Ulysses S. Grant
April 27th 1822 - July 23, 1885
General-in-Chief of the United States Army and 18th President of the United Statesby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Many men have had an influence on the United States throughout history, but few men have had a greater impact than Ulysses S. Grant. During the Civil War, many Americans feared that the United States would never be "united" again. At this time in history where our country was torn apart over the issue of slavery, this man's incredible feats in battle ultimately allowed this nation to once again stand united as one nation under God.
Ulysses was born on April 27th 1822. His father was a tanner by the name of Jesse Root Grant and his mother was Hannah Simpson Grant. They lived together in a little two room cabin. As a youngster, Grant worked with his father on their farm in Ohio. But by the time he was seventeen, his father decided he would try to gain his son admittance to the Military Academy of WestPoint. He succeeded and when Grant was nineteen years of age, he enrolled in the academy. Here Ulysses found his passion for horses. He excelled as a horseman and also did very well in mathematics. In 1843, Grant graduated from the academy. Ironically, he only managed to rank twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine.
A few years after his graduation, Grant began his military service. He served in the Mexican war. Under command of General Zachary Taylor, Grant took part in battles at Palo Alto, Resaca, de al Palma, and Monterey. But Grant's first experience commanding troops didn't come until the outbreak of the Civil War when he was put in charge of a very unruly bunch of volunteers. Soon, however, Grant had his men in shape. In September of 1861, he was promoted to Brigadier General. With his new level of authority, Grant set out to conquer the Mississippi Valley for the Union. He is famous for saying, "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted" . Grant took part in the capture of both Fort Donelson and Fort Henry which were considered to be the first important Union conquests. But soon afterwards, Grant suffered a terrible lose. In the battle of Shiloh, Grant's unfortified troops were caught off guard by a devastating and bloody confederate attack. After this disaster many people demanded that Grant be forced to resign. President Abraham Lincoln, however, refused to do so stating, "I can't spare this man--he fights" . The President did however, replace Grant with Henry W. Halleck. This was a huge disappointment for Grant who considered resignation. But He was soon comforted when the president made him commander of "all Union forces in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi" . This authority gave him control of the entire army of Ohio. By this time, Grant's actions had begun to make a name for him.
But Grant's great success had only just begun. He soon turned his attention to Vicksburg, Mississippi. This was a key confederate city because it connected two confederate areas. Ulysses masterfully conquered the city, successfully splitting the confederate territory in half. News of Grants success soon reached the President who in March of 1864 made him General-in-Chief of all union troops. Not too long afterwards, Grant took the army of the Potomac and pinned confederate general Robert E. Lee's army of northern Virginia. The great confederate general knew that the war was over and surrendered at the Appomattox Court House. Grant's incredible commanding skill had finally led the Union troop to victory.
But tragedy struck the nation again. Lincoln's assassination brought sorrow into many Americans' hearts. After this event, Grant was made full General which previously had only been held by George Washington. During this time Grant aided the restoration of the Union. In 1868, Grant decided to run for President. He chose Schuyler Colfax, the Speaker of the House, as his running mate. He was unanimously elected to be the Republican representative at the 1868 Republican National Convention. The Democratic nominee Grant ran against was Governor Horatio Seymour who chose George H. Pendleton as his running mate. Grant easily won the election and became the eighteenth president of the United States. But he proved to be a very inapt President. He worked like a general, giving out orders and expecting them to be carried out. He also put a lot of trust in his friends, who unfortunately proved that they didn't deserve responsibility and honor. Several factors resulted in many scandals in and out of Washington during Grant's Presidency. There were also many problems in the south with reconstruction. All of these things reduced the popularity of the Republican Party. As part of reconstruction of the south, Grant pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1871, a.k.a, Ku Klux Klan Act, which effectively squashed that organization until it resurgence in 1915.
When election time came around again, the Democrats hoped they could use Grant's shortcomings in their favor, but a bad choice for Democratic nominee allowed Grant to win another term. Despite many problems during Grant's Presidency, several good things came out of it. The fifteenth amendment was passed which stated that suffrage could not be denied on account of race. The Treaty of Washington was signed solving certain controversies with England.
After serving his second term as President, Grant learned that he had throat cancer. He began writing down his recollections in hope that it would earn his family enough money to pay off their debts after his death. On, July 23, 1885, shortly after finishing the last page, and being rebaptised at the insistence of his friends , Grant passed away. His book earned his family a total of 450,000 dollars.
No matter where he was, Grant always strived to do what was best for his country. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men" . Grant was a great example of an honest, hard working individual who made a huge impact on his nation. Although occasionally depressed and drunk, this great man used his skills and abilities in battle to bring the United States back together. Memorial services across the nation, eulogies and obituaries stressed his Christian moral character. Although he didn't attend church services that his wife devoted her Sunday's too, Grant once said, "Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."
Encyclopedia Britannica 1940. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
The White House. "Ulysses S. Grant" Access date: 9/16/2008. http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/ug18.html
Encarta. "Ulysses S. Grant" Access date: 9/16/2008. http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761555289/ulysses_s_grant.html
New American Standard Bible.
 Christian history: What About Ulysses S. Grant? http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1992/issue33/3337.html
 America: Secular State or Christian Nation? http://forerunner.com/ccbc/X0004_Christian_Nation.html