“Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.”
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, was never interested in politics. He voted only once before taking office and had no political experience. He was a beloved Civil War general, which was enough to get him elected during a time when people were very unhappy with the government.
He wasn’t an effective President. He couldn’t get the North and South to work together. He was a poor judge of character and appointed dishonest men who caused scandal. On the other hand, he established Yellowstone National Park – the first national park – and prevented war with Great Britain.
- Grant was a fierce military leader but he loved animals and couldn’t stand the sight of animal blood. He rarely ate meat and he didn’t like to hunt. His father owned a tannery; the blood-stained hides in the tannery made him sick.
- Grant held many different jobs – soldier, farmer, store clerk. He either quit or was fired from most of those jobs. His family thought he was a failure and he drank too much.
- Grant’s lucky break came when Grant was appointed a colonel in the army. He quickly became a general during the Civil War.
- Grant was a very successful general. He was aggressive and determined. He didn’t give up. His successes brought victory to the North and ended the Civil War.
- Grant popularity helped him win the Presidential election twice. Grant was stopped by a police officer for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. The officer took his carriage and Grant walked back to the White House.
- Grant gave short speeches. He preferred being with his family to large formal events.
- He and his wife Julia doted on their four children.
- Grant discovered that he had throat cancer, probably caused by the 20 cigars he smoked every day. He wanted to leave Julia with enough money to live comfortably. Mark Twain suggested that Grant write his memoirs (autobiography). Grant finished the book, which became a best seller, three days before his death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What did Grant do after he was President?
Answer: When Grant left office, he and his wife took a 30-month trip around the world. When Grant came home, he went into business; his dishonest business partners stole his money and he was left deeply in debt.
Learn more about Ulysses S. Grant.