Ulysses S Grant

Introduction: Ulysses S Grant was the 18th President of United States. He was also the commander of Union forces during the civil war and led them to victory over Confederate forces. He was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. His father was a businessman and an abolitionist. Grant was a capable horseman and had this uncanny ability to control and tame horses.

When he was only 17 years old he was recommended by Thomas Hamer, a Congressman for admission in United States Military Academy, West Point. Grant graduated from the academy in 1843 and despite being an expert horseman was not commissioned in Cavalry. He was instead sent to the 4th Infantry Regiment of United States Army.

Military Career: Grant’s first stint in military was eleven years long. He served in army from 1843 till 1854. During this time he took part in Mexican-American war and performed well. He also married while serving in army. Grant and his wife Julia together had four children. Grant had to unceremoniously leave army after getting involved in a case of indiscipline. He was given the option of choosing between court martial or resignation. He resigned in 1854 and returned to civil life.

Post Army Life: Grant faced many financial hardships after leaving army. He did not have any civilian vocation and found it hard to settle down in civil. His father offered him a job in family business, but he declined and instead tried his hand at farming. His luck did not favor him and the farming business could not pick up. He later did a variety of jobs to survive. These seven years were the most difficult years of his life, financially.

Civil War: After the Battle of Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for 75000 volunteers, Grant came back to military. He initially served as a non-regular and raised volunteers units in Illinois. He was soon reinstated as a commander of volunteers and was given the rank of a colonel. Grant’s military reputation soared after his victories in Belmont, Fort Donelson and Fort Henry in quick succession. He was promoted as a Major General of Volunteers by President Lincoln in 1862.

His success in battlefield continued with major victories in Battle of Shiloh and Vicksburg Campaign. In 1863 Lincoln made him a Major General of Regular Army. However, his greatest moment of glory was when famous Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to him after a protracted campaign in Virginia. Lee’s surrender effectively ended the Confederate struggle. He showed magnanimity in victory and allowed Confederate soldiers to return to their homes after surrendering. This earned him respect of even his bitter foe, Lee who praised him on a number of occasions.

Presidency: Grant achieved heroic stature owing to his service in civil war. His popularity made it very easy for him to be elected as president in 1868. Though his tenure was marred by presence of corrupt members in his administration and the financial crisis of 1873, he nonetheless achieved many milestones. He worked tirelessly for passage of 15th amendment which aimed to provide right of vote to every man regardless of color, race and religion.

He also instituted the National Park Service and signed a bill to create Department of Justice. He was elected twice and ran for a third term but lost. Grant died of throat cancer in 1885. Grant is considered one of the greatest military leaders of United States military history. His political legacy was damaged by scandals of corruption involving his close aides. He however, was never involved in any such scandal.