18th President: 1869-1877
Just the Facts:
- Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.
- His nickname was “Unconditional Surrender Grant.”
- He got kicked out of the army before going on to be a military hero.
- He got a speeding ticket while he was riding his horse through Washington DC.
- He ate a cucumber soaked in vinegar for breakfast every morning.
- He owned 8 horses, 2 ponies, dogs, pigs, roosters, and a parrot.
Grant was born in Ohio – his father was a tanner (he made leather). Grant didn’t want to take over his fathers shop, so he applied to West Point Academy. When he was accepted, they got his name wrong. He didn’t correct it (he didn’t like that his initials spelled HUG). He served in the Mexican American war, but then got kicked out for bad behavior. He tried lots of others jobs but was unsuccessful.
Grant volunteered for the Illinois militia when the civil war broke out and rose through the ranks quickly. He was a good soldier and won some important battles. Eventually, he was in charge of the whole Union army and became one of Americas greatest military leaders.
Most of the country thought of Grant as a war hero, so he won the presidency easily. Grant became president while America was trying to reconstruct the South. Unfortunately, he made some bad decisions as president. Some people in his administration stole money from the government and accepted bribes. One of these scandals led to one of the major stock market crashes in American History – it was so bad that people called it “Black Friday.”
Grant created our first national park – he signed the legislation that created Yellowstone National Park. In fact, it was the first “national park” anywhere in the world. His goal was that the land would be preserved “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” In addition, Colorado became a state during his presidency.
Grant married his wife, Julia, when he was 26 years old and they had four children. She was the sister of his roommate at West Point. She and her 7 siblings grew up on a plantation in Missouri. Julia loved being the First Lady and threw dinner parties that were four hours long. Life at the White House suited her, since she loved being the center of attention. Grant’s daughter, Nellie, had her wedding at the White House.
Grant lost his life savings when the stock market crashed. He wrote his memoirs right before his death, to ensure that his family had enough money after he died. The famous author, mark twain, published grants book. Grant died in New York City, where he and his family settled after his presidency.
“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”
“My failures have been errors in judgment, not of intent.”