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Guide U.S. Presidents - Ulysses S. Grant (U.S. Presidents. Book 18)

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In the Mexican War he fought under Gen. Zachary Taylor. He was appointed by the Governor to command an unruly volunteer regiment.

Grant whipped it into shape and by September he had risen to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers. He sought to win control of the Mississippi Valley. At Shiloh in April, Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. For his next major objective, Grant maneuvered and fought skillfully to win Vicksburg, the key city on the Mississippi, and thus cut the Confederacy in two.

Then he broke the Confederate hold on Chattanooga.

Ulysses S. Grant

Lincoln appointed him General-in-Chief in March Grant directed Sherman to drive through the South while he himself, with the Army of the Potomac, pinned down Gen. Robert E. Grant wrote out magnanimous terms of surrender that would prevent treason trials. As President, Grant presided over the Government much as he had run the Army. Indeed he brought part of his Army staff to the White House. Although a man of scrupulous honesty, Grant as President accepted handsome presents from admirers.

Worse, he allowed himself to be seen with two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk. When Grant realized their scheme to corner the market in gold, he authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sell enough gold to wreck their plans, but the speculation had already wrought havoc with business. During his campaign for re-election in , Grant was attacked by Liberal Republican reformers. Grant allowed Radical Reconstruction to run its course in the South, bolstering it at times with military force. It was undeniably clear that that was the scuttlebutt — the peacetime Army was very small — and so this kind of reputation trails him into the Civil War.

One of the important relationships [he has] is with the young lawyer John A. Rawlins becomes his adjutant and chief of staff. He makes this remarkable deal with Grant that he will serve on Grant's staff on one condition: that Grant promises not to touch a drop of alcohol during the war. Rawlins lived up to his word in terms of constantly chastising Grant for the drinking.

On the other hand, Rawlins feels that Grant is indispensable to winning the war. He feels like [he is] on a patriotic mission to keep Grant going.

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This crazy situation develops where privately Rawlins is chastising Grant for quite a number of lapses, while publicly reassuring people that all of the stories about Grant's drinking were overblown and that he wasn't touching a drop of liquor. For the most part, Grant was viewed as a highly effective general and not especially effective president.


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Is that view fair? One is Grant the butcher. The third stereotype was that Grant was a failed president and his administration was dominated by scandals and nepotism. I don't deny the reality, but the scandals were the minor story. The major story is Reconstruction, what Grant did to protect the 4 million threatened blacks in the South, particularly [after] the enactment of the 15th Amendment, which gave the vote to black males.


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  • It triggered a violent backlash in the white South, and the Klan began to launch a reign of terror against the black community. Thousands of Americans were killed through outright terrorism. Grant, through a couple of crusading attorneys general, managed to crush the Klan. This was the biggest outbreak of domestic terrorism in our history. I feel it is a story that has been forgotten. It took courage, not only because there was tremendous resistance from the white South, but there was waning support from the white North as well.

    What motivated him to support civil rights so strongly? It's not a question that Grant himself ever speculated about. From the time he was a young man, [he] seemed to instinctively protect the underdog.

    Biography of President Ulysses S. Grant for Kids

    He had a strong protective streak throughout his life. He was a very sensible and pragmatic person. He had the opportunity to observe a lot of slaves in the s, through his in-laws, and had blacks working on his farm.

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    Grant would actually be out there in the fields working alongside the blacks. You could see his evolution during the war. I think that he was just an honest person who saw their humanity and their ability.

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    Johnson, he was the single most important president. You are leaving AARP. Please return to AARP. Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive. In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails related to AARP volunteering.

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