Ulysses S. Grant

May 20, 2022

Ulysses S. Grant

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. Most of his childhood was spent on his family farm, learning new skills and the value of hard work. In 1839 his father enrolled him at West Point, where he graduated middle of his class. This is also where he gained the name of Ulysses S. Grant, also known as U.S. Grant, a name that stuck with him throughout his life. Grant then went on to serve in the Mexican-American War under the command of General Zachary Taylor from 1846–48.

In the following years, he married Julia Boggs Dent, with whom he had four children, and worked for his father's leather company in Galena, Illinois. When the Civil War began in 1861, Grant helped recruit, equip, and drill troops in Galena. Illinois' governor saw this act of leadership and fortitude in Grant and appointed him to command a volunteer regiment (Britannica). From here Grant continued to move up the ranks and eventually became a symbol for Union victory.

A Confederate surrender at Fort Donelson led Lincoln to promote Grant to major general of volunteers. In March 1864 he was appointed General-in-Chief and led troops up North to take down Robert E. Lee's army while his comrade William Sherman led an army of troops down South. Much of his success as a commander was largely due to his administrative ability, receptiveness to innovation, versatility, and his unwavering ability to learn from his mistakes (Britannica). It was these same attributes that led him to win the 1869 presidential election, making him the 18th President of the United States. Although politically inexperienced, the people received him well overall. 

After finishing his second presidential term, he became a partner at a financial firm, which eventually went bankrupt and left Grant and his family in financial distress. It wasn't long after this that he discovered he had throat cancer, and was coming to the end of his life. He decided to write about his life and recollections of the war. It was Mark Twain who helped convince him to finish his memoirs in order to pay off his debts and provide for his family after he passed away. Grant finally completed his last few pages right before his death on July 23, 1885. His Memoirs were originally sold door-to-door by former Union soldiers and became a common household staple. The books earned nearly $450,000 and Grant’s family received 75% of the net royalties from the work and used the proceeds to re-establish their fortune.

The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant recount his childhood and personal history, his military career during the Mexican-American War, and his role in the American Civil War. For some time, Grant's work was overshadowed by his critics. However, today's scholars now recognize Grant as one of the most influential and progressive leaders the country has seen, especially given that he was elected during one of the most difficult times in American history. 

This second edition, two-volume set of Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs was published in 1892 by Charles L. Webster and Company, New York. Volume I features a facsimile signature and dedication from Grant on the page adjacent to the copyright page. The inscription reads, “These volumes are dedicated to the American soldier and sailor..., New York City, May 23rd 1885.” This printing features engraved black and white illustrations, fold-out facsimile letters written by Grant, and forty-three maps.

Resources: Simon, John Y.. "Ulysses S. Grant". Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Apr. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ulysses-S-Grant. Accessed 20 May 2022.






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