From humble beginnings to a decorated soldier, politician and statesman, Ulysses S. Grant went on to serve as the 18th US president. With a double stint in the office, he is best known for leading the US to victory during the American Civil War, as a General. However, many historians proclaim his presidency to be ineffective for the United States.
Anyhow, there are a few interesting facts to uncover about his amazing life.
Here are the top 10 facts about Ulysses S. Grant
1. There was no ‘S’ in his real name.
The real name of Ulysses S. Grant was simply Hiram Ulysses Grant, without any ‘S’. The first time the ‘S’ appeared in his name was when Congressman Thomas Hamer erroneously wrote his name as “Ulysses S. Grant” while nominating him to the US Military Academy at Westpoint, New York. When Grant tried to rectify the mistake, he had two options. He could either change his name and apply to the academy next year or get selected with the ‘S’ in his name. He chose the latter and got stuck with it for a lifetime.
2. He was neither great at academics nor business.
An unknown fact about Ulysses S. Grant is that he was not a bright student during his formative years and was also not forced by his parents to attend church services. He gradually developed skills with horses, as his father would assign him with tasks involving driving horse wagons. He tried his hand at farming, rent collection, selling firewood, and other businesses, but always turned out it be a failure. In fact, another stint at business in his last years made him die in bankruptcy.
3. He is alleged to have struggled with alcohol
Though the legality of this claim is doubtful, the media of the time often reported in his drinking habits. As a result, he was often touted as drunk. But in contrast, there is no evidence that his drinking habits came in the way of his dereliction of duties. In fact, especially during the wars he fought and his two presidency terms, there is no reported incident where he made decisions in an inebriated state.
4. Grant had a distaste for army uniforms
Grant was never fond of following the rules, and definitely with respect to his uniform. He was often reprimanded for his careless uniform habits. He once mentioned to a cousin in a letter that his army pants were as tight to his skin as bark to a tree. This fact about Ulysses S. Grant never changed, as even when he reached the top ranks of the army, as he was often sighted in civilian hat and dirty boots in the battlefields.
5. He was a victorious army leader
As an army man, Grant never looked back. During the civil war, Grant got the opportunity to display his aggressive war tactics, which lead to his promotions, one after another. Though the Battle of Shiloh raised many voices against him, his leadership of battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga helped him gain solid repute. Finally, in 1864, he was designated as the lieutenant-general and being answerable only to the President.
6. Grant was once an owner of a Slave, but only on paper:
Besides being a military leader and a man of courage and bravery, Grant’s take on Slavery was not steadfast. He had opposing views about slavery from time to time. He belonged to an abolitionist family, still, he kept a slave named William Jones for a brief period of time when he was living with his in-laws. At one time, he stated that he was never an abolitionist. But, at the same time, he was not comfortable with keeping a slave. Contrary to what other owners would do, Grant would not whip his slave, he was polite and always kept a soft heart for William.
7. He saved Robert E Lee from treason charges and was also lenient with other enemy soldiers
An important fact about Ulysses S. Grant was that Grant was quite generous with Robert E Lee while setting the terms of surrender. He believed that being lenient at that moment was essential to ensure long-lasting peace. Therefore, allowed the Confederate soldiers to go home, and take along the horses and mules to use on farms. He even went on to offer his resignation to President Andrew Johnson, if Lee was charged with treason charges.
8. His War Achievement made him a president easily
Grant had contested for the president in 1868 from the Republicans against Johnson. A remarkable fact about Ulysses S. Grant is that he won the vote unanimously to run for the office of the president form the Republican side. Grant beat his presidential opponent Horatio Seymour with 72% vote share. Interestingly, he was not very keen to take the office but did so with much resistance. Due to his views and behaviour towards slavery, there was a heavy presence of the African-Americans in his signing ceremony, but Johnson did not attend.
9. He was a gifted writer and his memoirs were published by Mark Twain
Grant is said to have started writing his memoirs in the mid-1880s. When Mark Twain discovered that Grant was about to sign a deal with a magazine, he offered a higher amount. Mark Twain had declared it a masterpiece after his first read. His memoirs were published by the name, “The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant” and became instant bestsellers. And also pulled Grant’s family out of bankruptcy.
10. He might have been sitting next to Lincoln on the night of his assassination
Grant was invited to the Ford theatre and expected to join Abraham Lincoln during the show on the fateful day of April 14, 1865. However, he and his wife changed the plan in order to visit their children in New Jersey. Later, it was discovered that he had mentioned in his memoirs that it was the darkest day in his life. And he also regretted not being by the side of Abraham Lincoln in his last moments.
I hope that this fact about Ulysses S. Grant was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!