Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th US president, and a the commander of the Union army in late Civil War. He was born as Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio (biography.com). He was chosen as the hero was because he was great general, but a arguable man in his life. He finished the Civil War, and finished the splitting of US.
He was not a really standout person when he was young, and he did not want to go after his father’s old route to become a business man. He went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, and his name was wrongly written as Ulysses S. Grant, so he changed his name because he was scared to be kicked out of school. He was good at math, geology, and horsemanship, but did not excel in the most other subjects. Because did not stand out while at West Point, he thought about resigning from military after the four mandatory years (biography.com). He was promoted to second lieutenant in the 4th infantry after his graduation. One year later he met his wife, Julia Dent, and got married in 1844 (history.com). He got his fame first in the Mexican-American War as a quartermaster under Generals Taylor and Scott and won a battle (Dr. Gamble). He resigned from the military on July, 31, 1854, because of strong alcohol drinking. That was a low point of his life. He lived far away from military and politics, with just his family. He became a clerk in his father’s tannery business after a unsuccessful try at farming (biography.com). He was ambitious. He had the desire to serve in the army again with this ambition in his heart. He was not satisfied with the job that he had. Grant wanted more than that, and once he said, “I was no clerk, nor I have any capacity to be one (Bunting 28).”
The American Civil War started on April 12, 1861 with the Confederate troops attacking Charleston Harbor, South Carolina (biography.com). His patriotism was moved when the war started and he thought he should join and become a soldier again. He believed that the United States should stay as a Union. He was assigned to the 21st Illinois volunteer regiment and got them ready by September 1861. Hw won battles at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee in 1862 and got his nickname “Unconditional Surrender Grant.” From then on he began to gain fame in the northern army (Biography). However on the first day of the Battle of Shiloh, he was unlucky and suffered high casualties, which led other generals and politicians to write letters to Abraham Lincoln saying he should be removed from his place. Fortunately, Lincoln refused saying, “I can’t spare this man. He fights” (Biography). There were not a lot of Generals fighting at that time in the north. Because they are afraid they would lose their rank and reputation, they just built defenses and never attacked the south. Grant was not that kind of person. The day after that Grant proved Lincoln’s trust and defeated the Confederates with the help of Major General Don Carlos Buell (Biography). On May 1, 1863, he send a part of his troops to General Sherman to capture the state capital in Vicksburg, Mississippi, while he attacked Stonewall Jackson near the confederate supply base (Biography). 46 days after this hardship for the confederates, General John Pemberton surrendered his three hundred thousand man army (Biography). The Battle of Vicksburg (along with the Battle of Gettysburg) became the turning point of the Civil War. The north started to push into the south, and it was also a sign of hope. Grant was promoted by Lincoln to Lieutenant General in March, 1864, and he was also the General in Chief for the north (Biography). Those who had been General in Chief before him had not attacked the south aggressively. Grant, on the other hand, was determined to crush Robert E. Lee. The siege at Petersburg finished the Confederate’s hope and let the north win on April 9, 1865, which led Grant again to fame (Biography and Bunting 68). A few days before the surrender Grant wrote a letter to Lee to ask him to surrender under the command of Abraham Lincoln:
April 7th 1865
Gen R.E. Lee
The result of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Va. in this struggle. I feel that it is so and regard it as my duty to shift from myself, the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the C.S. Army known as the Army of Northern Va.
your obt. svt
Lt. Gn. (Bunting 66)
That was the highest point in Grant’s life and also Lees’. They ended the war. Here the honor should also be given to General Robert E. Lee. If he did not end the war at this point, they could still fight for a long time. During that time, US would really be ripped apart, because of what General Sherman did at the city of Atlanta. He would continuing do that to the south if General Robert E. Lee did not do it so kind to America. Lee was not happy to see Grant, he said, “There is nothing left for me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die one thousand deaths (Bunting 68).” General Lee did not want to see Grant was because he did not want to see a person that led that much of a destruction to south, but also Lee was the headmaster of West Point, however Grant was a normal student in West Point. Grant was promoted to four star- General under President Andrew Johnson in 1866 (history.com). He was also replaced the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton in 1867, however in January 1868 he resigned from the war post (history.com). That very month, Grant was nominated by the Republicans to run as president, and became the president at the age of 46 by wining 214 votes in the electoral college (history.com). He was also going to have risks during his presidency, because president is the person that every American look up to. He would lose lots of thing if he was a bad president.
Grant was not the greatest president forever. However he was in favor of Reconstruction in south, and that was a great thing to America at that time period. Reconstruction helped to rebuild the south, and gave jobs to the slaves that had been freed during the Civil War. Aside from Reconstruction, he also tried to give a little more comfort to the Native Americans who were forgotten by few presidents before him (history.com). However, it was not really successful for Americans needed more land and the Indians needed to move further west. He also established America’s first National Park, which was Yellow Stone National Park (biography.com). He was pushing for the 15th amendment which would give African Americans the right to vote. He argued with Congress,
I call the attention therefore of the newly enfranchised race to the importance of their striving in every honorable manner to make themselves worthy of their new privileges. To the race more favored heretofore by our laws I would say withhold no legal privileges of advancement to the new citizen (Bunting 112).
For the foreign policies, he was good with British but bad with Caribbean nation of Santo Domingo, present-day Dominican Republic (history.com). He successfully had a second term. However everything went downhill after that. He was not a great president in people’s opinion. His choice for people under him was corrupt in people’s opinion. He would appoint friends to take offices, and his friends had profit from it (history.com). He had friends control the Gold market, and they failed on their job (history.com). The result was financial depression in September 24, 1869, called Black Friday (history.com). He was not successful in his later life after being the president. He went bankrupt in 1884 with his partner (biography.com). He also got throat cancer that year. For the money that he needed to use, he went and wrote memoirs with his friend Mark Twain (biography.com).
Ulysses S. Grant died on July 23, 1885, at the age of 63, in Mount McGregor, New York (biography.com). He was a hero mainly because of the effort that he gave in the Civil War. He risked his life to fight the battles, and finished the war with a better ending than it could be. He was not a great President and a person, because the scandal that he had and he was usually drunk, however he was still a hero. He sacrificed his life and reputation to serve the country, and gain back his honor in military and with his two term presidency. Even though he was a bad president, he did not do that much of damage compared to what he did for US. He stopped the Civil War, which would have split the North and South apart if it continued. He was a normal guy, and that was also the reason that he did not have a great life as a civilian. However this showed if people are willing to do things, then they can become a hero. This is Ulysses S. Grant. America’s 18th president, and the General in Chief for the North.