Categories: WTK History LessonsPublished On: April 27th, 2020By Views: 691
American Minute with Bill Federer
Ulysses S. Grant: Union General & 18th President “Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties”
Hiram Ulysses Grant was born APRIL 27, 1822, to a Methodist family in Ohio.
He did not like the initials H.U.G., so he rearranged them to U.H.G.
When he was nominated at age 17 for a position at West Point, Congressman Thomas Hamer mistakenly wrote the “H” as an “S,” thinking it stood for Grant’s mother’s maiden name, Simpson.
With the name, U.S. Grant, he attended West Point where he excelled in horsemanship, setting an equestrian high-jump record that lasted for nearly 25 years.
After graduation in 1843, Grant was stationed at Jefferson Barracks on the banks of the Mississippi River, just south of St. Louis, Missouri.
While visiting the family of a West Point classmate, he fell in love with the classmate’s sister, Julia Dent, and they secretly engaged.
Julia had crossed eyes, which a doctor later offered to correct, but Grant refused, saying:
“Did I not see you and fall in love with you with these same eyes?
I like them just as they are, and now, remember, you are not to interfere with them. They are mine, and let me tell you, Mrs. Grant, you had better not make any experiments, as I might not like you half so well with any other eyes.”
Robert E. Lee graduated from West Point 14 years before Grant.
In 1837, Lee had been in St. Louis, supervising the Army Corps of Engineers to make the Mississippi River navigable.
Prior to the era of railroads, rivers were the only means of transporting large amounts of grain and goods to ports/
The Mississippi’s changing currents left deposits of sediment, silting up St. Louis’ access to the river.
In 1846, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant were both sent to fight in the Mexican-American War.
They both were a part of General Winfield Scott’s march from the coastal city of Vera Cruz inland to Mexico City.
When the Mexican-American War ended in 1848, Grant was stationed in Detroit, and then Sackets Harbor, New York.
In 1849, the California Gold Rush began.
Captain U.S. Grant and the 4th Infantry were ordered to go to San Francisco, California, in 1852,
To get there, they had to travel across the Isthmus of Panama during rainy season.
Soaking wet marching through the tropical jungle, a cholera epidemic broke out, which killed 150 of the 400 traveling.
Grant organized a field hospital and personally cared for the ill, writing:
“Meanwhile the cholera had broken out, and men were dying every hour …
I permitted the company … to proceed … and I was left alone with the sick and the soldiers who had families.
… I was about a week at Cruces before transportation began to come in.
About one-third of the people with me died, either at Cruces or on the way to Panama.
… We finally reached Panama. The steamer, however, could not proceed until the cholera abated, and the regiment was … delayed six weeks.
About one-seventh of those who left New York harbor with the 4th infantry on the 5th of July, now lie buried on the Isthmus of Panama.”
Grant later described the ordeal:
“The horrors of the road in the rainy season are beyond description.”
After arriving in California,Grant was ordered further north to Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory and then Fort Humboldt in northwest California.
The senior officer there accused Grant of intemperance in drinking, and pressured him to resign in 1854.
Returning to his wife Julia in Missouri, Grant unsuccessfully attempted farming.
He struggled financially, pursuing various business endeavors, including gathering driftwood from the river bank and chopping it up to sell as firewood.
Grant had inherited a slave from his wife’s father, a 35-year-old man named William Jones.
Though in dire financial straits, Grant freed his slave in 1859, rather than sell him for badly needed money.
When the Civil War began, Grant responded to the call and volunteered.
He wrote in 1878:
“As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt … that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.”
Grant was quickly promoted to brigadier general.
In February of 1862, he captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.
When the Confederate commander asked for terms of surrender, Grant offered no terms, but instead demanded unconditional surrender.
This resulted in his nickname, “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.
Grant won the Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862, which was the costliest battle to that date, with 23,000 casualties.
Afterwards, Pennsylvania politician Alexander McClure attempted to persuade Lincoln to remove Grant, writing:
“Lincoln remained silent for what seemed a very long time. He then gathered himself up in his chair and said in a tone of earnestness that I shall never forget: ‘I can’t spare this man; he fights.'”
Grant won the Battle of Iuka, September 19, 1862, and defended Corinth, Mississippi.
He captured Mississippi’s Port Gibson, won the Battle of Raymond, captured Mississippi’s State Capital of Jackson, and won the Battle of Champion Hill.
After a seven week siege, which included digging a canal along the Mississippi River, Grant captured Vicksburg, July 4, 1863.
This gave the Union control of the Mississippi and geographically split the Confederacy.
The loss of Vicksburg was devastating to the South, especially since it occurred just one day after the Confederates were defeat at Gettysburg.
After capturing Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain in November of 1863, Grant was promoted by Lincoln to Lieutenant General commanding all the Union Armies.
With the South having limited manpower, and the North having a continual flow of immigrants to draft, the contest became a war of attrition.
Immense casualties followed the Overland Campaign in May and June of 1864:
  • Battle of the Wilderness, 28,669 casualties;
  • Spotsylvania Court House, 31,086 casualties;
  • Battle of North Anna, 5,538 casualties; and
  • Battle of Cold Harbor, 18,025 casualties.
A nine month siege began at Petersburg, Virginia, pinning down Lee’s forces, thus allowing Union forces to decimate the Shenandoah Valley, destroying Confederate supply-lines.
On September 2, 1864, Atlanta surrendered to Union General Sherman.
This was followed by Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” culminating at Savannah, which brought unimaginable devastation to the Confederate heartland.
Burning plantations, homes, and destroying the South’s infrastructure, Sherman’sscorched-earth tactics is considered the first modern-day instance of total warfare.
Sherman’s men even tore up train track rails, heated them till red hot, then twisted them around trees as “Sherman’s neckties.”
This made it impossible for the South to repair their railroads.
Later in life, Sherman addressed a crowd of 10,000 in Columbus, Ohio, April 11, 1880:
“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.”
After retiring in1884, a movement began to recruit him to run for President.
Sherman replied:
“If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.”
In March of 1865, U.S. Grant captured Petersburg and Richmond.
Shortly after, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
Lee gave his sword to Grant, who gave it back. Grant then stated:
“The war is over. The Rebels are again our countrymen.”
Five days later, April 14, 1865, Abraham and Mary Lincoln invited Grant and his wife to accompany them to Ford’s theater.
The Grants declined, having plans to travel to Philadelphia.
That night, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.
At Lincoln’s funeral, Grant wept, saying of Lincoln:
“He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.”
Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned JULY 25, 1866, as General of the Army, the first ever to hold that rank and wear the four silver star insignia.
Popularity from Civil War victories resulted in Grant being chosen as the Republican candidate for President in 1868.
In 1868, Grant was elected the 18th U.S. President.
He was the youngest U.S. President to that date, only 46 years old.
He was considered a radical Republican as he worked with the leading Radical Republicans in Congress, Representative Thasseus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner, to end the Democrat policies of racial discrimination in the South.
Grant signed the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, outlawing Democrat-affiliated vigilante terrorist groups which lynched blacks.
He supported the 15th Amendment guaranteeing freed slaves the right to vote, which passed in Congress over a 97 percent Democrat opposition.
In 1885, Grant wrote:
“Four millions of human beings held as chattels have been liberated; the ballot has been given to them.”
Grant stated in his Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1873:
“Under Providence I have been called a second time to act as Executive over this great nation …
The effects of the late civil strife have been to free the slave and make him a citizen.
Yet he is not possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it. This is wrong, and should be corrected. To this correction I stand committed.”
Grant protested slavery in Cuba, stating December 1, 1873:
“Slaveholders of Havana … are vainly striving to stay the march of ideas which has terminated slavery in Christendom, Cuba only excepted.”
Grant defended natural marriage as being one man and one woman, stating December 4, 1871:
“In Utah there still remains a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization …
Neither polygamy nor any other violation of existing statutes will be permitted.”
Grant and his cabinet attended one of evangelist D.L. Moody’s revival meetings on January 19, 1876.
Grant ended the Democrat policy of Indian removal.
He appointed the first Native American to serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Ely S. Parker of the Seneca Tribe.
Grant continued his Second Inaugural:
“My efforts … will be directed … by a humane course, to bring the aborigines of the country under the benign influences of education and civilization …
Wars of extermination, engaged in by people pursuing commerce and all industrial pursuits … are demoralizing and wicked …”
Grant continued:
“Our superiority of strength and advantages of civilization should make us lenient toward the Indian.
The wrong inflicted upon him should be taken into account and the balance placed to his credit …
If the effort is made in good faith, we will stand better before the civilized nations of the earth and in our own consciences for having made it.”
Grant’s “Quaker Policy” removed entrepreneurs from being Indian agents and replaced them with missionaries, stating in his First Annual Message, December 6, 1869:
“The Society of Friends (Quakers) … succeeded in living in peace with the Indians in the early settlement of Pennsylvania …
These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them.”
President Grant stated in his 2nd Annual Message, December 5, 1870:
“Such religious denominations as had heretofore established missionaries among the Indians … are allowed to name their own agents …
and are expected to watch over them and aid them as missionaries, to Christianize and civilize the Indians, and to train him in the arts of peace.”
President Ulysses S. Grant addressed Congress, January 1, 1871:
“It would seem highly desirable that the civilized Indians of the country should be encouraged in establishing for themselves forms of Territorial government compatible with the Constitution of the United States …
and it is highly desirable that they become self-sustaining, self-relying, Christianized, and civilized.”
President Grant stated in his 3rd Annual Message, December 4, 1871:
“Through the exertions of the various societies of Christians to whom has been intrusted the execution of the policy …
many tribes of Indians have been induced to settle upon reservations, to cultivate the soil, to perform productive labor of various kinds, and to partially accept civilization …
… They are being cared for in such a way, it is hoped, as to induce those still pursuing their old habits of life to embrace the only opportunity which is left them to avoid extermination.
I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace policy, not only because it is humane and Christian-like … but because it is right.”
During the Siege of Vicksburg, Grant had issued his notorious General Order 11expelling Jews from the military.
Lincoln immediately cancelled it.
Later as President, Grant appointed more Jews to high offices than any of his predecessors, including governor of the Washington Territory.
He was the first President to openly condemn the persecution of Jews, specifically the anti-Jewish pogroms in Romania,
He even sent a Jewish consul-general from America to Bucharest.
Grant wrote May 14, 1872:
“I transmit … correspondence between the Department of State and the consul of the United States at Bucharest relative to the persecution and oppression of the Israelites in the Principality of Romania.”
He wrote to the House of Representatives, May 22, 1872, that he would:
“… join the Italian Government in a protest against the intolerant and cruel treatment of the Jews in Romania.”
Grant worked to stabilize the nation’s currency by having it backed by gold, as during the Civil War the Federal Government printed excessive amounts of paper money with no backing except “faith” in the Federal Government.
He explained, March 4, 1869, how it seemed God provided gold in the Rocky Mountains to back the currency and pay down the national debt:
“Every dollar of Government indebtedness should be paid in gold …
It looks as though Providence had bestowed upon us a strong box in the precious metals locked up in the sterile mountains of the far West, and which we are now forging the key to unlock, to meet the very contingency that is now upon us.”
This period of American history was called the “Gilded Age” by Mark Twain, who as a friend of Grant’s.
Americans saw:
  • Immigrants arriving from Europe in record numbers;
  • Railroads crossing the nation, with the First Transcontinental Railroad officially completed May 10, 1869;
  • Steam ships crossing the oceans;
  • Industry and manufacturing expanded;
  • Iron and steel production rising dramatically;
  • Western resources of lumber, gold and silver;
  • Oil Industry saved the whale.
The drilling of oil wells replaced the need for whale blubber oil, thus saving whales from being hunted to extinction.
On June 26, 1876, President Grant proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving to commemorate America’s 100th anniversary:
“The founders of the Government, at its birth and in its feebleness, invoked the blessings and the protection of a Divine Providence …
The thirteen colonies … have expanded into a nation of strength and numbers … for which fervent prayers were then offered.
… It seems fitting that on the occurrence of the hundredth anniversary of our existence as a nation a grateful acknowledgment should be made to Almighty God for the protection and the bounties which He has vouchsafed to our beloved country.
I therefore invite the good people of the United States … to mark its recurrence by some public religious and devout thanksgiving to Almighty God
for the blessings which have been bestowed upon us as a nation during the century of our existence, and humbly to invoke a continuance of His favor and of His protection.”
Though derogatorily referred to as “Robber Barons,” industrialist leaders helped the average American acquire more goods at cheaper prices, thus creating the greatest and fastest rise in their “standard of living” of any people in world history.
Industrialists included:
  • John Jacob Astor (real estate, fur);
  • Andrew Carnegie (steel);
  • James Fisk (finance);
  • Henry Flagler (railroads, oil);
  • Jay Gould (railroads);
  • Edward Harriman (railroads);
  • Andrew Mellon (finance, oil);
  • J.P. Morgan (finance, industrial);
  • John D. Rockefeller (oil);
  • Charles M. Schwab (steel); and
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt (water transport, railroads).
With the amassing of great wealth also came big business globalist monopolies which attempted to eliminate competition and buy political favors.
Unfortunately, Grant’s military training of trusting subordinates left him ill-prepared for political intrigues, hidden motives and greed of career Washington politicians and lobbyists.
As a result, several in his Administration were involved in granting government favors,monopolies, “pork” and crony-capitalism kickbacks in exchange for votes, bribes and insider deals.
Grant did not personally profit from having been in public office.
Shortly after serving as President, Grant went on a world tour, till he began to show signs of being ill.
He had developing throat cancer from his habit of cigar smoking.
Naively trusting investors, Grant went bankrupt, though he insisted on repaying his debts.
Grant was faced with leaving his wife, Julia, destitute.
Mark Twain encouraged him to write his Memoirs of the Civil War which provided an income for his wife after his death.
Encouraged by the outpouring of support from across the country, Grant, who was a Methodist, wrote in 1884:
“I believe in the Holy Scriptures, and whoso lives by them will be benefited thereby. Men may differ as to the interpretation, which is human, but the Scriptures are man’s best guide …
I did not go riding yesterday, although invited and permitted by my physicians, because it was the Lord’s day, and because I felt that if a relapse should set in, the people who are praying for me would feel that I was not helping their faith by riding out on Sunday …
Yes, I know, and I feel very grateful to the Christian people of the land for their prayers in my behalf. There is no sect or religion, as shown in the Old or New Testament, to which this does not apply.”
Just days after delivering his final manuscript to the printer, Ulysses S. Grant died, July 23, 1885.
Nine years before he died, Grant gave his views on education to the Editor of The Sunday School Times in Philadelphia, June 6, 1876:
“Your favor of yesterday asking a message from me to the children and the youth of the United States, to accompany your Centennial number, is this morning received.
My advice to Sunday schools, no matter what their denomination, is:
Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives….
To the influence of this Book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future.
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Yours respectfully, U.S. Grant.”
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One Comment

  1. Cherryl Connors May 8, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    When I was in high school, I remember my history teacher lecturing in a way that caused me to think of Anne Boleyn as a living woman, then making her death so tragic and real. When I started reading Ulysses S.Grant: Union General and 18th President on website, I had that same interest in him, a living man that loved, fought, rose in the ranks, important in his role as leader for President Lincoln’s vision. I’m so glad that there are people today who value our American History

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