and her handsome, newly minted second lieutenant became engaged (1844). The wedding had to be delayed because of the Mexican War (1846-48). They were finally married (1848).
The marriage is on of the definitely successful presidential marriages. There was life-long loyalty and affection.
Like other army wives at the time, 'dearest Julia' accompanied her husband to the military posts he assigned. This often meant dreary outposts where the primotive condtions were farm from what Julia was acustomed. They decided that Juklia should not come along when Grant was ordered to the West (1852). It is at this time that the lonely Grant developed a reputation for drink. Grant could not stand the separation and resigned his commission (1854).
Out of the Army, Grant e tried everything to make a living, but failed at both farming and business ventures in St. Louis. He finally was reduced to asking his father for a job (1860). He brought his young family (four children at the time) back to Galena, Illinois where he worked in his father's leather goods store. Through all this Julia stayed with him. With the outbreak of the Civil War (1861), Grant joined his state's volunteers. Regiments raised by the states had a serious shortage of qualified officers. Thus Grant rose swiftly outside the control of the War Department in Washington. Grant's rise was meteoric as was the social standing of his beloved wife. Throughout the Civil War, Julia did not stay sedately at home. She joined her husband
whenever possible, often near the front lines. Julia was loyally by her husban's side when the world was him as a failure, now she was the wife of the most ilustrious Federal general who along with Lincoln played aajor role in dving the Union. And then afyer the War she found herself to be the First Lady. And she proved to be avery successful First Lady. The Grants arrived in the White House aplace where they were familiar (1869). The sociable Julia describes the White House years as "the happiest period" of her life and she was the perfect histess. Aided by friendly Cabinet wives, she entertained extensively and lavishly. Journalists commented on her finery, jewels and silks and laces. The Grants left the White House (1877). They wehton awell-publicised trip around the world. It was a triumphant journey as Grant was seen as not only a president, but an illustrious military commander.
Julia proudly recalled their reception, the hospitality and wonderful gifts. Grant loved the trip, Julia was, however, less enamored of travel. To please her, Grant cut the trip short. Another financial setback threatened to leave Julia pennyless. The proceeds from her husband's memoirs and her widow's pension allowed Julia to live in comfort, surrounded by children and grandchildren, utill her own death two decaded later (1902). She was laid next to Grant's monumental tomb in New York City. Her own memoirs had ended, 'the light of his glorious fame still reaches out to me, falls upon me, and warms me.'
The Grants had four children. Grant was an incredibly devoted husband and father. He was from the beginning a family man and suffered greatly when he was separated from Julia and the children. Julia was easily flustered and Grant was very gentle with her. Grant was very much the devoted Victorian father. His son would love to wrestle with his father when he came home. Grant would tell him, "I am a peaceful man, but I will not be intiminated by one of your size" and the two would playfully wrestle on the floor. He would read Dickens and other authors to the children in the evening.
Fred and the other boys were too young to serve in the Civil War. Fred was, however, with his father on many of the major battles during the Civil War. That must have been a little dangerous, but his father must benefitted from his company. After his brilliant victory at Vicksburg, Grant brought 12-year old Fred with him in 1863 when he came to Washingon to assume command of the Union Army and direct the final campaigns of the War. It is said that a desk clerk at the Wilard Hotel, acustomed to seeing generals, was going to given his an attic room until he saw the signature, "U.S. Grant and son, Galinya, Illinois". Two weeks later, Julia and the other children joined him in Washington. Fred attended West Point after the War. Having been at so many umportant Civil War battles at his father's side, he must have had some stories to tell the other cadets! Fred married a French woman with some money, but had finacial problems. He rose to be the ranking general in the army. He was appointed New York City Police Commissioner, became the U.S. Ambassador to Austria Hungary, and Assistant War Secretary under President McKinnely. He was nominated for a cabinent post, but the Senate rejected him in a largely party-line vote. The name Grant was still an anigma in the South.
Buck went to Harvard as well as the University of Göttingen, a German university. I am not sure why he studied in Germany. He also went to Colombia Law School. He worked for his father briefly as secretary in the White House. He ran for the U.S. Senate in California, but lost among unsubstantiate charges of bribery. Buck convinced his father to join his Grantband Wood brockerage firm. It was one of the finacial scandals affecting his father's administration. Some of the partners went to jail. Years later Buck became a fixture in San Diego society and built the U.S. Grant Hotel.
Ellen was known as Nellie. Nellie was only 6 years old when the Civil War began. Grant would write letters home to the children even after the most bitter battles. Ater Cold Harbor, Grant's worst performace as a general, he wrote home to Nellie about a drawing of the old woman in a shoe. Nellie was 13 when her father was elected president. She married Alggernon Sartoris, a British diplomat, in a gala White House wedding. Her father wept when she sailed away to England. They had four children and Nellie fit in well with English society. Her huband drank heavily and was not faithful. Nellie obtained a divorce with a substantial finacial settlement. When she returned to America she was a wealthy woman. She remairred, but became ill and was paralized during her final years.
A photograph of Jessie in ealy 1865 with his parents outside Richmond shows him wearing a suit with strpped detailing and knickers. Grant loved to wrestle playfully with the boy. After his presidency, Grant took Jessie on a trip around the world. Jesse became an author and engineer. He married twice and had two children. He tried to run for president without success.
We have noted one portrait of Julia with the two oldest boys. They are about 4 and 2 years old. Both are wearing dresses. The oldest boy has short hair. The younger boy short curls. Portraits of Grant's youngest son Jesse show him wearing variety of outfits. One is a military styled jacket with a plaid kilt. Another is a suit with a piped jacket and longish bloomer knickers worn with white socks.
Bunting, Josiah. Ulysses S. Grant (Times, 2004), 180p.
Korda, Michael. Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero (Harper Collins, 2004), 161p.
Langguth, A.J. After Lincoln: How the North Won the Civil War and Lost the Peace (2014), 464p.
Laver, Harry S. The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant: A General Who Will Fight (2013), 208p.
That Grant Boy
Sarna, Jonathan D. When General Grant Expelled the Jews (2012), 224p.
Sherman, William Tecumseh.
Wead, Doug. All the President's Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Familirs (Atria: New York, 2003), 456p.
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