My Mom always asks that, along with “What color is George Washington’s white horse?” when she is pointing out that something should be obvious. I only knew some guy named Grant and he is on the fifty dollar bill. Now I can tell you that Ulysses S. Grant was a Civil War hero and the eighteenth President of the United States. The son of an Ohio tanner, he was a West Point graduate. He made many notable contributions to the Civil War that eventually led to South surrendering to the North. Yet he made many not so notable contributions to the Presidency. Sickness ended his life just after he completed his personal memoirs.
Ulysses S. Grant was not really his whole name. He was born Hiram Ulysses Grant but an error was made on his application to the West Point Military Academy in New York when the person completing the form assumed his middle name was Simpson (his mother’s maiden name) and used the initial S. Whatever the name, Ulysses was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio to Jesse and Hannah Grant. He grew up on his family’s farm on the frontier of Ohio. His father was a tanner but Ulysses had no interest in farming or tanning, instead by the age of eight he had developed great horseman skills and drove his father’s team to deliver goods and passengers. He would later graduate from the Military Academy at West Point, become a husband and father, a war hero, a U.S. President and a writer.
From 1839 until 1841, Grant was in New York where he attended West Point. He was known as a skilled horseman but was not a distinguished student, graduating at the bottom of his class. Upon leaving West Point, he was commissioned as a brevet 2nd lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. Ulysses then saw action as a Quartermaster in the Mexican-American War from 1846 until 1848, in battles such as Palo Alto, Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec.
Grant returned home to marry Julia Dent, the daughter of a West Point Classmate who he had met while visiting their home during his commission at Jefferson Barracks. After his marriage, Grant was stationed in several remote locations far away from his new family. His loneliness caused him to turn to anger and drinking, which caused problems with his behavior while on duty (granthomepage.com). He eventually resigned his post in 1854, and returned to White Haven the plantation belonging to Julia’s family. Upon returning, Ulysses unsuccessfully attempted to become a farmer. Joining Julia’s cousin in Real Estate in St. Louis was his next attempt at establishing a career. When that was also unsuccessful, the Grant family moved to Galena, Illinois, so Ulysses could join his father’s leather goods business.
In June of 1861, at a meeting in Galena, Grant was made chairman and become a Colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers. By August of 1861, President Lincoln had approval from Congress to appoint Grant as Brigadier General of Volunteers (granthomepage.com). In July of 1861, he marched his...