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Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885)

Ulysses S. Grant was a famous Union
Union is the term used to identify the United States and its government during the Civil War.
general in the American Civil War and served two terms as president of the United States. He was born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, to Jesse and Hannah Simpson Grant. He was always called Ulysses, however, and while at West Point, he was accidentally enrolled as Ulysses Simpson Grant. He was not bothered by the name change and was known as Ulysses S. Grant for the rest of his life.

Grant’s father was a tanner and a businessman. In 1823 the Grants moved to Georgetown, Ohio, and Ulysses obtained his education at private schools. Realizing his son did not want to go into the family business, Grant’s father sent his son to West Point in 1839 at the age of 17.

Grant graduated in 1843 and was assigned to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, with his roommate Frederick Dent. The Dent family lived outside of St. Louis on a farm called White Haven. It was here that Ulysses met Julia Dent, Frederick’s sister. Grant entered the Mexican War
The Mexican War lasted from 1846 to 1848 and was fought by the United States and Mexico. When the United States annexed Texas, which had been a part of Mexico but had won its independence, in 1846, Mexico felt its territory had been invaded and declared war against the United States. U.S. President James K. Polk, who had wanted to buy large amounts of land from Mexico but was refused, also called for war. The United States then proceeded to take all of the land that Mexico did not want to sell, making the boundary between the two countries the Rio Grande River. The land taken included what is today California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war and the United States paid Mexico $15 million for the land.
(1846-1848) and, when he returned, he and Julia were married. They had four children together. Tired of military life and being away from his family, Grant resigned from the Army on April 11, 1854.
Julia Dent Grant Julia Dent Grant Julia Dent Grant (1826 – 1902)

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Grant tried to make a life for himself in St. Louis on a small farm given to him by Julia’s father. He built a cabin for his family that they called “Hardscrabble.” The cabin still exists today. He farmed and worked other odd jobs, but could not make a good living. In 1860 the family moved to Galena, Illinois, so that Grant could work in his father’s leather goods store.

When the Civil War
The Civil War was a military conflict that began on April 12, 1861, when Southern forces fired on Fort Sumter outside of Charleston, South Carolina. Several Southern states had seceded from the United States (also known as the Union) and formed the Confederate States of America (also referred to as the Confederacy) out of fear that the United States' newly elected president, Abraham Lincoln, would not allow the expansion of slavery into new western states. Battles and skirmishes were fought throughout the country by Union and Confederate forces. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. As other Confederate forces heard the news of Lee's surrender, they surrendered as well and the war was soon over. Over half a million men were killed or wounded in the war. Thousands of former slaves gained their freedom. After the war, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution were passed prohibiting slavery, providing equal protection for all citizens, and barring federal and state governments from denying citizens the right to vote due to their race, color, or status as a former slave.
broke out in 1861, Grant was appointed colonel over the 21st Illinois Volunteers and was sent to Missouri. Grant made a name for himself as a military leader and moved quickly up the ranks. He captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee and beat the Confederate
Confederacy is a term used to identify the states that seceded from the United States and formed their own separate government during the Civil War. "Confederacy" is also used interchangeably with the terms "the South" and "the Confederate States of America."

Confederate is the term used to identify an individual who was loyal to the Confederacy.
s at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Grant won at the Battle of Vicksburg in 1863 which gave control of the Mississippi River
The Mississippi River runs south from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico and is considered the chief river in North America's largest drainage system. Bordering Missouri on the east, the river flows for 2,530 miles. Along with the Missouri River and several other tributaries such as the Ohio River, the Mississippi became part of the nation's first major transportation system in the early 1800s after the invention of the steamboat. Missouri has historically engaged in international trade by shipping and receiving goods along the Mississippi through the port of New Orleans, which lies at the river's mouth.
to the Union, and weakened the Confederacy by effectively splitting it in half.

President Abraham Lincoln needed a strong leader to be in charge of all the Union Armies and in March of 1864 he asked Grant to take command as General in chief.

Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Virginia, forcing Lee to surrender at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, thereby ending the Civil War. Grant was made a four-star general in 1866 for his courage and ability to lead the Union to victory.

Hardscrabble “Hardscrabble” Grant built “Hardscrabble” near St. Louis.

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Grant became a national hero for his Civil War service and was elected to the presidency in 1868 and 1872. He did not run his administration as effectively as he ran the army, however, and suffered numerous financial scandals while in office, the most famous being the Whiskey Ring
The Whiskey Ring was formed when a group of whiskey distillers, located mostly in the midwestern cities of St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee, made a secret deal with officials of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to avoid paying federal taxes on the production of their product. The distillers paid bribes to IRS officials and cooperating political figures associated with the Republican Party and the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant. The ring was broken up in 1875 after an investigation by the U.S. secretary of the Treasury, Benjamin Bristow. Overall, 238 people, including Grant's personal secretary, Orville E. Babcock, were charged with crimes associated with their supposed involvement in the ring. Although Babcock and several others were acquitted, 110 people, including William McKee, owner of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat newspaper, were convicted and sentenced to jail time.
scandal in 1875. Grant was never formally charged with wrongdoing in these controversies.

Upon retiring from office, Grant and his wife traveled through Europe for two years and then he went into business with one of their sons in New York City. Sadly, this business venture ended in bankruptcy. Shortly thereafter, Grant learned that he had throat cancer. In an attempt to provide financially for his family, he sat down to write his memoirs, which he completed one week prior to his death on July 23, 1885, in Mount McGregor, New York.

Grant’s tomb, overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan, was built in 1897 to honor this great military hero.

Text by Laura R. Jolley with research assistance by Garrett Walker


References and Resources

For more information about Ulysses S. Grant's life and career, see the following resources:

Society Resources

The following is a selected list of books, articles, and manuscripts about Ulysses S. Grant in the research centers of The State Historical Society of Missouri. The Society’s call numbers follow the citations in brackets. All links will open in a new tab.

  • Article in the Missouri Historical Review
  • Articles from the Newspaper Collection
    • “In Honor of Grant: Appropriate Memorial Services at the Capitol Grounds Saturday.” Jefferson City Daily Tribune. August 11, 1885. p. 4.
  • Books & Articles
    • Christensen, Lawrence O., William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, and Kenneth H. Winn, eds. Dictionary of Missouri Biography. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999. pp. 345-347. [REF F508 D561]
    • Garland, Hamlin. “Grant’s Life in Missouri.” McClure’s Magazine. v. 8, no. 6. (April 1897), pp. 514-520. [REF F508.1 G767ga]
    • Garraty, John A., and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography, Vol. 9. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. pp. 415-21. [REF 920 AM37 v. 9]
    • Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. New York: Charles L. Webster & Company, 1885. [REF F508.1 G767g v.1]
    • Muench, James F. Five Stars: Missouri’s Most Famous Generals. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006. [REF F508 M888]

Outside Resources

These links, which open in another window, will take you outside the Society's website. The Society is not responsible for the content of the following websites:

Historic Missourians: Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. GrantUlysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885).

[SHS Personnel History of U.S. Grant (1868), Ref68-1]

Ulysses Simpson Grant

Born: April 27, 1822
Died: July 23, 1885 (age 63)
Categories: Military Leaders, Politicians
Region of Missouri: St. Louis
Missouri Hometown: St. Louis
Grant's Signature