Photo of Ulysses S. Grant leaning against a tree trunk in front of a white canvas tent.
Photo of Ulysses S. Grant at Cold Harbor, June 1864

Ulysses S. Grant at Cold Harbor, June 1864

Quick Facts

Significance:
Commander of Union armies and 18th President of the United States
Place of Birth:
Point Pleasant, OH
Date of Birth:
April 27, 1822
Place of Death:
Wilton, NY
Date of Death:
July 23, 1885
Place of Burial:
New York, NY
Cemetery Name:
General Grant National Memorial

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born April 27, 1822, in Pt. Pleasant, Ohio. The first child of Jesse and Hannah Grant, his family called him Ulysses, or Ulys for short. When Ulysses was one year old, his family moved to nearby Georgetown, Ohio. His father supported the family as a tanner who owned his own factory, where they made animal hides into leather. His father wanted him to work in the tannery, but when Grant stated that he would like to go to college, Jesse got him an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

After graduation, Grant was sent to Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, in 1843. During the Mexican War, Grant served in nearly every major battle of the war and was twice brevetted for bravery. After the war, Grant married Julia Dent, sister of a West Point roommate, and was assigned to several different posts before resigning from the army in 1854 to try his hand at farming in St. Louis at White Haven, his wife’s childhood home. Grant struggled on the farm, however, and in early 1860 the family moved to Galena, Illinois, where Ulysses worked as a clerk at his father’s general store.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Grant offered his services to the U.S. military and quickly rose to fame following his victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, where he earned the nickname "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. Grant rose through the ranks and was appointed by President Lincoln to become commanding general of all Union armies in March 1864. He accepted Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War.

After the Civil War Grant was elected18th President of the United States in 1868.  During his two terms, Grant supported and signed the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, giving African American men the right to vote. His Native American “peace policy,” considered enlightened for his time, revised government relations with Native Americans and attempted to protect Indians from people who wanted their land. He sought free public education for all, regardless of race, gender, or religion. On March 1, 1872 Grant signed legislation establishing Yellowstone as the nation's first national park. In international affairs, he peacefully settled major disputes with England over its support for the Confederacy during the Civil War, setting up a framework for international arbitration. And, contrary to popular depictions of Grant’s administration being one of the most corrupt in U.S. history, President Grant instituted civil service reform in the executive branch to reduce the negative effects of patronage and the spoils system. The recommendations of the Civil Service Commission would not become law until after President Garfield's assassination in 1881.

Once the Grants left the White House, they embarked on a two-year world tour and settled in New York City. To offset the loss of his personal fortune to a Wall Street scam, Grant wrote his memoirs of the Civil War, which were completed just a few days before his death from throat cancer on July 23, 1885. Published posthumously, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant is still considered one of the best military commentaries ever written.