Ulysses S. Grant was the eighteenth President of the United States.
Ulysses S. Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, April 27, 1822.
Graduated from West Point in 1843.
Married Julia Dentin 1848.
Made a brigadier general at the start of the civil war.
Continuing success soon had him in command of all the Union armies.
In 1868, he was elected President.
Re-elected in 1872.
Died: July 23, 1885.
Ulysses S. Grant Biography:
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant) (April 27, 1822 - July 23, 1885) was general-in-chief of the Union Army from 1864 to 1869 during the American Civil War and the 18th President of the United States from 1869 to 1877. The son of an Appalachian Ohio tanner, Grant entered the United States Military Academy at age 17. In 1846, three years after graduating, Grant served as a lieutenant in the Mexican, American War under Winfield Scott and future president Zachary Taylor. After the Mexican-American War concluded in 1848, Grant remained in the Army, but abruptly resigned in 1854. After struggling through the succeeding years as a real estate agent, a laborer, and a county engineer, Grant decided to join the Northern effort in the Civil War. Appointed brigadier general of volunteers in 1861 by President Abraham Lincoln, Grant claimed the first major Union victories of the war in 1862, capturing Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. He was surprised by a Confederate attack at the Battle of Shiloh; although he emerged victorious, the severe casualties prompted a public outcry. Subsequently, however, Grant's 1863 victory at Vicksburg, following a long campaign with many initial setbacks, and his rescue of the besieged Union army at Chattanooga, established his reputation as Lincoln's most aggressive and successful general. Named lieutenant general and general-in-chief of the Army in 1864, Grant implemented a coordinated strategy of simultaneous attacks aimed at destroying the South's armies and its economy's ability to sustain its forces. In 1865, after mounting a successful war of attrition against his Confederate opponents, he accepted the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. Popular due to the Union victory in the war, Grant was elected President of the United States as a Republican in 1868 and re-elected in 1872, the first President to serve two full terms since Andrew Jackson 40 years before. As President, Grant led Reconstruction by signing and enforcing Congressional civil rights legislation. Grant built a powerful, patronage-based Republican Party in the South, straining relations between the North and former Confederates. His administration was marred by scandal, sometimes the product of nepotism; the neologism Grantism was coined to describe political corruption. Grant left office in 1877 and embarked upon a two-year world tour. Unsuccessful in winning the nomination for a third term in 1880, left destitute by a fraudulent investor, and near the brink of death, Grant wrote his Memoirs, which were enormously successful among veterans, the public, and critics. However, in 1884, Grant learned that he was suffering from terminal throat cancer and, two days after completing his writing, he died at the age of 63.
Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, to Jesse Root Grant (1794-1873), a tanner, and Hannah Simpson Grant (1798-1883), both Pennsylvania natives. At birth, Grant was named Hiram Ulysses.[ In the fall of 1823, the family moved to the village of Georgetown in Brown County, Ohio.
At the age of 17, Grant entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, after securing a nomination through his U.S. Congressman, Thomas L. Hamer, who erroneously nominated him as "Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio." Grant adopted the form of his new name with middle initial only. Because "U.S." also stands for "Uncle Sam," Grant's nickname became "Sam" among his army colleagues. He graduated from USMA in 1843, ranking 21st in a class of 39. At the academy, he established a reputation as a fearless and expert horseman. Although this made him seem a natural for cavalry, he was assigned to duty as a regimental quartermaster, managing supplies and equipment.
During one battle, Grant saw Fred Dent, his friend, later to become his brother-in-law, lying in the middle of the battlefield; he had been shot in the leg. Grant ran furiously into the open to rescue Dent; as they were making their way to safety, a Mexican soldier was sneaking up behind Grant, but the Mexican was shot by a fellow U.S. soldier. Grant was twice brevetted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec. He was a remarkably close observer of the war, learning to judge the actions of colonels and generals. In the 1880s, he wrote that the war was unjust, accepting the theory that it was designed to gain land open to slavery.
On August 22, 1848, Grant married Julia Boggs Dent (1826-1902), the daughter of a slave owner. Together, they had four children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. "Buck" Grant, Jr. , Ellen Wrenshall "Nellie" Grant, and Jesse Root Grant. Grant remained in the army and was moved to several different posts. He was sent to Fort Vancouver in the Washington Territory in 1853, where he served as quartermaster of the 4th Infantry Regiment. His wife, eight months pregnant with their second child, could not accompany him because his salary could not support a family on the frontier. In 1854, Grant was promoted to captain, one of only 50 still on active duty, and assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry, at Fort Humboldt, California. Grant abruptly resigned from the Army with little notice on July 31, 1854, offering no explanation for his decision. At age 32, Grant struggled through seven lean years. From 1854 to 1858, he labored on a family farm near St. Louis, Missouri, using slaves owned by his father-in-law, but it did not prosper. Grant acquired one of those slaves in 1858 (and manumitted him the next year, when the Grants returned to Illinois) and his wife owned four slaves. From 1858-1859, he was a bill collector in St. Louis. Failing at everything, he asked his father for a job, and in 1860 was made an assistant in the leather shop owned by his father in Galena, Illinois. Grant & Perkins sold harnesses, saddles, and other leather goods and purchased hides from farmers in the prosperous Galena area.
Although Grant was not affiliated with any political party, his father-in-law was a prominent Democrat in St. Louis, a fact that lost Grant the job of county engineer in 1859. In 1856, he voted for Democrat James Buchanan for president to avert secession and because "I knew Frémont" (the Republican candidate). In 1860, he favored Democrat Stephen A. Douglas but did not vote. In 1864, he allowed his political sponsor, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, to use his private letters as campaign literature for Abraham Lincoln and the Union Party, which combined both Republicans and War Democrats. Grant announced his affiliation as a Republican in 1868, after years of apoliticism.
Shortly after Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln put out a call for 75,000 militia volunteers. Grant helped recruit a company of volunteers and accompanied it to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. Grant accepted a position offered by Illinois Governor Richard Yates to recruit and train volunteers, which he accomplished with efficiency. Grant pressed for a field command; Yates appointed him a colonel in the Illinois militia and gave him command of the undisciplined and rebellious 21st Illinois Infantry in June 1861. Grant was deployed to Missouri to protect the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad. Under pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne Jackson, Missouri had declared itself an armed neutral in the conflict, stating it would attack troops from either side entering the state. By August 1, the Union army had forcibly removed Jackson and Missouri was controlled by Union forces, who had to deal with numerous southern sympathizers. In August, Grant was appointed brigadier general of the militia volunteers by Lincoln, who had been lobbied by Congressman Elihu Washburne. At the end of August, Grant was selected by Western Theater commander Major General John C. Frémont to command the critical District of Southeast Missouri.
Grant's first major strategic act of the war was to take the initiative in seizing the Ohio River town of Paducah, Kentucky, immediately after the Confederates violated the state's neutrality by occupying Columbus. He fought his first battle, an indecisive action against Confederate Brig. Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, at Belmont, Missouri, in November 1861. Three months later, aided by Andrew H. Foote's Navy gunboats, he captured two major Confederate fortresses, Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. At Donelson, his army was hit by a surprise Confederate attack (again by Pillow) while he was temporarily absent. Displaying the cool determination that would characterize his leadership in future battles, he organized counterattacks that carried the day. Both General Floyd and Pillow, the two senior Confederate commanders fled. The Confederate commander, Brig. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, an old friend of Grant's and a West Point classmate, and senior commander with Floyd and Pillow fleeing, yielded to Grant's conditions of "no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender." Buckner's surrender of over 12,000 men made Grant a national figure almost overnight, and he was nicknamed "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. The captures of the two forts with over 12,000 prisoners were the first major Union victories of the war, gaining him national recognition. Desperate for generals who could fight and win, Lincoln promoted him to major general of volunteers. Although Grant's new-found fame did not seem to affect his temperament, it did have an impact on his personal life. At one point during the Civil War, a picture of Grant with a cigar in his mouth was published. He was then inundated with cigars from well wishers. Before that he had smoked only sporadically, but he could not give them all away, so he took up smoking them, a habit which may have contributed to the development of throat cancer later in his life; one story after the war claimed that he smoked over 10,000 in five years. Despite his significant victories (or perhaps because of them), Grant fell out of favor with his superior, Major General Henry W. Halleck. Halleck had a particular distaste for drunks and, believing Grant was an alcoholic, was biased against him from the beginning. After Grant visited Nashville, Tennessee where he met with Halleck's rival, Don Carlos Buell, Halleck used the visit as an excuse to relieve Grant on March 4 of field command of a newly launched expedition up the Tennessee River. However, Halleck soon restored Grant to field command of the expedition (personal intervention by President Lincoln may have been a factor), and on March 17 he joined his army at Savannah. At this juncture, Grant's command was known as the Army of West Tennessee; soon, however, it would acquire its more famous name as the Army of the Tennessee.
Eventually, most of Grant's expedition was staged at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, nine miles south of Savannah, on the western side of the Tennessee River. On April 6, those troops were surprised by Confederate generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard in the Battle of Shiloh. The violence of the Confederate attack sent the Union forces reeling; nevertheless, after hastening to Pittsburg Landing from Savannah, Grant refused to retreat. With grim determination, he stabilized his line. Then, on the second day, with the help of reinforcements, Grant counterattacked and turned a serious reverse into a victory. The victory at Shiloh came at a heavy price; with approximately 12,000 casualties to each side, it was the bloodiest battle in the history of the United States to that time and had unpleasant repercussions for Grant. As previously planned, Grant's superior in the Department of the Mississippi, Henry Halleck, arrived at Pittsburg Landing to take personal command in the field, whereupon he proceeded to organize a 100,000-man army, dividing it into three corps and a reserve, in order to mount a campaign to capture Corinth, Mississippi. Initially, Grant was to command the right wing (First Corps). However, on April 30, perhaps in response to the surprise and disorganized nature of the Shiloh fighting and the ensuing criticism of Grant, Halleck assigned Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas to command the right wing and gave Grant the position of second-in-command of the entire 100,000-man force. Grant became very dissatisfied with this arrangement, which he complained was a censure and akin to an arrest. Accordingly, he explored the possibility of obtaining an assignment elsewhere and might have left the Army altogether after the Union forces occupied Corinth on May 30. The intervention of his subordinate and good friend, William T. Sherman, caused him to remain. He was thus in position to play an increasingly important role in the West when, in July 1862, Halleck was promoted to general-in-chief of the Union Army and recalled to Washington. That fall, Grant had overall command of the Union forces for the battles of Iuka and Corinth, although the fighting in those battles fell mostly to Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans.
In an attempt to capture the Mississippi River fortress of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Grant spent the winter of 1862=1863 conducting a series of operations to gain access to the city through the region's bayous, which ended in failure. However, his strategy to take Vicksburg in 1863 is considered one of the most masterful in military history. Grant marched his troops down the west bank of the Mississippi and crossed the river by using United States Navy ships that had run the guns at Vicksburg. There, he moved inland and in a move that defied conventional military principles cut loose from most of his supply lines. Operating in enemy territory, Grant moved swiftly, never giving the Confederates, under the command of John C. Pemberton, an opportunity to concentrate their forces against him. Grant's army went eastward, captured the city of Jackson, and severed the rail line to Vicksburg.
Knowing that the Confederates could no longer send reinforcements to the Vicksburg garrison, Grant turned west and won the Battle of Champion Hill. The Confederates retreated within their fortifications, and Grant promptly surrounded the city. Finding that assaults against the impregnable breastworks were futile, he settled in for a six-week siege. Cut off and with no possibility of relief, Pemberton surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863. It was a devastating defeat for the Southern cause, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two, and, in conjunction with the Union victory at Gettysburg the previous day, is widely considered the turning point of the war. For this victory, President Lincoln promoted Grant to the rank of major general in the regular army, effective July 4.
After the Battle of Chickamauga Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and his Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Confederate Braxton Bragg followed to Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, surrounding the Federals on three sides and besieging them. On October 17, to deal with this crisis, Grant was placed in command of the sweeping, newly-created Military Division of the Mississippi; this command placed Grant in overall charge of the previously independent Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland (embracing Chattanooga), and the Tennessee. In taking this new command, Grant chose a version of the War Department's order that relieved Rosecrans from command of the Department of the Cumberland and replaced him with Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas. Sherman succeeded Grant in charge of the Department of the Tennessee. Grant went to Chattanooga personally to take charge of the situation. Devising a plan known as the "Cracker Line," Thomas's chief engineer, William F. "Baldy" Smith opened a new supply route to Chattanooga, helping to feed the starving men and animals of the Union army. Upon reprovisioning and reinforcement by elements of Sherman's Army of the Tennessee and troops from the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, the morale of Union troops lifted. In late November, Grant went on the offensive. The Battles for Chattanooga started out with Hooker's capture of Lookout Mountain on November 24 and with Sherman's failed attack on the Confederate right the following day. He occupied the wrong hill and then committed only a fraction of his force against the true objective, allowing them to be repulsed by one Confederate division. In response, Grant ordered Thomas to launch a demonstration on the center, which could draw defenders away from Sherman. Thomas's men made an unexpected but spectacular charge straight up Missionary Ridge and broke the fortified center of the Confederate line. Grant was initially angry at Thomas that his orders for a demonstration were exceeded, but the assaulting wave sent the Confederates into a head-long retreat, opening the way for the Union to invade Atlanta, Georgia, and the heart of the Confederacy. Grant's willingness to fight and ability to win impressed President Lincoln, who appointed him lieutenant general in the regular army a rank not awarded since George Washington (or Winfield Scott's brevet appointment), recently re-authorized by the U.S. Congress with Grant in mind on March 2, 1864. On March 12, Grant became general-in-chief of all the armies of the United States.
In March 1864, Grant placed Major General William T. Sherman in immediate command of all forces in the West and moved his headquarters to Virginia, where he turned his attention to the long-frustrated Union effort to destroy the Army of Northern Virginia; his secondary objective was to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, but Grant understood that the latter would ensue, once the former was accomplished. He devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions: Grant, George G. Meade, and Benjamin Franklin Butler against Lee near Richmond; Franz Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley; Sherman to invade Georgia, defeat Joseph E. Johnston, and capture Atlanta; George Crook and William W. Averell to operate against railroad supply lines in West Virginia; and Nathaniel Banks to capture Mobile, Alabama. Grant was the first general to attempt such a coordinated strategy in the war and the first to understand the concepts of total war, in which the destruction of an enemy's economic infrastructure that supplied its armies was as important as tactical victories on the battlefield.
The Overland Campaign was the military thrust needed by the Union to defeat the Confederacy; it pitted Grant against Robert E. Lee. It began on May 4, 1864, when the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rapidan River, marching into an area of scrubby undergrowth and second growth trees known as the Wilderness. It was such difficult terrain that the Army of Northern Virginia was able to use it to prevent Grant from fully exploiting his numerical advantage. The Battle of the Wilderness was a stubborn, bloody two-day fight, resulting in advantage to neither side, but with heavy casualties to both. After similar battles in Virginia against Lee, all of Grant's predecessors had retreated from the field. Grant ignored the setback and ordered an advance around Lee's flank to the southeast, which lifted the morale of his army. Grant's strategy was not just to win individual battles, it was to fight constant engagements to wear down and destroy Lee's army. Sigel's Shenandoah campaign and Butler's James River campaign both failed. Lee was able to reinforce with troops used to defend against these assaults. The campaign continued. Confederate troops beat the Union to Spotsylvania, Virginia, where, on May 8, the fighting resumed. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House lasted 14 days. On May 11, Grant wrote a famous dispatch containing the line "I propose to fight it out along this line if it takes all summer". These words summed up his attitude about the fighting, and the next day, May 12, he ordered a massive assault by Hancock's 2nd Corps that broke a portion of Lee's line, captured 30 artillery pieces, took 4,000 prisoners, and broke forever the famous Stonewall Division. In spite of mounting Union casualties, the contest's dynamics changed in Grant's favor. Most of Lee's great victories in earlier years had been won on the offensive, employing surprise movements and fierce assaults. Now, he was forced to continually fight on the defensive without a chance to regroup or replenish against an opponent that was well supplied and had superior numbers. The next major battle, however, demonstrated the power of a well-prepared defense. Cold Harbor was one of Grant's most controversial battles, in which he launched on June 3 a massive three-corps assault without adequate reconnaissance on a well-fortified defensive line, resulting in horrific casualties (3,000-7,000 killed, wounded, and missing in the first 40 minutes, although modern estimates have determined that the total was likely less than half of the famous figure of 7,000 that has been used in books for decades; as many as 12,000 for the day, far outnumbering the Confederate losses). Grant said of the battle in his memoirs "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made. I might say the same thing of the assault of the 22nd of May, 1863, at Vicksburg. At Cold Harbor no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained." But Grant moved on and kept up the pressure. He stole a march on Lee, when Union engineers had stealthfully constructed a pontoon bridge, allowing the Army of the Potomac to move southward across the James River on June 15, 1864. Arriving at Petersburg, Virginia, first, Grant should have captured the rail junction city, but he failed because of the excessively cautious actions of his subordinate William Smith. Over the next three days, a number of Union assaults to take the city were launched. All failed, however, and finally on June 18, Lee's veterans arrived. Faced with fully manned trenches in his front, Grant was left with no alternative but to settle down to a siege. As the summer drew on and with Grant's and Sherman's armies stalled, respectively in Virginia and Georgia, politics took center stage. There was a presidential election in the fall, and the citizens of the North had difficulty seeing any progress in the war effort. To make matters worse for Abraham Lincoln, Lee detached a small army under the command of Lieutenant General Jubal A. Early, hoping it would force Grant to disengage forces to pursue him. Early invaded north through the Shenandoah Valley and reached the outskirts of Washington, D.C.. Although unable to take the city, Early embarrassed the Administration simply by threatening its inhabitants, making Abraham Lincoln's re-election prospects even bleaker. In early September, the efforts of Grant's coordinated strategy finally bore fruit. First, Sherman took Atlanta. Then, Grant dispatched Philip Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley to deal with Early. It became clear to the people of the North that the war was being won, and Lincoln was re-elected by a wide margin. Later in November, Sherman began his March to the Sea. Sheridan and Sherman both followed Grant's strategy of total war by destroying the economic infrastructures of the Valley and a large swath of Georgia and the Carolinas.
In March 1865, Grant invited Lincoln to visit his headquarters at City Point, Virginia. By coincidence, Sherman (then campaigning in North Carolina) happened to visit City Point at the same time. This allowed for the war's only three-way meeting of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman. At the beginning of April, Grant's relentless pressure finally forced Lee to evacuate Richmond, and after a nine-day retreat, Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. There, Grant offered generous terms that did much to ease the tensions between the armies and preserve some semblance of Southern pride, which would be needed to reconcile the warring sides. Within a few weeks, the American Civil War was effectively over; minor actions would continue until Kirby Smith surrendered his forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department on June 2, 1865. Immediately after Lee's surrender, Grant had the sad honor of serving as a pallbearer at the funeral of his greatest champion, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln had been quoted after the massive losses at Shiloh as saying, "I can't spare this man. He fights." It was a two-sentence description that completely caught the essence of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant's fighting style was what one fellow general called "that of a bulldog". The term accurately captures his tenacity, but it oversimplifies his considerable strategic and tactical capabilities. Although a master of combat by outmaneuvering his opponent (such as at Vicksburg and in the Overland Campaign against Lee), Grant was not afraid to order direct assaults, often when the Confederates were themselves launching offensives against him. Such tactics often resulted in heavy casualties for Grant's men, but they wore down the Confederate forces proportionately more and inflicted irreplaceable losses. Many in the North denounced Grant as a "butcher" in 1864, an accusation made both by Northern civilians appalled at the staggering number of casualties suffered by Union armies for what appeared to be negligible gains, and by Copperheads, Northern Democrats who either favored the Confederacy or simply wanted an end to the war, even at the cost of recognizing Southern independence. Grant persevered, refusing to withdraw as had his predecessors, and Lincoln, despite public outrage and pressure within the government, stuck by Grant, refusing to replace him. Although Grant lost battles in 1864, he won all his campaigns. Despite his reputation, deserved or not, as an uncaring butcher, Grant was always concerned about the sufferings of the wounded.
As commanding general of the army, Grant had a difficult relationship with President Andrew Johnson, a Southern Democrat, who preferred a moderate approach to relations with the South. Johnson tried to use Grant to defeat the Radical Republicans by making Grant the Secretary of War in place of Edwin M. Stanton, whom he could not remove without the approval of Congress under the Tenure of Office Act. Grant refused but kept his military command. This made him a hero to the Radical Republicans, who gave him the Republican nomination for president in 1868. He was chosen as the Republican presidential candidate at the 1868 Republican National Convention in Chicago; he faced no significant opposition. In his letter of acceptance to the party, Grant concluded with "Let us have peace," which became his campaign slogan. In the general election of that year, Grant won against former New York Governor Horatio Seymour with a lead of 300,000 votes out of a total of 5,716,082 votes cast. However, Grant commanded an Electoral College landslide, receiving 214 votes to Seymour's 80. When he assumed the presidency, Grant had never before held elected office and, at the age of 46, was the youngest person yet elected president.
The second President from Ohio, Grant was elected the 18th President of the United States in 1868, and was re-elected to the office in 1872. Grant served as President from March 4, 1869, to March 4, 1877. In his re-election campaign, Grant benefited from the loyal support of Harper's Weekly political cartoonist Thomas Nast and later sent Nast a deluxe edition of Grant's autobiography when it was finished. Grant's notable accomplishments as President include the enforcement of Civil Rights to African Americans, the Treaty of Washington in 1871, and the Resumption of Specie Act in 1875. At the same time Grant's reputation as President suffered from scandals caused by many of his political appointees and personal associates.
Grant presided over the last half of Reconstruction. In the late 1870s, he watched as the Democrats (called Redeemers) took the control of every state away from his Republican coalition. He supported amnesty for former Confederates and signed the Amnesty Act of 1872 to further this. He favored a limited number of troops to be stationed in the South sufficient numbers to protect Southern African Americans, suppress the violent tactics of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and prop up Republican governors, but not so many as to create resentment in the general population. Grant confronted a Northern public tired of committing to the long war in the South, violent paramilitary organizations in the late 1870s, and a factional Republican Party.
Grant was the first U.S. President to recommend a professional civil service, pushed the initial legistation through Congress, and appointed the members for the first Civil Service Commission. The temporary Commission recommended administering competitive exams and issuing regulations on the hiring and promotion of government employees. Grant put their recommendations in effect in 1872. However, Congress denied any long-term reform by refusing to enact the necessary legislation to make the changes permanent. The movement for Civil Service reform was the growth of the National Government after the American Civil War and reflected two distinct objectives: to eliminate the inefficiencies in a non professional bureaucracy, and to check the power of (President) Andrew Johnson. Although many reformers after the Election of 1868, looked to Grant to ram Civil Service legislation through Congress, what they got was a pragmatist. Unlike many reformers, Grant did not confuse patronage with corruption. Grant believed that Civil Service reform rested entirely with Congress. According to Jean Edward Smith, a Grant historian, President Grant believed deeply in reform but was not sanctimonious about it. Grant accepted patronage as a fixture in Washington but sought to minimize its effects. President Grant instinctively protected those whom he thought were the victims of injustice, even if those persons were at fault. Grant believed in loyalty with his friends, as one writer called it the "Chivalry of Friendship". It was more important for Grant to be loyal to a friend then letting his Presidency suffer in reputation. Loyalty from the bottom up also demanded loyalty from the top down.
The Panic of 1873 was an international depression that was caused by overspeculation in the railroad industry. Prior to the Panic of 1873 the U.S. economy was in good standings. Eight years after the Civil War had brought thousands of miles of railroad construction, thousands of factories opened, and a strong stock market. Even the South experienced a boom in agriculture. However, all of this growth was done on borrowed money by many banks in the United States having over speculated in the Railroad industry by as much as $20,000,000 in loans ($371,212,068.97 CPI for year 2008). Initially, the panic started when the stock market in Vienna, Austria crashed, in June 1873. Unsettling markets soon spread to Berlin, Germany and throughout Europe. The panic eventually reached the shores of the United States when two major banks went bankrupt, the New York Warehouse & Security Company (September 17) and Jay Cooke & Company (September 18). The depression lasted 5 years, ruined thousands of businesses, depressed wages, and the unemployment rate went up to 14%. It would take decades before wages would rise to pre-1873 levels. The Grant Administration only responded to the panic after the two major banks went broke, even though there was three months to prepare for the oncoming crisis. Grant’s Secretary of Treasury William A. Richardson did not take any finincial actions to curb the panic until Saturday, September 20, 1873 when the Secretary bought $2,500,000 of five-twenty bonds with gold. On Monday, September 22, Richardson bought $3,000,000 of bonds with legal tender notes or greenbacks and purchased $5,500,000 in legal tender certificates. From September 24 to September 25 the Treasury department bought $24,000,000 of bonds and certificates with greenbacks. On September 29 the Secretary prepaid the interest on $12,000,000 bonds bought from security banks. These actions prevented more panic among depositors and curbed the general alarm to some extent. However, much of this limited relief was done after two major banks crashed. Had these actions been done even a week earlier it may have prevented Jay Cook & Company from going bankrupt. Also, the greenbacks that were dispersed into the market for commercial banking relief by Richardson were horded by private individuals and the banks. From October, 1873 to January 4, 1874 Richardson printed and reissued a total of $26,000,000 greenbacks to the public in order to make up for lost revenue in the Treasury. In other words he inflated the economy, on his own, with the permission from Grant. There was question as to the legality of such actions by the Secretary from Senator John Sherman. Senator George S. Boutwell, the previous Secretary of Treasury believed Richardson's actions were legal. However, the money distributed by the Secretary was horded by the public and the banks. It was believed at that time much more green backs were needed to stimulate the economy. The government’s ultimate failure was in not reestablishing confidence in the businesses that had been the source of distrust. All the money put into the market by Secretary Richardson did not produce the confidence needed to stop the panic. The Panic of 1873 eventually ran its own course in spite of all the efforts from the government. Another contributing factor to the Panic of 1873 was nine months of unsettled markets due to money stringency created by previous Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell in fall of 1872. Boutwell had lessened the money by selling more gold then he bought bonds, giving businesses less currency to invest.
The Grant administration's first economic accomplishment was the signing of the Act to Strengthen the Public Credit which the Republican Congress had passed after Grant's inaugural in March 18, 1869. The act had the effect that the gold price on New York exchange fell to $130 per ounce, the lowest point since the suspension of specie payment in 1862.
The first two years of the Grant administration with George Boutwell at the Treasury helm expenditures had been reduced to $292,177,188.77 in 1871. In comparison to the Andrew Johnson administration expenditures were $322,865,277.80 in 1869. The cost of collecting taxes was 3.11 percent in 1871. By comparison to the Andrew Johnson administration the cost of collecting taxes was 4.06 percent in 1868. Grant had also reduced the number of employees working in the government by 2,248 persons from 6,052 on March 1, 1869 to 3,804 on December 1, 1871. In addition, Grant had increased tax revenues coming into the government by $108,055,163 from 1869 to 1872. During Grant's first administration the national debt had been reduced by $333,976,916.39 from $2,525,463,260.01 on March 1, 1869 to $2,191,486,343.01 on July 1, 1872. The rapidly accelarated industrial growth in post Civil War America and throughtout the world came to a colossal crash with the Panic of 1873. Many banks over extended their loans and as a result went bankrupt causing a general panic throughout the nation. Secretary of Treasury William A. Richardson, in an attempt put capital into a stringent monetary economy, released $26,000,000 greenbacks. Congress, in 1874, debated the inflationary policy to stimulate the economy and passed the Inflation Bill of 1874 that would release an additional $18,000,000 greenbacks. Many farmers and working men in the South West were anticipating Grant to sign the bill in order to get the needed greenbacks to continue business. Eastern bankers favored a veto because their reliance on bonds and foreign investors. On April 22, 1874 Grant unexpectedly vetoed the bill, against the popular strategy of the Republican Party, on the grounds that it would destroy the credit of the nation. Initially Grant had favored the bill, but decided to veto after evaluating his own reasons for wanting to pass the bill. Although Grant vetoed the bill on strong economic grounds, it may have created the needed economic confidence in the South West. On January 14, 1875 Ulysses S. Grant signed the Resumption of Specie Act, and could not have been more happier. He even wrote a note to Congress congratulating members on the passage of the act. The legislation was drafted by Ohio Republican Senator John Sherman, the brother to General William T. Sherman. This act provided that paper money in circulation would be exchanged for gold specie and silver coins and would be effective on January 1, 1879. The act also implemented that gradual steps would be taken to reduce that amount of greenbacks or paper money in circulation. At that time there were "paper coin" currency worth less than $1.00 and these would be exchanged for silver coins. The effect in essence was to stabilize the currency making the consumers money as "good as gold". In an age were there was no Federal Reserve system to control inflation this act stabilized the economy. Grant considered it the hallmark of his Administration.
In 1869, Grant was urged by popular opinion to support rebels in Cuba with military assistance and give them U.S. diplomatic recognition. Grant and Fish instead attempted to use arbitration in Madrid, Spain with Daniel Sickles negotiating. Grant supported the rebels, but did not want to go to war with Spain. Grant and Fish wanted Cuban independence and to end slavery without U.S. military intervention or occupation. Fish, diligently, against popular pressure, was able to keep Grant from officially recognizing Cuban Independence because it would have endangered negotiations with Britain over the Alabama Claims. The negotiations failed in Madrid, however, Grant and Fish did not succumb to popular pressure to go to war. Grant sent a message to Congress, written by Fish and signed by Grant, to urge not to officially recognize the Cuban revolt. War had been averted with Cuba and Spain. The United States, during the McKinley Administration, finally did go to War with Spain over Cuba in 1898, known as the Spanish-American War. Cuba was granted independance, however, the United States was granted the condition to keep U.S. military occupation. This upset many Cubans who wanted full independence as a nation.
Possibly the greatest achievement of the Grant Administration was the Treaty of Washington in 1871. Grant’s able Secretary of State Hamilton Fish had orchestrated many of the events leading up to the treaty. Previously, Secretary of State William H. Seward during the Andrew Johnson administration first proposed an initial treaty in regards to damages done to American merchants by three Confederate war ships, CSS Florida, CSS Alabama, and CSS Shenandoah made under English jurisdiction. These ships had inflicted tremendous damage to U.S. merchant ships during the Civil War with the result that relations between England and the United States was severely strained. An initial treaty was negotiated on April 1868 at a convention between U.S. representative Reverdy Johnson and British Prime Minister William Gladstone’s Foreign Secretary Lord Clarendon. Andrew Johnson requested the treaty be submitted the following year to the U.S. Senate.
On April 1869, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected the Johnson-Claredon convention treaty on the grounds that there were no adequate reparations for the damages done to American merchant ships and the British did not have to admit any fault in the CSS Alabama matter. Negotiations for a new treaty began in January 1871 when England sent Sir John Rose to America to meet with Fish. A joint high commission was created on February 1871 in Washington D.C., consisting of representatives from both England and the United States. The commission created a treaty where an international Tribunal would settle the damage amounts and the English admitted regret, not fault, over the destructive actions of the Confederate war cruisers. President Grant approved and on May 24, 1871, the Senate ratified the Treaty of Washington. The Tribunal meeting took place in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. was represented by Charles Francis Adams, one of five international arbitrators, and was counseled by William M. Evarts, Caleb Cushing, and Morrison R. Waite. The English arbitrator was Alexander Cockburn counseled by Sir Roundell Palmer. The American and British agents were J.C. Bancroft Davis and Lord Tenterton, respectively. At the end of the arbitration, on September 9 1871, the Tribunal awarded United States $15,500,000. In addition to the $15,500,000 arbitration award, the monumental treay settled the following desputes with England and Canada:
The treaty triggered a movement for countries to seek alternatives to declaring war through arbitration and the codification of international law. These principles would be the motivating influences for further peace keeping institutions such as the Hague Conventions, the League of Nations, the World Court, and eventually the United Nations.
On October 31, 1873, an independent American steamer, Virginius, carrying war materials and men to aid the Cuban insurrection was intercepted and held captive in Santiago by a Spanish warship. Virginius was flying the United States flag and had an American registry. 53 of the passengers and crew, eight being United States citizens, were held prisoners and summarily were executed. The immediate impact of these events was an outcry for war with Spain in the United States. Many prominent men such as William M. Evarts, Henry Ward Beecher, and even Vice President Henry Wilson made impassioned speeches to go to war with Spain. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, although outraged over the incident kept a cool demeanor in the crisis. Upon investigating the incident Fish found out there was question over whether Virginius had the right to bear the United States flag. Fish informed Daniel Stickels, the U.S. Spanish ambassador, that reparations were demanded by Spain for this act of "peculiar brutality". The Spanish Rupublic's President, Emilio Castelar, expressed profound regret for the tragedy and was willing to make reparations through arbitration. Fish finally met with the Spanish Ambassador to the United States, Senor Poly y Bernabe, in Washington D.C. and negotiated reparations. With President Grant's approval Spain was to surrender Virginius, make indemnity with the American slain surviving families, and salute the American flag. Spain made good on the reparations with the United States with the exception of saluting the American flag. U.S. Attorney General, George H. Williams, said that saluting the American flag was not necessary since Virginius, at the time of the incident, was not entitled to carry the flag or to have an American registry. During the Virginius affair Grant and congress authorized Secretary of Navy George M. Robeson to get warships ready in case there was war with Spain. Robeson repaired 14-15 single-turreted monitors and got them ready for battle. Robeson also authorized the construction of 5 new double-turreted monitors by outside contractors, in response to a Spanish ironclad that was moored in New York harbor.
Grant's inability to establish personal accountability among his subordinates and cabinet members led to many scandals during his administration. His appointments of personal military friends or campaign contributors opened opportunities for corruption. Although Grant himself was not directly responsible for and did not profit from the corruption among subordinates, he was reluctant to believe friends could commit criminal activities. As a result, he failed to take any direct action and rarely reacted strongly after their guilt was established. Grant also protected close friends with Presidencial power and pardoned person's who were convicted in the Whiskey Ring scandal after serving a few months in prison. Grant, often, would vigorously attack when critics complained, being very protective and defensive of his subordinates. Grant was weak in his selection of subordinates, many times favoring military associates from the war over talented and experienced politicians. He alienated party leaders by giving many posts to his friends and political contributors rather than supporting the party's needs. His failure to establish working political alliances in Congress allowed the scandals to spin out of control. At the conclusion of his second term, Grant wrote to Congress that "Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent." Nepotism was rampant. Around 40 family relatives financially prospered while Grant was President.
After the end of his second term in the White House, Grant spent over two years traveling the world with his wife. He traveled first to Liverpool, England onboard the Pennsylvania class steamship SS Indiana, subsequently visiting Scotland and Ireland; the crowds were enormous. The Grants dined with Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle and with Prince Bismarck in Germany. They also visited Russia, Egypt, the Holy Land, Siam (Thailand), and Burma. In Japan, they were cordially received by Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken at the Imperial Palace. Today in the Shibakoen section of Tokyo, a tree still stands that Grant planted during his stay.
In 1879, the "Stalwart" faction of the Republican Party led by Senator Roscoe Conkling sought to nominate Grant for a third term as president. He counted on strong support from the business men, the old soldiers, and the Methodist church. Publicly Grant said nothing, but privately he wanted the job and encouraged his men. His popularity was fading however, and while he received more than 300 votes in each of the 36 ballots of the 1880 convention, the nomination went to James A. Garfield. Grant campaigned for Garfield, who won by a very narrow margin. Grant supported his Stalwart ally Conkling against Garfield in the battle over patronage in spring 1881 that culminated in Conkling's resignation from office.
In 1881, Grant purchased a house in New York City and placed almost all of his financial assets into an investment banking partnership with Ferdinand Ward, as suggested by Grant's son Buck (Ulysses, Jr.), who was having success on Wall Street. In 1884 Ward swindled Grant (and other investors who had been encouraged by Grant), bankrupted the company, Grant & Ward, and fled.
Grant learned at the same time that he was suffering from throat cancer. Grant and his family were left destitute; at the time retired U.S. Presidents were not given pensions, and Grant had forfeited his military pension when he assumed the office of President. Grant first wrote several articles on his Civil War campaigns for The Century Magazine, which were warmly received. Mark Twain offered Grant a generous contract for the publication of his memoirs, including 75% of the book's sales as royalties. It was not until 1958 that Congress, believing it inappropriate that a former President or his wife might be poverty-stricken, passed a bill granting them a pension, still in effect today. Terminally ill, Grant finished his memoir just a few days before his death. The Memoirs sold over 300,000 copies, earning the Grant family over $450,000. Twain promoted the book as "the most remarkable work of its kind since the Commentaries of Julius Caesar." Ulysses S. Grant died on Thursday, July 23, 1885, at the age of 63 in Mount McGregor, Saratoga County, New York. His body lies in New York City's Riverside Park, beside that of his wife, in Grant's Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America. It was originally interred in a vault in the same park, which was used until the current mausoleum was built. The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial honors Grant.
Paralumun New Age Village