ListMoto - Ulysses S. Grant

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United States
United States

* Union Army
Union Army

YEARS OF SERVICE 1839–1854 1861–1869

RANK General of the Army


* Company F, 4th Infantry * 21st Illinois Infantry Regiment * District of Southeast Missouri * District of Cairo * Army of the Tennessee * Division of the Mississippi * United States
United States

BATTLES/WARS Mexican–American War American Civil War
American Civil War

This article is part of a series about Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant

* Birthplace * Early life and career



* American Civil War
American Civil War

* CAMPAIGNS: Vicksburg * Chattanooga * Overland * Petersburg * Appomattox

* General Order No. 11


* Post-war army service



* Presidency


* 1868 presidential campaign

* Election

* 1st inauguration

* 1872 reelection campaign

* Election

* 2nd inauguration

* Reconstruction * 15th Amendment

* Scandals * Reforms * Grantism * Peace Policy * Judicial Appointments



* Later life * 3rd term bid * Tomb * Memorial * Historical reputation * Depictions * Memoirs * Bibliography


* v * t * e

ULYSSES S. GRANT, born HIRAM ULYSSES GRANT , (April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States
President of the United States
(1869–77). As Commanding General (1864–69), Grant worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
to lead the Union Army
Union Army
to victory over the Confederacy in the American Civil War
American Civil War
. Supported by Congress, Grant implemented Reconstruction , often at odds with President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
. Twice elected president, Grant led the Republicans in their effort to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, protect African-American
citizenship, and support economic prosperity. His presidency has often been criticized for multiple administration scandals and for his failure to alleviate the economic depression following the Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873

Grant graduated in 1843 from West Point and served in the Mexican–American War . After the war, he married Julia Boggs Dent in 1848, their marriage producing four children. Grant retired from the Army in 1854 and struggled financially in civilian life. When the Civil War began in 1861, he rejoined the U.S. Army. In 1862, Grant took control of Kentucky
and most of Tennessee , and led Union forces to victory in the Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Shiloh
, earning a reputation as an aggressive commander. In July 1863, after a series of coordinated battles, Grant defeated Confederate armies and seized Vicksburg , giving the Union control of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
and dividing the Confederacy in two. After his victories in the Chattanooga Campaign , Lincoln promoted him to lieutenant general and Commanding General of the Army in March 1864. Grant confronted Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
in a series of bloody battles, trapping Lee's army in their defense of Richmond . Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns in other theaters, as well. In April 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox , effectively ending the war. Historians have hailed Grant's military genius, and his strategies are featured in military history textbooks, but a minority contend that he won by brute force rather than superior strategy.

After the war, Grant led the army's supervision of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states. Elected president in 1868, he stabilized the nation during that turbulent period, prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan , using the military and the newly created Department of Justice , bolstering the Republican Party in the South. The Army conducted new elections in the South with universal male suffrage, although many ex-Confederates were unable to vote. Republicans gained majorities in all 11 states, and African Americans were elected to Congress and high state offices. Blacks in the South came under violent attack from whites, while Grant tried to protect them, including signing three civil rights acts into law. In 1871, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission
Civil Service Commission
, to appease reformers. The Democrats and Liberal Republicans united behind Grant's opponent in the presidential election of 1872, but were unable to defeat his reelection. In his second term, the Republican coalitions in the South splintered and were defeated as a faction of white Southern "Redeemers" regained control of Southern state governments using violence, voter fraud, and racist appeal. More than any 19th Century president, Grant faced charges of corruption in his administration, including the Whiskey Ring , which he authorized Treasury Secretary Benjamin Bristow to shut down and prosecute. Grant's Peace Policy with Native Americans was a bold departure, but historians agree that, as with Reconstruction, it ended in failure.

In foreign policy, Grant sought to increase trade and influence while remaining at peace with the world. With Secretary of State Hamilton Fish , he successfully resolved the Alabama claims through the Treaty of Washington with Great Britain . Grant and Fish avoided war with Spain
over the Virginius Affair , negotiating a peaceful resolution. Congress rejected Grant's initiative to annex of the Dominican Republic , creating a rift among Republicans. His administration implemented a gold standard and sought to strengthen the dollar. Grant's immediate response to the Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
failed to halt a severe industrial depression that produced high unemployment, deflation, and bankruptcies. Grant left office in 1877 and embarked on a two-year world tour that captured favorable global attention for him and his nation.

In 1880, Grant was unsuccessful in obtaining the Republican presidential nomination for a third term. Facing severe investment reversals and dying of throat cancer, he wrote his memoirs , which proved to be a major critical and financial success. His death in 1885 prompted an outpouring in support of national unity. Historical assessments of Grant's legacy have varied considerably over the years. His popular reputation focuses on his drinking, which historians agree has been exaggerated and never adversely affected his decisions. Early historical evaluations were very negative about Grant's presidency. Scholars continue to rank his presidency below the average , but modern appreciation for his support for civil rights has helped improve his standing.


* 1 Early life and education

* 2 Early military career and personal life

* 2.1 West Point and first assignment * 2.2 Mexican American War * 2.3 Pacific duty and resignation

* 3 Civilian struggles and politics

* 4 Civil War

* 4.1 Early commands * 4.2 Belmont, Forts Henry and Donelson * 4.3 Shiloh and aftermath * 4.4 Vicksburg campaign * 4.5 Chattanooga and promotion * 4.6 Overland Campaign and Union victory * 4.7 Lincoln\'s assassination

* 5 Commanding General

* 5.1 Beginning Reconstruction * 5.2 Breach with Johnson * 5.3 Johnson\'s impeachment * 5.4 Election of 1868

* 6 Presidency (1869–77)

* 6.1 Later Reconstruction and civil rights * 6.2 Indian peace policy * 6.3 Foreign affairs * 6.4 Gold standard
Gold standard
and the Gold Ring * 6.5 Election of 1872 and second term * 6.6 Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
and loss of Congress * 6.7 Gilded Age corruption and reform * 6.8 Election of 1876 * 6.9 Cabinet

* 7 Post-presidency

* 7.1 World tour and diplomacy * 7.2 Third term attempt * 7.3 Business reversals * 7.4 Memoirs, pension, and death

* 8 Historical reputation * 9 Memorials and presidential library * 10 See also * 11 Notes * 12 References * 13 Bibliography * 14 External links


Further information: Early life and career of Ulysses S. Grant Grant's birthplace, Point Pleasant, Ohio

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio , on April 27, 1822, to Jesse Root Grant
Jesse Root Grant
, a tanner and merchant, and Hannah Grant (née Simpson). His ancestors Matthew and Priscilla Grant arrived aboard the Mary and John
Mary and John
at Massachusetts Bay Colony
Massachusetts Bay Colony
in 1630. Grant's great-grandfather fought in the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
, and his grandfather, Noah, served in the American Revolution
American Revolution
at Bunker Hill . Afterward, Noah settled in Pennsylvania
and married Rachel Kelley, the daughter of an Irish pioneer. Their son Jesse (Ulysses's father) was a Whig Party supporter with abolitionist sentiments.

Jesse Grant moved to Point Pleasant in 1820 and found work as a foreman in a tannery. He soon met his future wife, Hannah, and the two were married on June 24, 1821. Ten months later Hannah gave birth to their first child, a son. At a family gathering several weeks later the boy's name, Ulysses, was drawn from ballots placed in a hat. Wanting to honor his father-in-law, Jesse declared the boy to be Hiram Ulysses, though he would always refer to him as Ulysses.

In 1823, the family moved to the village of Georgetown, Ohio , where five more siblings were born: Simpson, Clara, Orvil, Jennie, and Mary. At the age of five, young Grant began his formal education, starting at a subscription school and later was enrolled in two private schools. In the winter of 1836–1837, Grant was a student at Maysville Seminary , and in the autumn of 1838 he attended John Rankin 's academy. In his youth, Grant developed an unusual ability to ride, work with, and control horses. Expressing a strong dislike for the tannery, Grant's father instead put this ability to use giving Ulysses work driving wagon loads of supplies and transporting people. Unlike his siblings, Grant was not forced to attend church by his Methodist parents. For the rest of his life, he prayed privately and never officially joined any denomination. To others, including late in life, his own son, Grant appeared to be an agnostic . He inherited some of Hannah's Methodist
piety and quiet nature while adopting his father's Whig political inclinations.


Second lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
in full dress uniform in 1843


Grant's father wrote to Congressman Thomas L. Hamer requesting that he nominate Ulysses to the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York
West Point, New York
. When a spot opened in March 1839, Hamer nominated the 16-year-old Grant. He mistakenly wrote down "Ulysses S. Grant", which became his adopted name. Initially reluctant because of concerns about his academic ability, Grant entered the academy on July 1, 1839, as a cadet and trained there for four years. On Sundays, cadets were required to march to and attend services at the academy's church, a requirement that Grant disliked. His nickname became "Sam" among army colleagues since the initials "U.S." also stood for " Uncle Sam ".

As he later recalled it, "a military life had no charms for me". Grant developed a reputation as an expert horseman and set an equestrian high-jump record that stood for almost 25 years. Seeking relief from military routine, he also studied under Romantic artist Robert Walter Weir
Robert Walter Weir
and produced nine surviving artworks. Within a year Grant reexamined his desire to leave the academy and later wrote, "on the whole I like this place very much". Quiet by nature, Grant established a few intimate friends among fellow cadets, including Frederick Tracy Dent , James Longstreet
James Longstreet
. He was inspired both by the Commandant, Captain Charles F. Smith , and by General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
, who visited the academy to review the cadets. Grant later wrote of the military life, "there is much to dislike, but more to like".

Grant graduated on July 1, 1843, ranked 21st in a class of 39, and was promoted to the rank brevet second lieutenant . Glad to leave the academy, he planned to resign his commission after his four-year term of duty. Despite his excellent horsemanship, he was not assigned to the cavalry (assignments were determined by class rank, not aptitude), but to the 4th Infantry Regiment . He served as regimental quartermaster , managing supplies and equipment.

Grant's first assignment took him to the Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri . Commanded by Colonel Stephen W. Kearny , the barracks was the nation's largest military base in the west. Grant was happy with his new commander, but looked forward to the end of his military service and a possible teaching career. He spent some of his time in Missouri visiting Dent's family and became engaged to Dent's sister, Julia , in 1844. Four years later on August 22, 1848, they were married at Julia's home in St. Louis
St. Louis
. Grant's abolitionist father Jesse, who disapproved of the Dents owning slaves, refused to attend their wedding, which took place without either of Grant's parents. Longstreet, a cousin to Julia, was among the groomsmen. At the end of the month, Julia was nevertheless warmly received by Grant's family in Bethel, Ohio . They had four children: Frederick , Ulysses Jr. ("Buck"), Ellen ("Nellie"), and Jesse . After the wedding, Grant obtained a two-month extension to his leave and returned to St. Louis
St. Louis
when he decided, with a wife to support, that he would remain in the army.


Main articles: Mexican–American War and Mexican Cession

After rising tensions with Mexico following the United States' annexation of Texas , war broke out in 1846. During the conflict, Grant distinguished himself as a daring and competent soldier. Before the war then President John Tyler
John Tyler
had ordered Grant's unit to Louisiana as part of the Army of Observation under Major General Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
. In September 1846 President James K. Polk , unable to provoke Mexico into war at Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
, ordered Taylor to march 150 miles south to the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
, a role of which Grant did not approve. Marching south to Fort Texas , to prevent a Mexican siege, Grant experienced combat for the first time on May 8, 1846, at the Battle of Palo Alto . Monterrey street fighting, 1846

While serving as regimental quartermaster, Grant yearned for a combat role; when finally allowed, he led a cavalry charge at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma , demonstrating his equestrian ability at Monterrey by carrying a dispatch through sniper-lined streets while hanging off the side of his horse, keeping the animal between him and the enemy. Before leaving the city he stopped at a house occupied by badly wounded Americans and gave them his assurance that he would send for help. Polk, wary of Taylor's growing popularity, divided his forces, sending some troops (including Grant's unit) to form a new army under Major General Winfield Scott
Winfield Scott
. Traveling by sea, Scott's army landed at Veracruz
and advanced toward Mexico City
Mexico City
. The army met the Mexican forces at the battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec outside Mexico City. For his bravery at Molino del Rey, Grant was brevetted first lieutenant. At San Cosmé, men under Grant's direction dragged a disassembled howitzer into a church steeple, reassembled it, and bombarded nearby Mexican troops. His bravery and initiative earned him his second brevet promotion to captain. On September 14, 1847, Scott's army marched into the city, and the Mexicans ceded the vast territory, including California
, to the U.S. on February 2, 1848.

During this war, Grant studied the tactics and strategies of Scott and others, later writing in his memoirs that this is how he learned about military leadership. In retrospect he identified his leadership style with Taylor's However, also wrote that the Mexican War was wrong and the territorial gains were designed to expand slavery, stating, "I was bitterly opposed to the measure...and to this day, regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation." He opined that the Civil War was punishment on the nation for its aggression in Mexico. During the war, Grant discovered his "moral courage" and began to consider a career in the army.


Grant believed Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
Indians were harmless. Chinook Indian Plankhouse 1850s.

Grant's first post-war assignments took him and Julia to Detroit
and then to Sackets Harbor, New York . In 1852, Grant was ordered to the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
, traveling the New York-Panama oceanic route . Julia, who was eight months pregnant with Ulysses Jr., did not accompany him. In Panama, an outbreak of cholera among his fellow travelers caused 150 fatalities; Grant arranged makeshift transportation and hospital facilities to care for the sick. In August, Grant arrived in San Francisco, and his next assignment sent him north to Vancouver Barracks in the Oregon Territory (subsequently Washington Territory in March 1853). To supplement a military salary which was inadequate to support his family, Grant tried and failed at several business ventures, confirming Jesse Grant's belief that his son had no head for business. Grant assured Julia in a letter that local Native Americans were harmless, while he developed an empathy for the plight of Indians from the "unjust treatment" by white men.

Promoted to captain on August 5, 1853, Grant was assigned to command Company F, 4th Infantry , at the newly constructed Fort Humboldt in California. He arrived at the fort on January 5, 1854, and reported to its commander Lieutenant Colonel Robert C. Buchanan
Robert C. Buchanan
. Grant was bored and depressed about being separated from his wife Julia, and he began to drink. An officer who roomed with Grant said he "fell too much under the influence of liquor to properly perform his duties. For this offense Colonel Buchanan demanded he should resign." Historian Jean Edward Smith says, "The story rings true." Buchanan gave him the choice to resign or face a court-martial. Grant resigned, effective July 31, 1854, without explanation. Buchanan endorsed Grant's letter of resignation but did not submit any report that verified the incident. Grant was neither arrested nor faced court martial, while the War Department stated, "Nothing stands against his good name." Grant said years later, "the vice of intemperance (drunkenness) had not a little to do with my decision to resign." With no means of support, Grant returned to St. Louis
St. Louis
and reunited with his family, uncertain about his future.


"Hardscrabble", the farm home Grant built in Missouri for his family

At age 32, with no civilian vocation, Grant struggled through seven financially lean years. His father offered him a place in the Galena, Illinois , branch of the family's leather business on condition that Julia and the children stay with her parents in Missouri or with the Grants in Kentucky. Ulysses and Julia opposed another separation and declined the offer. In 1855, Grant farmed on his brother-in-law's property near St. Louis, using slaves owned by Julia's father. The farm was not successful and to earn money he sold firewood on St. Louis street corners. Earning only $50 a month, wearing his faded blue army jacket, an unkempt Grant desperately looked for work. The next year, the Grants moved to land on Julia's father's farm, and built a home Grant called "Hardscrabble ". Julia disliked the rustic house, which she described as an "unattractive cabin". The Panic of 1857 devastated farmers, including Grant, who reaching a low ebb financially, pawned his gold watch to pay for Christmas. In 1858, Grant moved his family to Julia's father's 850-acre White Haven estate, a plantation that relied on slave labor. To make up losses on his farming, Grant rented out Hardscrabble. That fall, after a bout of malaria , Grant retired from farming.

The same year, Grant acquired a slave, a thirty-five-year-old man named William Jones, left behind by his father-in-law. In March 1859, Grant freed William, worth about $1,500, instead of selling him at a time when he desperately needed money. Grant moved to St. Louis, taking on a partnership with Julia's cousin Harry Boggs working in real estate business as a bill collector, again without success. In April 1860, Grant and his family left Missouri and moved north to the prosperous Galena area, having accepted a $600 a year position in his father's tannery business, run by his younger brothers Simpson and Orvil. Jesse's business produced and sold harnesses, saddles, and other leather goods. In a few months, Ulysses paid off the debts he acquired in Missouri. That winter, Grant traveled to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, to purchase and handle hides. Ulysses and family attended the local Methodist
church and he soon established himself as a reputable citizen of Galena.

In the 1856 election, Grant cast his first presidential vote for Democrat James Buchanan
James Buchanan
, later saying he was really voting against Republican John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
over concern that his anti-slavery position would lead to southern secession and war. Many considered Grant to be allied politically to his father-in-law, Frederick Dent, a prominent Missouri Democrat . Although Grant was not an abolitionist , neither was he considered a "slavery man", and could not bring himself to force slaves to do work. In 1859, Grant's suspected Democratic leanings cost him an appointment to become county engineer. By the 1860 election, Grant was openly Democratic, favoring Democrat Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
over Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
, and Lincoln over the Southern Democrat, John C. Breckinridge . Lacking the residency requirements in Illinois at the time, he could not vote. After Lincoln was elected, Southern states seceded from the Union forming a Confederacy , seizing federal forts and institutions.


Main article: Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
and the American Civil War
American Civil War
Brig. Gen. Grant in 1861


On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War
American Civil War
began as Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
. Grant wrote to his father in a letter of April 21 that "we have a government and laws and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots ..." Two days after the attack, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers and a mass meeting was held in Galena to assess the crisis and encourage recruitment. Before the attack, Grant had not reacted strongly to Southern secession. The news came as a shock in Galena, and Grant shared his neighbors' concern about the war. The captain of the local militia nominated Grant, the only man in town with professional military training, to lead the recruitment effort. A speech by his father's attorney, John Aaron Rawlins
John Aaron Rawlins
, stirred Grant's patriotism. Rawlins later became Grant's aide-de-camp and close friend during the war. Grant recalled with satisfaction that after that first recruitment meeting in Galena, "I never went into our leather store again."

Grant quickly raised and recruited a company of volunteers, and was given the captaincy, accompanying them to Springfield . He perceived that the war would be fought mostly by volunteers, not career soldiers. Governor Richard Yates offered Grant a militia commission to recruit and train volunteer units, which he accepted, but he still wanted a field command. He made several efforts through his professional contacts. Major General George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
refused to see him, remembering the day in Oregon in 1853 when he saw Grant on a drunken spree. With the aid of his advocate, Illinois congressman Elihu B. Washburne , Grant was promoted to Colonel on June 14 and charged with disciplining the unruly 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment . Transferred to northern Missouri, Grant was promoted to Brigadier General, backdated to May 17, 1861.

Control of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
was the key to victory in the Western theater. Believing Grant was a general of "dogged persistence" and "iron will", Major General John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
assigned Grant, over generals John Pope and Benjamin Prentiss , command of troops near the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
at Cairo, Illinois
Cairo, Illinois
at the end of August. Frémont dismissed rumors of Grant's drunkenness years earlier in the regular army, saying there was something about Grant's manner "that was sufficient to counteract the influence of what they said." Cairo was a bustling Union military and naval base that was to be used to launch a joint campaign down the Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers. After the Confederates moved into western Kentucky, with designs on Southern Illinois, Grant, under Frémont's authority, advanced on Paducah , Kentucky
, taking it without a fight, and setting up a military supply station. Having understood the importance to Lincoln in keeping Kentucky
in the Union, Grant assured its citizens, "I have come among you not as your enemy, but as your friend". On November 1, Frémont ordered Grant to "make demonstrations " against the Confederates on both sides of the Mississippi, but prohibited him from attacking the enemy.


Main articles: Battle of Belmont , Battle of Fort Henry
Battle of Fort Henry
, and Battle of Fort Donelson Battle of Fort Donelson
Battle of Fort Donelson
Map showing Fort Donelson and surrounding area during capture

On November 1, 1861, Frémont ordered Grant to embark south with his troops from Cairo to attack Confederate soldiers encamped in Belmont , Missouri. Grant, along with Brigadier General John A. McClernand , landed 2,500 men at Hunter's Point, two miles north of the Confederate outside Belmont. They took the camp, but the reinforced Confederates under Brigadier Generals Frank Cheatham and Gideon J. Pillow forced a chaotic Union retreat. At first Grant had wanted to destroy Confederate strongholds at both Belmont, Missouri and Columbus, Kentucky
, but Frémont had not given Grant enough troops to do the job. All Grant's men could do was disrupt the Confederates and fight their way back to their Union boats and escape back to Cairo under Confederate fire from the heavily fortified Confederate stronghold at Columbus, Kentucky
. A tactical defeat, the battle gave Grant's volunteers confidence and experience.

Confederate forces still at Columbus blocked the Union army's access to the lower Mississippi. Grant, and General James B. McPherson , came up with a plan to bypass Columbus and with a force of 25,000 troops, move against Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and then ten miles east to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River , with the aid of gunboats, opening both rivers and allowing the Union access further south. Grant presented his plan to Henry Halleck , his new commander under the newly created Department of Missouri . Halleck was considering the same strategy, but rebuffed Grant, believing he needed twice the number of troops. However, after Halleck telegraphed and consulted McClellan about the plan, he finally agreed on condition that the attack be conducted in close cooperation with navy Flag Officer , Andrew H. Foote . After Foote's gunboats had silenced most of the guns at the fort, Grant's troops moved in and easily captured Fort Henry on February 6, 1862.

Grant then ordered an immediate assault on nearby Fort Donelson , under the command of John B. Floyd , which dominated the Cumberland River . Unlike Fort Henry, Grant was now going up against a force equal to his. Unaware of garrison strength, Grant's forces approached the scene, over confident and jubilant from their easy victory at Fort Henry. Grant, McClernand and Smith positioned their divisions around the fort. The next day McClernand and Smith launched probing attacks on what they figured were weak spots in the Confederate line, only to retreat with heavy loses. On February 14, Foote's gunboats arrived and began bombarding the fort, only to be repulsed by the heavy guns at the fort. Foote himself was wounded. Thus far it was a victory for the Confederates, but soon Union reinforcements arrived, giving Grant a total force of over 40,000 men. When Foote regained control of the river, Grant resumed his attack, but a standoff remained. That evening Confederate commander Floyd called a council of war, unsure of his next action. Grant received a dispatch from Foote, requesting that they meet. Grant mounted a horse and rode seven miles over freezing roads and trenches, reaching Smith's division, instructing him to prepare for the next assault, and rode on and met up with McClernand and Wallace. After exchanging reports he met up with Foote. After they conferred, Foote resumed his bombardment, which signaled the other generals to resume the attack. After a day of battle, Floyd submitted to Grant's demand for "unconditional and immediate surrender", and struck his flag. Grant telegraphed Halleck, informing him that Fort Donelson had fallen.

Grant had won the first major victory for the Union, capturing Floyd's entire rebel army of more than 12,000. Halleck was nevertheless angry that Grant had acted without his authorization and complained to McClellan, accusing Grant of "neglect and inefficiency". On March 3, Halleck sent a telegram to Washington complaining that he had no communication with Grant for a week. Three days later, Halleck followed up with a postscript claiming "word has just reached me that...Grant has resumed his bad habits (of drinking)". Lincoln, regardless, promoted Grant to major general of volunteers while the Northern press treated Grant as a hero. Playing off his initials, they took to calling him "Unconditional Surrender Grant".


BATTLE OF SHILOH Thulstrup 1888 BATTLE OF SHILOH Map Further information: Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Shiloh

As the great numbers of troops from the North and South gathered, it was widely assumed in the North that this would be the battle to end the war. Grant, reinstated by Halleck, left Fort Henry and traveled by boat up the Tennessee River to rejoin his army with orders to advance with the Army of the Tennessee into Tennessee. Upon Grant's arrival, Brigadier General William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
assured him that his green troops were ready for an attack. Grant agreed and that evening wired Halleck with their assessment. Encamped on the western bank at Pittsburg Landing
Pittsburg Landing
, Grant's army now numbered about 45,000 troops. Halleck, however, had also given Grant orders not to attack until Major General Don Carlos Buell arrived with his division of 25,000 troops. In the meantime Grant began to make preparations for an attack on the Confederate army of roughly equal strength at Corinth, Mississippi . However, instead of preparing defensive fortifications facing Corinth between the Tennessee River and Owl Creek, and clearing fields of fire, they spent most of their time drilling the largely inexperienced troops while Sherman several times dismissed reports of nearby Confederates.

Grant's troops were taken by surprise when the Confederates, led by Generals Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard , struck first "like an Alpine avalanche" on the morning of April 6, 1862, attacking five divisions of Grant's army and forcing a confused retreat toward the Tennessee River. At day's end, the Confederates captured one Union division, but Grant's army was able to hold the Landing. , while the Confederates halted due to exhaustion and lack of reinforcements. Grant, bolstered by 18,000 fresh troops from the divisions of Major Generals Buell and Lew Wallace
Lew Wallace
, counterattacked at dawn the next day. Grant regained the field, forcing the rebels to retreat back to Corinth.

Briefly hailed a hero for routing the Confederates, Grant was soon deeply mired in controversy in Shiloh's aftermath. The Midwest and Northern press castigated Grant for shockingly high casualties, the panicked retreat of Union soldiers, and accused Grant of drunkenness during the battle. Shiloh was the costliest battle in American history to that point and the staggering 23,746 total casualties stunned the nation. Halleck arrived from St. Louis
St. Louis
at Pittsburg Landing on April 11, took command, and assembled a combined army of about 120,000 men. On April 29, Halleck relieved Grant of field command of the Army of the Tennessee, and replaced him by Major General George Thomas . Halleck cautiously and ploddingly marched his army to take Corinth, making his troops entrench 4 hours each night. Halleck finally captured Corinth on May 30, but the Confederate army was allowed to escape. Discouraged, Grant considered resigning but Sherman convinced him to stay. At the White House, Lincoln dismissed Grant's critics, saying "I can't spare this man; he fights." Halleck disbanded his combined army and reinstated Grant as field commander of the Army of the Tennessee on July 11.

On September 19, Grant's army defeated Confederates at the Battle of Iuka , then successfully defended Corinth , inflicting heavy casualties. On October 25, Grant assumed command of the District of the Tennessee. In November, after Lincoln's preliminary Emancipation Proclamation , Grant ordered units under his command to incorporate contraband slaves into the Union war effort, giving them clothes, shelter and wages for their services.


Further information: Vicksburg Campaign and General Order No. 11 (1862) Grant's gamble: Porter's gunboats running the Confederate gauntlet at Vicksburg

The Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi
, blocked the way for complete Union control of the Mississippi River, making its capture vital for the Union War effort. Grant's Army held western Tennessee with almost 40,000 troops available to fight. Grant was aggravated to learn that Lincoln authorized McClernand to raise a separate army for the purpose. Halleck ordered McClernand to Memphis , and placed him and his troops under Grant's authority. After Grant's army captured Holly Springs , Grant planned to attack Vicksburg's front overland while Sherman would attack the fortress from the rear on the Mississippi River. However, Confederate cavalry raids on December 11 and 20 broke Union communications and recaptured Holly Springs, preventing Grant's and Sherman's armies from connecting. On December 29, a Confederate army led by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton
John C. Pemberton
repulsed Sherman's direct approach ascending the bluffs to Vicksburg at Chickasaw Bayou . McClernand reached Sherman's army, assumed command, and independently of Grant led a campaign that captured Confederate Fort Hindman . During this time period Grant incorporated fleeing African American
African American
slaves into the Union Army
Union Army
giving them protection and paid employment.

Along with his military responsibilities in the months following Grant's return to command, he was concerned over an expanding illicit cotton trade in his district. He believed the trade undermined the Union war effort, funded the Confederacy, and prolonged the war, while Union soldiers died in the fields. On December 17, he issued General Order No. 11 , expelling "Jews, as a class," from the district, saying that Jewish merchants were violating trade regulations. Writing in 2012, historian Jonathan D. Sarna said Grant "issued the most notorious anti-Jewish official order in American history." Historians' opinions vary on Grant's motives for issuing the order. Jewish leaders complained to Lincoln while the Northern press criticized Grant. Lincoln demanded the order be revoked and Grant rescinded it within three weeks. When interviewed years after the war, in response to accusations of his General Order being anti-Jewish, Grant explained: "During war times these nice distinctions were disregarded, we had no time to handle things with kid gloves." Grant made amends with the Jewish community during his presidency, appointing them to various positions in his administration. The Battle of Jackson , fought on May 14, 1863, was part of the Vicksburg Campaign .

On January 29, 1863, Grant assumed personal overall command and attempted to advance his army through water-logged terrain to bypass Vicksburg's guns; these proved ineffective. In the process, however, Union soldiers gained experience for the lengthy campaign that lay ahead. On April 16, Grant ordered Admiral David Dixon Porter
David Dixon Porter
's gunboats south under fire from the Vicksburg batteries to meet up with his troops who had marched south down the west side of the Mississippi River. Grant ordered diversionary battles, confusing Pemberton and allowing Grant's army to move east across the Mississippi, landing troops at Bruinsburg . Grant's army captured Jackson , the state capital. Advancing his army to Vicksburg, Grant defeated Pemberton's army at the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16, forcing their retreat into Vicksburg. After Grant's men assaulted the entrenchments twice, suffering severe losses, they settled in for a siege lasting seven weeks . During quiet interludes Grant went on several drinking binges. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Grant on July 4, 1863.

Vicksburg's fall gave Union forces control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two. By that time, Grant's political sympathies fully coincided with the Radical Republicans ' aggressive prosecution of the war and emancipation of the slaves. The success at Vicksburg was a morale boost for the Union war effort. The personal rivalry between McClernand and Grant continued after Vicksburg until Grant removed McClernand from command when he contravened Grant by publishing an order without permission. When Secretary of War
Secretary of War
Edwin M. Stanton suggested Grant be brought back east to run the Army of the Potomac , Grant demurred, writing that he knew the geography and resources of the West better and he did not want to upset the chain of command in the East.


Further information: Chattanooga Campaign Union troops swarm Missionary Ridge and defeat Bragg's army.

Lincoln promoted Grant to major general in the regular army and subsequently assigned him command of the newly formed Division of the Mississippi on October 16, 1863, including the Armies of the Ohio , Tennessee, and Cumberland . After the Battle of Chickamauga , the Army of the Cumberland retreated into Chattanooga, where they were trapped. When informed of the situation, Grant put Major General George H. Thomas in charge of the besieged army. Taking command, Grant arrived in Chattanooga by horseback, with plans to resupply the city and break the siege. Lincoln also sent Major General Joseph Hooker and two divisions of the Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
to assist. Union forces captured Brown's Ferry and opened a supply line to Bridgeport. On November 23, Grant organized three armies to attack at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain . Two days later, Hooker's forces took Lookout Mountain. Grant ordered Thomas and the Army of the Cumberland to advance when Sherman's army failed to take Missionary Ridge from the northeast. The Army of the Cumberland, led by Major General Philip Sheridan and Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood , charged uphill and captured the Confederate entrenchments on top of the ridge, forcing the rebels into disorganized retreat. The decisive battle gave the Union control of Tennessee and opened Georgia , the heartland of the Confederacy, to Union invasion.

On March 2, 1864, Lincoln promoted Grant to lieutenant general, giving him command of all Union Armies, answering only to the President. Grant assigned Sherman the Division of the Mississippi and traveled to Washington to meet with Lincoln to devise a strategy of total war against the Confederacy. Grant established his headquarters with General George Meade 's Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
in Culpeper, Virginia. He devised a strategy of coordinated Union offensives, attacking the rebel armies at the same time to keep the Confederates from shifting reinforcements within their interior lines. Sherman was to pursue Joseph E. Johnston 's Army of Tennessee , while Meade would lead the Army of the Potomac, with Grant in camp, to attack Robert E. Lee 's Army of Northern Virginia . Major General Benjamin Butler was to advance towards Richmond from the south, up the James River
James River
. If Lee was forced south as expected, Grant would join forces with Butler's armies and be fed supplies from the James. Major General Franz Sigel was to capture the railroad line at Lynchburg , move east, and attack from the Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains
. Grant knew that Lee had limited manpower and that a war of attrition fought on a battlefield without entrenchments would lead to Lee's defeat.

Grant was now riding a rising tide of popularity, and there was talk that a Union victory early in the year could lead to his candidacy for the presidency. He was aware of the rumors, but had ruled out a political candidacy; the possibility would soon vanish with delays on the battlefield.


Further information: Overland Campaign Commanding General Grant at the Battle of Cold Harbor
Battle of Cold Harbor
in 1864

The Overland Campaign was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864. Sigel's and Butler's efforts sputtered, and Grant was left alone to fight Lee in a series of bloody battles known as the Overland Campaign . Grant crossed the Rapidan River on May 4, attacking Lee in the Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of the Wilderness
, a hard-fought three-day battle with many casualties. Rather than retreat as his predecessors had done, Grant flanked Lee's army to the southeast and attempted to wedge his forces between Lee and Richmond at Spotsylvania Court House . Lee's army got to Spotsylvania first and a costly battle ensued, lasting thirteen days. Grant attempted to break through Lee's defenses, resulting in one of the bloodiest assaults of the Civil War, known as the Battle of the Bloody Angle . Unable to break Lee's lines, Grant again flanked the rebels to the southeast, meeting at North Anna , where a battle lasted three days.

The Confederates had the defensive advantage, and Grant maneuvered his army to Cold Harbor , a vital railroad hub that linked to Richmond, but Lee's men were again able to entrench against the Union assault. During the third day of the thirteen-day battle, Grant led a costly assault on Lee's trenches. As casualty reports became known in the North, heavy criticism fell on Grant, who was castigated as "the Butcher" by the Northern press after taking 52,788 casualties in the thirty days since crossing the Rapidan; Lee's army suffered 32,907 casualties, but he was less able to replace them. The costly Union assault at Cold Harbor was the second of two battles in the war that Grant later said he regretted (the other being his initial assault on the fortifications around Vicksburg). Undetected by Lee, Grant pulled out of Cold Harbor and moved his army south of the James River, freed Butler from the Bermuda Hundred (where the Rebels had surrounded his army), and advanced toward Petersburg, Richmond's central railroad hub.

After crossing the James, the Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
arrived at Petersburg . Beauregard defended the city, and Lee's veteran reinforcements soon arrived, resulting in a nine-month siege, stalling the advance. Northern resentment grew as the war dragged on, but an indirect benefit of the siege was that Lee was forced to defend Richmond, unable to reinforce other confederate forces. Sheridan was assigned command of the Union Army
Union Army
of the Shenandoah and Grant directed him to "follow the enemy to their death". Lee had sent General Jubal Early up the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
to attack Washington and draw troops away from the Union Army, but Sheridan defeated Early, ensuring Washington's safety. Grant then ordered Sheridan's cavalry to destroy vital Confederate supplies in the Shenandoah Valley. When Sheridan reported suffering attacks by irregular Confederate cavalry under John S. Mosby
John S. Mosby
, Grant recommended rounding up their families for imprisonment as hostages at Fort McHenry.

At Petersburg, Grant approved a plan to blow up part of the enemy trenches from an underground tunnel. The explosion created a crater, into which poorly led Union troops poured. Recovering from the surprise, Confederates surrounded the crater and easily picked off Union troops within it. The Union's 3500 casualties outnumbered the Confederates' by three-to-one; although the plan could have been successful if implemented correctly, Grant admitted the tactic had been a "stupendous failure". Rather than fight Lee in a full frontal attack as he had done at Cold Harbor, Grant continued to extend Lee's defenses south and west of Petersburg to capture essential railroad links. Lee's lines became overstretched. After the Federal army rebuilt the City Point Railroad , Grant used mortars to attack Lee's entrenchments. On September 2, Sherman captured Atlanta while Confederate forces retreated, ensuring Lincoln's reelection in November. Sherman convinced Grant and Lincoln to send his army to march on Savannah devastating the Confederate heartland. Grant (center left) next to Lincoln with General Sherman (far left) and Admiral Porter (right) — The Peacemakers
The Peacemakers

In late March 1865, Grant's forces finally took Petersburg, then captured Richmond that April. Grant, Sherman, Porter, and Lincoln held a conference to discuss the surrender of Confederate armies and Reconstruction of the South. Lee's troops began deserting in large numbers; disease and lack of supplies also reduced their numbers. Lee attempted to link up with the remnants of Joseph E. Johnston 's defeated army, but Sheridan's cavalry stopped the two armies from converging, cutting them off from their supply trains. Lee and his army surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Going beyond his military authority, Grant, in effect, gave Lee and his men amnesty; Confederates surrendered their weapons and were allowed to return to their homes, on the condition that they would not take up arms against the United States. On April 26, Johnson's army surrendered to Sherman under the same terms Grant offered to Lee. On May 26, Kirby Smith\'s western army surrendered and the Civil War was over.


Main article: Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

On April 14, five days after Grant's victory at Appomattox, he attended a cabinet meeting in Washington. Lincoln invited him and his wife to Ford\'s Theater , but they declined as they had plans to travel to Philadelphia. In a conspiracy that targeted several government leaders, Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth
at the theater, and died the next morning. Many, including Grant himself, thought that he had been a target in the plot. Stanton notified him of the President's death and summoned him back to Washington. Attending Lincoln's funeral on April 19, Grant stood alone and wept openly; he later said Lincoln was "the greatest man I have ever known." Regarding the new President, Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
, Grant told Julia that he dreaded the change in administrations; he judged Johnson's attitude toward white southerners as one that would "make them unwilling citizens", and initially thought that with President Johnson, "Reconstruction has been set back no telling how far."


Main article: Ulysses S. Grant as commanding general, 1865–1869


Ole Peter Hansen Balling
Ole Peter Hansen Balling
's 1865 portrait of Grant

At the war's end, Grant remained commander of the army, with duties that included enforcement of Reconstruction in the former Confederate states and supervision of Indian wars on the western Plains. Grant secured a house for his family in Georgetown Heights in 1865, but instructed Elihu Washburne that for political purposes his legal residence remained in Galena, Illinois. That same year, Grant spoke at Cooper Union
Cooper Union
in New York, where the New York Times
New York Times
reported that "... the entranced and bewildered multitude trembled with extraordinary delight." Further travels that summer took the Grants to Albany, New York
Albany, New York
, back to Galena, and throughout Illinois and Ohio, with enthusiastic receptions.

In November 1865, Johnson sent Grant on a fact-finding mission to the South. Grant recommended continuation of a reformed Freedmen\'s Bureau , which Johnson opposed, but advised against the use of black troops in garrisons, which he believed encouraged an alternative to farm labor. Grant did not believe the people of the South were ready for self-rule, and that both whites and blacks in the South required protection by the federal government. Concerned four years of war led to a diminished respect for civil authorities, Grant concluded the Army should continue their presence to maintain order. He also warned of threats by disaffected poor people, black and white, and recommended that local decision-making be entrusted only to "thinking men of the South" (i.e., white men of property). In this respect, Grant's opinion on Reconstruction aligned with Johnson's policy of pardoning established southern leaders and restoring them to their positions of power. He joined Johnson in arguing that Congress should allow representatives from the South to take their seats. On July 25, 1866, Congress promoted Grant to the newly created rank of General of the Army of the United States
United States


Johnson favored a lenient approach to Reconstruction, calling for an immediate return of the former Confederate states into the Union without any guarantee of African American
African American
civil rights. The Radical Republican -controlled Congress opposed the idea and refused to admit Congressmen from the former Confederate states. Over Johnson's vetoes, Congress renewed the Freedmen's Bureau
Freedmen's Bureau
and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 . During the congressional election campaign later that year, Johnson took his case to the people in his "Swing Around the Circle " speaking tour. Johnson pressured Grant, by then the most popular man in the country, to go on the tour; Grant, wishing to appear loyal, agreed. Enthusiastic cheering for Grant interrupting Johnson's speeches caused the relationship between Johnson and Grant to cool. Grant believed that Johnson was purposefully agitating conservative opinion to defy Congressional Reconstruction. Finding himself increasingly at odds with Johnson, Grant believed Johnson's speeches were a "national disgrace". Publicly, Grant attempted to appear loyal to the President while not alienating Republican legislators essential to his future political career. Concerned that Johnson's differences with Congress would cause renewed insurrection, he ordered Southern arsenals to ship arms north to prevent their capture by Southern state governments.

Rejecting Johnson's vision for quick reconciliation with former Confederates, Congress passed three Reconstruction Acts over Johnson's vetoes, which divided the southern states into five military districts to protect the African Americans elected to political office and freedmen's rights generally. Military governors were to lead transitional state governments in each district. Grant selected the generals and supported the new law. Grant hoped that Reconstruction Acts would help pacify the South. By complying with the Acts and instructing his subordinates to do likewise, Grant further alienated Johnson. When Sheridan removed public officials in Louisiana who impeded Reconstruction, Johnson was displeased and sought Sheridan's removal; Grant recommended a rebuke, but not a dismissal. In 1867, Congress passed the third Reconstruction law, which gave Grant oversight over the enforcement of the Reconstruction Acts. The Army conducted new elections for constitutional conventions in the ex-Confederate states. They registered blacks to vote and in many places prevented from voting white men who had supported the Confederacy, as set out in the disenfranchisement clause of the Fourteenth Amendment .

Republican parties formed—they were coalitions of Freedmen (ex-slaves), "Scalawags" (native white Southerners), and "Carpetbaggers" (recent arrivals from the North). The Republicans won control of the constitutional conventions, wrote new constitutions that guaranteed black political rights, and set the stage for Republican near-sweep of the South in 1868 state and presidential elections.


Johnson wished to replace Secretary of War
Secretary of War
Stanton, a Lincoln appointee who sympathized with Congressional Reconstruction. To keep Grant under control as a potential political rival, Johnson asked him to take the post. Grant recommended against the move, in light of the Tenure of Office Act , which required Senate approval for cabinet removals. Johnson believed the Act did not apply to officers appointed by the previous president and forced the issue by making Grant an interim appointee on August 12, 1867, during a Senate recess. Grant agreed to accept the post temporarily, and Stanton vacated the office until the Senate reconvened.

When the Senate reinstated Stanton, Johnson told Grant to refuse to surrender the office and let the courts resolve the matter. Grant told Johnson in private that violating the Tenure of Office Act was a federal offense, which could result in a fine or imprisonment. Believing he had no other legal alternatives, Grant returned the office to Stanton on January 14, 1868. This incurred Johnson's wrath; at a cabinet meeting immediately afterward, Johnson accused Grant of breaking his promise to remain Secretary of War. Grant disputed that he had ever made such a promise although cabinet members later testified he had done so. Newspapers friendly to Johnson published a series of articles to discredit Grant over returning the War Department to Stanton, stating that Grant had been deceptive in the matter. This public insult infuriated Grant, and he defended himself in an angry letter to Johnson, after which the two men were confirmed foes. When Grant's statement became public, it increased his popularity among Radical Republicans and he emerged from the controversy unscathed. Although Grant favored Johnson's impeachment, he took no active role in the impeachment proceedings , which were fueled in part by Johnson's removal of Stanton. Johnson barely survived, and none of the other Republican leaders directly involved benefited politically in their unsuccessful attempt to remove the president.


First inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant on the steps of the Capitol on March 4, 1869 Main article: United States
United States
presidential election, 1868

Grant was popular among the Radical Republicans following his abandonment of Johnson over the Secretary of War
Secretary of War
dispute. The Republicans chose Grant as their presidential candidate on the first ballot at the 1868 Republican National Convention in Chicago. Grant received all 650 votes from delegates, with no other candidate being nominated, and upon the announcement was welcomed with a "frenzied enthusiasm".

In his letter of acceptance, Grant concluded with "Let us have peace", which became his campaign slogan. For vice president, the delegates nominated House Speaker Schuyler Colfax . Grant's 1862 General Order No. 11 became an issue during the presidential campaign ; he sought to distance himself from the order, saying "I have no prejudice against sect or race, but want each individual to be judged by his own merit." As President, Grant would atone for 1862's expulsion of the Jews. Historian Jonathan Sarna argues that Grant became one of the greatest friends of Jews in American history, meeting with them often and appointing them to high office. He was the first president to condemn atrocities against Jews in Europe, thus putting human rights on the American diplomatic agenda. As was expected at the time, Grant returned to his home state and left the active campaigning to his campaign manager, William E. Chandler , and others. The Republican campaign focused on continuing Reconstruction and restoring the public credit.

The Democrats nominated former New York Governor Horatio Seymour
Horatio Seymour
. Their campaign focused mainly on ending Reconstruction and returning control of the South to the white planter class, which alienated many War Democrats in the North. The Democrats attacked Republicans' support of African American
African American
rights, while deriding Grant, calling him captain of the "Black Marines". Democratic orators over and over proclaimed Grant was a drunkard. Grant himself did not take to the stump, allowing Republican spokesmen to identify him with patriotism and with grief for Lincoln's martyrdom.

Grant won the election by 300,000 votes out of 5,716,082 votes cast, receiving an electoral college landslide, of 214 votes to Seymour's 80. Grant, at the age of 46 became the youngest president on record. His election was a triumph of principles that included sound money, efficient government, and the restoration of Southern reconstructed states. Grant was the first president elected after the nation had outlawed slavery and granted citizenship to former slaves. Implementation of these new rights was slow to come; in the 1868 election, the black vote counted in only 16 of the 37 states, nearly all in the South. Grant lost Louisiana and Georgia primarily due to Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
violence against African American
African American

PRESIDENCY (1869–77)

Main article: Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant President Grant, 1869 The First Family: Ulysses and Julia Grant's family at the "summer capital" in Long Branch, New Jersey
Long Branch, New Jersey
, 1870

On March 4, 1869, Grant was sworn in as the eighteenth President of the United States
United States
by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
. His presidency began with a break from tradition, as Johnson did not attend Grant's inauguration at the Capitol or ride with him as he departed the White House for the last time. Grant assumed the presidency with reluctance. In an 1869 letter to Sherman he wrote:

I have been forced into it in spite of myself. I could not back down without, as it seems to me, leaving the contest for power for the next four years between mere trading politicians, the elevation of whom, no matter which party won, would lose to us, largely, the results of the costly war which we have gone through.

In his inaugural address, Grant urged the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment and said he would approach Reconstruction "calmly, without prejudice, hate or sectional pride." He also recommended the "proper treatment" of Native Americans be studied, advocating their civilization and eventual citizenship.

Grant's unconventional cabinet choices sparked both disappointment and approval. In his effort to create national harmony, he purposely avoided choosing Republican Party leaders, selecting several non-politicians. Grant chose two close friends for important posts: Elihu B. Washburne for Secretary of State and John A. Rawlins as Secretary of War; Washburne was soon appointed minister to France and replaced by conservative New York statesman Hamilton Fish . Rawlins died in office after serving only a few months, replaced by William W. Belknap of Iowa
. For Treasury, Grant appointed wealthy New York merchant Alexander T. Stewart , who was found ineligible and replaced by Representative George S. Boutwell , a Massachusetts
Radical . Grant's appointed Philadelphia businessman Adolph E. Borie Secretary of Navy, but Borie soon resigned, having no interest in the department, and he was replaced by a relative unknown, George M. Robeson of New Jersey. Other cabinet appointments—Jacob D. Cox (Interior), John Creswell (Postmaster General), and Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar (Attorney General)—were well-received and uncontroversial. Grant nominated Sherman his successor as general in chief and ordered Sherman be given control over War bureau chiefs and their departments. When Rawlins took over the War Department, he complained to Grant that Sherman was given too much authority. Grant reluctantly revoked his own order, upsetting Sherman and damaging their wartime friendship.

Grant also appointed four Justices to the Supreme Court : William Strong , Joseph P. Bradley , Ward Hunt
Ward Hunt
and Chief Justice Morrison Waite . Hunt voted to uphold Reconstruction laws while Waite and Bradley did much to undermine them. To rectify his controversial General Order # 11 during the Civil War, Grant appointed Jewish leaders to office, including Simon Wolf recorder of deeds in Washington D.C., Edward S. Salomon Governor of the Washington Territory .


Further information: Reconstruction Era
Reconstruction Era
Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman vigorously prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan.

When Grant's term began, Republicans controlled most Southern states. Professor Richard Scher states, "The Republican governments, the first of which did not appear until 1868, were propped up by the Republican-dominated federal government, northern Republican money, and the presence of an army of occupation." Unlike Johnson, Grant's vision of Reconstruction included federal enforcement of civil rights and spoke out against voter intimidation of Southern blacks. In his message to Congress in 1874, Grant wrote, "Treat the negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain, and soon parties will be divided, not on the color line, but on principle." He lobbied Congress to pass the Fifteenth Amendment, guaranteeing that no state could prevent someone from voting based on race, and believed that its passage would secure freedmen's rights. Grant asked Congress to admit representatives from the remaining unrepresented Southern states in conformity with Congressional Reconstruction; they did so, passing legislation providing that Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas would be represented in Congress after they ratified the Fifteenth Amendment. Grant pressured Congress to draw up legislation that would seat African American
African American
state legislators in Georgia, who had been ousted by white conservatives. Congress responded through legislation; the members were re-seated in the Georgia legislature, and Georgia was required to adopt the Fifteenth Amendment to regain representation in Congress. By July 1870, the remaining states were readmitted.

To bolster the new amendment, Grant relied on the army and signed legislation creating the Justice Department , primarily to enforce federal laws in the South. Where the attorney general had once been only a legal adviser to the president, he now led a cabinet department dedicated to enforcing federal law, including a solicitor general to argue on the government's behalf in court. Under Grant's first attorney general, Ebenezer R. Hoar
Ebenezer R. Hoar
, the administration was not especially aggressive in prosecuting white Southerners who terrorized their black neighbors, but Hoar's successor, Amos T. Akerman , was more zealous.

Congress (with Grant's encouragement) passed a series of laws, called the Enforcement Acts , from 1870 to 1871. The first was "a criminal code upon the subject of elections", which outlawed discrimination by state officials on voters based on race, which made depriving African Americans their civil rights a federal offense. It also authorized the President to appoint supervisors over the election, and bring cases to federal court. But it left private criminal acts to be handled by state authorities. Alarmed by a rise in terror by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups against African Americans, Congress enacted a far more sweeping measure, the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Act of 1871, which for the first time designated certain crimes as punishable under federal law.

In May 1871, Grant ordered federal troops to help marshals in arresting Klansmen. That October, Grant suspended habeas corpus in part of South Carolina and sent federal troops to enforce the law there. After prosecutions by Akerman and his replacement, George Henry Williams , the Klan's power collapsed; by 1872, elections in the South saw African Americans voting in record numbers. That same year, Grant signed the Amnesty Act , which restored political rights to former Confederates. Lacking sufficient funding, the Justice Department stopped prosecutions of the Klan in June 1873; civil rights prosecutions continued throughout Grant's second term but with fewer yearly cases and convictions. Additionally, Grant's Postmaster General John Creswell , using his patronage powers, integrated the postal system and appointed African American
African American
postmasters across the nation. Picture of mobs rioting, wearing uniforms and using weapons on a city street, entitled "The Louisiana Outrage"; White Leaguers attacking the integrated police force and state militia, New Orleans, September 1874

After the Klan's decline, a faction of southern conservatives called " Redeemers " formed armed groups, such as the Red Shirts and the White League who openly used violence and intimidation in an attempt to take control of state governments. The Panic of 1873
Panic of 1873
and the ensuing depression contributed to public fatigue, and the North grew less concerned with Reconstruction. Supreme Court rulings in the Slaughter-House Cases and United States
United States
v. Cruikshank restricted federal enforcement of civil rights. Grant began to limit the use of troops to avoid the impression that he was acting as a military dictator; he was also concerned that increased military pressure in the South might cause conservative whites in the North to bolt the Republican Party. In 1874, Grant ended the Brooks–Baxter War bringing Reconstruction in Arkansas
to a peaceful conclusion; that same year, he sent troops and warships under Major General William H. Emory to New Orleans in the wake of the Colfax Massacre
Colfax Massacre
and disputes over the election of Governor William Pitt Kellogg
William Pitt Kellogg
. Emory restored Kellogg to office and the following year the parties reached a compromise allowing Democrats to retain control of the Louisiana House. Grant recalled Sheridan and most of the federal troops from Louisiana.

By 1875, Redeemer Democrats took control of all but three Southern states. As violence against black Southerners escalated once more, Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont told Governor Adelbert Ames
Adelbert Ames
of Mississippi that the people were "tired of the autumnal outbreaks in the South", and declined to intervene directly, instead, sending an emissary to negotiate a peaceful election. Grant told Congress in January 1875 he could not "see with indifference Union men or Republicans ostracized, persecuted, and murdered." Congress refused to strengthen the laws against violence, but instead passed a sweeping law to guarantee blacks access to public facilities. Grant signed it as the Civil Rights Act of 1875 , but enforcement was weak and the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional in 1883. In October 1876, Grant dispatched troops to South Carolina to aid Republican Governor Daniel Henry Chamberlain . Grant's successor, Hayes, abandoned the remaining three Republican governments in the South that were supported by the army after the Compromise of 1877
Compromise of 1877
, which marked the end of Reconstruction.


Further information: American Indian Wars
American Indian Wars
§ West of the Mississippi (1811–1924) Ely S. Parker , appointed by President Grant

When Grant took office in 1869, the nation's policy towards Indians was in chaos, with more than 250,000 Indians being governed by 370 treaties. Grant's presidency marked a radical reform in Indian policy while he promised in his inaugural address to work toward "the proper treatment of the original occupants of this land—the Indians." He appointed Ely S. Parker , a Seneca Indian, a member of his wartime staff, as Commissioner of Indian Affairs , the first Native American to serve in this position. With his familiarity of Indian life, Parker became the chief architect of Grant's Peace policy. Indian matters were given priority by Congress during Grant's first months in office. In April, Grant signed a law establishing a Board of Indian Commissioners to oversee spending and reduce corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 1871, he signed a bill ending the Indian treaty system; the law now treated individual Native Americans as wards of the federal government, and no longer dealt with the tribes as sovereign entities. Grant believed that Indians, given opportunities for education and work, could serve alongside white men. His Peace Policy aimed to replace entrepreneurs serving as Indian agents with missionaries and aimed to protect Indians on reservations and educate them in farming. "My efforts in the future will be directed," Grant said in his second inaugural address, "by a humane course, to bring the aborigines of the country under the benign influences of education and civilization ... Wars of extermination ... are demoralizing and wicked." Although, as biographer Jean Edward Smith wrote, Grant's Peace Policy was "remarkably progressive and humanitarian" for its time, it ultimately disregarded native cultures, something modern Americans see "as a grave error."

The slaughter of millions the buffalo led to conflict with the Plains Indians , who needed the buffalo for food and their tribal religion. In 1874, Grant pocket-vetoed a bill to protect the bison, supporting Interior Secretary Columbus Delano
Columbus Delano
, who believed the slaughter of bison would force Plains Indians to abandon their nomadic lifestyle. The Plains tribes accepted the reservation system, but encounters with whites in search of gold in the Black Hills led to renewed war by the end of Grant's second term, ending the understanding that had developed between Grant and Sioux Chief Red Cloud
Red Cloud
. Under Major Generals Oliver Otis Howard
Oliver Otis Howard
and George Crook
George Crook
, Grant's policy had greater success in the Southwest. Howard negotiated peace with the Apache
in 1872, convincing their leader, Cochise , to move the tribe to a new reservation, and ending a war started the year before. In Oregon, relations were less peaceful, as war with the Modocs erupted in April 1873. The Modocs refused to move to a reservation and killed the local army commander, Major General Edward Canby
Edward Canby
. Grant ordered restraint after Canby's death, disregarding Sherman's advice to seek revenge or exterminate the tribe. The army captured, tried, and executed the four Modoc warriors responsible for Canby's murder, and Grant ordered the rest of the Modoc tribe relocated to the Indian Territory . In 1874, the army defeated the Comanche Indians at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon . Their villages were burned and horses slaughtered, eventually forcing them to finally settle at the Fort Sill reservation in 1875.

During the Great Sioux War , Grant came into conflict with Colonel George Armstrong Custer after Custer testified in 1876 about corruption in the War Department. Grant ordered Custer arrested for breach of military protocol and barred him from leading an upcoming campaign against the Sioux. Grant later relented and let Custer fight under Brigadier General Alfred Terry . Sioux warriors led by Crazy Horse killed Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn
Battle of the Little Big Horn
, the army's most famous defeat in the Indian wars. Two months later, Grant castigated Custer in the press, saying "I regard Custer's massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary – wholly unnecessary." Custer's death shocked the nation, leading Congress to appropriate funds for more troops, two more Western forts and barred Indians from purchasing weapons. In spite of Grant's efforts, over 200 battles were fought with the Indians during his presidency.


Further information: Annexation of Santo Domingo , Treaty of Washington (1871) , and Virginius Affair Hamilton Fish Secretary of State, 1869–1877

The most pressing foreign policy concerns when Grant took office were resolving the Alabama claims against Great Britain and whether to recognize Cuban belligerency . The dispute with the United Kingdom stemmed from a complex of grievances centering on attacks on American shipping during the Civil War by the CSS Alabama , a Confederate warship constructed in England. Senator Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, believed the British had violated American neutrality and demanded reparations. Sumner convinced his fellow Senators to reject the Johnson administration's proposed settlement, believing that Britain should directly pay $2 billion in gold or, alternatively, cede Canada to the United States. Fish and Boutwell convinced Grant that peaceful relations with Britain were more important than acquisition of territory, and the two nations agreed to negotiate along those lines. To avoid jeopardizing negotiations, Grant refrained from recognizing Cuban rebels who were fighting for independence from Spain, which would have been inconsistent with American objections to the British granting belligerent status to Confederates. A commission in Washington produced a treaty whereby an international tribunal would settle the damage amounts; the British admitted regret, but not fault. The Senate approved the Treaty of Washington , which also settled disputes over fishing rights and maritime boundaries, by a 50–12 vote in 1871.

Grant's success with Britain was undermined by his attempt to annex the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
, an independent nation unable to pay its debt. Many Americans believed a Caribbean naval base would establish naval dominance and be useful in protecting shipping from piracy in a potential isthmian canal. Anti-imperialist Republicans had previously rejected a Johnson administration treaty to establish a Samaná Bay naval base. Grant took interest in Dominican annexation and sent his secretary, Orville E. Babcock , there to consult with Buenaventura Báez , the pro-annexation Dominican president. Babcock returned in September 1869 with a draft treaty of annexation, although Fish had not given him any diplomatic authority. Given such authority by Fish, Babcock visited the island nation a second time making a treaty for Dominican annexation and the lease of Samaná Bay. The cabinet discussed the treaties at a meeting on December 21. Fish dismissed annexation, seeing the island as politically unstable. Grant supported annexation believing acquisition of the majority-black nation would increase U.S. commerce, create a refuge for African Americans, and help to exploit the island's natural resources. He lobbied Sumner in hopes of influencing him to help with passage of the treaties. Fish added to the effort out of loyalty to Grant, but to no avail; Sumner was set against annexation and on June 30, 1870, the Senate rejected the treaties. A congressional investigation headed by Senator Carl Schurz revealed speculators had promoted the treaties' passage. Unwilling to admit defeat, Grant convinced Congress to send a commission (including Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
) to investigate. Although the commission approved Grant's call for annexation in its findings, the Senate remained opposed and Grant was forced to abandon further efforts. Grant retaliated by firing Sumner's friend and Minister to Great Britain, John Lothrop Motley , while he pressured the Senate to depose Sumner of his chairmanship. King Kalākaua
of Hawaii meets President Grant at the White House in 1874

In October 1873, Grant's neutrality policy was shaken, when a Spanish cruiser captured a merchant ship, Virginius , flying the U.S. flag, carrying war materials and men to aid the Cuban insurrection . Spanish authorities executed the prisoners, including eight American citizens, and many Americans called for war with Spain. Grant ordered the Navy to increase its presence in the Caribbean. Fish, with Grant's support, worked to reach a peaceful resolution. Spain's president, Emilio Castelar y Ripoll , expressed regret for the tragedy, surrendered the Virginius and paid a cash indemnity of $80,000 to the families of the executed Americans. Realizing the Navy was susceptible to European naval powers, in June 1874, Secretary Robeson commissioned the reconstruction of five redesigned double-turreted monitor warships.

The administration's diplomacy was also at work in the Pacific. In December 1874, Grant held a state dinner at the White House for the King of Hawaii, David Kalakaua , who was seeking duty-free sugar importation to the US. Grant and Fish secured a free trade treaty in 1875 with the Kingdom of Hawaii , incorporating the Pacific islands' sugar industry into the United States' economic sphere.


Further information: Black Friday (1869)

Soon after taking office, Grant took steps to return the nation's currency to a more secure footing. During the Civil War, Congress had authorized the Treasury to issue banknotes that, unlike the rest of the currency, were not backed by gold or silver. The "greenback " notes, as they were known, were necessary to pay the unprecedented war debts, but they also caused inflation and forced gold-backed money out of circulation; Grant determined to return the national economy to pre-war monetary standards. On March 18, Grant signed into law the Public Credit Act of 1869 that guaranteed bondholders would be repaid in "coin or its equivalent"; while greenbacks would gradually be redeemed by the Treasury and replaced by notes backed by specie, the act committed the government to full return of the gold standard within ten years. To strengthen the dollar, Treasury Secretary George S. Boutwell , backed by Grant, sold gold from the Treasury bi-weekly and bought back high-interest Treasury bonds issued during the war; this had the effect of reducing the deficit, but deflating the currency. By September 1, Boutwell had reduced the national debt by $50 million.

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