Jesse Root Grant II

Black and White headshot of man wearing a suit with bowtie.
Jesse Root Grant II


Quick Facts
Fourth and youngest child of Ulysses and Julia Grant
Place of Birth:
Saint Louis, Missouri
Date of Birth:
February 6, 1858
Place of Death:
Los Altos, California
Date of Death:
June 8, 1934
Place of Burial:
San Francisco, California
Cemetery Name:
Presidio of San Francisco

Jesse Root Grant II was the fourth and youngest child of Ulysses and Julia Grant. He was an accomplished mining engineer and lawyer who lived much of his adult life in California. He also attempted to run for President of the United States in 1908. 

Named after his paternal grandfather, Jesse Root Grant II was born on his maternal grandfather's White Haven estate in St. Louis, Missouri on February 6, 1858. While Grant claimed later in life that he was born on his father's Hardscrabble log cabin on the White Haven property, he was most likely born at the main White Haven home, which is where the Grant family was living in 1858. Julia Dent Grant recalled in her memoirs that as the youngest child, Jesse was both spoiled and an adventurous troublemaker. "Jesse was the most important member of our household," Julia recalled. "He was first waited on at table. His smallest word was listened to by all of us, and, if there was the least hint of a jest, he had an appreciative audience. At two years old, he aspired to wearing his father's boots . . . and with much difficulty inserted each little leg in a boot and started downstairs. The result was dreadful. His neck was not broken, but his four front teeth were broken squarely off, and he lay quivering and fainting in my arms." 

Grant's childhood experiences were quite different from his other siblings. During the Civil War, young Jesse remained by his mother's side throughout the duration of the war. His schooling was limited during this time due to his young age, but on numerous occasions he was able to visit his father at his headquarters during the war. He was ten years old when his father was elected to the presidency and spent his teenage years living at the White House. He also accompanied his parents for much of their two and a half year world tour (1877-1879). 

Jesse received an elite education, obtaining a degree in mining engineering from Cornell University and a law degree from Columbia Law School. He married Elizabeth Chapman in 1880 with whom he raised two children, Chapman and Nellie. In the mid-1880s he worked in New York City as a banker, but later moved his family to San Diego, California. He engaged in speculative mining operations, including one in Nome, Alaska that allowed Grant to enjoy "a comfortable fortune," according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1902. He also worked as an engineer on various projects to develop the city of Tijuana, Mexico, and helped manage his brother Ulysses' hotel--the U.S. Grant Hotel--in San Diego. Grant also unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 1908. In contrast to his father, Jesse was a member of the Democratic Party and hoped to secure the party's nomination over perennial candidate William Jennings Bryan. "The Democratic Party has always been known as the party of the people," he argued while visiting St. Louis in 1907. 

Grant remained in California the rest of his life. He filed divorce from his wife Elizabeth in 1913 and later remarried Lillian Burns Wilkins. In 1925 he wrote a semi-autobiographical book entitled In the Days of My Father. On June 8, 1934, Jesse Root Grant II died at the age of 76 in Los Altos, California, and is buried at the Presidio of San Francisco.   

Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site

Last updated: July 20, 2020